Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Strawberry Love

So you were probably as surprised as I, that after declaring I was starting the year planless, I would almost immediately start in on a strawberry quilt. I KNOW! But there's this little girl who has an insatiable appetite for strawberries, and I just couldn't resist.

Both the original block by Bec/Skyberries Handmade, and an up-sized block by Angie/Gnome Angel were offered as options for the introductory month of The Honey Pot Bee. I opted for the larger block (17 1/2" x 24 1/2"), making four very scrappy blocks for a grandgirl-sized quilt.

I chose Sprinkle in Jelly Bracelet from the Cotton + Steel Basics line as my background fabric, which just suited those scraps so nicely. And then for the back... oh goodness.... another Cotton + Steel print - Kimberly Kight's "Yours Truly" strawberries - totally won my heart.

A quilted grid with Aurifil's 50wt #2000 (beige) was a pretty obvious choice, plus a current favorite. 

To top things off, the strawberry print had a perfect little selvage to sew into the back. It couldn't get better than that.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Studio Nine :: Sewing Machine LED Lighting Kit

January started off with a small but helpful studio enhancement - improved lighting. Specifically, the lighting right in the space where the sewing happens, thanks to a Sewing Machine LED Lighting Kit, which I'd seen others rave about, and you can just add me to that list.

Here's what you'll find when you open the box:

As advertised, it's very quick and easy to install, and comes with everything you need. The string of LEDs is 24.5", which was more than generous for my JUKI, and the excess was easy to snip off.

Of course, the real test happens once you turn the switch on, and I found noticeable improvement. I do sew next to a window, so I use as needed, but I'm really pleased for the option.

An expansion pack is available, so you can make use of the length of lights you snip off on a second machine, if that applies to you. At any rate, for old eyes like mine, this little addition helps alot.

For previous studio updates, see hashtag #aqtstudio on Instagram, or individual posts below:

Friday, January 20, 2017


When Stephanie/@spontaneousthreads posted the prompt for Bee Sewcial this month, I might have sighed a little. So here I was needing to create inspired by Resolution, when in fact, I was starting the year planless, with the only resolution being not to make any. yeah.

In addition to my own [lack of] resolution though, Stephanie asked us to watch a Ted talk on Zaria Forman: Drawings that show the beauty and fragility of Earth. I really enjoyed that. What kept coming back to me, though, as I considered the theme was the continuous project lists from last year, and the fact that I wanted to plan less this year. Not that I intended to sew less, just leave more space to sew on a whim. So as I started to sew, I was in a way, recreating that very intentional list of the past.

As I continued to sew, I was thinking of the Resolution prompt, my own lack of planning, glaciers (thanks to the Ted talk), scale, and my own journey. It was an eclectic mix of ideas, and I may just be the only one that sees the connections in the finished piece. 

The one detail I will comment on is that I tried to leave more white space to represent 'free sewing' as I moved along, though I achieved an acceptable block size - 13" x 25" - before things got really blank. I did also refer to Helen/Archie the Wonder Dog's tutorial: "How to Add an Accurate Quarter Inch Strip", which actually worked really well to achieve even 1/8" strips. And as usual, Bee Sewcial took me somewhere worth going with intention and thoughtfulness. I'm glad I went.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Labeling Solid Fabrics

Since solid fabrics are dyed and not printed, they obviously don't have a selvage with identifying information. That may or may not matter to you. But if you do like to know what solid you are using as you pull them from your stash for a project, how do you label solid fabrics when you purchase and store them? Here are some ideas:

1. Julie/Jaybird Quilts writes on the selvage usingfabric safe pigma pen.


Using peel and 
stick address labels is Rachel/Snippets of Sweetness' method of choice.

photo courtesy Rachel Pascual

3. Leave it to Amy/Diary of a Quilter to think of using a 
label maker.

4. Lori/a bee in my bonnet creates 
hand-written fabric labels and safety-pins them on.

 photo courtesy a bee in my bonnet

5. Rather than actually labeling the fabric, Louise/I'm Feelin' Crafty makes labeled fabric swatches kept on a metal ring.

If you have another system, do share in the comments!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oh Strawberry

When I first saw the #strawberryblock posted for The Honey Pot Bee, I thought it was cute enough, but I had no inkling to actually make it. But little did I know that the more I saw strawberry blocks being posted on Instagram, the harder it would be to resist! Considering the Scraptastic Tuesday link had just gone up, I figured why not. It had been far too long since I'd sewn with scraps, and my basket is seriously overflowing.

The original block (7.5" x 10.5") was designed by Bec/Skyberries Handmade, and Angie/Gnome Angel up-sized it (17.5" x 24.5") as an option for the bee. I went with the larger block, and I daresay, I may need to make a few more.

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long :: Q1 List

It's gonna be a short list this quarter. And in this moment, I'm feeling really committed to both projects. In the short-term, my Seattle MQG improv BOM quilt top is the priority. I'm so tickled how some skinny improv spike slabs brought the blocks together in a way I'm really smitten with. I have a tentative plan on how to add a bit more to the top before moving on to quilting. 

My second work-in-progress is a Patchwork Forest quilt, using the Modern Christmas Tree block tutorial by Amy/Diary of a Quilter. I'm creating it from stash in my own personal favorite Christmas palette. I've got 24 blocks sewn and trimmed, another dozen sewn, and a bunch more cut out - not quite enough but close. I'd be happy to work on this quilt throughout the quarter, in amongst other projects, so that's the goal.

I really only had two other wips - both of which I gave away! One was gifted to a random winner on Instagram - and the other was claimed by daughter dear. How awesome (and freeing!) is that? So I'll stick with the remaining two and hope for the best.


Linking up with Q1 of the 2017 FAL#2017fal

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


It's good to be able to present the year's first finish, made in partnership with Faith Circle of do.Good Stitches.

My bee-mates used my Improv Quarter Log Cabin tutorial, making blocks in blue, orange and off-white. One optional caveat was that rather than a solid off-white such as Kona snow, they could incorporate one of two specific low-volume prints by Carolyn Friedlander. I thought that worked out well, and there was a nice smattering of both throughout the blocks.

I hadn't purchased a project-specific backing in quite a while, but when I happened upon this "Fernbook" print from Alexia Abegg's Mesa collection on sale, it seemed perfect, and little did I know how right it would be. As sometimes happens with bees, colors from all those stashes coordinated only so well. So it worked out nicely to use a backing - and ultimately binding - that incorporated some of those little differences.

I really had no intention of using it for the binding too, but after auditioning all sorts of prints and solids both from my stash, it seemed best to just bring some of that back to the front. And look at the little rewards for doing so....

Quilting was done with Aurifil 50wt 2021 (Natural White) in a quarter log cabin-inspired design, with improvisational angles, just like the blocks. [Sorry Debbie M., I had no orange.]

I'll be donating this quilt on behalf of our circle to Trinity Place, a transitional housing complex for homeless women and children under the umbrella of our local ywca. What a great way to start out the year.

Faith Circle began in 2010, and though membership has changed over the years, this quilt finish marks our 70th quilt to be donated to people in need. If you're interested in joining a circle of do.Good Stitches, indicate that by filling out this form

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Still Chuckling

As fellow-creators, I know you have also all experienced the variety of reactions our creations get. I'm talking real-life here, where some folks get what we do (or at least really appreciate it), some not at all, and most feel very comfortable letting us know what they think of our work. And I'm fine with that. But one of those experiences happened yesterday that gave me such a good chuckle I had to share it.

So I've got this stack of mini-quilts that I've made over the last year, and I was showing them to daughter dear, basically bemoaning the fact that I really didn't know what to do with them all. Well Rachel's hand reached out so quickly when I came to the one I'd just created making the organic straight-line quilting tutorial, which I was totally fine with, and it didn't surprise me one bit, since it was her colors and all. But what did catch me by surprise was that moments later, grandgirl reached out her little hand to grab a favorite of her own! And what gave me such a laugh was that it was the back of the quilt that caught her fancy!

You love what you love, right? And I was more than happy for sweet Lucy to go home with (in her mind) a new dolly quilt, knowing it would be the back that would be most admired. It's all good, don't you think?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Reflections + Predictions

Last week, Kristen of Sew Mama Sew emailed me asking if I'd be willing to answer some questions for her annual series reflecting on the past year, and making some predictions for the year ahead. Honestly, my immediate thought was, "who, me?" But I was tickled, nonetheless, and over the next couple of days gave the questions some serious consideration. 

My responses were posted today, and you can click back to see those of  Nydia Kehnle from Nydia Kehnle Design + Photography and Samarra Khaja from Samarra Khaja as well. The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. I find these posts really interesting, and after you've checked them out on Sew Mama Sew, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts. So feel free to share in the comments!

Friday, January 6, 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long :: Transition

While the 2016 FAL is coming to a close, it's time to announce the new group of global FAL hosts for 2017! This year's hosts continue to span 3 continents and several countries. Each has a terrific blog and you will enjoy checking them all out:
  • Sarah - Sew Me - Northern Ireland
Join me in thanking the outgoing 2016 FAL hosts. Many hands have made the work of hosting the FAL much lighter, but each host has still given considerable time to supporting the great community that makes up the FAL. 
Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a host this last year, but will be stepping down for 2017. But no worries, I'll still be sewing right alongside you all! 

Feel free to grab the 2017 FAL logo and use the hashtag #2017fal when you share your FAL projects on Instagram...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 Finish-A-Long :: Q4 Finishes

My Q4 list seemed quite doable at the time, but creating life what it is, I only finished 3/4. But I'll take it, as I'm really pleased with the 3, and am happy to spend a little more time with the fourth.

1. Bee Sewcial "bacon" quilt - The top was done, but it still needed a backing, quilting, et cetera.

Baconrific was the happy result! Bee Sewcial came through again with awesomely textured blocks. My zany prompt, met with some trepidation, I'm sure, was alot of fun for folks, including me. Can't say this was the easiest one to puzzle together, but a few layered circle "pancetta" blocks helped.

2. Improv log cabin - The top was done, but it also needed a backing, and I was a little overwhelmed by the size, so it admittedly sat for a while.

It was definitely worth waiting for though. Archipelago was made for  QuiltCon's American Patchwork & Quilting Nine-Patch Challenge, but didn't make the cut. I really had fun with it though - especially making the blocks - so whatever.

3. This one was just a stack of fabric, but I knew it had to be done, as it was for Pat Bravo's Heartland blog hop.

Using the giant plus quilt tutorial, by Leanne/she can quilt, I thoroughly enjoyed every step of this one and would love to make another.

4. Its my Seattle MQG improv BOM blocks that are still waiting to be made into a quilt. I know I just need some focused time to mesh the blocks together, and maybe create a border. I got just a little start on it last night, and it's definitely going right back on my 2017 Q1 list for sure.

So that feels like a pretty good quarter, and I'm looking forward to the next!

All finishes have been linked up with 2016 Finish-A-Long :: Q4 Finishes Link-Up!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


I think I've decided on a quilting plan for the new year, and that is this:

 I'm not going to make a plan.

Yes, there are a few quilts I totally want to finish, and I'll list those in my 2017 Q1 FAL list. And yes, there are some 'maybe' projects on my ongoing OneNote app list, but they are truly maybes. What I really have in mind for this year is to take it as it comes. To leave plenty of time to sew on a whim, and see where it takes me.

I have a few commitments I'll keep over from last year, but they are ones that I know feed me in the way I need to be fed:
Other than that, let's see what happens. And maybe you'd call that a plan. But a minimal one at that.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Finish-A-Long Tutorial :: Organic Straight-Line Quilting

One of my very favorite kinds of quilting is organic straight-line, and it's as low-stress as it gets. Though it's even simpler than doing actual straight lines, I've had enough people ask about it, that I figured it might be helpful to finally share my technique.

First off, a well-basted quilt sandwich is a must. Personally, I spray-baste, and that's an ideal method for this style of quilting. I press the sandwich after basting, and also occasionally during the quilting process, just to keep things as smooth as possible. Registration lines are made with my ruler and hera marker, usually about 3" apart, or whatever works well with the design at hand. Sometimes I'll have a project where the quilt's design has seam-lines that will work as registration lines, and that's better yet!

If your project is small, mark all the registration lines before beginning to quilt. On a larger quilt, you may want to mark several, stitch, then go back to mark more. Whatever size project, after marking, go sew along each of your marked lines. Don't stitch exactly on each. But use each line as a general guide, sewing along with a slight wavy motion, crossing the line randomly as you sew. I use my walking foot with a stitch length of 3.0, and my preference is to begin quilting all rows from the same end of the quilt. Honestly, at this point, I nearly always question my judgement on quilting design, but be patient. It's going to look better and better the denser you go.

Once you have quilted along all the registration lines, go back and quilt roughly down the middle of each channel. (indicated by blue stitching) The wavy lines can echo the previous lines in some spots, and move opposite them in others, varying the widths between lines as you go.

Now that you've quilted down all of the channels in the same relaxed, wavy way, go back and do it again(indicated by green stitching) Eyeball the center as you go, weaving along. Nothing needs to be exact.

At this point, with your quilting about 3/4" - 1" apart, you can decide whether you want to start overlapping some of the quilting. It's all a matter of preference, but it's an option.

You can do a little or alot. And you can overlap most of your lines, none of them, or a mix. It's all up to you. I keep quilting down the channels until the distance between lines in some places is about 1/4".

Note that you can also use organic straight-line in a grid, as I did here in Pantone Meets Bias Tape. The amount of 'wiggle' in the quilting lines can be quite varied, though I try to keep the scale relatively consistent within a piece.

Let me know if you have any questions! And enjoy some low-stress quilting by going organic!

Also note that fellow FAL co-host Jennie/Clover & Violet had a similar idea as I when planning for tutorial week. Hop over to her blog on January 5 to view her video on Wavy Line Quilting.