Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Scraps :: To Save or Not to Save

So I have a scrappy project to share today and the crazy part is, they aren't even my scraps!! I admired the Oakshott Italy that Cindy/Live a Colorful Life was working with a while back, and she responded by sending me her scraps! Yay for me! But before I show off what I did with them, I need to share a little tale . . .

So I was at a quilting retreat a week or so ago, and I came to a point where I had lots of little triangles left from what I was working on. So I asked the gals if I should keep them or toss them, and Joan, sitting next to me, piped right up with 'toss them!' So I did, you know, not really sure if I'd get around to using them or not. So whatever. Though I was a tad surprised at Joan's response, being an avid scrap-saver herself.

Well wouldn't you know but later in the weekend I caught Joan gathering up scraps even smaller than I had tossed. And the truth came out! Linda laughingly suggested that Joan might just be planning to raid my 'discard' bag after I had left to head home! Can you imagine?! haha. Well I don't really know if she did or not, but if she did, here's to enjoying what little leftovers I tossed.

Now on to what I did with that awesome Oakshott! My inspiration came from a photo I took of a chair at a local coffee shop. I take odd photos like this all the time, but this might be the first time I actually went on to create something!
So here's my first block, which my quilting buddy Sharon identified as a "Greek key" so that's what I've been calling it.
The scraps Cindy sent consisted of 7 colors and I used 6 to make the larger improv blocks, using Essex linen in natural as a background. It was after I'd sewn those 6 blocks together than I came up with the idea for the small unraveling 'key' in the bottom corner. Kind of a random element, but I think it added a bit of fun to the quilt. And for the record, those Oakshotts together with the Essex made for such rich texture in these blocks.
Backing was a stash find, 'garden spiral' in chocolate by Alexander Henry Fabrics, chosen for the pattern as much as the subtle color. For the quilting, I used Aurifil 50wt #5021, which is light grey by its number label but looks more like camel, and I am seriously thinking it might have been mislabeled. At any rate, it is a lovely match for the Essex natural, subtle enough not to be distracting on the colored spirals.
I began quilting there at the intersection of the top 4 blocks, then did a wonky, uneven square spiral around the quilt. Dare I say this was FUN?! I did very little marking, so lines are a little wobbly here and there - just the look I was after.
To keep the focus on the spirals, I used more Essex for the binding, while using the last little piece of the reddish Oashott Italy to make a short bit of matched binding.
One little added comment on this project . . . when completed, the  little "Keychain" quilt measured 24 1/2" x 29". I usually don't compare quilt measurements before and after a wash, but I was curious considering I was using the linen and shot cotton. Color me surprised! After a cold wash and a warm dry, the quilt measured 23" x 27". whoa. That's quite a difference. Note to self.
Despite the shrinkage, I love this little quilt even more now that it's super crinkly!
AND it's the last project on my 2015 Q1 FAL list! Double the fun.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Considerable Blog Touring

Little did I realize when I recently said 'yes' to two different blog tours that they'd start on the very same day - TODAY! So things have been a tad hectic getting ready for them, but I'm excited about both, and it's kind of nice that 1 is for a new book, and the other a new line of fabric!

First up is Heidi/Fabric Mutt's Busy Girl Sews! Heidi asked me ages ago if she could interview me for her book, so it's a real pleasure to be able to participate in the blog tour as well. 
So meet Sew Organized for the Busy Girl: Tips to Make the Most of Your Time & Space. It's a fun book, with loads of lovely, useful projects.  I love the sidebars in the book, where Heidi shares ideas to make project time more productive, plus there's 'Busy Girl Speaks' snippets from various sewing bloggers, speaking on blogging, organizational tips, and more. I have no doubt you'd find Heidi's book a pleasure to sew from.
I'm currently working on quilting my project, using some lovely Artisan Cottons courtesy of Windham Fabrics. Here's a sneak peek and a list of the blog stops each Monday till July!
April 6 - Jodi of Tales of Cloth & Angela of Cut to Pieces
April 13 - Lindsay of Craft Buds & Debbie of A Quilter's Table
April 20 - Leanne of She Can Quilt
April 27 - Fat Quarter Shop
May 4 - Erin of Why Not Sew?
May 11 - Jennifer of Ellison Lane Quilts
May 18 - Svetlana of SOTAK Handmade
May 25 - Lucy of Charm About You
June 1 - Maureen of Maureen Cracknell Handmade
June 8 - Becca of Bryan House Quilts
June 15 - Beth of Plum & June
June 22 - Jessica of Quilty Habit
June 29 - Caroline of Sew Can She
July 6 - Heidi of Fabric Mutt (Tour Wrap!)

Next up is the Etno Blog Tour, using Pat Bravo's beautiful new fabric line, ETNO for Art Gallery Fabrics.
I was sent the "Dainty Folk" collection - lovely aquas and corals with white and black - a really delightful mix of colors and prints. Here's a sneak peek of my project, and again, a list of blog tour stops for Etno!
March 30th → Allison Dutton │Allison Sews
March 31st → Brandi Blowers │BNB Studios
April 01st → Miki Simic│Mint Needle
 April 02nd → Rochelle New│Lucky Lucille
April 03rd → Teri Dodds│Fa Sew LA
April 04th → Lisa Nielsen│The Quilt Jam
April 05th → Hilary Smith│Young Texan Mama
April 06th → Sharon McConnell│Color Girl Quilts
April 07th → Marija Vujcic│Marija's Fabric Creation
April 08th → Nancy Purvis│Owens Olivia
April 09th → Becky McCoy│Sewin 4 Him
April 10th → Erin Stewart│Poppy Quin
April 11th → Kathryn Upitis│Upitis Quilt
April 12th → Lori Hartman│Lori Hartman Designs
April 13th → Abbey Garcia│Sew Charleston
April 14th → Aida Valverde│Aika Maku
April 15th → Debbie Jeske│A Quilter's Table
April 16th → Lara Bowditch│Scrap Quilt Preach
April 17th → Isabel Kelly│Lamb and Wolfie
April 18th → Kylie Kelsheimer│Faith Love Fabric

April 21stBlog Tour Final Recap

So I sure hope you join in the tours - you're bound to see some beautiful projects and find inspiration for sure!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Studio Four :: Storing Quilts

By now, there's a theme here . . . baby steps in improving the look and usability of my studio space. Over the last few months, I have:
  1. sewn a fresh, new ironing board cover
  2. created a design wall, and
  3. organized my mailing supplies
Like all of the above, today's project had been on my mind for a while, and in reality didn't take long at all, but made a huge difference, at least to me.
So up until now, if I'd finished a quilt that hadn't been gifted or otherwise sent on to a new home, either it got hung or put to use somewhere in the house. Believe me, there are quilts on every bed, a quilt ladder in the living room, stacks of quilts on shelves as display, and quilts hanging in several rooms in the house. The quilts up on the shelf are mostly my show quilts that have returned home,  plus a couple I just hadn't decided what to do with, all thrown haphazardly up on the closet shelf. I know. Not good. 
So today, I took them all down, and got to work. Basically I found another home for the shelved items that were not sewing-related, which vacated a nice long spot on that shelf where said quilts could be rolled and stored more appropriately.
See how simple that was? SO much better!

Now to straighten up that stash . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Next Canvas

After making Leanne/shecanquilt's Canvas pattern baby-sized last year, I knew I'd have to do that again sometime. It really is sweet and quick yet packs a modern punch.
I repeated the use of both solids and prints in the center blocks this time, though in a different arrangement. Something about the mix just adds a bit of fun. Also repeated are the borders in Modern Solids in grey by In the Beginning. There's something about this particular solid that I like. Back in the day when they were selling fabric, I'd purchased some at Pink Chalk Fabrics, who described them this way: "These fabrics are yarn dyed, woven fabrics with one color in the warp and another color in the filling. The warp and weft threads are generally a tonal variation of the same color creating an iridescent look. The color changes as the cloth moves in the light. The base cloth has a silky smooth hand and beautiful drape." The movement that 'iridescence' gives to the finished quilt is really something.
I dug in my stash for a backing and came up with teal Michael Miller ta dots. To bring it up to size, I fussy-cut a Cotton + Steel border print from Melody Miller's Mustang collection. Dare I say, I thought it worked out beautifully.
For quilting, I used my machine's serpentine stitch, which appears to be my 'go-to' stitch for baby quilts. Kinda playful, fun to stitch, and for reasons not totally understandable, it always goes so fast. One wrong turn at the machine and I found myself quilting a grid rather that the one-direction I had planned, but oh well! Rather than take it out, I went with it, and honestly, I kinda like it! I quilted using Aurifil 50wt #2600 (Dove), a good match for the border while leaving a subtle effect on the aqua and teal.

To finish, binding is of the same grey solid, just to keep the focus on the center spots of color. Measuring 36" square, a good wash and dry gave this little quilt a cozy softness and crinkle, just perfect for baby.

This quilt is on my 2015 Q1 FAL list!

Monday, March 23, 2015


So I just returned from a delightful {sunny} weekend retreat with my quilting buddies, and besides being a lovely time of reconnecting with good friends, I also was successful in at least making progress on the 5 projects I took along. Progress, yes, and you'll see more of all that in the days to come, but finishes? Just one, but boy was it fun.
It was a sweet and useful Patchwork Bucket using the tutorial by quarter inch mark. I thought the bucket would be handy on my cutting table, and it was a perfect use for the Lighthearted little bundle Ayumi/Pink Penguin sent a few weeks ago.
For the record, I made my bucket sized just like Chase did in her tutorial, and let me tell you, 8" diameter by 8" tall is pretty generous! However, a formula is given to make any sized bucket you wish - handy indeed. Seriously though, I was just tickled to be able to use Lighthearted in this project - they just seem made for each other. 
Above is the patchwork strip of 2 1/2" (unfinished) squares destined for the sides of the bucket, and below is a view of the finished bottom, considering I used one of my favorite prints from the line there.
I made one little tweak in the tutorial, only because I didn't have the cotton webbing for the handles on hand. I decided coordinating fabrics would be just as nice, and fresh from using Noodlehead's clever method in my Cargo Duffle {check out Step 4}, I paired 2 of the fabrics with batting inside, and honestly, they stitched on {with an 'X'!} just beautifully. Plus I really like the look, so win-win.
The bucket's now at home in my studio, which is making me smile as I get on with that pile of w.i.p.s I brought home with me . . .

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Process

It seems a little much to go on a quilting retreat so soon after my QuiltCon getaway, but schedules being what they are, this weekend is what worked for my long-time quilting buddies, the Basket Case Quilters. We go waaaay back to when our kids were younguns and we're far flung now, so the times we're able to gather together these days are few and far between. 

I'm known to take way more projects than could possibly be finished in one weekend, so I really tried to scale it down this time. Time will tell if I was successful. Here's what I've packed:

Greek Keys - Made from scraps, I only want 9 little blocks and 2 are done. With Essex and Oakshotts, I really can't believe they've taken this long. This project is on my Finish-A-Long list so time's a wastin!

Emphasis - The runner I began in Carolyn Friedlander's class at QuiltCon. Nothing like a retreat to concentrate on some paper-piecing.

Sew Organized - My friend Heidi of Fabric Mutt has a new book coming out next month - Sew Organized for the Busy Girl - and she's asked me to participate in the blog hop. Fun, right? I got to choose what project from the book I wanted to make, so I'm taking advantage of some lovely Artisan Cottons sent to me by Windham Fabrics.

ETNO - I also happened to land myself in Pat Bravo's upcoming Etno bloghop, so the bundle that just arrived needs to be made into something pronto. From my suggestions, Pat chose what she wanted me to make, and I have a design ready. So time to cut and sew!

Lighthearted - And just for the fun of it, I'm taking along the little bundle Ayumi sent me. I'm itching to play with it, and I even thought a patchwork bucket might be nice for my cutting table in the studio. We'll see.

So see you in a few days. I'm sure you'll be able to catch me over on Instagram sharing some process pics!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday at the Table

After sharing our dinner theatre menu a couple of weeks ago, I was asked for my recipe for Red Velvet Cake. Well, wouldn't you know, we went the quick and easy route for the theatre meal, and relied on a good ole Betty Crocker mix. But I do have a family recipe for this historic cake, and I'm happy to share that today.

Red Velvet Cake

Cake ingredients:
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 Tb. cocoa
2 oz. red food coloring
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. soda
1 Tb. vinegar

Frosting ingredients:
5 Tb. sifted cake flour
1 c. whole milk
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
This frosting is a traditional roux frosting, which is what my mom used on Red Velvet when I was growing up. These days, Red Velvet is most often served with a cream cheese frosting. Take your pick!
Cream shortening & sugar. Add eggs; beat well. Make paste of cocoa & food coloring. Add to mix. Combine salt, vanilla, & buttermilk together – add alternately with flour to mixture. Combine soda & vinegar. Fold into mixture without beating. Fill two greased & floured 9” layer cake pans. Bake 30 minutes at 350-degrees.

For frosting, cook flour & milk; stir constantly till thick; cool slightly till warm, stirring occasionally. Cream sugar & butter; add vanilla. Add small amount of creamed mixture to flour/milk paste which assures a smooth icing. With mixer, add small amounts of paste to creamed mixture till it has appearance of whipped cream. Frost cooled cake layers.
The last time I made this cake, it was for Christmas, thus the holly in the photo. If perchance you love red velvet but want something a little different, be sure and try the Red Velvet Cake Balls I've shared in a previous post. Either way, there's some good eats!

Monday, March 16, 2015


By some sort of oversight, I've failed to blog about this year's SMQG block of the month project - medallion quilts. In January, we all chose our own 12.5" center block. My choice was HoosierToni's Skinny Churn Dash.
One of the fun qualities of this BOM is that each month a different guild member will design the next border. For February, Yeechi/Glass Snail Crawling... shared her checkerboard-type border along with several variations. (Click through for a peek.)
Now for March, Louise/I'm Feelin' Crafty has given us a wonky triangle border. The corners involve inset seams that are a tad tricky, but not too painful.
I'm questioning my palette a bit - not my norm at all. But I'm trying to use favorite stash prints along with some text and other low-volume fabrics, so I'll just keep forging on for now. I'm finding this one border per month routine kinda fun.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

a chance to encourage

Over the years, I've witnessed an amazing thing in the online quilting community, and that's when someone is going through a particularly difficult time, support comes out of the woodwork. Whether it's made items like a quilt or financial support, it's there. I've seen it over and over again. Which brings me to an event happening this weekend - an auction to support Stitched in Color's Rachel Hauser and family after new baby Eleni was born with some serious complications. I know Rachel best as founder and co-participant in the charity bee do.Good Stitches, and she has shared openly on her blog if you hadn't heard about what she's going through.
As a way of adding my support to Rachel and her family, I've donated the Motley Wheel mini quilt I made a few weeks ago. Made with the new pattern by mama love quilts, it measures 20" square, and I am happy to ship anywhere.

Many handmade items, as well as beautiful fabric offerings, have been donated for the auction. It all takes place on Instagram - just follow @auctionforeleni and you'll find all the details there. The auction starts today at 4pm EST and goes for just 24 hours. So peek in on the action, and if you are so moved, consider contributing in some way. Here's a chance to support and encourage one of our own.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


The mini quilt top I began piecing at QuiltCon with the Gee's Bend quilters was so very nearly done, that it didn't take long at all to bring it to fruition.
Small as it is - 14"x16" - there's a few things I really like about it. For one, the mix of fabrics - 1 of hubby's shirts (don't worry, I asked first!), some linen-blend and chambray, and then some modern scraps that certainly aren't representative of that used in an original Gee's Bend quilt. That little incompatibility gives me a sort of satisfaction somehow.
I like that little gold triangle - enough that making it the focus of my quilting design was an obvious choice. And I really really like what the quilting did for that blue shirt fabric. It gives a movement I really didn't anticipate, but love.
Remember in my QuiltCon Abbreviated post, when I mentioned the lack of direction in our class? Well from the wonky center square to that scrappy binding, I found that indeed, my heart directed each step, just like the quilters told me it would. Fancy that.

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday and Fabric Tuesday. On Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday at the Table

After posting such a full table post last week, I almost hesitate to do it again today, but last weekend held an event you foodies might like to hear about, so here goes!

Every other year, the youth group at our church puts on a dinner theater, and this year marked the 5th year I served as head cook for the Friday night meal. Planning and cooking for 120 was exhausting but very fun thanks to my terrific team of shoppers and sous-chefs. Below is our menu, with links to recipes as available.

First course - Salad & Bread 

Mixed Green Salad w/Balsamic Dressing

 Second course - Heavy Appetizers 

 Cowboy Beans

Third Course - Desserts

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
Goldrush (Red Velvet) Cupcakes

That cheesy garlic bread was a real hit, and for the record, the hand pies were simplified with canned apple pie filling and the tortellini skewers were adapted from a salad recipe. A tip one of my crew gave me was to freeze slices of lemon and lime and add to each cup when serving punch - keeps things cold while not diluting the punch. Worked like a charm and looked nice too!

Can't say I felt like being in the kitchen the following day, but it was definitely a pleasure to cook with friends while supporting the kids.

Monday, March 9, 2015


When I joined the Bee Sewcial bee, I expected it to be challenging. And it has been, as we've dabbled with Chihuly-inspired improv, poster blocks, and now in March, transparency. In fact, transparency is something I notice and admire in quilting, but I'd never gotten around to trying it.
So when I did over the weekend, I found my encounter to be a stretch. We were asked to make 2 blocks - 1 at least 14" unfinished and 1 at least 9" unfinished. Using mostly blues and mostly greens, and a slight dash of light gray, we were given free reign to construct the blocks however we liked in order to create a sense of transparency. Strips, squares, circles . . . whatever!
So I got a little carried away, and my blocks are about 14"x20" (top) and 14" square (bottom). One thing I enjoy about making our blocks for this bee - we can usually send them untrimmed. So they may look a tad different in their final layout.

Even though I struggled a bit to get the transparent look I was after, my bee-mate Melissa/weshallsew approved my blocks, so that's a relief. This is definitely a 'look' I'd like to explore more in the future, but for now I'm happy to have tried it, and glad to move on. If you'd like to see more of our Bee Sewcial blocks, check out Instagram hashtag #beesewcial.

Friday, March 6, 2015


A few weeks ago, Kira Bell of the Emerald Coast Modern Quilt Guild asked if she could share a photo of my quilt Unknown Journey.
At their guild meetings, they have a feature called "Modern Minutes: What makes this quilt modern?" She wanted to share my quilt, and here's what she had to say about it: Debbie Jeske used improvisational piecing and created a new fabric using solids in different colors of green. Then she cut this newly created fabric to make her ‘pathways’ or sticks. Large areas of negative space surround the ‘pathways’ that travel across her quilt. Very linear quilting and a binding in the same color as the background also help keep the visual focus on the ‘pathways’.
It's fun to actually define modern elements in quilts now and then, isn't it? The guild has created a Modern Quilts and Why Pinterest board, if you want to see more.

I keep meaning to tell you about how I managed to get snaps on my Noodlehead Cargo Duffle.
You may recall I had issues with the snaps I had purchased, so when my guild-mate Matt/@odditease offered to help me at our meeting that week, I took him up on his offer. He brought this tool and snaps, along with a small hammer. In no time he gave me a quick demo and we installed those snaps! So hopefully I can manage it myself next time.

Jacey/jaceycraft shared a mini-tutorial of her HST + 1 block, a block I'm sure I've seen in projects before, but had never really thought through. Click over to her post to see the deets as well as how these blocks will look in a finished quilt - terrific, I'd say, and definitely on my list to try.

Now go check out Louise/I'm Feelin' Crafty's placemats! Click here to see each one close up. Aren't they gorgeous? I love how they're all different, but so modern, and they coordinate so nice together! Wouldn't they make mealtime fun?

I wanted to show you a quilt that was shared by Aneela Hooey/comfortstitching not long ago. When Aneela shared she was dealing with cancer last year, Chelsea/pins and bobbins put a call out on Instagram for 'X' and 'O' blocks to make a quilt for Aneela. We used this tutorial by Canoe Ridge Creations, and here's the post Aneela wrote about the quilt. I think it's a pretty sweet quilt to make to encourage someone.
xoxo quilt in full glory. Thank you to this amazing community of quilters who collaborated from far and wide to produce this quilt for me. I am massively humbled to receive such a personal gift.  @chelseafr you did an amazing job of pulling this together,

Another quilt I thought you'd enjoy is one finished by my former Mid-Century Modern bee-mate Carla/Lollyquiltz. It's her Juicy Fruit quilt made from a variety of sized churn dash blocks. Isn't it something? Here's Carla's original instructions - a 12" block made with 4 - 6" blocks. I remember being wow-ed by her palette! We made blocks for her in 2 different rounds - the first we used just pink and orange, and in the second we added in yellow and white. There's something about this quilt I really love!

Whew! I think that's plenty of randomness for today! Who knew I had so much to share?!