Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Follow the Dots

The fabric for this quilt was chosen way before the design was conceived. It was back in August that my desk calendar featured the teal and yellow combination that caught my attention, and after some research trying to find matches, I settled on Kona Cotton Solid in Everglade with Painter's Palette Solid in Lemon Ice. Fast forward a couple of months to when I traveled to California on retreat, and purchased Maria Shell's Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape to read on the way down. At retreat I was then able to begin exploring the two together, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Basically, I experimented with several of the techniques in the book, the first being improv dots. They made me very happy, and I just made more and more until I was ready to move on to something else.

Next up were the lattice checks - the yellow-framed 'square' on the right side below and 'rectangle' in the lower center. These were fun too, and I was so glad I switched up the fabrics to highlight the yellow a bit more.

Lastly were the 'tracks', such as the piece in the lower left corner above. After making the large track near the top of the quilt, I realized I really liked this technique in skinnier strips, but still, they're good no matter what the size.

Putting the blocks together into a quilt top was of course, improvisational, and it only made sense that the quilting be the same. Using both Aurifil 50wt 1125 (Medium Teal) and 2115 (Lemon), I quilted one section at a time, choosing the design as I went, stitching fairly densely in most areas. Where I densely quilted on one color but not the other, it made the contrasting bits pop.

A faced binding seemed an appropriate finish to the quilt, which ended up 32" x 34".

What was satisfying about this project was the sense of exploration every step of the way. Beginning with the dots, I let them lead me on, step by step. I've wondered whether or not I should have left more breathing room between the sections, but then again, why? Those kinds of wonderings are just part of the process, and I'm happy enough to let them be.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Minimal Day :: The Quilt Top

Though all the blocks for this year's Seattle MQG BOM have been presented, our hostess Jonna/@bespokeoutlaw will yet be presenting some ideas for quilting. Basically, our assignment this month was to sew our quilt top together. Jonna offered some suggestions for filling in the couple of blank half-blocks, but I kind of liked the openness they offered and just let them be.

I'm still debating whether or not to add borders of some sort. That decision will probably wait until I'm ready to start quilting. But it feels good to have traveled this far.... appliqueing no less! And I'm glad I took up the challenge. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

10 Ways to Make a Quilt Back

Not sure why quilt backs have been on my mind lately, especially considering the fact that by the time I finish a quilt top, I really don't want to give the back much of a thought. And I'd say the larger the quilt, the more I struggle with a quilt back plan. I guess it just is what it is. But for what it's worth, I've gathered up some options.

1. Whether it's purchasing a wide-back for a large quilt, or discovering an unexpected find in the ole stash that works perfectly with the smaller quilt top I've created, a whole-cloth is quick and satisfying. The time I used a panel from Jeni Baker's Nordika turned out really fun, showing off the quilting like it did.

2. Matched-seam backing is one of the newer techniques I've tried, and I'll work on perfecting it. Of course, you need to have an extra long length of fabric, depending on the design and all, but totally worth it now and then.

3. Seriously, if I made a backing of stashed fat quarters for all my future quilts, I think I'd be set for life. Simple to sew together, and a great stash buster.

4. Using a design repeated from the quilt front is probably my favorite way to create a quilt back.

5. A close second is using just an element from the front design.

6. Something I've just done a couple of times, but with great effect is the use of border prints. I was so pleased how this turned out!

7. Of course, the combination of simple geometric elements is always a win-win.

8. Once I chose to super-size just one block from the 100 on the front.

9. And of course, sometimes an improvisational pieced back is just the trick. Oh yeah.

10. And lastly, it's great fun to back a quilt top with another quilt top. Won't do a bona fide two-sided quilt every time, but I loved doing it here. And for those of you who have stacks of quilt tops ready to quilt.... well why not?


So do you have a go-to quilt back? Or do you have one that you're extraordinarily pleased with? Do you take your time with it, or get it over with as fast as you can? Do tell!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Showing Them Off

It's been a while since I shared a quilt photoshoot round-up, and it was my friend Martha that unknowingly convinced me it had been too long! So I gathered up some others I'd enjoyed recently and am happy to share them with you today. As usual, I'll let these beauties speak for themselves.....

Weight of Love by Martha/Once a Wingnut...Always a Wingnut [onceawingnut]

scrap quilt by Arianna/[quiltkween]

stripe quilt by Holly/Bijou Lovely [bijoulovely]

Crossroads by Emily/Quilty love [emily_dennis_]

improv stripes quilt by Katrin/Cattinka [cattinkaquilts]

Rainbow Order by Kristin/woollypetals [woollypetals]

red and white by Alison [alisonharle]

Aren't they terrific?! Seeing gorgeous quilt finishes shown off in lovely settings such as these are one of my favorite things.

Monday, November 13, 2017

To Scotchgard or Not

After putting my Traverse Bag right to use [love it, btw!], a friend asked if I'd Scotchgarded it or not. Even though I live in an area that gets more than its share of rain, I had not; and in fact, never had water-treated any of my handmade bags. I decided to find out if I was the only one or not by creating my first Instagram poll.

I really didn't know what I was doing, and had to go to youtube for some help. But I figured it out, and was able to get a screenshot 24 hours later just before it disappeared.

So I guess I'm in the majority, but there were enough folks that do do it that I'd love to hear about it! I did find a post on Craftsy about it, but would still love to hear from you. Do tell in the comments!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Swapped Goods

At our guild meeting this week, we had a swap! The kind where you get assigned a person to create for, they can give you suggestions of what they'd like, colors, etc., but you don't know who you are partnered up with until the reveal. Well I got to make for Kae/
katrineannetteeagling, and thankfully, she was really helpful with suggestions.

She really was hoping for a fold-able thread catcher, so I searched around and finally decided to make her a Fold Up Mini Thread Catcher using the tutorial by lulu_luka/Studio LUCA. This is one quick and fun little make. My first one (bright orange interior) turned out a little sloppy considering I used contrasting thread on the final stitching, so I tried again, and was pleased with the second - the blue and orange one - which I gifted to Kae.

But that was a little too small for my main gift, so I took another suggestion from her list and made a set of potholders based on the Spiderweb Potholders Tutorial by Julie/Jaybird Quilts. You might remember I tried this tutorial a few weeks ago, so I knew the basics, and really enjoyed trying a palette outside my norm. Kae seemed really happy with what I made her, so that was good!

As for me, I received a gift from Jennifer, who I hadn't met before. I kind of embarrassed myself, because I wasn't 100% sure what my item was when I opened it! I finally decided it must be a couch sewing caddy, right?

Thankfully, Jennifer came up to me after the swap and told me nooooo...... she had actually made a double potholder with hand-holds. Of course! I had put potholders on my suggestion list, so then that made perfect sense. And she was so sweet to use some of my favorite fabrics and colors. The size is generous enough it would also serve well as a table runner/
trivet. At any rate, I look forward to using it!

Swaps can really be stressful, at least for me, but they are also a good way to share a bit of yourself as well as receive something a fellow-creator has put their heart into. And that's a good thing.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


The project weighing on me right now is my latest Bee Sewcial quilt. Yeah. It's always challenging to puzzle the improvisational blocks from my mates into a cohesive whole, but this one seems even tougher than usual.

For reasons I can't totally explain, this layout made sense to me. Squishing the blocks edge to edge just didn't feel right this time, so I'm working on a very irregular sashing of sorts. And in starting in on that, I realized I really needed to add one more block - my own take on the prompt "Looking Up."

I've asked all my bee-mates to share a one-word description of their blocks, and my word for mine is "Swinging." Imagine you're swinging, and as you pass under the bar, you lean all the way back, arms straight... and you look up. That's the moment I tried to express. I happened to be swinging with grandgirl when I took the inspiration photo, so it'll be nice to have that little memory tied up in this quilt. Here's hoping I can pull it all together in a cohesive way....

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Traverse

It's been a few years now that I've been making my own purses, and it was time to make another! I decided on Anna/noodlehead's Traverse Bag, and I gotta say, it went together pretty quickly!

Smitten with Anna's samples, I chose the same Grey Maker Maker cotton/linen blend for my bag exterior, and found it to be such a lovely fabric. For lining, I went with the organic Wink in Marigold by Birch Fabrics. I was really relieved that Anna also stocked a hardware kit for this bag - makes things so much easier.

The version I made - "regular" vs. "mini" - measures 12” W x 9” H x 2” deep, which is pretty roomy for me.

This bag has classic lines that I love, and the little accents just make it.... plenty of top-stitching, the two coordinating zips with leather pulls, a snapped flap on the exterior, and of course that adjustable strap.

Somewhat hardware-challenged myself, I was thrilled how easily I installed the snap using the Dritz Heavy Duty Snap Tool. I'll just go ahead and admit I felt pretty accomplished - ha! And for the record, for those that commented on Instagram liking my little Swiss Style Hammer, it was perfect for the job.

Anna's patterns are always lovely to follow, but an added bonus on this one was a page of printable labels to keep track of the pieces as you cut. I found that really handy!

My only disappointment - and it was my own error - was sewing along the zipper foot on one side of the back zipper, and (correctly) using 1/4" seam on the opposite side. Once I noticed, I just didn't think it was worth redoing, especially as it's on the back. oh well

Anna also gave a tip to make the lining snug, and I appreciated that. In fact there were tips suggested throughout the process, and I thought all were helpful.

So now I'm set for another season, and pretty pleased with my hand-made bag.

This project was on my Q4 Finish-A-Long list!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Seems like lately, once I try a new improv technique or 'shape' if you will, I need to use it in multiple projects. It's a form of seeing what it can do I guess. At least it's certainly been that way with improv spikes. I discovered them early this year in Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking II and they brought my Improv Alliance all together, and were the starting off point with EverGreenery. Then I set them aside for months, in favor of improv stripes, but in the continuing effort to empty my scrap basket, I started in with them again.

And that's why you see so many different fabrics and colors in this quilt. There was some palette editing as I pulled and sewed scraps together, but not much. And the crazy mix was half the fun.

For the first time, I used Quilter's Dream Orient, "a luxurious blended batting of silk, bamboo, tencel, and cotton". I actually had won it at our guild retreat, and thankfully so. Donated by Sassafras Lane, it was the perfect size for this project (Craft size is 36" x 46"), and I'm admittedly not very exploritive in my batting choices. But I found the Dream Orient basted and quilted beautifully, was very soft, and had very little creasing.

I have a pin board where I keep oodles of machine quilting ideas, and it was there that I happened upon Radio Static from The Free Motion Quilting Project with Leah Day. You know free-motion isn't really my thing, but this design seemed perfect for the spikes, so I mustered up my courage and dug in. Perfect it's not, but overall a success I'd say. And, um, the texture is delightful.

After mulling over options, a faced binding really seemed the way to go, and I definitely don't regret that decision now that the 32" x 44" quilt is completed.

I took the finish to work yesterday to see if I could catch some photos on my lunch break while the light was good, and even though that didn't work out, one of my friends saw the quilt. I told her it was all made of scraps, and she said the darndest thing. "Creating this out of scraps must make you feel like you made something wonderful out of chaos." Exactly.

My only regret, and it's fairly inconsequential, is that I didn't keep going and make the quilt larger. I'm that fond of it. Then again, enough felt like enough, and I'm good with that.

This quilt was on my Q4 2017 Finish-A-Long list!