Friday, June 30, 2017

Looking Up

One has to think long and hard when choosing a theme for the improv bee Bee Sewcial. Or maybe that's just me. At least I settled on one a couple of months ago, giving myself time to take some inspiration photos.

I'm hoping to encourage each of us to pause just a bit.... to notice the little things.... to be aware.... to look up.

The photos here are examples of what I've seen lately just randomly looking up when it crosses my mind to do so. I'm instructing my bee-mates: Please look up where you are. Base your block on what you see. Just tip your head back and look up!

I'd like one block from each of them, though I'm not particular about size - just the rough equivalent of two 12 1/2" blocks. The block can be square, or any proportion and orientation of rectangle. 

Another key element is the palette. I'd like all blocks to be done in grayscale - primarily using anything in the range from white to shades of gray, though small elements of black are fine.

And yet one more little request. When posting on Instagram or Flickr, please include ONE WORD to describe what your block represents to you. See in my Looking Up Flickr album how I have labeled my photos, each with a single word.

So relatively simple. Hopefully thoughtful. Minimal. Colorless. Just Look Up.....

Any and all of you, please feel free to sew along with us, posting on instagram with the hashtag #inspiredbybeesewcial.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Group Hug

Another month, another challenging Bee Sewcial theme.... This time, M-R/quiltmatters chose "Group Hug" - graffiti with an encouraging word.

I guess it's fair to say that graffiti isn't really my thing, and I was so hesitant about how to proceed.

But M-R's pin board gave me some clues, and I gave it a go - first with a symbol (above) and then with one of my favorite words (below).

Requested block sizes were specific - 8 1/2" x 16 1/2" - with a light gray background, to convey the idea of concrete blocks. So yay! M-R is happy, and I'll mail these off and get ready to post my theme for July later in the week!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long :: Q2 Finishes

With just two projects on my Q2 Finish-A-Long list, one with a deadline and the other a bee commitment, I was pretty sure I'd get them both done with time to spare.

The first was a stitch and flip quilt that was made for a Black & White + One challenge, and is still awaiting the show it was made for.

Considering I 'built' it on the design wall one block at a time, this one took a while, but it was really an enjoyable process.

40" square

The other project on the list was February's Faith Circle quilt. Inspired by Greenery, the Pantone Color of the Year, we used Jodi/Tales of Cloth's Squash Blossom block tutorial, which became a favorite for sure.

The mix of greens really made for a striking quilt.

48" x 60"

So yay! Refiner's Fire is in Minnesota for the upcoming show, and All the Greens has been donated to Valley Breast Center locally. I feel good about all that.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Minimal Day :: Facets

The latest block-of-the-month for Seattle MQG was inspired by three facets of an emerald cut stone and provided several new techniques: stitching points of varying degrees, overlapping appliqué pieces, and butting two points together.  The elements were also free-floating within the block, so we had to use an overlay to help with placing them.

I'd never used an overlay with appliqué before, so that was interesting - and good to know! I used a ziploc bag and a sharpie, and it worked just fine. My 'straight' stitched edges are just a tad wobbly, but that seems to be a peril using voile.

So this was our fifth block design, and I'm loving where it's taking me.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


May was my month to choose a quilt plan for Faith Circle of do.Good Stitches and I selected Kona Crossing blocks by JaceyCraft. Jacey's pattern makes 15 1/2" blocks, and I asked for just one from each of my bee-mates. I made a block in each of three background colors - Kona Midnight, Aqua, and Ochre. Crosses were made with those same colors, shades of the same, with the add-ins of Pink Flamingo and even a few scraps of teal-green. Not quite sure what I was thinking with this palette, but on the other hand, I think it works.

Piecing a top was so quick with blocks of this size! For the backing, I went with a single fabric, referring to How to Pattern Match a Quilt Backing from Aqua Paisley Studio, and I'll definitely be trying that again.

I really debated on how to quilt this one, and finally settled on an orange peel because I thought it would be relatively quick and fun. Plus with those 5" blocks in each 15" block, there would be no need for marking! In actuality, I thought what was chosen for its convenience ended up being a really good design for this quilt. Quilting was done with Aurifil 50wt #2805 (Light Turquoise) and it also proved to be a good choice, being subtle on the dark crosses, but still noticeable and distinct.

Binding was done in a coordinating gold solid, and the quilt finished at 45" x 60". As always, it feels good to have a finish that will go on to encourage. It'll find a new home soon!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Out in the World

There are a couple of cool features that I keep meaning to tell you about. The first was a contact last year by The Quarto Group in London. According to their website, "The Quarto Group makes and sells great books that entertain, educate and enrich the lives of adults and children around the world."

Quarto was in the process of reissuing their Encyclopaedia of Quilting Techniques by 
Katherine Guerrier. The step-by-step photography and Katherine’s text would remain, but they wanted to update the gallery portion of the book... and include some of my quilts! So you'll see several of my quilts in The Encyclopedia of Quilting & Patchwork Techniques - here are a few.

Snooze Alarm [block pattern by Amy Gunson]

The next feature was something I'd totally forgotten about, but luckily my friend Sophie/Luna Lovequilts - who wrote an article on her visit to QuiltCon - pointed it out to me and gave me a peek. It was in a column on The Modern Quilt in the French patchwork magazine, Les Nouvelles.

Unfortunately, even with an online translator, I couldn't really read the article, but oh well! Fun just the same....

Friday, June 16, 2017

Lucky Project Bag Swap

Occasionally Seattle MQG has a made-item swap, and we just had one using Lee Monroe’s Lucky Project Bag tutorial. They finish at 11 1/2" x 10 1/2", with a clear window on the front and a handy tab that you can write on with a Frixion pens so it can easily be ironed off and a new project label written.

My first go was not without its frustrations, so I thought I'd jot down a few notes for future reference.

Step 2 - The instructions called for fusing the interfacing to fabric and then cutting out your exterior pieces, but I found it just as easy to cut my fabric and interfacing, then fuse them.

Step 4 - As you wonder clip the tab, it should be on top of the vinyl when the pouch is facing right-side up. That part was a little confusing to me. I don't use wonder clips much, but they are perfect for this project, and in fact pretty much indispensable.

Step 5 - If you want the zipper pull on the left in the finished pouch, which it pretty typical, place it opposite from the pattern photo during installation.

Step 6 - When positioning the final bag, make sure the zipper and vinyl are on the same side. And when you unzip the zipper, don't unzip outside the edge of the pouch to be sure you don't cut off the pull when trimming! (I had a very close call!)

Step 7 - Use fabric glue to secure the binding before stitching.

So I wasn't 100% happy with my first go, and to be honest, grandgirl laid claim to it, so I started in on another. Not a huge fan of fusible fleece, I used SF101 Shape-Flex on the lining, and quilted the exterior with a layer of cotton batt. I was really pleased with the result, and would go this route again, but it's totally personal choice.

I was much happier with the second bag, and considering I used some especial fabrics from the ole stash, it was a little hard to say goodbye to.

But! I received a splendid bag at the swap, and added to the fun was that I randomly received from my good buddy Sharon/@redapplestitches! Isn't it fun? Now to decide what project deserves to be stored in it!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Scrap Sorting

I don't sort my scraps. I should say, I did it once. But before long I dumped them all back into my scrap basket, and that's where they've lived happily ever since. My method is to rummage through the basket for what I need for a particular project, and otherwise don't worry about them.

But. Amanda Jean/crazy mom quilts has just begun a scrappy quiltalong, making the June Quilt from her book, No Scrap Left Behind. And I think 1) it sounds fun, 2) I could use up more scraps, and 3) it would be a fun 'alternate front' (aka "backing) for the improv quarter log cabin quilt I've been working on.

Soooo.... I spent some quality time with my scraps and came up with several stacks I'll use for my June quilt. I chose not to include any blacks and browns, reds, and true yellows. But I'm really liking the mix I settled on and IF this isn't enough to make the size I'm after, I can always pull from stash.

I don't really have many strings as Amanda Jean suggests, but rather chunky scraps. Just so happens I gave all my strings to my guild-mate Clare at the last sew-in! But I'll manage! And gosh, this sorting really got me going! I pulled all my browns for another project, and all the grays for an improv stripes tutorial I'm working on. So that all feels really good!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thinly Sliced

It was definitely a combination prompted by the simple act of rummaging through my scraps, plus a Spark by Jill/Pie Lady Quilts to use a specific color range of said scraps. Next thing I knew, I was pulling all the black and white prints from the scrap basket and combining them with Kona solids - Pink Flamingo, Red, Rich Red, and Cardinal - a combo I'd been thinking about for weeks. And then I just started making stripes. Lots and lots of stripes.

When One Thing Leads to Another, you can get carried away by a singular element, and even though I considered adding in more solids around those striped slabs - and will definitely try that in another version - this time, I just wanted to see where I could go with stripes alone.

For backing, I was pleased to find a length of a pretty special floral from Anna Maria Horner's Dowry in my stash.

For quilting, I went improvisational, similar to what I did with EverGreenery, using a handful of different motifs. 

Aurifil 50wt #2250 [Red], 1103 [Burgundy], and 2435 [Peachy Pink] created such a fun alliance. I can't even remember why I ever thought red and pink didn't go together, as I definitely don't feel that way now.

A binding using the three red Konas seemed the perfect finish for this little one, which measures 32" x 43".

I had a sense of déjà vu when I read Carolyn Friedlander's post yesterday where she said about her current project, "I find this to be a massively engaging, creative process and [a] big reason why projects like this are so much fun. Grab your fabric, start making some blocks, throw them up on the design wall, assess, make more blocks and continue to grow your composition." That's exactly how I faced Thinly Sliced, and I too, find this way of creating to be immensely satisfying. With no idea of the end result when I began, I used up scraps(!), mixed up a fun palette, and sewed by the seat of my pants. Lately, for me, it's the best kind of sewing.

Monday, June 5, 2017


So.... a few weeks ago, Gossypium Quilt Shop asked if I'd be interested in teaching a class on improvisational quilting. After some discussion back and forth, here's what we came up with!


Improv Piecing - July 29
Instructor Debbie Jeske from A Quilter's Table - Learn all about improvisational piecing, straight AND curved, while making nine different improv blocks. The blocks, all based on traditional block designs, will give you practice with a wide range of improv techniques. 

Pretty cool, right? For a class sample, I replaced one block from my beginning suggestion (the crazy-pieced block), and settled on the nine you see below - churn dash, quarter log-cabin, flying geese, quarter circles, nine-patch, rail-fence, quarter pineapple, strings, and hour-glass.

With a random mix of greens and white, the blocks were pieced together like a tradition nine-block sampler, then tilted a bit with uneven borders in Kona Parrot.

For the backing, I pieced together some stash finds, including that plaid that I was so happy to see again.

Quilting was an uneven grid using Aurifil 50wt #1114 (Grass Green) in line with the blocks, so it also appears on an angle in the finished quilt.

The quilt finished at 50" square, and was delivered to Gossypium over the weekend. Needing a quick photoshoot before dropping it off, we happened on nearby Sena Park, which was a delightful discovery and provided just the kind of setting we were looking for.

Now hoping some folks are inspired to explore improv piecing with me later this summer!