Friday, July 20, 2018

Vintage Pink II

As I shared in a previous post, the original pink quilt came to me via Louise/@imfeelincrafty, who had acquired several bags of vintage quilts in various stages of disrepair. Here is what the quilt looked like when I received it - overall quite sweet, but on closer inspection, it had ragged binding, holes in the sashing where it had once been tied, and its batting was bunched up inside.

It was near-impossible to free those patchwork blocks from their sashing, and when I did release a few, they were odd-shaped and extremely faded. That led me to reworking the quilt rather than simply repairing. I trimmed off the binding and literally cut the patchwork out of the quilt. There was definitely some point-trimming and wonkiness that resulted in that process, but I felt the character of the blocks was still kept intact.

The blocks were set in a new setting, separated by squares of Kona Pink. Though I would have loved to have reused the quilt's original filler - two layers of flannel plaid blanket - there were too many holes in it. So I used my typical Warm & Natural and quilted a free-hand orange-peel design. Though in retrospect, I wish I'd marked all the curves for a little more perfection. Oh well....

The backing was pieced with more solid pink, a couple of Aunt Gracie prints that coordinated well, and white-on-pink polka dots. I rounded the corners just for fun.

The quilt measured 42" x 55" when I got it, and 36" x 42" in its new form. I'm not sure I did it total justice, but considering it was my first time working with vintage fabrics and quilt blocks, I think it's ok. At any rate, it's sweet, and can now be enjoyed for years to come.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Summer Sampler 2018 :: Pagoda

The further in we get, the more I love it. This week’s Summer Sampler block, Pagoda, was designed by Lee/Freshly Pieced, inspired by the architecture she saw during a trip to China.

It was nice to have a break from the paper-piecing, though at one block a week, that's totally been doable. Anyway, one little tip - a Hera marker works so good at marking half-square triangles!

Hard to believe we are half-way through making our sampler blocks! I'm hard-pressed to choose a favorite but I really am liking them as a collection.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Maker's Thought

A woman walked into my dayjob office yesterday, and at once admired the quilts hanging on my walls. She mentioned that she had quilters in her family but had never quilted herself. I encouraged her to tell me more, and she shared that at age 12, she won first place in a Singer Sewing Machine Contest for a dress she had made. This was a two-week event where she'd go every day to sew for a couple of hours. I likened it to 'sewing camp' and she nodded in agreement. So I was duly impressed! And then she told me, 'After I won first place, my mother and grandmother took the dress entirely apart because it wasn't perfect, and sewed it back together again." I think my mouth was hanging open at this point. She went on to say, "I don't remember feeling particularly bad about it, but sometimes I wonder if that's why I no longer have any interest in sewing." YA THINK?

My eyes were a little misty as we parted ways, and I could not for the life of me imagine how that must have felt to have your winning project disassembled because it wasn't good enough. And it made me oh-so-thankful for a girl scout leader, a home-ec teacher, a grandma, a mom, and eventually a family, who have valued my skills (or at least my attempt at them!) at every stage. A variety of  objectives are wrapped up in my sewing and my quilts, but perfection, to be honest, is not one of them. A striving to do good work, oh yes, but the delight in the process, and the knowledge that it is good enough must have the last word.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summer Sampler 2018 :: Castillo

For this week's Summer Sampler 2018 block, I found myself switching stitch lengths over and over. It was 1.4 for the paper-piecing, 2.0 for the seams, and up to 4.0 for test-construction. Do you know that little trick where you sew/baste a few long stitches over those intersections that are tricky to match up? Then you remove your block from your machine and check how well you did. If great, then move the length back to 2.0 and stitch the seam. But if not, just do a little tug to remove the stitches and try again. That technique helped SO much with this block, as there were many places that needed matching.

The block was designed by Faith/Fresh Lemons Quilts, inspired by the aerial view of Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. Is it bad that I'd never heard of it? Well it's the only 17-century fort in North America. And appropriately so, discovery is one of the best things about a road trip, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Root of Improvisation

As I cut into a stack of Cotton + Steel over the weekend, it was inopportune and impulsive. But I've had in mind to use some of my extensive C+S stash, and had finally decided it would be fun to make another giant plus quilt using Leanne/@shecanquilt's tutorial. And as I cut 5" squares and put them on the design wall, choosing both fabric and placement as I went, it dawned on me that THIS was beginning improvisation.

Yes, there are many techniques out there - I even have some tutorials here on the blog - that are great ways to dabble with improvisational piecing. But the crux of the matter is.... traveling outside the box. Before one ever gets to a sewing machine, there's a way of thinking, of letting loose, basically a sense of figuring it out as you go. It's not knowing where you're going but being ok with that, assuming you'll make changes along the way, and taking the risk that it won't even turn out at all.

All that to say... I hear all the time that folks want to try improv, or they're afraid of improv, etc. etc. And really the first best way to test the waters is to go to the root of it all and in some small way act spontaneously. Where in this situation, I'm following a tutorial for the cutting of the squares and general design, in my fabric selection and placement, I'm totally ad-libbing, making decisions and building moment upon moment.

Profound? Not really. But for those who are intrigued with improv but hesitant to try, that's where I'd suggest you start. Just risk it, be present and thoughtful, and discover as you create what comes next. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Color Strung

Color Strung is a cherry reminder of a really enjoyable and insightful class at QuiltCon last February. In Color Play with String Quilts with Tara Faughnan of Tara Faughnan Quilts, we explored alllll sorts of color combinations, rethinking our thoughts about color and daring to go further.

As you see, my quilt's palette is not my norm, nor anyone's really. But I love that it came from a place of color exploration. As Tara said, "Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work." Hmmm.... I'll keep thinking about that one for a while, I'm sure.

For backing, I was lucky enough to find a generous length of an older Valori Wells' Novella floral that was very nearly large enough. Though there's a strip of contrasting fabric (not shown) along one edge, the primary backing fabric does indeed make its own statement.

When it came time for quilting, I debated for a while, then chose a design from Walk by Jacquie Gering. Might as well try another something new, right? It's called The Simple Diamond and I really like the way it echos the lines of the quilt but not too closely.

It's a little hard to see, isn't it? Trust me, it suits. And it was really pretty simple to execute. It did require some marking - the grid was done with my Hera marker, and for the little dots needed for the diamonds, I marked on a leap of faith with a FriXion pen. I used Aurifil 50wt 4651 (Bari) which is a variegated thread - a little yellow/gold, off-white, and light purple - that just nestled on in.... nothing too obvious, but it added a little interest for sure.

Binding was chosen on a whim. I dug into the ole stash and some Free Spirit Flamingo spoke up, and I think it's a nice fit.

So this quilt was the second of two I put on my Q2 2018 Finish-A-Long list back in April, and I'm cutting it close to link up my finish. But it's done! Gosh that feels good!

This project was on my 2018 Q2 Finish-A-Long list!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Vintage Pink I

I feel a little guilt over this one, but it's provided much thoughtfulness, some resignation, but also a degree of revisioning, and I think that's all ok. It all started when my buddy Louise/@imfeelincrafty happened upon bags and bags of quilts that had been left on the curb for garbage pick-up. True story. I'll spare you the details, but in short, she shared a few with me, and at first, I really thought I could give this one a new life.

The main problem with it was all the sashing. At one time it had been tied rather than quilted, and everywhere it had been tied, there were now holes.

Also, the binding was totally worn and needed to be replaced.

My original plan was to unpick all the blocks - 30 of them - from the quilt, and resash them and go from there. As I started in, I discovered that rather than batting, the quilt was filled with a flannel blanket. That definitely gave me a smile.

Unfortunately, I encountered a few pretty insurmountable issues. The thread holding the blocks in place was like twine. It was immensely difficult and time-consuming to release the blocks from the quilt top.... like one stitch at a time. And once I did have a few blocks released, their odd shapes and severe fading let me know it would be near impossible to sash them again in a way I'd be pleased with.

Let's just say I re-evaluated and have a whole new plan now. It's not what I had originally hoped for, but it will still let the quilt blocks have a second life, and in this case, I think that's good enough.

See the #garbagequilts hashtag on Instagram if you'd like to see more of Louise's finds.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Road Trip Sewing

So hubby, mom, & I took a little road-trip last week and it afforded me some concentrated - or at least frequent - car sewing time. After binding my recent do.Good Stitches quilt, I settled in on my Teeny Tiny Trip Around the World and made very good progress!

As I posted on Instagram, I needed a little change of pace and decided to mix things up a bit and combine colors in a single round. Well that didn't go quite as planned, so rather than a very ordered sequence, things turned out a little more random, "original" as mom would say, and honestly, I'm just fine with it.

It's kinda weird how the 'passion' for these projects ebb and flow but during our week away, I couldn't get enough of it. Swirling and pressing several rounds once I got home was rather taxing, but it's done now, so nice and neat, and I'm ready to continue stitching on.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Summer Sampler 2018 :: Half Timber

Off on vacation last week, I saw Lee/Freshly Pieced's post about the new Summer Sampler block, Half-Timber, but I wasn't able to do much about it. So it was a treat to get right to it once I got home.

The block was inspired by the architectural style of many buildings she saw on a trip to Germany, and its bold, graphic design looks great with the other blocks.

It's fun to see how far we've "traveled" on our road trip!

WorldMapofBlockLocations - Germany

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Here's another do.Good Stitches finish - the latest from Faith Circle. I asked my bee mates for a mix of half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and half-square plus quarter-square triangles - a mix I really love.

You'll find great tutorials for all in Emily Dennis' How to Sew a Perfect Quarter-Square Triangle on Craftsy. They are a fun easy sew, and as you can see, look great in a solid and print combo.

I pieced just a few extra blocks into the backing, along with some stash solids. And then! Quilting.

I think this was the most fun I've had quilting in a while! I was at a loss at first, but finally cracked open Jacquie Gering's Walk book and settled on The Boomerang design. Let's just say it looks more complicated that it really was to execute. I tried Cotton + Steel 50 wt thread #753-1095, which provided a little contrast yet still blended really well.

The quilt finished at 48" x 56" and will soon be headed off to Valley Breast Center. And I'm happy to be caught up with my "outside" commitments, that's for sure.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wedge Slabs

About a year ago I wrote a tutorial for Wedge Slabs as part of a giving quilt project for Seattle MQG. Our finished quilt, Play It Cool, is shown below. It measured 48” x 60”, with slabs created by many of our guild's members, and then I put the top together. To finish, it was quilted by Dionne Matthies-Buban and bound by Deborah Christiansen.


So I thought I'd bring the tutorial - short and sweet as it is - back to my own blog, where my followers can find it more easily. This tutorial creates a wedge slab 6 1/2″ tall, and you can make it as long as you want. The guild made slabs 18 1/2″ and 24 1/2″ long, though obviously your quilt plan could be easily adaptable to other sizes.

Start with two pieces of fabric approximately 8″ tall. I started with a length (navy shown) just to help keep the orientation straight, but it doesn’t really need to be that long. Layer one fabric on the other as shown, and cut at an angle on the left side of the ruler. Discard the excess bit.

Flip the top fabric over onto the left and line up the raw edges, sewing 1/4″ seam along that cut edge.

Press seam and position fabric with right-side up. I find it helpful to line up loosely with the corner of my cutting board. That way I can make sure my slab is relatively straight as I continue to add to it.

Repeat first step of layering, cutting, flipping, stitching, and pressing until you exceed your desired length slightly.

If you have a 6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ ruler, it’s perfect for determining your upper and lower trimming cuts.

Next trim your block ends to bring your block to length.

You might remember I also asked for multicolor wedge slabs from Faith Circle not long ago.

The result was Jazzy. Each palette is its own wonderful mix, don't you agree? I'm thinking this might be a good way to work thru my solid scraps. Hmm....