Monday, February 29, 2016

The Judges Speak :: Once

photo courtesy Diane/ylmommyx4

On the day it happened, I wrote about Mod Mood winning first place in the group category at QuiltCon. But I wanted to add a sort of "P.S." now that Mod Mood is home.

The fact is, though I've entered several quilt shows before, and actually placed a couple of times, I have always entered my quilts 'for show only.' Ie. Not to be judged. I'm sure it was some insecurity on my part - that seeing my work up close and personal, judges might see my workmanship as less that stellar. But in entering the most recent QuiltCon show, I let 'er rip, so to speak. It felt time to just put myself out there.

So understandably, I was nervous to see what the judges had to say about Mod Mood. But I needn't have worried.

Another 'woo-hoo' moment was seeing the ribbon!

All of QuiltCon's 2016 Award Ribbons were beautifully and thoughtfully made by Nicole/Modern Handcraft

ribbon photos courtesy Nicole/Modern Handcraft

photo courtesy Janice/betteroffthread

So that's the rest of the story as they say. And one I'll remember fondly for a long while.

photo courtesy Martha/onceawingnut

Friday, February 26, 2016

Culminating Images

Feast on this new batch of marvelous quilt photoshoots! I've asked a few followers if they're tired of these posts and they all said, "Keep 'em coming!" So I'm happy to do so, as I'm also enjoying the series, and 'meeting' some new quilters along the way. I try to keep the photos shared here pretty current though you'll find some older ones as well in my Photoshoots pin board. Enjoy!

Levers by Christopher/The Tattooed Quilter [the_tattooed_quilter]

Crosses and Losses by Faith/Fresh Lemons [freshlemonsquilts]

Double G Picnic by Ben/Huntspatch Quilts

Cabin Fever by Crystal/Raspberry Spool [raspberryspool]

QuiltCon Charity Challenge Quilt by South Florida Modern Quilt Guild
 Photo by Kerrilyn O'Rourke

Pretty inspiring, right? All confirmation that a creative and quality photoshoot is a perfect 'one last step' in the quilt-making process.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Slab One :: Improv Strings

For this year's "block-of-the-month" project, the Seattle MQG will be making different improv blocks each month. The first assignment is a 15"x30" 'slab' of string blocks.

I posted my fabric choices a few weeks ago, and I'm mostly happy with them. I'm definitely pleased with the colors (including Kona Color of the YearHighlight), but having second thoughts about the neutrals. Though you can't really tell in these photos (nor in real life, actually), I used 3 - Kona Oyster, Bone, and Natural. Though I do like the look of things overall, so maybe I'll just keep using all 3.

For my first block (the little inset one shown below), I referenced the improv string block tutorial by Penny/sewtakeahike. I continued to add curves in subsequent blocks - just randomly as I felt like it. I also incorporated trimmings as I could - in a couple of 'pieced' stripes as well as a 'frame' around my first block to bring it up to size.

I was surprised how time-consuming these blocks were and how much fabric I used just cutting strips willy-nilly. But I'm really happy with this first slab and anxious to see what's up for next month!

By the way, there's still a few days to join the #konacotychallenge over on Instagram. Click here to see the prize! It's a beautiful mix of Kona Solids, Essex, and Carolyn Friedlander prints - totally worth entering for a chance to win. So perfect timing to get my string slab done!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Give Me a J.U.K.I.

Yup. There's a new sewing machine in the studio! When hubby asked me what I wanted for my milestone(!) birthday, I just put it out there plain and simple. It's a JUKI TL-2010Q, which he purchased from our local Quality Sewing & Vacuum, where I also bought my Brother years ago, and where I've gotten my machines serviced for as long as I can remember.

I've only sewn on it a couple of times so far, so I have much to discover I'm sure, but so far, I find her fast with a really lovely stitch. And see my string slab there with all those seams? The JUKI handled them so nicely, not turning any seam allowances on the back side the wrong way, and not bumping around at all. Smooooth stitching all the way. Oh yeah.

So I'm a happy camper. And feeling blessed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday at the Table

Food nerd that I am, when I saw that a new food documentary was coming to Netflix, I put it on my calendar. Finally this last weekend, I was able to watch/listen while I sewed. In the newly released Cooked, "Michael Pollan explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world." It was enlightening for sure.

The four episodes were very thematic, based on the natural elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. And among other meaningful tidbits discussed, I was especially drawn to those about the consequences of eating highly processed food, and also about the demise of home cooking. Food for thought - no pun intended.

Anyway, the series is beautifully recorded and the host, a gifted narrator. I didn't realize until I was writing this post that the series was based on a book by Michael Pollan - Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. Anyway, if you're interested in "ingredients and cooking techniques that we use to nourish ourselves," I think you'll enjoy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Little Pixie

So have you seen Heidi/Fabric Mutt's new tutorial for The Pixie Basket? It's a tiny little cutie - 2 x 3 x 4 1/2’’ - and a snap to make.

Marci/marci_girl shared a little tip for that final step of closing the opening in the lining, which I will try next time. Cuz believe me, there will be a next time. 

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Improv Quarter Log Cabin Block

So my friend Louise/I'm Feelin' Crafty and I are the new SeaMQG Giving Committee chairs, and we have come up with a tentative plan for the year. For our first group quilt, we're making use of some black and white printed fabric contributed last year. Packets of fabric were available at our February meeting, but we're encouraging folks to sew from stash too. Just in case any of you would like the tutorial, just click here. (It'll also be under my Tutorials tab here on the blog.)

We were inspired by this pillow made by [theqiofquilting] on Instagram. Isn't it striking?

Photo by theqiofquilting; used by permission.

And several blocks have already been handed in!

So that's the plan! Hopefully you'll be seeing more blocks under the Instagram hashtags #seamqggiving and #seamqg. And if you try some, feel free to tag them #improvquarterlogcabinblock. They're kinda fun!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A First

Well something pretty exciting happened today! My phone's notifications started going off like crazy and well wouldn't you know . . . Mod Mood had won first place in the group category at QuiltCon!

 photo by playcrafts

 photo by tiffanybaxter

My bee-mate, Stephanie/Spontaneous Threads, was nearby and able to go on stage with Jacquie Gering and acknowledge the award on behalf of Bee Sewcial.

photo by kristenballou

I really appreciated all the congratulations and photos shared today - it really helped me feel ok about not actually being there. My friend Kristen sent me a close up of that awesome ribbon, and I thought you might like to know what the card below it says. (Well I was curious anyway!) After my name, guild, and Instagram id, it says:

Pieced with Stephanie Ruyle, Leanne Chahley, Karen Foster, Felicity Ronaghan, Kari Vojtechovsky, Melissa Richie, Diane Stanley, Marci Debetaz, Hillary Goodwin.

Mod Mood was created in conjunction with Bee Sewcial, an improv, solids-only bee where members are encouraged to push their creative boundaries, try new methods, and be inspired by singular prompts. The bee's prompt for this quilt was a Pinterest board filled with Mid-Century Modern designs, including a MCM color palette.

Techniques: Machine pieced, machine quilted without a frame - the quilt moved under the stationary needle, improvisational piecing, faced binding.

Cool, huh? Wow. I'm still feeling pretty astonished, and now I think I'll go do what I have yet to do today - scroll through Instagram and see what I missed!

Here's a list of all the QuiltCon 2016 Winners and photos of their quilts . . .

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Scrap Leather

I approached February's Mighty Lucky Quilting Club challenge with some trepidation, and I'm not really sure why. The topic, Minimalist Improvisation, actually kind of excited me. I'd glanced at the handout by guild-mate Season Evans, and it seemed full of good info, and definitely an overall handy resource.

Bonus! At our SeaMQG meeting last week, Season herself shared about minimalist improv, her own work, and her participation in the club. Talk about a treat! She shared quite a few of her small quilts, which was really inspiring, and made me anxious to get going on mine.

When I cleared some time to attack the project at hand, I found the assignment in a format that really worked for me - very specific steps with photos along the way. Before I knew it, I had my fabrics selected. In the upper left hand corner is my focus fabric, a bronze-brown shot cotton. The rest of the fabrics in the top row are my coordinating solids - Osnaburg, a scrap of leather, and Kona Parchment. In the bottom row are my contrasting solids - some off-white scraps, and Kona White. It was all pretty neutral, but at the same time, it felt just right.

Following Season's assignment step by step, I finally settled on this layout on the design wall.

I was surprised how smoothly I was able to piece the elements together - kind of like a puzzle, trimming bits as I went along, as needed to make things fit.

My original plan (thus the piece's name) was to make the strip of leather my focus. But after reading through the challenge, I decided to make it a supporting fabric choice. Thus somehow it got edited down to just a small portion of the original. I was actually kind of disappointed, but I like how it supports the focal, so all is good.

What I wanted to do when it came to quilting, was to go very dense. I did want to avoid quilting the leather, so an all-over design wouldn't quite cut it. And I was a little concerned that over-quilting might conflict with the minimalist theme. But spurred on by my Instagram audience, I embraced the dense quilting idea, and did it in sections, using the shapes as rough guidelines. I used three threads - Aurifil 50wt #2021 (natural white), #2310 (light beige), and #2372 (dark antique gold) - and several quilting patterns. The straight line triangles on the left edge were something new for me, a design by The Inbox Jaunt.

All I can say, for bettor or worse, is that I enjoyed every inch of that quilting, and it seems to me to enhance the work rather than detract from it. For January's assignment, my finished quilt was 17" square, as is this new piece. A loose plan is to go with this size each month - large enough to give a technique a good try without overtaking my whole month of sewing. We'll see how that goes. Whatever, I really enjoyed this assignment and will definitely be exploring minimalist improv again.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


The monthly prompts from Bee Sewcial never cease to challenge. For February, Karen/CapitolaQuilter chose the theme "Stretch" (Denim-but not actually denim): Let's Get Comfortable using indigo blues, off-white, and gray. Though Karen mentioned something about 'primarily flowing from top to bottom, and out the sides of the block(s),' my mind was focused on a pair of jeans with threadbare knees and cozy creases, and she gave me the go-ahead to follow my intuition. That's what I tried to incorporate into block #1. I especially enjoyed the micro-piecing of the 'lines' in the center section. This block measures 12 1/2" x 14."

For block #2, I was thinking of a pocket (that curve in the upper-right) with a rivet. Both blocks were created totally ruler-free until the last trim, and this was actually my second try at the rivet. I had in mind to go vertical with the 'creases' but that's not the way the rotary cutter took me. sigh. The last detail I tried to incorporate was the side-seam of the jeans with that vertical strip on the right. It took everything I had not to top-stitch that in gold thread. This block measures 12 1/2" x 13," and I do think I was successful with both blocks in flowing out the edges as Karen suggested.

So yes, that was challenging, but I loved working with the indigo mix and ruler-free was indeed freeing. You can see more blocks at #beesewcial, and feel free to sew along with #inspiredbybeesewcial.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Great Outdoors

Well I've found more brave souls who have take their beautiful quilts out into the great outdoors to truly 'finish' them by documenting them with a captivating photo. Without further ado, I'll let you enjoy. And if you're new to the series, you can find more stunning photoshoots here: That One Last StepGetting Back Outside, and Out and About

Setting Sun Quilt by Lori/sew french [sewfrench]

Woodland Scrappy Quilt by The Lilac Cat [thelilaccat]

Scrappy Trip by Jeanette/Gone Aussie Quilting [goneaussiequilting]

The Beachcomber Quilt by Sue/Needle in a Fabric Stash [needleinafabricstash]

You'll find these and many more in my pin board Photoshoots. Don't they make you want to just finish a quilt and get outside?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Scrappy Patchwork

After a very hectic work week and the day's invigorating discussion over on Instagram, what felt manageable when I had a little time to sew last night was a Patchwork Bucket. I had made one before using the tutorial by Chase/quarter inch mark, though this time I dug through my scrap basket to piece it together.

This one has an 8" diameter and is 8" tall - perfect for the neutral scraps I've gathered working on my modern sampler blocks. The only change from Chase's tutorial is that once again, since I didn't have the suggested webbing, I used Noodlehead's handle method from her Cargo Duffle pattern {check out Step 4}. It was handy that once I trimmed down my quilted scrap piece to size, there was enough to 
use for the handles. All in all a relaxing little project, which has since been filled with the aforementioned scraps, finding a home on one of my R├ůSKOG carts. Mission accomplished.

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

It Looked Bigger on Instagram

I take a fair bit of ribbing from friends in my guild - for being a zealous blogger, for matched binding nearly everything in sight, for seemingly always sewing on some new project. And then at our last meeting, it was something else, teasing me that the quilts I share at sew and tell often aren't as large as they seemed to be on Instagram. Kinda silly, but true enough, I guess.

It's something I've thought about though - what validates me as a serious quilter? Do I have to consistently create bed-sized quilts? I think not. I once had a white board above my sewing machine, and among other things there was a set of measurements and two words - 68X72 TOO BIG. In the early days of machine quilting, it was a reminder to me that a quilt bigger than that was a struggle - basically beyond what I was comfortable quilting. With time and experience, my 'too big' measurements have grown, but still, the bigger the quilt, the more frustration I feel. For that reason plus the simple fact that smaller projects keep my interest and thus get finished quicker, I often choose to make lap-size quilts and smaller. That way the whole process is easier to handle, a comfortable canvas on which to try new techniques or just sew for the fun of it. So yeah, I'll make the occasional big quilt, but mostly, you'll find me embracing projects somewhat smaller. So just be warned. They may look bigger on Instagram.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Modern Sampler :: Block F

Believe it or not, I'm halfway done with my Modern Sampler Quilt quilt along blocks! Block F, even though it had some slight curves, was a treat, with just one mitered border.

Six down, six to go!

When it opens, I'll be linking up with the modern sampler quilt along: block F link-up.
Also linking up to the half-way post!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Gatherer

It's been about 18 months since I made my Brookfield Bag. The pattern by bag designer Sara/Sew Sweetness, had been offered free on Sew Mama Sew, and boy did I enjoy using that bag every day since. Can't say I've ever gotten so many compliments on a bag as on that one. So I'm sad to retire it, but the sweet thing's getting raw around the edges.

So what's a girl to do but make a new bag? I've had my eye on Anna/Noodlehead's Gatherer Crossbody Bag on the Robert Kaufman website, and didn't need any persuasion to give it a go.

I knew from the start I wanted to use Carolyn Friedlander's Carkai and finally settled on the pairing you see below. With only three pattern pieces, the bag was pretty easy to prep. The one major substitution I made was to use byAnnie's Soft and Stable instead of fusible fleece. It needed to be basted in, but that was easily done.

This was a really straight-forward sew, the pattern so easy to follow. I made my own piping using Noodlehead's tutorial, though mine is slightly smaller than what was suggested as I used cording I had on hand. Since the last time I made piping, I'd purchased a piping foot for my machine, and boy did that make installation a snap.

When it comes to making bags or other projects using hardware, I am always thrilled when online sources are listed, as I hate shopping around town for stuff like that. Thankfully, Anna included that info, so it was easy to procure the button stud closure and the optional swivel/lobster clasps. I forget where I heard about them, but I purchased leather scrap remnants from BuffaloLeatherCo for the bag closure. There weren't very many large pieces in the pack, but I think I'll be able to make good use of the scraps in various pouches, and thankfully I found just the piece needed for this bag. Which makes it in my opinion. And by the way, I sewed the leather on with a jeans needle and 50wt thread, and it seems secure enough.

As hinted above, rather than finishing my bag with tied straps, I went for the swivel clasps. If there's anything I would do different next time, it would be to make the straps a bit wider. Half-inch are pretty skinny for me, and I think I would have been happier with one-inch straps. And I did goof up on one thing, making a rookie mistake and installing the stud closure through both the front pocket and main bag front. Oops. I really don't think it'll be a big deal as it partially divides that pocket, but still. Oh well. Other than that, I'm super pleased.

The Gatherer measures 10″ wide x 9″ tall x 2 1/2″ deep, basically perfect for me! I've been using it for three days now, it's comfortable to wear with easy access, and I'll admit I feel a little snazzy with that leather closure. 

And the fact that this bag was on my Q1 Finish-A-Long list? Perfect.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.