Tuesday, December 30, 2014

24 in 2014

Quilt finishes of any size were included in this year's mosaic, and right off, I'm surprised to see so much color! Probably what makes me happiest is noting that at least half of this year's quilts are of my own design.
13. Duo ~ 14. Colour Study ~ 15. Sunshiney Day ~ 16. ástərisk
21. Still Swooning ~ 22. Radiancy ~ 23. Unlocked ~ 24. Pluses
Click on the quilt names listed below the mosaic to see their reveal posts if you want to read more about any particular one. Just for fun, I'll point out a few key tidbits:
  1. most repeated design - the Postcard Quilt (#4, 11, & 13)
  2. biggest risk taken - cutting my quilt top in half to finish Striped Strip (#12)
  3. longest to make - three blocks/week for nearly 8 months for Unlocked (#23)
  4. showing off - several have been shown publicly (#1, 6, 16, 17)
So that wraps up 2014 quilt-wise! I can't help but smile as I glance through these photos, recalling some of the blended emotions that went into the sewing of these quilts. And of course there's a sense of wonder at what could possible come next . . .

Sunday, December 28, 2014

SO Many Choices

When I walked into the studio this afternoon, I had no idea it would end up being so fulfilling. I thought I'd face some dreaded paper-piecing, but got waylaid on the way to the sewing machine by some blocks I had up on the design wall. Without going into the nitty gritty - that can wait for an upcoming quilt reveal post - the blocks were half-rectangle triangles made by the Always Bee Learning bee back in May. And I had no idea what I wanted to do with them.

Yesterday I placed one layout option up on the design board {upper left photo below} after referring to variations I'd been collecting on a Pinterest board created just for that purpose.  I liked it. I liked it alot. But if I sewed up my blocks into this design, the finished quilt would be 90"+, larger than I feel comfortable quilting right now. So I began to explore different layouts.
That's when I turned to my Instagram buddies, and boy did they encourage me along. I knew #2 {upper right} was pretty ho-hum when I posted it, but it was actually what most influenced my final decision. Well that and Debbie/shadowsoftheblueridge, who suggested I off-set each column. And with that, I made my decision right then and there. {lower right photo above}

So when I asked my bee to make half-rectangle blocks months ago, I had in mind a simple layout such as the one below. 
But that vision has been replaced. And the result pieced into a quilt top that I can't wait to quilt.
Good times.

Friday, December 26, 2014

et cetera

So there were several Christmas gifts that you may have caught glimpses of in my flickr stream or on Instagram, but that I was not able to blog about till now. Glancing through them quickly I notice that they are all remakes of patterns I've made before. As much as I like trying new patterns, when I find one I really like, I often have to make it again!
First is another Snowflake Pillow {here's my first}. I made the 9" version from During Quiet Times' pattern, adding borders to make a 12" pillow. I wasn't sure how the directional blue stash fabric would work, but I ended up really liking how it gave the effect of a swirling snow storm. And the white on white Lizzy House pearl bracelets are perfect for the snowflake.

The kindle cover tutorial by Ellison Lane Quilts is one I've used several times before, and it's been perfect each time. So of course I turned to it again this Christmas.

And another Noodlehead open wide zippered pouch made an appearance, as a carry-all for a bunch of sewing goodies for my 10-year-old godchild, Julia. Her wish came true in the form of a new sewing machine from Santa, so I'm excited to watch her passion grow.

And finally, I got a little carried away making two in one pouches using the pattern by s.o.t.a.k handmade.
I made 7 for Christmas, bringing my overall total to 10. I must say, so far this has been my favorite use of my Cotton + Steel fabrics.
 I kinda couldn't decide which photo of the last batch I'd share with you, so you get several!
And I gotta say, it warmed my heart plenty when 4-year-old grandgirl opened her present from me on Christmas morning - 3 Disney princesses + the small "just her size" pouch. After examining the princesses one by one, she pulled the pouch out of her giftbag and hollered, "oh grammy! This is even better!" Oh yeah.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wishing you a . . .

May you and your family have a Christmas
filled with wonder, joy, & peace!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday at the Table

While I was busy rushing to and fro and crossing things off my personal to-do list last weekend, hubby headed to the kitchen. Like to bake. By himself. This was highly unusual, but I didn't ask too many questions. And before long, the house was smelling really good, and wouldn't you know, he had made biscotti. Smitten Kitchen's gingerbread biscotti to be exact. And honestly, if you like biscotti even a tiny bit, you should make these too. We took a coffee break that afternoon to taste-test them with a short café Cubano. {Our Americanized version consists of a double shot of espresso drawn over a teaspoon or so of brown sugar, topped off with a spot of cream.} Anyway, we declared them a rousing success.
Another recent success from Smitten Kitchen was her fromage fort which I made for our recent guild party. Basically it's a garlicky herb cheese spread. It was really easy to make (can you say, "clean out the cheese drawer?"), and spread on baguette slices, was pretty darn addicting. It would be a great appetizer to make ahead and have on hand for the holidays.
Speaking of, menus are set for Christmas Day. The family starts things off with brunch at our house, and I'll be repeating the popular and yummy Cinnamon French Toast with Ricotta Filling, served up with Coffee Bacon. I know. That bacon sounds pretty weird, but we love it, and by now, it's practically tradition.

Fingers crossed as I try Horseradish-Rubbed Roast later in the day for dinner - recommended with high praise by my hairdresser no less! Figure it will go great with the Classic Mashed Potatoes, which we enjoyed so much at Thanksgiving. I'm keeping it easy by letting the family round out the meal.

So what's going on in your kitchen? I know things are hectic, but I'd love to hear what I'm missing! {wink}

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bags and More Bags

Even before my post on Last-Minute Gift Wrap & Tags went live on Sew, Mama, Sew a few weeks ago, you most likely already knew I really like to make and use fabric gift bags. In Color Order's Lined Drawstring Bag has pretty much been my go-to bag ever since I first discovered it, but I needed something a little simpler for this Christmas.

I started off with the drawstring bag tutorial by s.o.t.a.k handmade, a bag I was already familiar with. I cut out 2 at a time, and then alternated the bag exterior and linings, using some Essex linen for the casings, and finishing with chevron twill tape and woven cotton trim as ties.

For some reason that little bit of Essex made me want to try something else, so I used a mini charm pack for a little patchwork to accent a super-sized linen bag. I went so far as using a layer of cotton batt in this one, and quilting it up. Definitely a heftier bag than my norm, but boy was it fun, and I do love linen and patchwork together, don't you?
During the time I was getting going on these bags, I saw the snowman insta-tutorial by beelori1 of Bee in My Bonnet, and I couldn't resist making one up. In my excitement, I forgot about the buttons down his front, but I thought he'd be fun on the front of a bag for grandgirl. I especially like the striped scarf I found for him, and was pretty successful with my second go at sketch-stitching for his face and arms.
Ready to try something else, I decided on John Q. Adams/quilt dad's Patchwork Stripe Bag tutorial from his book Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays, shared as a free tutorial recently on Sew, Mama, Sew. There's actually 3 different options in the tutorial, which is really great. As with my first pair of bags above, I cut out 2 at a time and just switched up the pieces. I find them pretty irresistible. One thing of note in John's pattern is you sew only 1 line for the casing, though the casing holes are 'normal' - just large enough for the ribbon. I was kinda confused about it at first, but look what a sweet effect it gives to the bags. I like it for a change.
After all these, the Trim-Tied Gift Bags I'd already made, plus the random fabric bags I had from last year, I still needed a few more. So it made sense to make them up using the 2 patterns I'd gotten pretty familiar with lately . . . quilt dad's on the left, and s.o.t.a.k handmade's on the right. Just 'plain,' they are both a pretty quick, but still satisfying, sew.
Oh yeah, and then I needed just one more - isn't that how it is? But I loved playing with this Hip Holiday line again!
I still have plenty of Christmasy fabric left, and in a perfect world, I'd get to making some for next year right after Christmas. There's always more to try, and I've been pinning plenty of tutorials on my Bags Pinterest board. But you can probably guess how that will go....so whatever. At least this year's gifts are in the bag.

Fabrics used: photos #1 & #4: A Merry Little Christmas by Zoe Pearn for Riley Blake, #2: Solstice by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics with Essex linen blend, #3: Sunnyside by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics, #5: Yonder Star by De Leon Design Group for Alexander Henry Fabrics (R) + Hip Holiday by Josephine Kimberling for blend (L), #6: Hip Holiday by Josephine Kimberling for blend. I failed to get a photo of the bag I made with the terrific Holiday Socks by Michael Miller.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Love It or Hate It?

Several months ago, Sew Mama Sew asked me to round up some quilting tutorials, and so far, I've shared 12 Fundamental Quilting Skills and 8 Modern Ways to Back a Quilt. Today you'll find 15 Best Binding Tutorials, a pretty exhaustive collection. {Just click here.} There's a few of my own {striped binding and straight and angled matched binding} plus a dozen more, several of which I'd never seen before. You know I like to put a twist on my quilts' bindings, but even so, I was surprised and impressed at some of the techniques I found, and I'm pretty sure you'll find something new to try, or a tutorial to make your favorite method even better.
Binding a quilt is one of those things you swoon over or dread. {I'm a swooner!} For some reason, I am just intrigued by how folks finish their quilts. So much so, I've taken 2 online surveys this year here on A Quilter's Table, just to feed my curiosity. The first was about your binding decisions {survey and results}, where the second was more about your actual technique {survey and results}. Interesting reading for sure - and a good resource when you're considering your binding options. And this new round up will be a terrific added resource.
Thanks to those who gave permission for their techniques to be shared, and remember, I also recently posted Emma/joworimakes' tutorial for hand blanket-stitched binding - another to add to your own personal round up.

So have you tried some of the tutorials I mention in my Sew Mama Sew post? If so, or if you have another we should all know about, please share in the comments. How you finish your quilt can really add to the overall effect. Isn't it great to have so many options?

Sew Mama Sew

Friday, December 12, 2014

We Have a {Giveaway Day} Winner!

It's been another fantastic Giveaway Day Week! 433 of you stopped by to leave a comment in response to my request to share "one quilting tutorial or pattern found online that you turn to again and again." Boy, do I have some serious perusing to do! You gave oodles of suggestions, several of which I've already pinned to try myself. Thanks for sharing!

So we have a winner! And that would be #72, Lynda, who said, "my go to pattern was found on the Oh Fransson blog, the new wave quilt - have made this up in soft colors for babies, bright colors for toddlers, and neutral and bold browns for male lapquilts - the pattern is easy to work with and I love the finish." Good suggestion, and thanks, Lynda. Congratulations on winning the Priory Square bundle. Enjoy!

Thanks to all of you who stopped by to enter. Hope you enjoy finding some new tutorials and patterns to try in the comments. I know I have!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celebrating Doing Good

I bet you've heard of do. Good Stitches {a charity bee}, right?  We're a virtual quilting bee begun by Rachel of Stitched in Color, and we have been making modern quilts for charity since 2010. It began with a few "circles" who worked together making a quilt each month for their chosen charity. Today, there are 24 circles, each consisting of 10 stitchers and quilters, and we're celebrating all our work and the good we've been able to do just doing what we love.

I joined Faith Circle in 2011 where I served as a stitcher for about 14 months before becoming a quilter. In that role, in addition to making quilt blocks, I also decide on the quilt plan for the month 2-3 times a year, gather the blocks made by my bee members, then I quilt and bind our quilt and send it on to our charity, Restore Innocence.

So far, I've completed 4 quilts for Faith Circle, and I'm currently receiving blocks for another. Remember these?
All this to say . . . as part of our celebration, each circle has voted on their 'best' quilt and submitted it to Rachel. Here's ours!

High Clare Castle Blocks by Faith circle, quilted by Anita Peluso (more pics)

There are 24 gorgeous quilts submitted - won't you go vote on your favorite? Voting closes midnight (eastern time), Monday December 15th, and no matter which quilt wins, doing good is definitely worth celebrating.

Celebrate Good Stitches

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Pillows aren't really my normal make, but you wouldn't know it from my sewing this last week. First was this irresistible Dala Horse using the pattern by Stitched in Color.
Even though paper-piecing like this isn't the most relaxing for me, I love how it turned out, and "got" to try sketch stitching for the very first time. It went well! So after a simple contrasting border and a big ole quilted crosshatch, I finished it off with an invisible zip.

After that, I really had no other imminent pillow plans until I saw the snowflake pillow teaginny made with During Quiet Times' pattern. I, uh, kinda had to make one myself straightaway.

The pattern has 3 sizes - 6", 9", and 12" blocks. I made the 9" snowflake, added a narrow frame, and pretty much copied teaginny's quilting. This time, I tried a new zipper tutorial - an easy, perfect lapped treatment by Pile O'Fabric. Boy it went together nice, and I'll be using that technique again. In no time at all I had a sweet seasonal 12" cushion. That was fun!

For me, there's a special pleasure in sewing that is spontaneous - making things that weren't planned at all. Now where'd I put that TO DO list? {smile}

Linking up to Fabric Tuesday.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Giveaway Day, Oh Yeah!

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for stopping by!
Here we go, with another Giveaway Day from Sew, Mama, Sew! It's a great {and fun!} way to visit lots of bloggers, facebook pages, and Instagram feeds, entering all sorts of giveaways, as well as getting acquainted with lots of creative folks.

My giveaway consists of a 1/2 yard bundle of Katy Jones/i'm a ginger monkey's new Priory Square, containing all 8 prints in the line. Isn't the variety of scale in this bundle a win-win?
For a chance to win, just leave a comment on this post sharing one quilting tutorial or pattern found online that you turn to again and again. The giveaway will close Friday, December 12 at 5pm PST, and I will announce a randomly chosen winner before the weekend's over.

***I am happy to ship internationally. Please include an email address in your comment if it is not accessible through your profile. If you win and I can't find your email easily, I won't hesitate to choose another winner.***

Thanks again for stopping by A Quilter's Table! I hope you come again to join in my journey of quilting and sharing around the table. You can also find me on Instagram and facebook - hope to meet you there as well.

Linking to Giveaway Day at Sew, Mama, Sew!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanks to Vesta

According to Wikipedia, "Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery," and from the little I read around the web about it, that could very well be true. It was certainly the very first stitching I ever did, thanks to this woman.
That is my maternal grandma, Vesta. It's her I thank for initiating my love of sewing, back when she moved into our family home when I was a preteen, and brought along her black Singer machine. But it was Grandma who also took me shopping years prior while I was visiting on vacation, and bought me my first stamped cross-stitch fabric, and let me choose purple variegated floss. She taught me how to cross-stitch, and I created a "dresser cloth" as we called them back then, and it graced my bedroom dresser for many years after.

I can't say that I had that embroidery on my mind when I first saw Pile O'Fabric's Cross Stitch Quilt Block tutorial earlier this year. But cross-stitch obviously had a soft spot in my heart, so I started making some blocks, thinking it would be a good way to use up a bunch of my scraps. I made my blocks larger than the tutorial, using Kona Ash 5" charm squares as my block backgrounds, cutting my scrap strips 1 1/2"x7". 
After I had created a few stacks of blocks, my childhood stitchery came to mind, and from then on I had the beginnings of a quilt plan.
With the size of my blocks, turns out I really couldn't recreate much of my original cross-stitch design, but I made enough to make me very happy.
I was very random with arranging block colors, but hopefully you can tell that I made the circular "flower" in the stitchery above. For backing, thankfully I had nothing large enough in my stash to make a single-fabric backing, and that forced me to get creative. After making just a few super-sized (15") cross-stitch blocks, I happened to attend a lecture by Victoria Findlay Wolfe of 15-Minutes of Play fame. Fresh from that, I was inspired to start sewing through my scrap bin, making 8" improv blocks, just sewing and sewing until it seemed like "enough." Quilting is a diagonal wavy-stitch cross-hatch, which I questioned for a while, but after the wash-and-dry crinkle test, actually is quite perfect.
I was brave, and used the scrappy binding I'd made of strips from at least 8 other quilts. Crazy but fun.
The quilt measures 60" square, and no, the scrap bin is not empty, but I feel pretty pleased with using as many as I did for this two-sided quilt. And if my grandma was still around, I'm thinking she'd be pleased too.

This project was on my 2014 Q4 FAL list!
Linking up with Fabric Tuesday and Scraptastic Tuesday.


So you've probably heard the news that Pantone has chosen Marsala as the 2015 color of the year. And boy has there been strong response.

Honestly, I've only been in-tune with Pantone's annual picks for the last few years, but each time, with Tangerine Tango in 2012, Emerald in 2013last year's Radiant Orchid, the reactions have been varied and emotional. So it's not unexpected to see that with Marsala, though I agree, there's an underlying current of dislike for brown of any kind in the quilting world. Not so here. Though you haven't seen it much in my quilting, I really am fond of browns, and yes, a brown quilt is on my Quilty Bucket List. Maybe 2015 is the year.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the discussion about it all - here's a few links - Pantonemsn.comThe Atlantic - please share more in the comments as you come across them. There's been good discussion on Instagram, especially check out Nicole/modernhandcraft's feed, and what perfect timing: Diana/semgemdi of Pink Chalk Studios continues her "What Goes with What?" posts with a new blog - and kindly names kona, Bella and cotton couture colors in her first post.

In closing, I'll quote my guild-mate, Andi of fine as frog's hair/fineasfrogshair on Ig:
"I'm undecided on the color itself, though I'm leaning towards like, and I do love the combination of marsala and blue, as the pantone inspiration photos feature. I find the visceral reaction by modern quilters on IG fascinating though! This just in: Pantone color of the year is not selected with modern quilting in mind! It's not personal or a mandate that the color be used. I'm with you, Debbie -- I'm interested to see what I can do with this color. Isn't pushing boundaries and exploring design part of modern quilting?"

For me, yes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hand Blanket-Stitched Binding

If you've been around A Quilter's Table for very long at all, you probably know I'm often playing around with quilt bindings - scrappy, matched, angled, and striped - I've done them all. So in general, binding treatments catch my eye. As Emma/joworimakes's did on Instagram a couple of weeks ago.
We chatted about her hand blanket-stitched binding, and in the end, I thought you might like to see and hear about it too. So here, in Emma's words . . .

This is a very easy and fun binding finishing technique that I came up with when wanting a little something extra on the front of a mini quilt. It is nothing new – I have seen machined blanket stitch binding tutorials online, but I am a big fan of hand stitched pieces and thought the blanket stitch finish by hand would just add that something special that I wanted. It is great for adding extra interest on mini quilts, and so far that is all I have used it on – I don’t have the patience for hand binding on large quilts! If you are confident in your hand stitching however, there is no reason why you shouldn’t use it on larger quilts.  I have finished a few mini quilts using this technique now, with plans for many more - I think it makes for a charming finish!
To complete your binding using blanket stitch, simply sew by machine on the back of the quilt using your favourite technique, turn over to the front and secure (I love clover wonder clips for this step!) and use your blanket stitch to sew the binding down as if you are doing hand applique. My favourite blanket stitch tutorial is one from Adrianne at “On the Windy Side” which you can find here: http://www.onthewindyside.co.nz/2013/11/how-to-do-hand-blanket-stitched-applique.html

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or just to show off your work if you use this binding finish! You can find me on IG with the handle “joworimakes” or on flickr as “jowori”. Enjoy!

***ETA: Emma uses 2 strands of DMC floss or Aurifil 12wt thread for her hand-stitched binding.***

(mini is made from a slightly upscaled block from the Thimbleblossoms pattern “Salt Water”)
Isn't Emma's technique fun? If you've done any hand-finishing of binding on the front of a quilt, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks for sharing, Emma!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Caution: Scraps in Use

Inspired by Leanne/shecanquilt and Nicky/mrs sew & sow, I've really begun trying to use my scraps in earnest. Most recently, I collected all the random binding bits I'd saved, and stitched them together, and am using the result to bind my current scrappy quilt.
Also for said quilt, I made a fairly scrappy backing, this time inspired by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, who I had the distinct fortune of being able to hear speak in person last week. AND I saw many of her quilts. AND I was reminded that #15minutesofplay a day makes a difference, and can be hugely motivating. Obviously I got carried away, and it took a few more than 15 minutes, but everything you see below except for the solid was sewn directly from my scrap basket. oh yeah.
So no, the basket isn't anywhere near empty yet. But I'm working at it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fresh Sewing Day

After a couple of months of feeling somewhat unsettled in the studio, November finally felt back in the groove. Probably the most focus went into Striped Strip - so much angst and freedom here, all at the same time.
There were also a lot of mixed emotions in my project for The Great Pillow Fight. It always causes a quandry when making a swap project, but once I got going, this was enjoyable (especially the quilting) and my partner, Whitney, liked it, so success!
Oh yeah, I made a little mug rug too, cuz Whitney likes yetis.
There were plenty of littles, though a couple were made in October, but I couldn't share last Fresh Sewing Day. You can read about the bee blocks and the Two in One pouches in their own posts. The baby shoes were made with a pattern by petit boo - in triplicate for my bee-mate Marla/sewhungry's new triplet sons! The pink patchwork bag was made for grandgirl's birthday, adapted from a tutorial by A Quilting Loft, and the wonky cross mug rug was made for a coworker.
Posting a little early were Intersection blocks (tutorial by Film in the Fridge) - December's assignment for FAITH circle.
Intersection blocks
There were also a couple of minor but much appreciated studio updates {here and here}, which really weren't that monumental, but make my space that much more pleasant.

 my new design wall!
And finally, Trim-Tied Gift Bags, a new tutorial. Believe me, I'm going to be making more of these myself.
A pretty full month, yes. Probably just a foretaste of December. yikes.

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day.