Ask Jo: Pantry Challenge, Halloween Quilt and More

Hello, and welcome to another edition of “Ask Jo”.  I get many comments and questions from all sorts of places, the comment section here, Youtube, email, and from our Facebook group.  Sometimes I think others of you might want to know the answers as well so I answer them here on the blog.   Today I’m tackling the pantry challenge, the Halloween quilt, and some other random questions.

Gail asked:
How is pantry clean out going? I have been working on mine for 2 months now and just barely making any progress. It is very hard to not go into the store and buy what you feel like at the present. I love your ideal of using up what I have and creating dinner out of my storage or garden.”

Hi Gail…I’m a gal who works in modes.  If you read the blog you might notice that.  I will suddenly finish multiple quilt tops all at once.  I will jump into the throws of gardening.  I will jump into a pantry clean-out.  I put things into “seasons”.  When it’s that “season” I am all in and totally concentrate on it .  Right now it is not practical for me to work on the pantry clean out as I am neck deep in garden goodness.   I have all sorts of things that need to be harvested.

I’m hanging in there and working to keep the progress I made in the pantry but I’m not using a box cake mix that I would otherwise use if I have zucchini and could be making a zucchini cake from scratch instead.  Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe HERE.

I am still working on the meat in the freezer though.  I’ve bought very little.  I did buy a bag of chicken nuggets the other day for the grandkids.  Sometimes we adults order food from the bar/grill here in town but throw chicken nuggets and fries into the air fryer for the kiddos.  It saves some money on the restaurant budget and so far, the kids don’t know the difference.

Other than that, I can’t really think of anything that I’ve bought and put in the freezer.  I’m content with how it’s going even though I’m not actively concentrating on the pantry clean-out.

Not to long ago I made Rice Krispie bars using up some marshmallows that were starting to get hard…and also some leftover M&Ms got added to the top.
I also made soup using on some veggies that were in the freezer plus some veggies from the garden.

The garden clean-out is a much bigger challenge.  I love gardening.  I love the fresh food so I am so happy to have moved my focus there.  Right now the rule is that every meal has to use a minimum of one veggie group from the garden but I aim for two.  Cucumber salad and Air Fryer Zucchini Fries have been my go-to lately.  I’ll likely switch back to the pantry challenge once fall gets here.

Pamela asked:
Hi Jo
This is a question for the Ask Jo section.
Jo do you use steam when you press your patches and seams. I notice that Bonnie Hunter never uses steam but a dry iron and a spray if needed but Eleanor Burns uses steam.
I press the patches dry on a wool mat (which incidentally stinks to High Heaven if I use steam on it) but use steam on the joining seams and the finished quilt front. So far I have taken care not to stretch anything when I’ve steamed it and it does look better and lies flatter but I wonder whether there are any pit falls waiting to be discovered. Don’t want the Quilt Police knocking on my door!

Quilt police be damned.  Do what you want and what you feel works best for you.  The great news is that there is not any “right” way to do any of this.  If whatever you’re doing works for you…do it!

But you asked what I do so…
Here is my general guideline for me…
I use a dry iron to press seams…if I press seams.  I am not a presser.  I don’t press much at all until my block is completely finished.  Remember the tumbler quilt I’m making?

I pressed this once…but only when it was completely finished.  No iron touched this until it was completely sewn together.  I didn’t press the rows at all until the top was completely finished.

I am not “normal” and I know that and I’m totally okay with that.

If I am making a standard nine-patch block, I don’t iron the block until it is finished.

I never use steam…NEVER.  I don’t like the heat blasting out on me…It adds heat to the room and I don’t need that.  Also I don’t like the way water corrodes my iron.  I think irons last longer when I don’t use water in them…my ironing board cover stays nicer longer too.

I lightly starch larger more complicated blocks as I finish them.  I ALWAYS use starch on the quilt top once it is completely finished.  I think it makes it easier when I longarm it.  The top doesn’t have as much “give” once it has been starched.

The reason I don’t iron while making the blocks is that starch takes away the “give” I like when I am putting completed blocks together.  I regularly pull a little or tuck a little when assembling blocks together to make sure the seams match and by not ironing, the “give” stays in the fabric.

As for starch…I use this…(find it HERE)

I know people, including designers, go on and on about wanting everything to lay flat.  That is a preference…not a must, not a rule.  I try to get things to lay flat as it’s a little easier to machine quilt it if it does…but, as soon as it’s off the frame, we all want to wash the quilt and see how nicely it all is crinkles up.  All that work we did to get it to lay flat is lost in the crinkles…Once I realized that I quit worrying so much about wanting everything to be flat…being I wanted the crinkle look in the end anyway!!  I felt it was silly to put so much time and worry into things being so flat…so I quit worrying.  Sure…I try but if it’s not…BIG DEAL!  It’s going to get lost in the crinkle anyway!

Nancy asked;
Hi Jo!  Do you have any tips on how to piece flying geese accurately?

I usually use an easy angle with a

companion angle ruler

or I use flip corners.  Some people suggest using a scant ¼” seam allowance.

I use these rulers for other things too.  I make all of my half-square triangles with the easy angle and all of my hourglass blocks with a companion angle ruler.

The reason I love these rulers so much is that they work perfectly with my scrap user’s strip collection of fabric.

Remember the Hour Glass quilt I made?  The entire thing was made with the companion angle ruler.

I loved making this quilt.  Close up it was even better.  You can read more about it HERE.

I’m probably not the best person to ask as I’m not really picky if my blocks are perfect or not.  I sew just because I enjoy sewing…I’m not a perfectionist at all.

I’ve been asked again about the yardage for the Halloween quilt.  I answered this before in a previous “ask Jo” but put the answer here again.  It’s been a popular question.

Here is a peek at the Halloween quilt…

I talked with Kelli.  She said this is what you need to know about fabric requirements:
6 1/2 of the background if you don’t make any errors.  She suggested 7 yards.
4 1/2 of printed fabrics
3/4 of binding.  I used scrappy orange binding.

I used fabric from a new Moda line that is coming out.  The line is Midnight Magic II.  It came out in April of 2021.  It’s a great print with mini stars in the background.

If you are wanting the fabric, I suggest hitting up the shops.

I know someone will ask so this is what I used for the backing fabric.  It is also from the fabric line.  The quilt is 94″ x 94″ so that should help you determine what you want for the backing.  If you want to splice yours together as I did and hide the slice, then you might want a little extra fabric.

I think this quilt will be in the next issue of American Patchwork and Quilting so I’m guessing you’ll only have to wait a few more weeks.  Of course, watch here on the blog and I’ll tell you more details once I know them.

That wraps up this edition of “Ask Jo”.  If you have other questions leave them in the comments or jot me an email.


15 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Pantry Challenge, Halloween Quilt and More”

    1. Yes Sally…any which way they want to lay. I let my seams be free spirits. For the most part, a whole row is pressed in the same direction though.

  1. Oh Jo, I’m not a perfectionist either, I’m so glad we are out here every where….LOL. Once that quilt is washed all the imperfections are gone! The joy is in the making and seeing that quilt done and then being able to gift it to someone. We all do things differently there is no right or wrong in creativity and I love that!!!!

  2. Your veggie soup looks yummy! I don’t have a garden, but I do get produce from others. Nothing beats fresh beans from the garden, or zucchini, although I have been given a couple big ones – 7 cups of shredded zucchini from one in which seeds had been removed. Oh my! I’m sure you enjoy all yours too.

    1. Someone gave me a huge zucchini and I deseeded it and shredded it yesterday. I got 13 cups from it. It all went in the freezer. I try to match seams, but there are always some that don’t cooperate. Most people don’t notice that some of the seams don’t match.

  3. I look carefully at your quilt blocks and tops and I think you are just a natural born quilter. Your blocks always look perfect, not like mine! I try very hard to get my blocks to line up and it just happens every so often. I can sew a dress perfectly, but not quilt blocks. I think that 5/8 seam for sewing clothes just doesn’t let me sew a scant 1/4 sea for piecing properly. Also I only have 50% vision now in my left eye so that sure skews things up too. Oh well, I like your light hearted approach to quilting. And I don’t use steam either.

  4. Judith Fairchild

    I got the companion ruler some 25+ years ago I use it in every quilt I make. It has helped me make more and better intricate quilts. Thee other ruler i use is my diamond shap
    Ruler. Seriously I wouldn’t be with out them..
    Jo your food looks so delicious. Love the ask Jo anytime it comes up.

  5. I’ve tried your method, but I tend to be the exact opposite of you when it comes to pressing, Jo. While I don’t necessarily aim for perfectly flat, I like the resulting quilt top to be flat-ish. I prefer to set each seam and press every block as I go along. The iron is my friend, though steam is not! :o))

  6. Thank you so much for the zucchini pizza recipe! I used a little more than 3 cups of zucchini because my zucchini (fresh from the garden) were quite large and needed to be used up. More zucchini made a thicker “crust” so we call it a casserole, but it was SO GOOD! It is now a favorite and the recipe has been shared with family and friends.

  7. I had marked that zucchini recipe to try and now because of you its on the menu tonight….
    I am not a perfectionist in any way shape or form but will admit to knowing a few. They can be quite nice people when you get to know them (vbg)… we all enjoy our craft in our own way.

  8. Love my companion and easy angle rulers! Enjoy reading your blog everyday.
    Leftover M&M’s, hmmm. Never heard of such a thing, haha!

    1. My thought exactly!!!! What are “leftover M & Ms”??? Never had such a thing in my house either! Sometimes the bag gets opened in the car on the way home!!!

  9. Oh Jo thank you so much. I will try not pressing the blocks as I make them next time as I see what you say about the ‘give’. I have taught myself to quilt from the internet and books and without exception they all place great emphasis on pressing as you go along. I try hard not to be a perfectionist as I know that any what I see as flaws will never be noticed ‘by a blind man on a galloping horse’ as my mother used to say.
    Life here is easing somewhat but with COVID still very much in the air people are still being cautious and most are wearing masks outside.
    Lovely to see your quilts and read about the donated ones it reassures me that there is still life out there.

  10. The rulers you talked about are oldies but goodies. It is funny that I have them but never really used them until now. I am doing a BOM that is written using them. I guess I should have stayed with them instead of trying many different methods and mastering none. Happy Creating.

  11. All great information for me–as a very “novice” quilter– I would say I WANT to be a perfectionist, but know it will never happen. Hadn’t really thought how our quilts would be in the “end” after being washed!!
    So want to thank you for your help and encouragement to not worry sooooo much about a corner that didn’t come together like I think it should!! Have enjoyed reading about your garden bounty, using up what you have on hand etc. Love all your quilts–designs –wishing I could make all of them. I wear out too soon, when it comes to cutting anymore—bad knees, back complains -and on & on. Thanks again!

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