Friday, January 18, 2019

Begonia :: It's a Mystery!

Another year, another new project right? And my latest is the new block-of-the-month announced at our recent Seattle MQG guild meeting. I was excited to see what Stephanie/ had planned for us. Boy was I surprised when she said "mystery quilt!" It's called Begonia, and will be built in a medallion quilt fashion.

Step one was to select a palette and 
fabrics and create a swatch panel. I couldn't believe how difficult it was to make a fabric bundle. I was trying to pull at least mostly from stash, and I was able to do that with just ordering more of my background, Kona Everglade.

The first month, we're also making some diamond-in-a-square blocks, and doing alot of fabric cutting for the months to come. If you're interested in joining us, everything will be posted on our guild blog. The introductory post is up, providing fabric requirements, the monthly schedule, and January instructions. I'm not usually much for surprises, but this will be my first mystery quilt and I'm totally up for it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Finish-A-Long :: Q1 List

Oh my. Last quarter I cut it really close! My one and only finish happened just hours before the deadline! I'm going to try really hard not to let that happen this quarter!

So there are just two projects going on my Q1 list. First, there's my Summer Sampler, which was also on my Q4 list. It just arrived back from being long-arm quilted, so a binding is all it needs. Really shouldn't take that long, right?

Next up is the I Heart You quilt I'm making for my tiny grandgirl. Since I'm participating in a sewalong, with any luck I'll have the top done by the end of the month.

So let's see if I can whip these up in record time!

Linking up with the 2019 Finish-A-Long.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Homage Quilt

It was June 1 of last year when I last had a turn to declare the prompt for the Bee Sewcial improv bee. Over our time together, we had been inspired by such a wide variety of prompts, but never by a person. And it came to me that a quilt inspired by Gwen Marston's liberated patchwork would be a glorious thing indeed.

(photo of Gwen by Kathy French courtesy of John French)

I met Gwen just one time, having the pleasure of hearing her lecture late in her career. Let's just say she made a big impact, and seeing her quilts that night, as well as those in many of her books that I've collected since, has influenced my improvisational work a great deal. 

The night I heard her speak, Gwen said, "Just have a good time and try stuff," and that's exactly what I asked my #beesewcial mates to do for this quilt. Inspired by Gwen's techniques and style, I asked for one block each, a 'sketch' as Gwen would call it, in white and redS. And oh, they did not disappoint. Below, where I've listed the makers, I've linked back to their block, so you can see more clearly the actual block definitions and the creator's own words about them.

Top row: Silvia, Kari, Felicity
Middle row: Anne, Marci, M-R
Bottom row: Karen, Leanne, Stephanie

For me at least, this kind of quilt, with its blocks of various shapes and sizes, takes a while to arrange in a layout I'm pleased with. And odd as it may seem at first glance, below was my final layout. Yes, there was plenty of space to fill in, and to do that I both made sections from scratch as well as used little bits and trimmings my mates had sent along and added to them. When they call this kind of quilt top creation 'puzzling,' they aren't joking.

Then along about October, I finally had a finished quilt top measuring 56"x60" and I was smitten.

As much as I wanted the quilting on this one to be 'perfect,' I also really wanted to tackle it myself. So the next several weeks I quilted away, hoping to have it done to enter into QuiltCon. But I had decided to quilt very improvisationally - figuring out each section as I went - and considering I was using my walking foot, there was much turning and struggling, and let's just say it wasn't a fast process. So I convinced myself to be good with that, took December off to do other sewing, then got back to it this month. Reunited, I was momentarily overwhelmed to get started again, but I focused on thinking about Gwen, focusing on her quilts and those reds(!), enjoying the shapes my beemates had created for me, and just kind of soaked it all in. Several times it crossed my mind that Gwen hand-quilted so many of her quilts, which takes time, so in my own way, I was taking that time to savor the process too.

For thread, I used three Aurifil 50wts - #2021[Natural White], #2250[Red], and #1103[Burgundy], using the white in the larger white areas, and randomly switching between the reds in the red areas. With all the various reds used in the piecing, it was nice to have a couple of different red threads too. Occasionally one of the threads was used on the opposite color - whenever the block design or size deemed it logical - and as you can see, the white threads show clearly on the Kona Rich Red wideback. There are grids, curvy and straight-lines, matchstick quilting, square spirals, Xs, triangles and spikes. For better or worse, I'm declaring it perfectly imperfect. That said, I had trouble capturing the quilting well in my photoshoot photos, but I'll try again. (See here for some in-progress shots.)

For now, wrapped up in a faced binding, this little quilting journey comes to a close. Inspiration upon inspiration shared with my Bee Sewcial friends, I couldn't have enjoyed it more. Times of challenge for sure, but more than that, I was captivated by the whole process. Inspired by the work and playful spirit of Gwen Marston, I feel we've connected in a way larger than that one brief meeting.

Gwen has said that her 'sketches' were a way to risk an adventure, and I'm thankful my bee-mates were willing to go on this adventure with me. Thank you Leanne, Marci, Karen, M-R, Silvia, Stephanie, Felicity, Kari, and Anne for all the ways you inspire and for sharing my vision for this quilt. And of course.... thank you Gwen.

See more at #beesewcialhomagequilt and #inspiredbybeesewcial.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2018 Finish-A-Long: Q4 Finish!!!

I was this close to reporting that I had zero finishes in Q4 of the Finish-A-Long. But over the weekend, after letting my latest Bee Sewcial quilt sit all through December, I got in the groove and finished up the quilting. A couple of evenings hand-stitching on a faced binding, and I can thankfully, enthusiastically declare I Have A Finish just in the nick of time!

No lie that I let this one intimidate me, and by choosing to quilt it improvisationally with my walking foot, took a very circuitous route. Unfortunately, I need a break in the weather to get some decent photos, so I'm hoping this one showing the binding is proof enough for now that it's done. This one's been hard won, and I can't wait to share more soon.

This finish was on my 2018 FAL Q4 list. Linking up with the other 2018 Finish-A-Long Q4 Finishes!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Curated Quilts Now and Then

You'll figure out soon enough that part of this post should have been up a while ago - like months and months ago. Not sure why it got delayed but there's reason enough to include it now.

So the House issue of Curated Quilts is hitting mailboxes now, and I was pretty stoked to see my little Hus quilt in its pages. It's kinda funny, since when I finished this mini for the CQ mini challenge, I really wasn't feeling it was too successful. So it was a happy surprise when it was chosen for publication. But there it is! And it 'fits' in just fine, now that I see the collection together.

It's been fun being included in an issue now and again, and what I failed to share a while back was my visit to the Curated Quilts booth at QuiltCon in Pasadena.

Photo by Danielle/@thecreativeimperative; used by permission

I was pretty excited then to have a photo taken with me holding issues I'd had quilts in....

especially my first published article, Take a Spin With Improv in Issue 02. I'd actually taken two of my sample improv log cabin pincushions, one each for Amy Ellis and Christine Ricks, the women behind the journal!

It was fun meeting them, and getting a photo along with my friend Louise/@imfeelincrafty. Louise's mini is actually hanging right behind us! It's right above the journal in the photo above - with the yellowish binding. See?

So sorry for going aldéjà vu on you in this post, but in a roundabout way, it all 'fits' with my mini being shown in the current issue. Or maybe it's just me!

If you haven't seen a copy of Curated Quilts yet, do! The journal is beautifully created, and always packed with inspiring work from makers in our community.

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Well that was fun! When Curated Quilts announced January 2 as the deadline for their next Mini Quilt challenge, I knew it would be tight. I mean with my frenetic holiday sewing and the actual holiday activities and all, I got a really late start. But that's the great thing about mini quilts.... just a few hours does the trick.

The theme was Curves, and the color palette white, spring green, moss green, burgundy, fuchsia and teal. It had been a while since playing with improv wavy curves, and they were calling me, so that's the direction I headed.

When it came time for quilting, I was in a real quandary about what color of thread to use and finally opted for Aurifil Monofilament, which I'd used with success earlier in the year. At first, I was regretting my decision, not really liking the look. But the farther and denser I quilted, the more I liked it, and crazy enough, it kind of sparkles in the light. My only real frustration was that almost every time I used my automatic thread cutter and lifted the presser foot, the filament unthreaded from the needle! With my old eyes, this isn't at all helpful! I finally got into the routing of grabbing the top thread immediately after cutting, before lifting the pressure foot, and that little trick saved the day.

It's not an exaggeration to say that this little bit of sewing over the weekend was seriously refreshing, and a great way to close out the year. A faced binding seemed a good finish for it, and in the end, my entry, confluence, measures just over 12" square.

Remembering that my smallest quilt of the year will be hanging at QuiltCon, I just want to remind you that everything we make doesn't have to be huge. In fact, making small - impulsive yet focused - can be really, really good.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


It was not my intent to start in on a new quilt right at the beginning of 2019. I have two large quilts in the quilting phase that I carried on from last year, and they were/are my priority. But then.... I saw the announcement of the #iheartyousewalong, and my mind was changed. I'd made the scrappy Strawberry Love quilt for my eldest granddaughter a while back, and the I Heart You quilt seemed perfect for my newest little grandgirl.

The pattern is by Meghan/Then Came June and Lindsey/Pen + Paper Designs, part of their Modern Holiday Quilt Collection. Though the original pattern is absolutely darling, I'm opting to use Lindsey's Patchwork Pattern Hack, digging into my scraps for mostly pinks + some low-volume neutrals for some scrappy little hearts. Kona White and Cotton + Steel Sprinkle in Stardust are my other key fabrics.

Anyone else joining in a new sew-along to start the year? Along with finishing up those wips from 2018, I think this little something new adds some enthusiasm to my sewing agenda.