Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Geese Petite

So seriously, since when does a 5" square finish deserve a post all its own? When it's a paper-pieced success, when paper-piecing is not really your thing. When it's a down-right pleasure to stitch up. And even more than that, when it's teeny. And cute. Enough reasons for me.
I saw Kelly/Jeliquilts "A Circle of Geese" pincushion on Pinterest the other day, and I stopped to admire it. To be honest, I had admired it before, but this week I just had to make one too. Kelly told me what I needed to know - that the block pattern was by Piece by Number, and that she had printed the pattern at 33%. So I followed suit.
Using Essex Linen in Stone with little scrappy bits, I did the first quadrant. Believe it or not, it went together flawlessly. Read: easily. I was psyched!
Before long, I had all 4 quadrants done, and stood back in awe. At this point, each square was just under 2". 
I added skinny borders and then hand-stitched around the geese, just as Kelly had. 
For backing I used some green Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets, then filled the pincushion with crushed walnut shells and stitched the opening closed. 
 And there ya go! Dare I say I'm as pleased as can be with this fun little one!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday at the Table

Our garden consists mainly of herbs, which are especially bountiful in the summer. So when impromptu plans last weekend called for the family coming for dinner in just a few hours, I got my clippers and went snipping.

First I wanted to get some chicken marinating. I grabbed one of my herb cookbooks, Fresh Herb Cooking, and luckily found the inspiration I needed.

Adapted from Rosemary-Thyme Grilled Chicken Breasts with Herb Butter
For the Herb Butter:
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 Tb. minced herbs - I used thyme, chives, oregano, and basil
2 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken:
2 Tb. minced rosemary
2 Tb. minced thyme
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tb. olive oil
2 1/2 - 3# boneless chicken breasts

Make the herb butter by creaming all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate at least half an hour to firm up and to let the herbs flavor the butter. Remove from the refrigerator a few minutes before serving.

Make the chicken: Place chicken breasts in a large ziploc bag. In a small bowl, combine the herbs, salt and pepper, and olive oil. then pour into the bag with the chicken, massaging it all a bit, making sure herb mixture is fairly evenly dispersed. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, longer if you have the time. Grill chicken, turning once, until cooked through. Remove to serving platter and place about 1 Tb. herb butter on top of each chicken piece, and serve immediately. (If you'd like more photos, I also shared about herb butter here.)

A caprese salad was next, one of my go-to salads when I have fresh basil. I never tire of this fresh combo.

And that herb butter brightened up some steamed haricot vert, as well as being a welcome addition to the bread basket. So in no time at all, we had an easy summer meal, and could just enjoy being together. Yes.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Zakka Along 2.0 :: Week 9

There were many unique variations on last week's "Books-for-Baby" quilt project - what a clever bunch you are!

Up this week is Poppyprint, making "My Scrappy Box!" I think every sewing room could use one of these! Be sure and check out her post as well as Lindsey's for some project clarifications. I think you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


When hubby and I head out on a photo shoot, we expect the unexpected. Which is another way of saying we never really know where we're going to end up. Today it was an outdoor suburban mall, where we basically took a walk through 'town,' stopping to take pictures whenever it struck our fancy.
"Starcrossings" is the June project of the FAITH Circle of do.Good Stitches, and my second finish serving as a quilter for the group {see #1 here}.
It's no secret I took direct inspiration from the quilt by sewing over pins and the Cheer Circle. That quilt just seemed perfect for our recipient.  Each member of our circle made 2 starburst cross blocks using the tutorial by SewCraftyJess. I think they are really striking blocks, and I love the mix of fabrics my bee-mates used.

For backing and binding both, I used Lucie Summers' Summersville Spring in hot pink.
As I was mulling over how to quilt this one, I just kept coming back to the wavy stitch built into my machine. Either that or a straight-line grid. In the end, I did a combo, stitching two parallel lines at the intersections of each block, both vertically and horizontally, and then two wider spaced lines going through the center of each block, again in both directions. For piecing and quilting throughout, Aurifil white 50wt just seemed the way to go.
All in all, I'm super pleased with this finish, which just happens to be on my 3rd quarter Finish-A-Long list. These happy blocks were a pleasure to work with, and my hope as this quilt heads off to Restore Innocence this week, is that it will find its way to a young woman that finds joy in it just like I did.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Show and Tell Bee Style

There's one thing about bees. And I don't mean this negatively towards anyone, honest. I know life is busy and it is what it is, but after you send off blocks, you don't always see a completed quilt any time soon. To be totally up front, I have blocks from two bees stashed away, plus the quilt I'm working on now. All that to say, it really is something special to see a quilt finish with some of your blocks in it pop up online. And I thought I'd share some I've seen . . .

Toni/HoosierToni actually finished her Chicopee Herringbone quilt in May; I just never got around to showing it off. She made this quilt with the help of the Always Bee Learning bee, having us all use this tutorial. The ABL bee is one where you send fabric to your bee-mates along with the block plan. We were all pretty pleased to receive the Chicopee!
Herringbone, on rail

More recently was Melissa/~Me1issa's FAITH Circle quilt. We made "butterfly" blocks, even though Melissa chose a non-butterfly layout. (You can see a sample of a butterfly layout here.) You can't really see the lovely mitered corners or contrasting flange, so you might want to check out her post. This quilt was donated to Restore Innocence, the charity our bee supports.
Wonky Zig Zags

Also with the Always Bee Learning bee, Leanne/shecanquilt asked for Octagonal Orb blocks, which were somewhat intimidating looking but really pretty straightforward. We all used stash fabric to make these large blocks, which measured 16 3/4" finished, per the tutorial. I really like how Leanne finished it off, before hand carrying it to London to donate to Siblings Together at the Fat Quarterly Retreat. This bee isn't a charity bee in general, but we had a free month, and it was really nice to work on this quilt together for a good cause.
  Octagonal Orb, ready to gift

Finished just this week, is Debbie/Blue.Ridge.Girl's FAITH Circle quilt, made with scrappy triangle blocks from our personal stashes. I thought Debbie chose a fun layout for these blocks, and the staggered squares border adds a fun finishing touch. This quilt will also go to Restore Innocence.
Faith Circle of do. Good Stitches

Lastly, I discovered Cathy/blueberry patch cathy's Black & White TV quilt just today! It's made with depression blocks from That Stash Bee. It really is striking, isn't it? And look at that one little bit of red she added!

Isn't that fun? I've seen another one or two in the works recently, so hope to share more soon!

Friday, July 26, 2013

City Sampler Quilt Along :: Blocks 25, 26, & 27

As I continue making 3 blocks a week with the City Sampler quilt along, I pull from my 2 Tula Pink charm packs and limited stash to create blocks very similar to the book when I can.
On the little block below, I had similar fabrics, but alas, stitched the fussy-cut bird upside down. So to make her look 'right' my whole block is rotated. I made the design decision to leave it. (That makes it ok, right?)
The last block for the week falls under the category 'quickest in the book'!
At a sewing day with friends last weekend, rather than sew, I planned and prepped City Sampler blocks! So I'm looking forward to quick-stitching these next few weeks!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Random Is

It's been a few weeks since I've done a Random Thursday post, so of course the randomness has been piling up, as it tends to do!

I was chatting with my friend Louise/I'm Feelin' Crafty at our last SMQG meeting about the low volume, bright contrast postage stamp quilt block she was doing with her do.Good Stitches circle, and I was so intrigued. I've seen this block around, and even heard about the unusual method, but thanks to Louise, I now also have a great tutorial. One of these days . . .

And speaking of the SMQG, there's a Pacific Northwest Meet-up next month in Portland, and our guild is one of 9 participating. Sounds like good fun!
Another opportunity via the guild was Yeechi's recent find of a great sale on Aurifil. Several of us chipped in and bought a box-full! Only 6 of those are mine, but I'm still pretty much in awe of them.

photos by Yeechi

Speaking of friends (see how randomly topics are related?!), Debbie/Blue.Ridge.Girl started blogging! We usually chat via flickr and email, but it'll be fun to hear more from her via Shadows of the Blue Ridge.
A blog is born

The 100 Quilts for Kids: Charity Quilt Drive started on July 1. Sponsored by Katie of SwimBikeQuilt, it's a great way to share your gift of quilting with children in your very own community. Basically make a quilt and donate it locally between now and September 30. There's a flickr group, plus link up here. I've participated the last two summers, and have shared quilts with Project Linus.
100quiltsbutton 100 Quilts for Kids: Charity Quilt Drive Starts Today!

And as if I didn't already have enough going on, I started a new flickr group, Falling for Modern Maples.
I have 19 Modern Maple blocks from That Stash Bee, and just thought it would be nice to have some company as I work towards my goal of having the quilt done by this fall. I originally found the block pattern here, though modern handcraft has posted a similar tutorial full of great photos that I'd highly recommend. If you're interested in a Modern Maples project, feel free to join in! It's very casual and at your own speed. I probably won't get moving forward on mine till mid-August.

Lastly, I've been plugging along on grandgirl's flower girl dress, and it's crunch time! I have the skirt and silk sash completely done, buttons covered (and finally for the prototype too), and after {hopefully} a bodice fitting with grandgirl tonight, I can finish the dress up. The count-down is ON.

Guess that'll do for now. Hope you're reveling in some randomness too.

Linking up with Live a Colorful Life's Really Random Thursday.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Patchwork, Please! :: Books-for-Baby Quilt

Or in my case, it would be Book-for-Baby-Doll quilt. 
Not really knowing where I was headed, I made one block at 50% of the pattern in the book. It measured 3 1/2" x 4" unfinished, and it made me happy to use Rashida Coleman-Hale's I Heart Cute Bots again.
Not really being in the mood for much paper-piecing though, I decided to surround my little bot block with plenty of negative space, including a wide robot stripe, and make a mini quilt. For quilting, I straight-lined, using Aurifil Mako 28, pink (#2423) for the horizontal lines, and orange (#2214) for the vertical lines.
 I especially like the sections where they overlap!
The quilt background, by the way, is Essex in denim blue, the backing one of my very favs, Remix by Ann Kelle for Kaufman in hot pink, and the block border and binding the most delightful medium orange Kiss Dot by Michael Miller. I did the binding by machine again, using the book's instructions found on pages 38-39. Again, it worked perfectly (and quickly!) for this small (12" x 16") project.
It's nothing like what Ayumi had in mind, I know, but I enjoyed making it, and I know grandgirl will be happy to have another "blankie" for her baby dolls.

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday.

Tuesday at the Table

You know those times when you're eating something and realize that you are actually 'mmmm-ing' under your breath, wiping your mouth with your napkin at each bite? That's where I was a few days ago when hubby and I met up for lunch at a new place in town. Notice I didn't say 'restaurant.' This new venue is, in fact, in a convenience store with inactive gas pumps out front. A very unlikely setting for what was inarguable the best lunch I've had all month.
The Piggyback Deli just may be the smallest deli in town. I had discovered it in our local newspaper's food section, which described "a deli case filled with house-made sausages, hot dogs, bacon, porchetta, pastrami, paté and more."
The well-stocked meat case at Piggyback Deli inside a Lynnwood gas station.
photo courtesy of The Seattle Times

That all sounded terrific, but when I read on about the "real kitchen with a couple of chefs grilling those meats for made-to-order sandwiches," it went right on my mental list of lunch spots to try.

And a week later, when the opportunity presented itself, it did not disappoint. Not by a long shot. Quirky, yes, but welcoming and friendly, and most important of all, mmmm mmmm good.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Zakka Along 2.0 :: Week 8

What sweet little Dino-Mite Hats came out of your sewing rooms this last week! Very fun.

Up next is Jennifer from Ellison Lane Quilts and her darling Book-for-Baby quilt. There's a pretty awesome prize package this week too - see it all and link up over at Lindsey's.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July Bee Blocks

It feels good to have bee blocks done for July as there are some even more crucial end of the month deadlines I need to pay attention to. First up was making one more Starburst Cross block for the June FAITH Circle quilt. This block is by SewCraftyJess, and I'm really liking it! The quilt top layout has been up on my design wall all week, and I'm hoping to get the top and a backing pieced this next week.
Starburst Cross Block #2

For Mid-Century Modern bee, we were asked to make a house block. I thought I could wing it, so I did, though it was kind of fiddly for me. I hope it goes ok with the others in the 'neighborhood.'
House block for MissLuella

The Always Bee Learning Bee is making Sparkle blocks, a pattern by Freshly Pieced. The two blocks were make with identical pieces, just arranged differently, which was very fun to see come together.
Sparkler blocks for Kristina/July

For FAITH Circle's July quilt, we're making Greek Cross blocks. This block pattern is by Fresh Lemons, and I remember using is when I made my Summer Sampler quilt two summers ago. (flashback here!)
Greek Cross blocks Greek Cross blocks

And wouldn't you know, That Stash Bee's July blocks, the Arkanasas Traveler block, was also from the Summer Sampler, another one by Freshly Pieced. Now I have to confess, as lovely as it may be, this first block was a 'loser,' measuring only 12" square when I was done. I had checked the 1" marker on the pattern I printed, and it seemed to be right, but I guess not quiiiiite 1".
Arkansas Traveler block
So I tried again, making sure I did not 'print to fit' and the next 2 blocks each came out a perfect 12 1/2". So beware and always double-check your print settings. This pattern is interesting in that it is a combo of regular piecing (the diamonds) and paper-piecing (the background). 
Ok, those are done. On to grandgirl's flower girl dress(!), a starburst cross quilt, City Sampler blocks, etc. etc. And the list goes on.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jewel Lines

There's been a little project behind the scenes that I can finally share. And that would be a table runner I made as a shower gift. It's a bit complicated when we live in different states, but daughter dear and godchild Jessica figured out a way to throw a shower for my soon-to-be-daughter-in-law. They called it "Bridal Shower-in-a-Box."  Basically, they asked local friends and family to fill a gift box with something for the bride-to-be, then Jessica and Rachel packed them all together with fresh-baked cookies and party decorations, and sent them off.

The runner I made was "get in line" by Amy Walsh of Blue Underground Studios, which was published in the June 2012 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. In the magazine, the runner was made of Dupiani silk, which was lovely, but I chose to make mine more day-to-day-friendly by using Kona cottons.

It was a really interesting process cutting strips . . .
and playing with placement on the design wall.
For quilting, I tried to add some more variety by using 3 different Aurifil 28wt Mako Cotton Threads. The 28wt is heavier than the 50 weight I use for piecing, and emphasizes the stitches well. I was pleased to find 3 really nicely coordinating colors in my thread bin - Winter Mauve #5003, Sapphire #2730, and Peapod #1231. I stitched randomly spaced straight lines in the stripes across the runner, 2 or 3 lines per stripe.
The finished runner measured a generous 20x44", and I've named my version "Jewel Lines," taken from the many jewel-toned Kona's and the obviously repetitive lines, both in fabric and quilting.
So the bridal-shower-in-a-box has arrived to bless my future daughter-in-law, and in just about every way, I couldn't be more pleased.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!