Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Really Hard Blocks That Take a Long Time to Make

Hi Everyone,

I'm back with my final retreat project.  I finished the pinwheel quilt that I showed yesterday on Friday night of retreat--that left all day Saturday and until we packed and left on Sunday.  I pulled out the kit for the next project that I wanted to make.  This is the pattern, it is called Black Beauty and is a table runner pattern from Country Threads.

Do you see the block?  Recognize the pattern as a feathered star?  Maybe you even know the title of this post as the subscript in the name of Marsha McCloskey's book on feathered stars.  Yes, she perfectly described feathered stars as "really hard blocks that take a long time to make."

While assembling my "kit," I pulled the fabric that I wanted and opened the pattern to glance through it.  At the bottom I saw a few templates!  Yikes!  I was glad that I saw that, so I got out some template plastic and made both of them and put them back in the bag with the pattern.  At the retreat, I got out the pattern and started to read all the cutting directions.  It was going great until I read the words "freezer paper!"  I needed freezer paper and hadn't brought any!  No one else had any, either.  The location's coordinator even checked in the kitchen for me.  (I thought that was really thoughtful.)  I decided to press on and see if I could make do without.  I mean, people quilted long before they realized that they could use freezer paper to help them.  It turned out that they only wanted you to use the freezer paper to cut out the template pieces.  Since I had them made out of plastic, I could trace them, but I was actually able to rotary cut them--with a bit of help from the templates.  One was a diamond (those are really easy to rotary cut) and the other was a "kite" shape--and it wasn't too hard to cut, either.  Whew!

There were a lot of pieces, so I decided to just cut for one block to begin with.  I was at a retreat, and I had limited space, and I was already feeling a bit disorganized.  That proved to be a smart idea.  The only exceptions that I made was the center block.  I only needed one per block and I was going to use the same fabric for each block, so I went ahead and cut all three at once.  I also did that with the green diamonds as they were all from the same fabric, too.   Since there were so many pieces, I found myself making little tick marks after I cut each one!  I altered the cutting in one regard.  As I read through the pattern, I saw pieces cut square at a 7/8ths measurement and then cut in half diagonally.  I recognized that those would be sewn into HSTs.  When I do HSTs, I cut squares larger--rounding up to the next inch--and then draw the line, sew on both sides and then square them up to the perfect size.  So I cut them the little bit larger and did not cut them in half diagonally.

It turned out that making the HSTs was the first step.  There were 16 squares--yielding 32 HSTs, so that took a bit of time.  I really would appreciate the perfectly made HSTs, so spending the time doing that step was very beneficial.  I had never made a feathered star before, but the pattern has lots of photos and well-written directions, so things proceeded smoothly.  After the HSTs are made, they are combined with other bits into 4 different strip sets which were sewn onto the correct larger pieces.  When those steps are done, there are 9 pieces that go together to make the block (sort of like a nine patch, only the pieces aren't square).  I didn't take any pictures of the process--and I'm regretting that.  It is a complicated enough block that I didn't feel like cranking out another to take pictures of, either!  Sewing the last 9 pieces involves "Y" seams, too!  I got three of them sewn together (the "top row") and I was beginning the "bottom row" when I realized I made a mistake in the layout!  It was lunchtime, so we went for that and when I got back, I ripped it apart so I had the 9 pieces again.  I spent the afternoon getting it together correctly, and after about 5 total hours of work, I had my first block!

I then began the next one, hoping that it would go quicker since I "knew what I was doing."  Haha!  I preceeded along with the HSTs, the strip sets, and making the 9 pieces.  Once I had all 9 pieces, I realized something didn't look right.  Ugh!  The problem was one of the HST strip sets--I had the red triangles pointing wrong.  I had to rip four of the completed pieces all apart to get off the incorrect strip set, then I had to totally rip that apart and begin again.  I think at bed time on Saturday, I had it back to needing to sew the 9 pieces together.

Sunday morning, I managed to finish the second block!

There was still time, so I began the third block and it did go together smoothly, with no mistakes.

I completed it in time to pack up and come home.  A day or two later when I was rested up and had everything put away, I sewed the three blocks together and then did the border.

Now that I'm looking at this picture, I think I'm going to put another one of the "lighter" black squares into the border in the upper right area.  Those pieces really stand out!  This is a large table runner but should look great on my dining room table.  Did you notice?  It isn't red, white, and blue!!

I'm thinking that after all that work, it would be worthwhile to get it custom quilted, but I suppose I shall do it myself. 

Remember my "squirrel" project that I told you about yesterday?
I finished it last night!  I love this project!  It finished at 26.5"
Have a great day!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Second Retreat Project and... Squirrel!

Hi Everyone,

(By now I hope that everyone gets that "Squirrel!" reference.  It comes from the movie Up and came about when the dog, Dug, would be talking away about something and suddenly his attention would shift to thinking he saw a squirrel.  It is the classic "I got distracted" line.)

Anyway, I'll get to the squirrel later--first I want to share my second project from retreat.  A couple weeks ago, I got an email from a quilting friend with a link to one of the Missouri Star Quilt Shop Tutorials on Youtube.  Have you ever watched any of these or tried any?  I've watched many, but haven't tried one until I saw this one.

Oh my goodness, but these blocks looked like fun.  AND THEY ARE!  As it was, I had marked a Jo Morton quilt from her Banner Day book that I wanted to make, and it contained churn dash blocks, so I decided to make it, but use these pinwheel churn dash blocks instead.  I made 4 HSTs that I trimmed to 3.25" so that when I sewed them into a pinwheel block, the resulting block measured exactly 6 inches.  I cut them into 2" segments and when I finished, the blocks finished at 4.5"

The blocks are so cute and so much fun to make!

The next step was to set them on point.

And then border the completed top.  (And make sure to photograph my toes, too.  Oh--that reminds me of a great hint for retreats--take your slippers!)

Here is a closeup of the border fabrics.  I have a pretty extensive Patriotic fabric collection (I know--that surprises you!) but some of them are tricky to use because of the color or pattern.  I've had both the flag stripe and the eagle fabrics for quite a while but they never seem to fit in any other project.  I began this project with them to finally get a chance to play with them.  

I have plans to revisit those churn dash pinwheel blocks, though.  They are addictive.


Yesterday, out of the blue, I clicked on the Temecula Quilt Co's blogpost and promptly fell in love!  I was smitten.  They had a free pattern for the most wonderful Valentine Quilt.  Before I knew it, I was making the cutest little hearts ever.  Does that ever happen to you?  You have absolutely no idea you want to make a quilt and then you see a pattern and you can't get into your sewing room fast enough?   I expect I'll be working more on it today.  Yesterday was a treat!  We woke up to 6" of snow and the news that everything was closed down--including the Army--so my husband got to stay home all day!  Today there is a two hour delay for him and the schools are still closed.  I was supposed to have a meeting today but now I have the whole day free to play with hearts!

I'll be back next time with the last retreat project.  It was more challenging that the others.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My First Retreat Project and a Major Event

Hi Everyone,

As soon as I arrived at the retreat, I jumped right in working on my first project.  I've been really excited about this pattern since it came out last fall.

The pattern is called Lincoln's Promise and is by Patchalot.  Patchalot is the company name for Marcie Patch, from whom I took a class a year ago last fall and has now become a good blog/instagram/facebook friend.  You can find it here.

Marcie made her version in black and cream and red.  She used a pack of Pam Buda's American Gothic for the blacks and creams.  I had my own fat quarter collection of the same fabrics and planned to use them.  Then I had an inspirational flash!

In my stash, I had a fat quarter of this fabric.  It is from the Gettysburg line by Kensington Studios for Quilting Treasures.
In the entire fat quarter, there was only one complete portrait of Lincoln, but it would be the right size for my need, so I fussy-cut it.

I used triangles of this wonderful red paisley fabric to make a square-in-a-square block.  I love how the paisley plays with the frame and other trim around the portrait!

I didn't think black was going to work with this as well as brown, so I made the decision to change to brown fabrics and pulled as many as would match from my stash and also a bunch of cream background fabrics.  I did the precutting at home and packed up the pattern, this center block and my other pieces into a baggie for the retreat.

I did get to make four flying-geese units, but the rest of the quilt top was half triangle squares.  I felt like I would be trimming HSTs all day!

Once I got them all trimmed and ready to sew, I did get a little frustrated with the seams.  I really don't like pressing points into the seam allowance, so I fussed and clipped many of the seams so there wouldn't be big lumps of bulk on the back.  
I also "pinwheeled" as many of the seams as possible.

Finally, by the end of the night, I had my first project complete!  (I just had to add the outer red border the first thing the next morning.)

Lincoln's Promise
(I'm not exactly sure what Marcie had in mind about "the Promise" but I think Lincoln is promising that you will spend ages trimming HSTs!)

I love how Marcie has you scatter a few red triangles among the brown ones.  I really love this quilt and can't wait to get it quilted and bound.

As for the Major Event, the retreat was overlaid with a bit of a family crisis.  My younger sister was expecting and the baby was due on March 4.  It had been a difficult pregnancy.  With both this one, and her first (resulting in my 8 year old niece) she suffered from terrible morning sickness for the full duration of the pregnancy.  But the day before the retreat began, she had a routine OB appointment, and her blood pressure was so high that the doctor admitted her to the hospital.  They began IV medication and got the pressure to come down a bit.  We hoped that would be good and she could come home.  However, when they tried the oral medication, she was so sick that she couldn't keep it down.  Meanwhile, they were running other tests (I'm not going into all the personal details here) and it became obvious that she had preeclampsia.   By Friday night, her condition was deteriorating too much and the decision was made that even at 5 1/2 weeks early, the baby had to come out.  They induced, as the doctors thought a regular birth would be better than surgery and on Saturday around noon, my little nephew was born!  

He weighed 5 lbs, 11 oz and was 20" long.  He was such a little miracle!  He needed time under the warmers, but spent the first night in the regular nursery and didn't have to be in the NICU at all.  We were so relieved.

He was discharged from the hospital on Monday, but my sister was still having issues with her blood pressure.  (If you remember and are Downton Abbey fans, Preeclampsia is what caused Sybil to die after having her daughter.)  My sister finally got to go home yesterday afternoon! 

I was sharing all of this with the ladies at the retreat and we all were praying and we all celebrated, and we all cooed over the pictures.  It was nice to have support through it all.  Quilters are the most wonderful people out there!

Next time I'll be talking about my second retreat project.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Retreat

Hi Everyone,

I had a really great time at my retreat.  My friend and roommate, Janice, and I left bright and early on Thursday morning.  We could arrive as early as 8am, so we left around 7.  The retreat was held at a resort campground about an hour north of here, and was situated on an inlet of the Rappahannock River--with access out to the Chesapeake Bay.  Because it is the "off season," we got some really good prices!  We rented onsite "cottages" and set up our machines in the large activity center.  This is the first year that the campground is trying winter rentals, and it just happened to be unseasonably cold when we were there, so they really got a test of how things could be!  The cottages are essentially smallish mobile homes, but permanently attached and with decks, etc.  They weren't very well insulated, though!  The first night many people were a bit cold, but we figured out how to tweak things the rest of the time (brief showers, for instance) and so we adapted!

Janice and I were the third and fourth to arrive, out of a group of 15 of us.  The campground had already had quilters, so they had the table set up perfectly--including having tables up on risers for cutting and pressing! 

This was my area, all set up.  Two tables were placed together to be stations for two quilters.  Janice was on the other side of our table.
They had lemonade, tea, water, ice, and hot water available all day for us.  We had an enormous table for snacks, too.  Having retreated with this same group once before, I was sure that there would be plenty of food, but I was amazed by the amount of goodies.  To say that we could have eaten as much as we sewed is pretty accurate!
The campground contracted a caterer to provide us with our supper each evening, but lunch and breakfast were up to us to have in our cottages.  Breakfast was easy enough, but for lunches, Janice and I got with two of our other friends who went and were roommates and each of us provided a lunch meal for all four.  The first day was my turkey soup and a salad, the second day Robin served us curried chicken salad, Janice had sloppy Joes, and on the last day, we ate Trish's chicken chili.  It worked out brilliantly!  We had hot, delicious lunches with a minimum of effort. 
Since the group organizers know all about the quantity of snacks and other goodies, they asked for our suppers to be light--we didn't need big, heavy meals.  We had three really tasty, gourmet salads with yummy, homemade bread with two of them, and hot, French onion soup with another.  While they were really delicious, I think we all would have been happier with hot soup for each meal--it was really cold outside!
Over on the snack table, the hit was this:
This Skinny Pop popcorn was awesome!  It isn't greasy and has just the right amount of salt, and more importantly--tastes really fresh and not preserved at all.  Can you see how there are only 39 calories per cup?  That sounds great until you realize that you're on your third cup of the day! Anyway, it came from Costco.  I don't have a membership, but that may change soon!
The other really popular item was something Janice brought along.
This is a photo from Amazon--I never did get a picture of anyone wearing it.  I think if Janice had rented it out by the hour, she could have paid for the retreat and had money left over.  But, of course, she just lent it out to anyone who needed it, and it really did make the rounds.  One of the other ladies also had one.  It is a heating pad made for the neck and shoulders.  If you are interested, you can find out more details here.  One of the other ladies led us in doing some Yoga stretches to help keep our backs and necks strong and "not quite as sore" as four (well, 3 1/2) days of sewing can make them.
We could stay as late as we wanted to sew.  The workers locked the doors after supper, and the last people to leave made sure the doors shut firmly and the lights were off.  We usually stayed until sometime between 10 and 11.  We were never the last ones to leave, but at least half of the others were gone before us.

 This is my bedroom--it was a queen-sized bed, but the room was really small.  It didn't matter, though.  I was only there to sleep!

This is the front of our cottage!  See the snow?  It had snowed on Tuesday night as was still there on Friday morning when I took this picture.  In fact, there was still quite a bit when we left on Sunday.  It is unusual for snow to stay around so long here.  Yesterday it got up to the sixties--melting it all away but then a cold front came through last night and we are supposed to get another dumping today and tomorrow!

This is the view out the windows of the activity center.  You can see the water and it was all really pretty.  It would have been wonderful to go for walks and explore, but it was just too cold and slippery.  We have booked it again in April, though, and it should be gorgeous out then!

The activity room was unlocked each morning at 8.  Janice and I were always the first to arrive.  Isn't it great when friends/roommates have similar schedules?  Janice drove us down and the cottages were too far away to walk, so I guess I was really lucky that we have the same schedules!

Here are some pictures of the projects the other ladies were working on.  My biggest regret at every retreat is that I don't manage to take pictures of all the gorgeous projects!

This is Janice's Virginia Tech inspired quilt for a wedding gift

This is Trish's aqua batik quilt.  She got it mostly sashed together by the time we left.  Everyone loved the color!

We could stay until 5pm on Sunday, but one person left Saturday afternoon, and others started packing up first thing in the morning.  We stayed about and hour after lunch and then started packing up.  I got home around 4.  My husband carried all my stuff back upstairs and then I fell asleep on the couch for about a half and hour.

I was lazy yesterday and managed to get the laundry done, but little else.  Today I need to go to my sewing room and put everything away.  I will share the projects that I made the rest of this week.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Maine Event Round 3--My Monthly Schnibble

Hi Everyone,

This is another post that I wrote prior to going on the retreat.  Before I left, I finished my January Schnibble, the pattern called "Jersey Girl."  I first wrote about this project here where I discussed the plan I had and the reason I was naming it "The Maine Event."   I had a second post about it here.  During the final construction, I was alerted by a reader, Hildy, that there was a typo in the pattern about the size to cut the sashing strips.  It should read 1.5" x 10" instead of 10"x 10."

I'm really, really pleased with how it came out.  If you recall, I used charm packs of Kansas Troubles Harvest Moon line and decided to make them into leaves.  I did so to reference our quilt show that we had last fall--the logo was a leaf block and I made the ribbons that were awarded out of Harvest Moon fabric, too.

I needed more background squares than the charm packs provided, so I went into my fabric stash and pulled out whatever seemed to be the same color.  I have been inspired by the "low value" quilts that are appearing in blogland and how backgrounds with lots of pattern are being used effectively, so I challenged myself to use whatever was the right color--no matter the pattern.

Consequently, there are parts of a panel that featured the title page of "Common Sense."

And also some quilt blocks.

There are also lots of bits of other background-type fabric.  I really love the results!

When I finished the top and did the quilting, I decided that the binding needed something special.  Did you notice it in the photos above?

A year ago, I asked for readers to send me photos of their favorite bindings.  Marti, from 52 Quilts shared a tutorial she had done to make this binding.  It is completely machine sewn and features a faux flange detail.  I followed her tutorial and it was great.  It was really easy to do and I love the way it looks.  It made a wider binding than I normally use (I cut my strips at 2" and fold them in half typically) but I felt this quilt, with all of the background fabric, could really use a spectacular, slightly "beefy" binding.

I think it looks divine on my divan.

If you remember my original post, I decided on the title:  The Maine Event, because I was going to be meeting a good blogfriend, Regan, from Floating on a Quilted Cloud, while she was visiting the area.  Unfortunately, it was supposed to happen on Wednesday, the day we awoke to our dumping of snow--so it didn't happen.  We have promised to try again one day, and even though we didn't meet, we got to chat on the phone.

To see all of the Jersey Girl Schnibbles, be sure to visit Sinta and Sherri for the parade on the first of the month.  I always enjoy seeing all the different variations.

Have a great weekend!  Hopefully I won't be too tired from my retreat and can be back on Monday to share all about it.


Packing For My Retreat

Hi Everyone,

I'm writing a few blog entries to post while I'm gone on retreat, so if you comment and don't hear right back from me, it may be that I'm unable to do so.  I'm not sure how much internet we are going to have at the retreat area.

The fact that we would even go came into question on Wednesday morning.  Our area finally got some snow--and it was enough to shut down most things today.  It was only 3 inches or so, but they aren't equipped to deal with it here, so we "wait it out" a bit.  Finally, we heard the decision that we would be going and I was very relieved.  I'd already packed and carried most of my stuff downstairs!

I meant to take a picture of my enormous pile of stuff, but I forgot.  I'm driving up there with a friend and we want to leave early Thursday morning, so we got together and loaded what we could Wednesday afternoon to make for an easier time in the morning.

If you follow me on Instagram (I'm patrioticquilter), I will be taking and sharing pictures of the retreat if I can.

Since I've been having a bit of a hardware store theme this week, this post fits right in.  I'm going to show you the tool caddy I got for Christmas, from Menards (a Home Improvement Store) and how I packed it for the retreat.  I first learned about this from this post.

I'm sorry that the photo is blurry.  If I had known before I packed the chest in my friend's vehicle, I would have taken another.  Anyway, you can get a fair idea.  There is a lower section that is quite spacious.  It opens and angles out to reveal a large compartment.

Inside it, I have many of the containers of squares that I cut last week.  Also on the side is my thread holder and giant cone of thread.

The middle section of the caddy opens to reveal three drawers.  You can tell that the bottom one is a bit deeper than the other two.

 In the bottom drawer, I have my folding, vintage travel iron, small bottle of Best Press, and a few Monthly Mini kits from the Temecula Quilt Co.

The middle drawer has a divider to allow for pens or other small tools.  In it I put a magnet (in case of pin spills--which is always a possibility with me,) some marking pens, and a glue stick.  In the larger compartment I have my case of machine needles, oil, scissors, bobbins (prewound so I'm all ready), etc.  I also have a container of pins.  Later, after I took the photo, I put some small rulers in as well.

In the top drawer are some more small containers containing things I likely won't use, but am taking anyway, "just in case."  I also have the books I need for some of the projects I'm working on.

Finally, the top of the caddy opens like a lid, revealing another nice space.  I filled it with all the kits that I put together for the projects.  I think I have 4-5 of them, plus those Temecula ones.  Do you think I will run out of things to work on?  It is always so tough to gauge and anyone who has ever gone on a retreat can probably attest to the fact that we usually take way too much stuff!

On another hardware store note, I forgot to mention that I have a heavy piece of cardboard (not corrugated) to which I taped sheets of extra fine sandpaper.  I use it to "hold" the squares or other pieces that I need to draw a line across.  It keeps them nicely in place.

If you are wondering where my rotary cutter and other things are, they are in my Tutto bag that holds my machine.  I have this caddy, the Tutto bag, and then just one other bag of oversized items (my cutting mat/ironing surface combo, sandboard mentioned above, some of those design boards that I made and showed here, a lamp, and power strip/extension cord.  Other than that, I have my chair, and then a bundle of bedding, suitcase, snacks and food and drink, etc. (We provide our own breakfast and lunch--they do supper.)

Have a great day!


Hi Everyone,

Wow, I am amazed that so many of you knew about those carpet blades.  Where have I been that I didn't know about them until recently?!

I had other plans for a post today, but those will keep.  This one is more exciting.  Are any of you Downton Abbey fans?  I sure am but I have not been discussing it here as I don't want to have any spoilers escape, etc.

You may also know that there is a line of fabrics, based on the show.  I purchased the Dowager collection, consisting of purples, grays, and blacks, but have yet to make the intended item.  Recently, though, I got a couple pieces of Edith's line in order to make a bag.

I actually made two--going with my theory that it is just as easy to make two items like that as it is to make one.

I used one in a gift exchange and it was "stolen" a few times, so I guess people liked it.  Anyway, it was fun to make and embellish.

If you are Downton fans, perhaps you know who this is?

No?  How about now?

She is Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the Countess of Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey
I hate to name-drop, but she and I are having tea next month!  (Okay, there will be way more people attending than just the two of us, AND I suppose I must confess that I paid for a ticket, but still..)
I am usually more informed of the latest fabric lines than I am fashion lines, however, I believe I am going to have to change all of that.  I think this occasion calls for a new dress! 
I will take along my camera and be sure to give you all the details!  Now I must get busy.  I leave on the retreat tomorrow (hopefully--we got some snow and there is a bit of concern about getting there--cross your fingers!)
Have a great day!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hardware Store Quilting

Hi Everyone,

Back last fall, I wrote a post about how I was going to the quilt shop and my husband was going to Harbor Freight, and even though they aren't too far apart--we decided to go in our own vehicles.  At that time, Wendy alerted me to the fact that Harbor Freight sells rotary cutter blades.  They insist on calling them carpet cutter blades, but they look just like the ones we use for the standard 45mm cutters.

As you can see, it is a package of two.  I also heard someone from my guild mentioning them, too, so I thought I needed to check them out--if for no other reason than a fun blog post.

The package of two blades cost--hold on here--$1.99.  Yes, less than a dollar each!  I just did a quick on-line survey of quilting blades and discovered that if you get a 50% off sale or coupon, they average around $3 each.  But speaking of coupons, I had a 25% off coupon for Harbor Freight, so these only cost $1.50 for 2--that's 75 cents each.  I also had another coupon for a free pair of scissors with any purchase.

Don't worry!!  I'm not suggesting that you use these scissors for quilting.  No--I'm a big believer in "the best defense is a good offense" meaning that if you flood your house with lots of scissors, no one will venture into the sewing room to grab your good scissors!  This tip really works for me.

I have had the blades for a while now, waiting to try one of them out.  I decided to put one on prior to my big cutting bee last week so I could really get an idea of how it would work.  The results were better than I expected!  I did lots of cutting and I like to layer up to 6 pieces of fabric, and this blade really powered through and did a good job.  I'm not sure if it is going to last as long as a quilting blade--that really depends on how much you cut, etc. but for the price, even if it lasts only half as long, it is still saving money.  I think I'm pretty safe to generalize and say that most quilters wait way too long to change their blade.  Maybe at this price, we will think to change it more often!  Just in case you are wondering, I really noticed no difference between this and the quilting one.  There is no change to my cutting mats or anything.

Don't think that the blades are the only thing that is handy to use from a hardware store, though.  Here is a recent photo of when I was layering some quilts.

(Yes, this is a recent photo--it was taken around the 28th of December and our grass was/is still green!  It is sounding by the weather that it will turn white tonight, though)

If I have quilts that are larger than my cutting table, I ask my husband to set up the saw horses in the garage.  We have this 4x8 sheet of particle board that we got from Lowes when we bought a fridge.  The guy who was loading the fridge into the back of my husband's truck, gave it to us to keep the non-stick bed liner coating of the truck from scratching the appliance.  My husband has kept it in the back of his truck ever since.  It really comes in handy when we need a large worktable in the garage.

As you can see, I also get out the wood-working clamps to stretch the backing and batting taut.  On the edge where the clamps don't reach, I use blue painter's tape.  I LOVE blue tape.  I use it for so many things--like numbering blocks and/or rows of a quilt, labeling the amount of yardage in a piece of fabric (usually backing), etc.  

Wendy was also telling me another great hardware store tip to protect your good scissors.  Use a padlock to lock the handles together!  Isn't that brilliant?  I have yet to try this.  I'm sort of afraid that I would lose the key or combination.  Plus, it's only my husband here besides me and he has plenty of free Harbor Freight scissors to use!

How about all of you?  Do any of you have good hardware store quilting ideas?  I would love to hear them!

Have a great day!