Friday, May 29, 2015

Bee Sewcial Goes Mid-Century

Simply put, Bee Sewcial is always a challenge. In a good way, but still. Even thinking up a plan for these amazing women is a bit intimidating. But I've decided. For June, we're going mid-century modern.

"Mid-Century modern is an architectural, interior, product and graphic design that generally describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965. The term, employed as a style descriptor as early as the mid-1950s, was reaffirmed in 1983 by Cara Greenberg in the title of her book, Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s (Random House), celebrating the style that is now recognized by scholars and museums worldwide as a significant design movement." 
-  from Wikipedia
I made the group a Pinterest inspiration board, which includes the color palette. I tried to get permission to share this pin, but that didn't happen, so basically, think Kona curry, yarrow, medium gray, titanium, jade, black, palm, laurel, siena, windsor, navy, chocolate, coffee, spice, cinnamon, rust. Remember, this is an all-solids bee.

Unlike other bees I've been in, block size doesn't usually matter. Derived inspiration does. So no specific block sizes or shapes are required for my month. I'm asking for them to just stick with the standard equivalent of (2) 12.5" blocks.

So I made a couple of sample blocks. Honestly, some bee members like inspiration blocks, other do not. So either way, all I'm really asking is that they borrow elements from typical mid-century modern graphics. My blocks are relatively structured, I admit, so it'll be interesting to see where my bee-mates go. I plan to make more, but I think I'd prefer to make them along the way. I fully expect that the work of my bee mates will inspire me too.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


When mom came home from a visit to Alaska a few months ago, she had a beautiful gift of fabric tucked away for me. She had visited The Material Girls quilt shop in Fairbanks, leaving with several yards of Moda Calypso Sunrise batiks - blue, green, and teal - some of my favorite colors.
I definitely wanted to do something kinda modern with them, maybe even improv. I had the idea of a low-volume background so the batiks would really pop against it. In my very own stash I found a perfect choice - the "Cuneiform Script Aged" from Katarina Roccella's REcollection for Art Gallery Fabrics.
So I went with wonky crosses, one of my best-loved blocks. This time, though, there were no consistent block sizes and no even rows, which made for alot of fun on the design wall, a little less when it came time to piece the blocks together. In fact it took some minor surgery with a seam ripper once the top was complete to get it back together and laying flat.

The back, on the other hand, went flawlessly, and I love the supersized crosses that echo the front.
For quilting, nothing too complicated was necessary, so I went with organic straight-line with Aurifil 50wt #2024 (white). This is really a method of quilting that I enjoy. No matter what size of quilt, I mark it in half using my hera marker, then again several inches apart on both sides of center. On this quilt (45"x48"), I marked every 6", then quilted down those lines. From there, no marking! I just quilted down the center between two quilted lines, wobbling along with purpose. Continue and repeat, over and over again. I wanted plenty of texture on this quilt, so my lines of quilting are roughly 3/8" apart.
Unfortunately it doesn't show well in any of my photos, but the binding consists of all 3 cross fabrics, and I think it sets them off well.
Overall, this was a really enjoyable sew, and I'm glad. Because now it's time to face some deadline sewing . . . oh joy.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When You're Not Feeling It

Last month I hopped into the Patchwork City BOM midstream, fully intending to catch up and finish out the calendar with the group. I had fond memories of last year's City Sampler Quilt Along, and just really thought I would enjoy doing a few blocks a week out of this terrific book.
But I've run into a few roadblocks. I'm not catching up. When I do work on them, I'm ignoring the paper-pieced blocks and only doing the pieced ones. My choice of fabrics for this project isn't speaking to me. In short, I'm just not feeling it.  

So what do you do when you find yourself in my situation? Force yourself, because you started something? I admit I've got a good resource and great fabric, but this isn't a must-do, and I'm giving myself permission to let it go. I tucked the finished blocks into the book, put it back on the shelf, and put the fabric away. I may or may not revisit it at a later date, and either is ok. It's time to work on something I can sink my heart into.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Houses on a Hill

I'm not really sure why getting going on this month's Bee Sewcial assignment stumped me even more than usual. I do know that Marci/Marci Girl Designs specifically asked us to approach the task using structured improvised piecing (her term). In my words, draw a plan, then implement it improv-style. Drawing the plan was the hardest part for me, but finally, here's what I drafted. I wasn't thrilled with it, but it was a start.
OK. So when I went at it with my fabric and rotary cutter, things grew out of hand quickly! I had intended to add a second level to my block below, but after getting this far and measuring it (28.5" long x 9"-12" tall) then conferring with Marci, I chose to let it stand alone as block #1. She assured me she was fine with the odd length as well as the curve along the top.
That little house on the far left is my favorite portion of the whole strip, so I decided to make one more little neighbor house, just for fun. This one measures roughly 7" square.

Whew. I survived another month! And June is mine, so stay tuned! For my own sake, I'm listing my previous posts about Bee Sewcial here.

Feel free to watch the #BeeSewcial hashtag on Instagram to see what we're up to. Back in January when we started, I commented that "we just might be going where no bee has gone before . . ." That came to mind when I saw that The Modern Quilt Guild had mentioned Bee Sewcial in their recent announcement of the Member Charity Challenge and the element of "improv with intent". Apparently we're up to something interesting!

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Different Kind of Gift Bag

Daughter-dear is a master at fabric gift bags, so when it was her special day, I couldn't resist stitching one up for her. Rather than my typical draw-string bag, I went for the Big Patchwork Tote by Ayumi Mills/Pink Penguin from Krista Hennebury's book,  Make It, Take It: 16 Cute and Clever Projects to Sew with Friends. I had made the Little Patchwork Tote a while back, and knew it wouldn't hold Rachel's gift. But at 21" wide x 13 1/2" tall, I suspected the larger one would, plus I figured it would be very reusable as a tote.

This bag goes together very nicely, and even on the second go-round, the bottom panel came together like magic. I didn't think to get a photo of that, but it's clever construction. One added note, I chose to use Pellon PF101 Shape-Flex interfacing, rather than the fusible fleece or heavy interfacing suggested. Basically, I am just really fond of the woven Shape-Flex, though it obviously made a pretty lightweight, unstructured bag, which I like.

And dare I say, I could hardly go wrong mixing and matching my Cotton + Steel prints. I'm pretty sure Rachel was good with that too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival :: Room Temp {Small Quilt Category}

If we're lucky, every once in a while we find ourselves working on a project that's so darn enjoyable, you know, every step of the way, that we think to ourselves, "this is why I sew." Room Temp did that to me. It's my own version of Krista/Poppyprint's Improv Under the Influence quilt, begun with Krista herself at a recent class here in Seattle. I've worked steadily on it this past week, hoping I could finish it in time to enter it in the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy/Amy's Creative Side. Well I made it, and am happily entering it in the Small Quilts category.

This quilt's process was unique in that I was using Krista's technique, with a relatively good idea of what my finished quilt would look like, yet most of the sewing and all of the cutting was improv, so there was definitely room for flexibility and personalization.

When it came time to quilt, I did some improv straight line, basically stitching wherever I felt like in the moment. Echo-quilting here, a spiral there, boy this is a fun way to quilt! I used three thread colors, all Aurifil 50wt - #2805 (Light Turquoise), variegated #4658 (Limoni Di Monterosso), #2975 (Brass). As usual, the threads chosen just added to the overall enjoyment of the process. I especially enjoyed sneaking a little turquoise into the gold sections, some limoni into the turquoise, and just two sections of brass for extra interest.

Some of my favorite parts of this quilt are the little "mismatched" bits placed in the contrasting colorways, and spots like the one below where I quilted something unique in one little section.

A faced binding seemed a perfect fit for this quilt. In the past, I've always used a miter when I've wanted to face a quilt, but this time I tried the quilt facing tutorial by Terry Aske Art Quilt Studio. Honestly, it seemed a tad less stressful that a miter, and allowed me to keep the quilt corners squared up nicely.

With solids not too warm nor too cool, I found Room Temp a very comfortable place to be.

Quilt stats:
Finished size29"x31"
Fabric: Kona Cotton Solids - Turquoise, Mediterranean, Lagoon, Bahama Blue, Aqua, Curry, Grellow, Corn Yellow, Sunflower, & Banana
Thread: Aurifil 50wt - #2805 (Light Turquoise), #4658 (Limoni Di Monterosso), 
#2975 (Brass)
Quilted by: myself, using a walking foot 
Helpful tutorials: "
Chess on the Steps" by Krista Hennebury,
available to members on The Modern Quilt Guild website
Category: Small Quilts

My previous entries in the Blogger's Quilt Festival:
Keychain, 5/19/15
Red Hots, 10/27/14
Unlocked, 5/16/14
HST Love, 5/17/13
Hopscotch, 5/19/12
Mango Revisited, 10/28/11
Supernova, 5/13/11

spring 2015 BQF Button

Also linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival :: Keychain {Scrappy Quilts Category}

Meet "Keychain," my entry into the Scrappy Quilts category of the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy/Amy's Creative Side. Even though scrappy quilts are often a riot of color, Keychain is indeed a scrappy quilt and the fun twist is that they weren't even my scraps!! A while back I admired the Oakshott Italy that Cindy/Live a Colorful Life was using, and was thrilled when she offered to send me her scraps. I opted for a controlled scrappy look for my small quilt, and used every last inch of what she sent.

My inspiration came from a chair at my local coffee shop. I often take random photos like this, but on this occasion, I actually went home and tried sewing it up and eventually created a tutorial for the "Greek Key" block.


The scraps I had to work with consisted of 7 colors and I used 6 to make the larger improv blocks, incorporating 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. Though kind of random, I thought it added some unexpected fun.

For the quilting, I used Aurifil 50wt #5021, which was a lovely match for the Essex natural, yet subtle enough not to be distracting on the colored spirals. I did very little marking, so lines are a little wobbly here and there - just the look I was after as I stitched a wonky, uneven square spiral around the quilt.

To keep the focus on the spirals, I used more Essex for the binding, while using the last little piece of the reddish Oakshott Italy to make a short bit of matched binding, one of my favorite little details.

This quilt just begged to be washed up when done, and boy did that Oakshott and Essex soften and crinkle up nicely together. All in all, this was an enjoyable exercise for me - a bit of a stretch, but with satisfying results.

 Quilt stats:
Finished size:  23" x 27"
Pattern: my original design
Fabric: Oakshott Italy, Essex linen in natural
Thread: Aurifil 50wt #5021 (light grey)
Quilted by: myself, using a walking foot 
Helpful tutorials: Greek Key BlockStraight Matched Binding
Category: Scrappy Quilts

My previous entries in the Blogger's Quilt Festival:
Red Hots, 10/27/14
Unlocked, 5/16/14
Crazy Rainbow, 10/25/13
Absolutely Mod Pop, 5/19/13
HST Love, 5/17/13
Hopscotch, 5/19/12
Mango Revisited, 10/28/11
Supernova, 5/13/11

spring 2015 BQF Button

Tuesday at the Table

Surfing for something new and interesting to watch while I sew, I recently happened upon Chef's Table on Netflix. It's a documentary consisting of just 6 episodes, each showcasing a single chef. It's touted as "a love letter to great chefs and the food they create; it's an inspirational look at truly inspirational people."

Now I'm only a few episodes into the series, but already I'm so fascinated. These are really gifted and thoughtful chefs that have been given the limelight here. From around the world, they are creating unique and spectacular food. Though I've enjoyed some pretty impressive meals in my day, they've been nothing quite like these. And never have I had the privilege to know and appreciate their backstory in quite this way.

So if you just plain love good food and the people who make it, I think you might enjoy Chef's Table too.

Read more about Chef's Table here.

Monday, May 18, 2015


When the Bee Sewcial bee found out that our Marci was expecting a baby girl, we did what quilters do. We made a quilt!

all photos courtesy of Leanne Chehaly/she can quilt; used by permission

Blocks were sewn by various members of the bee and sent on to Stephanie/ spontaneousthreads, who brought them all together into a quilt top. Meanwhile, I was creating a backing, keeping with our pink heart theme.
Then the top and backing both got shipped off to Leanne/shecanquilt, who worked her magic quilting it up in her own special style.
Washed, bound, and topped off with a label, "HeartBEEts" winged its way across the continent to Marci and her sweet new babe!

Bee Sewcial: Stephanie/spontaneousthreads, Leanne/shecanquilt, Diane/ylmommyx4, Felicity/felicity.quilts, Hillary/Entrophy Always Wins, Karen/capitolaquilter, Kari/quiltsforthemaking, Marci/Marci Girl Designs, Melissa/~Me1issa, and Debbie/aquilterstable

Thursday, May 14, 2015

All the Paint Chips

A few weeks ago, I posted Through the Looking Glass, my Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Paint Chip Challenge quilt. At our monthly meeting last night, we all turned our quilts in, and of course, had a bit of a sew and tell by color group. Next time I share them, it will be when all of our 18" quilts hang together as one display at Drygoods Design in Seattle. So until then . . .

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Scrappy QAYG

When I saw Svetlana/sotakhandmade post her quilt-as-you-go tutorial last week, I was reminded how fun qayg can be. But when I saw her qayg pouch tutorial (with metal zippers!) the next day, I knew I had to give it a go. And with the need for a couple of handmade gifts, it was perfect timing.

My pouches are both about 8 1/2" tall X 10" wide, so they are generously sized. Plus what a terrific use of my scraps and a fun diversion from those bigger projects waiting patiently on the sidelines.

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday and Fabric Tuesday.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Giveaway Day Winner!

Congratulations to Wendy of Wendy's quilts and more! She was the random winner of the neutral Cotton + Steel basics bundle!
The many comments left on my Giveaway Day post were really enlightening. There were lots of folks that had never used neutrals in their quilts. I hope to peruse the comments again and discuss the topic more in a future post, but for now - THANK YOU for commenting and joining in the fun!

Improv Under the Influence

When I heard that Krista Hennebury/Poppyprint was going to be in town teaching a class on her Improv Under the Influence quilt, I just couldn't resist. To make a good thing better, the class was to be held at Drygoods Design, a delightful Seattle quilt shop that had recently moved to a larger, light-filled location that I was eager to visit. Perfect.

Our 'homework' before class was to choose 5 cool and 5 warm solids and do some pre-cutting. I chose all Kona Cotton Solids in gold and turquoise.
from top to bottom, Curry, Grellow, Corn Yellow, Sunflower, Banana, 
Mediterranean, Turquoise, Lagoon, Bahama, Aqua

First off, we made our center 'checkerboards', using both our warm and cool colors. I added a skinny strip through mine, because I could. (improv, right?)
The space was really lovely to work in, and one of the great features about taking a class at Drygoods is you only need to bring yourself and your fabric and thread. The machines and all supplies are there in the shop for your use.
I was pretty pleased how much I got accomplished! Most of us were able to surround our checkerboards with the first of three borders, with lots more pairs sewn and ready to go.
Here's a photo of our class with our projects at the end of the day. See Krista with hers on the far right? That's the goal! 
A special treat was being able to learn and sew with 4 of my SMQG buddies, Michelle, Sandy, Chandra, and Rachel
All in all, it was a really fun day. Krista is a terrific teacher, and just a delightful person.  I'm glad I made the time to take her class, and am anxious to keep working on my improv!