Friday, July 31, 2015

As Time Goes By

Not much in life is stationary. Things are changing all the time, and even as a creator, I have just come to recognize that as a constant. As one component of my participation in the online quilting community, I've been a part of several bees. One of the first was the charity bee do.Good Stitches.

September 2011 was my first month as a stitcher in FAITH Circle, and I remember feeling mighty pleased to be a part of things. Rachel/Stitched in Color, the leader/creator of do.Good was a member of our circle at the time, and happened to be bee mama that month. Together, we made a Swoon quilt - one of my very favorite blocks. I only had a small part in its making (that's my block in the lower right corner), but I was proud of it, just the same.

In February 2013 I stepped up to serve as a quilter, and had the bee make blocks for an HST quilt. I remember being smitten with HST Love and the whole process gave me a lot of confidence. Since then, I've been bee-mama and created 4 more quilts, and overall, have made blocks for 33 others. Boy it feels great to be able to do good. It's important to me to make "giving back" a regular part of what I do as a quilter.

Since the bee's beginnings (a year before I joined) FAITH Circle has made over 50 quilts and donated them to encourage others! Here's the most recent finish - Social Climber by Debbie/Shadows of the Blue Ridge. Isn't it a fun one? It'll soon be off to our circle's chosen charity, Restore Innocence, which supports young women rescued from human trafficking. With its bright and cheery palette, it's bound to bring some hope and comfort.

All that to say . . . in July, not only has it been my month to choose our next project, but I've also transitioned into being leader/host of FAITH Circle. Talk about things coming full circle. It seems they have.

If you'd like to be a part of do.Good Stitches, you can apply using this form.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Vivid

This finish is a bit of a final farewell to the Mid-Century Modern Bee. Oh I've many friends among them, and that won't change, but most of the blocks that make up this quilt were made for me by them, and since then, I'm no longer a part of the bee. But back in April 2014, I chose the Rolling Diamonds pattern by knottygnome crafts, and as requested, I received a bright, colorful mix! Except when it came time to finally put the quilt together, I needed a few more blocks. My friend Sharon/smbrendle graciously made me one, and I made a couple more. Aren't they fun?!

I know 'just' 16 blocks make a relatively small quilt - only 48" square - but I really liked them as they were, and it seemed like I'd waited long enough to finish this one up.

I searched in my stash for a backing and settled on a green Dear Stella ticking stripe. Quilting in a simple grid resulted in a soft, comfy quilt, and the Aurifil 50 wt #2021 (Natural White) I used was subtle enough to tie everything together and not make too much of a statement. Binding is from "Wish" by Valori Wells Designs and I went off on a limb doing a machine-stitched binding. I used Rachel/Stitched in Color's tutorial, which was really fun for a change, and seemed to fit the playfulness of this quilt. I used the same Natural White thread, and even though it's pretty obvious, I like it just fine. The only thing to note is that Rachel uses a 3/8" seam to sew on the binding, which obviously dipped into my block points a bit. I could have easily adjusted that, but was so focused following instructions, I neglected to. Otherwise, though, I'm quite pleased. I still totally consider myself a hand-binder, but for now and again, I think I'll revisit this technique.

So there's an end of an era, so to speak. Thanks to the Mid-Century Modern gals for the fun time we sewed together!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Super Tote

There was a little secret sewing last week, and now that it's been gifted I can share the Super Tote I made for my friend Sharon/smbrendle's birthday. You probably know the pattern is by noodlehead, so I expected it to be a straight-forward sew, and it was. Not to say I didn't have to reread a couple of sections and zoom in on a few photos, but overall it came together just like it was supposed to.

It's touted as an "extra roomy tote" and I agree, as it finishes at 15"x15"3.5". There were a couple of options, and here's what I went with:
  • fully lining the front pocket rather than just a facing - in my mind it was easier, and was just a really nice finish.
  • using ByAnnie's Soft and Stable for the sides of the bag, vs. canvas or medium weight fusible interfacing - I was using quilting cotton for the exterior fabric, and I occasionally have bubbling issues with heavier interfacings, and I didn't want to risk that. If I'd used home dec, I might have gone that way, but even so, I like the feel and structure of the Soft and Stable, so who knows.
A few other tidbits of note:
 
  • The piping. What I found in pre-made didn't go color-wise, and luckily I had a length of cording lying around. So in moments, I made my own. Noodlehead has a nice tutorial if you haven't done it before, though for the top of the tote pocket, bias wasn't necessary, and I had my fabric glue stick handy, so used that. But talk about easy. And that way I was able to use coordinating fabric.
  • The zipper. Let's just say it was easy-peasy. Here's one of the spots I had to reread and glance at photos, but really, it's a clever technique.
  • If I had a misgiving, it would be that the sides of the bag are so much flimsier than the main bag exteriors. The side exterior is a linen blend (I think Kokka.), so of course it has a nice hand, and both the side exterior and lining are pleated, which it a super cool detail, but still. It's probably all in my fabric/interfacing choices, and it's perfectly functional as is, but just thought I'd mention it as something to think about. And by the way, the interior pockets are the same fabric as those exterior sides and were an easy install.

All in all, the tote was an enjoyable make and a more than functional finish. Indeed, a very super tote.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Reflection

There's no good reason, really, why this month's Bee Sewcial assignment kind of freaked me out. In a word, think "reflection," presented by Karen/capitolaquilter. A beautiful palette, a Pinterest board for inspiration, and a blog post with clarification. Honestly, when I finally set to do my blocks, they came together easily and I really enjoyed making them. Go figure.

I knew this first one was simplistic, but that's what I was after. Measuring 11"x15", I turned it every which way and liked this orientation the best.

I was actually a bit sad when this second block was done, and I may need to expand on the design another time. It measures 12"x19.5". Like the block above, the teeny-tiny bits add a nice little emphasis.

Whew. Mission accomplished and all that fretting for nothing. Watch the #BeeSewcial hashtag on Instagram for all of the bee's blocks, and there's a running list of my monthly blocks below. I've now received all my blocks for my month in June, so it's time to come up with a plan for them. Yikes!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Revisiting Free-Motion

What I already knew was reinforced at the Free-Motion Quilting Workshop I attended with the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild yesterday. Whew. It really takes focus and oodles of practice. Our teacher was Christina Cameli/A Few Scraps. Christina has authored two books on the subject First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting and Step by Step Free-Motion Quilting, and you can find her on instagram as @afewscraps.

If you know me at all, you'll know that free-motion quilting isn't in my routine quilting repertoire. In fact, I looked back, and it's been 18 months since I free-motioned a quilt. But when the opportunity presented itself to refresh my skills with a gifted quilter, I took it.

Throughout the day, Christina demonstrated a variety of techniques and gave us lots of tips. Then we had plenty of practice time. Obviously more of that will be the key to my success in actually using free-motion on a quilt!

For the sake of full disclosure, here's a glance at my practice pieces. Some stitches look hopeful, and others not so much. 

Don't expect an immediate transformation in my quilting, but I'd like to incorporate some free-motion into my repertoire at least. It's nice to have options, right? We'll see where I go with it . . .


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Studio Five :: Sewing & Cutting Surface

A week ago, hubby and I were talking about some home-improvement projects that needed done, and somehow, a discussion on what kind of new couch we wanted turned into an exchange about my studio space and a subsequent trip to Ikea. Yay me!

The major problem area in said studio was my sewing surface. As sentimental as it was, working with my modern machine on top of my grandma's vintage sewing cabinet wasn't the best ergonomically, nor for quilting. With nothing for a quilt to rest on, the weight hanging off the edges caused issues, as you can expect.
 

There weren't a lot of space layout options that would work in our shared studio/computer room, so what we finally settled on was to combine my sewing surface and my cutting surface, which was a second-hand drafting table. At Ikea, we purchased 2 KALLAX shelving units, and just to enhance their usability, 2 sets of drawer inserts (4 drawers total), and a set of SKUBB boxes. On the way home, we stopped by the local plywood store, where we happened to know the owner. Lucky us, he had a variety of random sheets of plywood that he was willing to cut to size, and we chose one 3/4" thick with birch laminate. Our original idea had been to use a hollow-core door (they measure 32"x80"), but we decided we liked the plywood option better, and had it cut to the same size.

You've probably guessed where I'm going with this . . . the Ikea units became 'legs' for the long table. A roll of veneer edging finished off the edges nicely, and super-strength double-stick tape keeps things aligned. Time will tell if a couple of metal angle brackets are needed, but whatever, I've moved on in. A new chair is in order, but otherwise, I'm more than pleased with my new set up. And there's some storage space at each end - bonus!

On a side note, without grandma's sewing cabinet, I lost my drawers that had held my immediate sewing supplies - bobbins, machine needles, etc. So I joined the R├ůSKOG club and will use this utility cart to keep those items and more at easy reach.

It's been a year since I posted Where I Sew and since then there's been several studio updates:
We actually accomplished one more improvement yesterday, so I'll post about that soon. But meanwhile, I'll keep testing out my new space. And so far, definitely so good!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sampling a Sampler

The desire for a handwork project has been burning for a while now. Don't tell, but it's been 2 years since I bought The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's Woodland Sampler, thinking how cute it would be in grandgirl's nursery. But boy the linen I'd chosen to use had my eyes working double-time, and I pretty much gave up after a few months. And gee whiz, grandgirl's going on 5 now and into princesses and such. oh well

So I didn't try much else until a few months ago, which is sad because before quilting, handwork of just about any kind was totally my thing. It is what it is though and in June, I decided to try hexies, the modern kind, and they did make me happy and keep me entertained for a few weeks. I knew though that they weren't a long-term solution for me.

So now. Let's try embroidery! One of the very first types of handwork I ever did, I used to love it as a girl, and my mom taught me oodles of fancy stitches. That all came back as I've seen Dropcloth Samplers show up on Instagram lately. So I ordered the "Original Sampler," which measures 10"x12". The stitches are labeled, which is kind of fun, and I was familiar with most of them though not all. It seemed like a good place to start. Again.
 
Considering I'd given all my perle cotton to daughter dear a while back, I randomly chose some colors and ordered from Herrschners. I found an old metal hoop from my early days, and got started over the weekend. Who knows how far I'll get, but so far it feels good!
 
 You can find this sampler and others on the Dropcloth website, plus see them on Instagram @dropcloth, and at hashtag #dropclothsamplers. And I'm curious. If embroidery is your thing, where do you find project pieces? You know, in case I actually finish this...
 

Monday, July 20, 2015

On the Clock

When I made Etno! Baby a few months ago, it went together really quick. And ever since, I've been wondering just how quick was it? No way to really find out except by sewing one again! So that's what I did, following my own Quarter-Cut Baby Quilt tutorial.

Though a somewhat small 40" finished, the Quarter-Cut Quilt starts with just 9 fat-quarters. Considering I have oodles of them, it was pretty quick work choosing a group that went nicely together.


From there, I actually timed myself. One hour, 45 minutes from stack of fabric to finished quilt top - pressing, cutting, piecing.

Add another 3 hours or so to piece a simple back (from fat quarters and left-over strips from the top), baste, quilt (serpentine), trim rounded corners, and make binding (bias). Then 2 hours to hand-bind. Total it all up, and I had a cheery baby quilt in under 7 hours. Yeah, I intentionally put the pedal to the metal on this one, but now at least I know what can be done.

As for photographing a baby quilt at a winery, maybe not the most appropriate choice, but multi-tasking was a necessity. I'm sure you understand.

This quilt is the first finish on my 2015 Finish-A-Long: Q3 list.
Linking up with Finish It Up Friday. This quilt was donated to 100 Quilts for Kids 2015.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Handmade

There's not much to show for myself this week in the way of new finishes. The days have been full, and I've got a variety of things in mid-stream. But I do have a single little make to show off. One that I actually made about a week ago for my coworker's birthday. 



It's a Lola Pouch, made with the pattern by Svetlana/s.o.t.a.k handmade. I needed something pretty quick, and having made one Lola in the past, I thought it would be manageable, plus I knew how sweet it would be made up from my Cotton + Steel stash. Gotta say, I love that recessed zipper!

Though I was definitely pleased how the pouch turned out, what I was really looking forward to was the reaction of my coworker when I presented it to her. Our relationship is somewhat new, and I had never made her anything before. She did not disappoint, and as she opened the package she exclaimed, "You made this, didn't you?"

It never ceases to please me to hear those words. And every time, I am again thankful that somewhere along the line, I was given the opportunity to learn to sew, and I took to it like a fish to water. It's an amazing thing, really, what fulfillment I get from it, the sort of calm it gives me. It's a gift of the unexplainable sort isn't it? But then again, I know I don't have to explain that to you.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Spiraled :: A Tutorial

The original Spiraled is 3 years old and was a happy coincidence created playing with leftover half-square triangles (HSTs) on the design wall. Besides the scrappy spirals, I especially liked how just a few spirals escaped into the barely contrasting border - and even the binding. This was my first try at Angled Matched Binding.


Spiraled, 30"x32"

Since then, I've created 2 more versions. Spiraled Jungle was made a couple of years later when a bundle of Sara Lawson's Jungle Ave. appeared in my mailbox. This time I enhanced the background with a low-volume print, both the border and binding held a bit more contrast, and the spirals were rearranged.


Spiraled Jungle, 32"x34"

And finally, Spiraled Underground, made with just 3 fabrics and finished with a faced binding. It was during the making of this one that I wrote the Big Batch HST tutorial, which just works so good when you want lots of HSTs with the same fabric pairing.



All this looking back to say . . . I've finally written up a Spiraled tutorial. Based on version 3, it would be super easy to do it scrappy or more controlled. A pretty straight-forward combo of 2" (finished) half-square triangles and squares, it's well-suited to your own personalization. Click here for the tutorial, and have fun!

If you give Spiraled a try, please feel free to add it to my flickr group, Quilting with A Quilter's Table. I'd love to see your take on the design.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Times Six

Someone kindly gave my newish newsletter, The Scrap Basket, a shout-out at our recent SMQG meeting. I haven't talked about it much here on the blog, other than to announce it was starting a few months ago. So after having 6 issues 'go to press' I figured it was time to touch base about it.
Basically, it's going really well. Readership is growing (currently over 400), and though I don't get many comments back, the unsubscribe rate's been minimal, so I guess that says something. I publish twice a month, which seems a pretty comfortable rate. If you haven't had a chance to read it, here's the routine . . .

At the onset, I chose several categories that I wanted to focus on:
  • What's Up ~ something popular that's been on the blog, new blogs or Instagrammers I'm following, or an A Quilter's Table feature out in blogland
  • Worth a Read ~ 3-5 links to  a variety of topics I think my readers might enjoy - blog posts, techniques, product reviews, that sort of thing
  • Round-Up ~ usually a gathering of techniques or tutorials
  • In-Studio ~ a sneak peek into my studio work (this hasn't happened yet)
  • On Trend ~ a gathering of blocks or quilts or maybe a technique that is currently trending
  • You Asked ~ answers to inquiries (this hasn't happened yet either)
  • A Glance Back ~ a look back at an older post from A Quilter's Table
So you see, there's some wiggle room, and ideas to mull over for future issues. Each issue, I've chosen 3 categories to focus on, though there could be more. So far, every issue has included Worth a Read and either a Round-Up or On Trend gathering, but that's just where I've felt led over the past few months.

If you aren't subscribed, but your interest is piqued, click here to check out the most recent issue. And if you do want to subscribe, there's a place to enter your email over in the side bar. At any rate, I'm having fun.

Friday, July 10, 2015

2015 Finish-A-Long: Q3 List

The link-up for Finish-A-Long Q3  is live and it's about time I got my list compiled!

1. Inside Addition - I had hopeful plans for a big ole scrappy quilt with these blocks, but 25 blocks in, I'm not feeling it. I have 11 more blocks partially sewn, so even though I love this on-point layout, I'll most likely turn it back square and make it 6x6 blocks and baby-size.

2. Rolling Diamonds - These blocks were made for me by the Mid-Century Modern Bee back in April 2014. Ahem. This is all of them, so I need to make 3 more to make a 4x4 layout. Here's the block tutorial by knottygnome crafts. I remember the block being fun to make in the first place, so hopefully I'll get up the interest to get to it. These are the last of my stashed bee blocks, so I'd really like to do those MCM gals the honor of finishing this one up.

3. Raspberry KissesFAITH Circle is currently making blocks for me, as I shared the other day. If things go as planned, I should be able to finish this one up and send it on it's way. 

4. Quarter-Cut - For this one, I have the fabric chosen - just 9 fat-quarters is all it takes for this small quilt. I may up-size it just a tad from my original tutorial, but basically I want to see how fast I can make one. 


You know there's plenty more in my head, but these are at least 'in process,' and I'm thinking they shouldn't be too bad. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Then and Now

Back in the day, when I was active in the Mid-Century Modern Bee, twice Anne/SpringLeaf Studios asked the bee to make blocks of her own design. Even then, we fully expected one day to see Anne publishing patterns based on the blocks we "tested" for her.


And that time has come! Pdf patterns of both "Offset" and "Matrix" are available on Etsy and Craftsy. Anne believes that every quilter should find a way to make a project their own even when they are using a pattern. As proof, each pattern includes an explanation of the block, the quilt layout and how it works, including some tips on fabric selection; several alternative ways to use the pattern; and a coloring page so you can try out your own color scheme. I think these features really set Anne's patterns apart. She explains everything in detail with lots of color illustrations (which I love). I can honestly say, they are beautifully done.

 
 
Both new patterns are on sale for 20% off through the weekend. And Anne has graciously offered one reader a copy of the pattern of their choice - just leave a comment for a chance to win. Then hop on over to SpringLeaf Studios for another chance to win. This giveaway has now ended - thank you! Congrats to Crafty Coffin!

It was fun to have shared in Anne's design process even a little bit. Check out her blog posts featuring her new patterns - Offset here and Matrix here. Not only will you get a better preview of her patterns, but you'll see the quilts my bee blocks eventually became a part of!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

More Kisses

There's always a quandary when it's my turn to be a bee mama and choose a quilt plan for the group. At least it is for me. And it was no different as I mulled over options for FAITH Circle for July. The palette was the easiest - inspired by a flower bed at the airport as we were coming home from a recent trip to visit our son and daughter-in-law. Coral and yellow - totally not my norm, but something about the mix seemed just right.
Though I expect my bee-mates to use mostly prints in these colors, I did check my Kona card to give them a closer idea of the colors I'm looking for: Corn Yellow, Canary, Buttercup, Coral, Nectarine, Mango. And for the record, I'm fine if they use these actual solids too.

After much hemming and hawing, I chose a current favorite around the interweb, Rachel/Wooden Spoon Quilts' Raspberry Kiss block. Below is the quilt that pushed me over the edge. It's by Brittney/bselbyquilting on Instagram, and I appreciate her consent in letting me post it to share with FAITH Circle.
photo courtesy of Brittney Selby

Rachel's tutorial makes a 4 1/4" block, so I asked her if she'd mind if I up-sized it for my bee's use, and she kindly gave permission.

So I'm asking my bee mates to make three blocks following Rachel's tutorial, except with these adjusted cutting directions:
4 - 2 1/2" squares + 2 - 6" squares (cut diagonally) for background
2 - 2 1/2" squares + 1 - 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangle for cross
Note that I stitched my blocks with a scant quarter inch and they finished at 9 1/8".

As you can see in my sample blocks, for the backgrounds, I've also chosen black and white or gray and white low-volume prints, white on white prints, or a very pale gray, such as Kona Ash (not shown). A mix of these is fine in each block.

It's always fun to see the blocks start coming in and here's another quilt to add to the 'to-do' list for next month!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

2015 Finish-A-Long: Q2 Finishes

Another quarter of the Finish-A-Long is wrapping up, and it was a race at the end, but I managed to finish up my list. First was my Emphasis table runner that I started at QuiltCon.

I had alot of fun quilting this one and it holds such great memories of the class with Carolyn Friedlander.

Then there was our guild paint chip challenge quilt.

18" square, my Through the Looking Glass was just one 'block' in a much larger quilt. Very cool!

And lastly. . .

Just a few days ago I managed to finish Bilateral, a 2-sided quilt with my "Boxed In" bee blocks from That Stash Bee on one side, and my #scrapvortexqal on the other.

Whew. That was a close one! And now it's time to plan for another quarter . . .

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side