Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When One Thing Leads to Another

Really, even though I'd been thinking about it alot, I had no business actually doing it. But I did.

On Saturday, at a Seattle MQG sew-in, I was sewing through my scraps making oodles of improv quarter-log cabin blocks. When I went, I had 12 blocks made, and by the end of the weekend, I have 26! So I've made good progress. But in rummaging through those scraps, I discovered more black-and-white prints than I expected, and it came to me they might go good with the red+pink flamingo combo I'd been mulling over.

So in spite of all those log cabins blocks, a class sample that should've been done already, and the new project I had totally intended to start on next, I began cutting and sewing something new.... you know, just to see if it was worth really pursuing.  And I think it is!

What led me here was a circuitous and improvisational journey - from Improv Alliance with its spikes, which were repeated in Greenery, along with the addition of stripes - to this new project where stripes will play a key role. I find I often work like that, with one thing leading to another.

In some odd way, it provides a thread of continuity that I really enjoy. And even though progress on this one may wait just a bit, I can't wait to get back to it!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pink Flamingo En Masse

Thought you might like to see the latest giving quilt finish from the Seattle MQG, which was totally inspired by Pink Flamingo, the Kona Color of the Year! Swatches measuring 9″ x 11″ were given to all members interested in participating, and then they were asked to create 12 1/2″ improv blocks using the Pink Flamingo plus gray and/or white solids or prints that read as solids. Don't they do amazing improv?! I love that improv isn't a first language for many of them, but they gave it a go with terrific results.

I got the task of putting all the blocks together into a top, and arranged them roughly from light to dark. I kind of did the same thing with our "Fade to Black" last year, but I love the look! Then Pam/pamjcole quilted it with a wonderfully fun design that enhanced all that improv so nicely.

Matt/odditease used more Pink Flamingo to bind it, and the quilt finished at 72" x 72."

Dubbed "Doing the {Pink} Flamingo", we're going to enter this one in a couple of shows, and then eventually it will be donated to charity. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bones and Structures

Never in a million years would I have anticipated this month's Bee Sewcial prompt from Silvia/A Stranger View: BONES and Structures. Yeah, no matter how many times I perused Silvia inspiration pin board, it was always the photos of bones that garnered my attention, not those of structures. I was surprised, as I usually notice building details and such, but it was a specific photo of a spine that I kept going back to.

The first phase in fabric developed easy enough, but then I was a little stuck. In fact, I added a section, then cut it off and rethought my direction. Finally, I settled on more "spinal segments", as a nod to how repetition is often used in structures.

One element that I had in mind from the start were the 'circles' in the spine photo. Rather than going too literal, I appliqued just three circles scattered across the block. With the option of 2 - 12 1/2" blocks or one 12" x 24", I almost always go for the one larger block. This one ended up at 15" x 26", with a little leeway for trimming as needed.

So that was interesting! And as usual with Bee Sewcial, challenging yet satisfying. Now into the mail it goes!

Monday, May 22, 2017


Frustration and fun all rolled into one! I shared a bit about my struggle coming up with a quilt design for the 2017 Pantone Quilt Challenge in my last post, but perseverance won out and I'm really pleased to present the result, EverGreenery!

I knew from the moment Pantone announced Greenery as the Color of the Year, I'd be incorporating it into my work. From early on, Kona Parrot was deemed a close match to the official Greenery swatch card, thus the start of my fabric pull. I used a mix of solids and prints on a low-volume background.

Improv spikes played a key role, and I filled in around them with improv hourglasses, diamonds, and stripes, basically made to order as I pieced the spike slabs together. Snuck in was a lone spike of Pink Flamingo, as well as spikes made from a discarded crazy-pieced block from another project.

Quilting was also improvisational with my walking foot, the majority done using Aurifil 50wt 2021 [Natural White], with a touch of both 1114 [Grass Green] and 2435 [Peachy Pink] for good measure. Admittedly some of the quilting designs might have been easier (less turning and rotating) done free-motion, but that wasn't the space I was in. On a project of this size (35" x 36"), it worked.

Kona Parrot was also used for the chunky binding (5/8" finished), and I like how it kind of keeps all that craziness under control.

So there you go! Dare I say, I'm delighted with the finish, so much so that I switched out the display rod in our dining room and hung it there. You know, so I can enjoy it to my heart's content.

Linking up "EverGreenery" (35" x 36")!

Links to previous year's Pantone Quilt Challenge quilts: 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Underbrush

The 2017 Pantone Quilt Challenge was announced back in March, and it seemed like there was plenty of time! But it took me until 10 days ago to pull out my greens and start cutting. I'd had weeks to come up with a design, but as I began, all I knew for sure was.... improv spikes.

And more spikes.

Aaaannnnddddd.... more.

I was having fun making those spikey slabs, but honestly, still no inkling of a quilt plan. sigh

I rearranged my blocks over and over again. I slept on it and rearranged them again.

I started making a few other random blocks - diamonds, hourglass, and even stripes, when my stash didn't come through for me....

And finally, finally, I had a quilt top.

At about 36" square, I decided my quilting needed to have as much variety as my blocks, so that's what I've been working on the last several days.

The challenge link is open today through May 29, so the clock is ticking, but I'm pretty confident I can do this thing!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Minimal Day :: Buildings

True to form, I started in on the latest Seattle MQG block-of-the-month the same day it was posted. With a variety of angles, it was its own unique challenge, but our fearless leader, Jonna, gave some stitching tips, so it all went easily enough.

Once done, I arranged all the blocks so far in a layout somewhat similar to the final, and I liked what I saw!

Still so surprised at how much I'm enjoying this project, I've been mulling what other applique I might do. Hmmm.....

Monday, May 15, 2017


Log Cabin Hexi Potholders, a free Craftsy pattern by SewCanShe, are one of my favorite scrappy projects, and they're perfect for a quick little gift. Come to think of it, I've gifted every set I've ever made.... hmmm. Anyway, I decided to sew up a set for mom for Mother's Day.

Per the usual for these, I used Linen Mochi Dots for the backing. That with a layer each of insul-bright and batting in the middle, makes for nice sturdy potholders.

Of course, I needed to wrap them, and adapted Jeni/In Color Order's Fabric Envelopes pattern to fit the potholder pair. (I cut my fabric and interfacing 12 1/2" wide by 24 1/2" tall.) I found the perfect-sized piece of Anna Maria Horner's Hand Drawn Garden in the stash, and fussy-cut to center the roses down the front of the envelope.

I did use SF101 Shape-Flex in place of the medium-weight interfacing suggested, basically because I plain like it, but that did result in a pretty flimsy envelope, but it worked great as a 'wrapper' and mom thought it was perfect, so there you go. Oh, and it has a snap! I'm still a 'read every line of the instructions' snap-applier, but I had great success with my SnapSetter Tool.

So that all worked out well, mom was pleased, and as usual, it was nice to have a couple of quick little finishes. Oh yeah.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

About Quilting

A quilting panel discussion was arranged for our Seattle MQG meeting last night, which was really interesting. Four of us shared a variety of info about our personal quilting routines. I was the only one that primarily uses a domestic machine, Matt/@odditease has a mid-arm, and Dionne/@dinglebobbins and Pam/@pamjcole quilt on long-arms. I wish I had notes of all they shared, as there was alot of good information, but no. So here's what I shared [in brackets], including some photos.

1) What machine do you use for your quilting? [Juki TL-2010Q]

2) What thread do you prefer? [Aurifil 50wt all the way]

3) Favorite marking method. [Hera marker (The others all answered after me and said, 'as little as possible." I didn't think of that, but that's true for me too. Also, I often use the edge of my walking foot as a guide. But if I do mark, it's with the hera.)]

4) What is your go-to quilting design? [The majority of my quilting is some kind of straight-line done with my walking foot.] Examples:

Matchstick quilting

Wavy straight-line



5) How do you prepare quilts for quilting/basing method? [505 basting spray]

6) Most terrifying quilting moment/a make it work quilting moment. [Big quilts cause me the most grief - and quilting in the middle of them and trying to handle the bulk.]

7) Perfectly consistent stitch length, does it matter to you? [Yes, I definitely prefer it! Am I obsessive about it? No.]

8) Tips, tricks, and suggestions? [I'm pretty committed to setting myself up for success by changing the needle, cleaning and oiling my machine, and winding a few bobbins before I get started quilting a new quilt.]

9) Work you are most proud of and why. [Basically, I enjoy exploring new designs and trying something that I think really accentuates the quilt's design.] Examples:

Fancy straight-line

Diagonal orange peel

Miscellaneous straight-line

So that's that. It's always good to hear what others do, and since I was the only domestic machine user, it was especially interesting to hear about some of the differences from my fellow members. I really enjoyed seeing the work each person was proud of too! If you'd like to share a quilted project you're especially proud of, leave a link in the comments!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Show and Tell and Then Some

When either hauling a quilt to guild meeting for sew and tell or passing a giving committee quilt from member to member for the next step, I've often struggled to find a bag both large and sturdy enough, let along my preference - hand-made. So when Amanda Jean/crazy mom quilts offered up a copy of her Show and Tell Bags pattern, I was on it!

I'd been in a scrappy mood, but when I saw the pattern actually suggested a layer cake, I reached back in the stash for one I'd stored for too long. I opted to make the middle version of the bag, which measures 20" wide x 19 1/2" tall x 5 1/2" deep, and is definitely large enough for my intended purpose. (Note that the largest "Jumbo" bag is large enough to hold a young child!) For lining and handles, I used Essex linen blend in natural, and though the pattern includes instructions for a removable bottom insert, my bag stands alone well enough.

Obviously, the bag would be awesome made from scraps.... next time!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

No Scrap Left Behind

Welcome to my stop on the No Scrap Left Behind blog tour! It's all inspired by the latest book by Amanda Jean/crazy mom quilts, who is committed to using her scraps more than anyone I know! No Scrap Left Behind is a wonderful guide to scrap management and use, with a delightful collection of quilts to inspire. And one of my favorite features is the gallery of quilt backs Amanda Jean has created for her quilts. That's an area I'd really like to get more creative with.

As for me, my own personal scrap sorting method is a very simple one. Like not much at all! In fact, when I first saw folks sorting and organizing their scraps all nice and neat, I was so surprised. I guess that's not one of the things I picked up in my early quilting classes.

A big woven basket has been my main receptacle for years, and though I do paw through it to find just the right scrap, when I'm really getting into it, I'll just dump the basket out and work from the big ole pile. Over the last year or two, I've taken to keeping my solid scraps in a separate bin (the white one shown), as I sometimes do projects solely with them. I also keep two smaller patchwork baskets - one with low-volume scraps, and the other with 2 1/2" squares, or scraps that I particularly love that I want to cut into squares at a later date. I do realize that my method means more work for me when I really want to do scrap-sewing, but that's the way it is, and I don't expect I'll be reforming any time soon.

I guess one reason my hapless scrap organization works for me is when I work with scraps, I really like things pretty scrappy. Occasionally I'll work in a limited colorway, but what I especially love is a wild mix of colors and prints.

For the blog hop, I chose to make a variation on Amanda Jean's All Sizes quilt, a design cleverly created with half-square triangles of five(!) different sizes. I really love her finished quilt, and modified it to fit a 20" pillow form, using just four HST sizes, scaled down just a bit from the quilt.

With my finish size different from the quilt pattern, the width of my strips was obviously affected. Basically I made a patchwork slab consisting of several rows of HSTs. Note the sets of same-size triangles each line up, where I made sure not to have the different-sized sets line up, just like in the original quilt. I think that's part of the appeal!

I quilted the top with one layer of batting in an uneven grid, and had one additional tweak, which was to give the whole piece a bit of a tilt as I cut the pillow top to size.

The pillow was finished off with a backing of Essex linen to show off those gorgeous scraps, and a hidden lapped zipper.

Well in addition to showing off a project inspired by No Scrap Left Behind, I also am giving away a free copy of Amanda Jean's book! Just leave a comment on this post and share your best tip for dealing with scraps. Note that if you are a winner and you live in the U.S., you will receive a hard copy of the book. If you live outside the US, you will receive a digital copy of the book. The giveaway will remain open through the weekend. Giveaway has ended. Thank you!

Thanks for stopping by today, and be sure to visit the other stops on the tour. There's such a nice variety, and I've added links below to the actual project posts. You'll be inspired, I'm sure, to start creating with those scraps!

Monday, April 24, Mary Kolb/Mary on Lake Pulaski :: Pincushions
Tuesday, April 25, Lee Monroe/May Chappell :: Mini Nines
Wednesday, May 26, Sandi Hazlewood/Crafty Planner :: Slopes
Thursday, April 27, Bernie Kringel/Needle & Foot :: Ring Me
Friday, April 28, Erin Cox/why not sew :: Mini Nines

Monday, May 1, Katherine Greaves/Sew Me Something Good :: June
Tuesday, May 2, Tracy Mooney/Generation Q :: Cards
Wednesday, May 3, Cheryl Arkison :: Chain of Diamonds
Thursday, May 4, Debbie Jeske/A Quilter's Table :: All Sizes .... You're Here!
Friday, May 5, Amy Smart/Diary of a Quilter

Linking up with Finishing It Up Friday and Scraptastic Tuesday!