Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer Sampler 2018 :: Shenzhen

Thank goodness I had last night free so I could piece the second block of the Summer Sampler pronto. It's Shenzhen, designed by Angela/@angelapingel, and while it has some similar shapes as last week's Water Well it's constructed quite differently, in quadrants.

I'm really liking mixing prints and solids in this project, and am pleased with how my blocks - all two of them - play together. So now I'm on countdown till next week!

Monday, May 21, 2018


When M-R/@quiltmatters announced this month's Bee Sewcial prompt, I was intrigued. The prompt was 'Code', and having been a programmer in my early days, I was excited about the thought of somehow adapting the code I used back in the day to fabric. But the APT programming language didn't come through for me after all, so after some hemming and hawing, I settled on using binary.

The colors M-R requested were black/dark gray for the background, and red and white for the message. That certainly made things simpler, but it was still a little tedious piecing the ones and zeros improvisationally into 'letters' that just happen to spell.....
bee sewcial!

OK, once I had a concept, this was a fun one. At 19" x 20, the block ended up a tad larger than necessary, but that's just what it wanted to be, I guess. Whew! Survived to sew another day.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Not sure why it took me so long to face this one. It's not huge, and honestly, I loved it from the very first block. It was quick and easy to sew my bee-mates' blocks into a top. So obviously.... no good reason.

It's a do.Good Stitches quilt, with multicolor wedge slabs made by Faith Circle. They are patient with my efforts to sneak some improv into our quilt-making, and they came through beautifully. [Here's the block tutorial.]

I really debated over a quilting plan, and after skimming through Jacquie Gering's Walk, 
settled on a combination of horizontal straight lines and fancy curved lines - gentle curves both between random lines and occasionally crossing lines of straight-line. I think it worked.

On a whim, I quilted with Aurifil 50wt 2520 (Violet) AND shock of shocks, I finished by stitching the scrappy binding by machine. I have only done that a handful of times in my years of quilting, but it just seemed the thing to do this time. [I basically used this method.]

So this quilt, which I'm dubbing "Jazzy" because of its showy color, finished at 48" x 60", and it'll be heading off shortly to Valley Breast Center here in the Seattle area. As always, it feels great to do a little good.

This project was on my 2018 Q2 Finish-A-Long list! Linking up with Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Summer Sampler 2018 :: Water Well

Well, the Summer Sampler kicked off yesterday, and I could hardly wait to get home from work to make the first block. It's Water Well, designed by Katie/@swimbikequilt, and inspired by a photo Lizzy Williams/@lizzyography took in India. Gotta say, I'm a-ok with my fabric choices, which always feels good, doesn't it?

I'm anxious to watch the travel map as we sew along. Since I've always loved the idea of quilts and quilt blocks inspired by what I/we see in the world around us, this feels good.

There's still time to join in, or feel free to follow along!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Summer Sampler Countdown!

A couple of weeks ago I shared about the upcoming Summer Sampler 2018 hosted by Lee/Freshly Pieced, Faith/Fresh Lemons Quilts, and Katie/Swim Bike Quilt, and that I was a member of the design team. Fun, right? Well after much mulling, I finally settled on my fabric pull today - a mix of prints from Carolyn Friedlander's collections, along with some Gleaned coordinating solids.

A fun little development is that my friend Darlene of Featherweight Doctor is sewing along, with the added twist that she's going to quilt as she goes - on her featherweight! Here's a video where she talks about her process:


So if you've been thinking about joining in but haven't yet, just a reminder that the pre-sale pricing ($24.99 rather than $29.99) ends Sunday! Should be fun!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Going Round

I'm a little late reporting in but at least I've made some progress on my Teeny Tiny Trip Around the World. Last report, I had ten rounds beyond the center; now I have just 12, and a start on the next. Obviously the 'trips' take longer than they did at first!

A variety of reasons - prepping for a trip out of town, publishing a newsletter, sewing on hanging sleeves, and pulling together an entry for the Pantone challenge - all kept me preoccupied otherwise. Though I did take it with me to Texas, the days were full, and I didn't find myself very drawn to work on it.

Maybe things will slow down a bit and I'll be newly inspired to continue on. One can hope.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tuesday at the Table

Ok, I know I'm sharing today's post mostly for me, but I want to be able to look back and remember. So.... while we were in McKinney, Texas last week, hubby and I took a food walking tour. We find it a great way to learn about a new place, and have done similar a couple of times. We joined Food Walks of Texas for a three-hour 'tour' of downtown McKinney, stopping and sampling at five different shops. We learned alot of history along the way, but forgive me if I only share about the food. ;-)

Cadillac Pizza was our first stop. What we learned right off from our guide, is that he tasted pretty much the whole menu before selecting the item to include in the tasting tour. And as our pizza was served, he wondered aloud if we'd be as big of fans as he was. Oh yes. The Local Goat & Fig was right up our alley. (Think crispy pancetta, local goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, dried figs, balsamic drizzle, and fresh basil. Yum.)

Next up was The Pantry, nestled in a historic building right off the town square. Apparently the Chocolate Cream Pie has a bit of a history too. Back in the day, the bakers ran out of Hershey chocolate and with none to be found in town, made a substitution. Customers complained, so a posse was sent to neighboring towns to purchase the 'right' chocolate, and that mistake was not made again. Also, this delicious pie had a 'secret' ingredient, which I correctly guessed as a layer of cream cheese atop the crust. Delish.

When all was said and done and we were asked what was the best thing we tasted in Texas, both hubby and I agreed it was the Club Sandwich we ate at Butcher Board. It looks innocent enough in my photo, but I was sad when mine was gone. Oh yeah, and a taster of Tupps brew. Win-win.

Next up was Goodies, and it was just that. Family-owned and run, we got to sample the truffles, which were as beautiful as they were tasty.

The tour finished at Hugs Cafe (oops, no photos), a really special place that strives to enhance the lives of adults with special needs through training and employment. Plus, they make really delicious cookies.

So that was fun in more ways than one. Thanks for joining me on the mini tour!

Monday, May 7, 2018

All In with McKinney MQG

It was nearly a year ago that my buddy Ellyn/ellyn's place first suggested the possibility of me traveling to Texas to do a workshop and trunk show for McKinney MQG. We worked out all the details and then waited for the time to come. Finally, last week it did!

The workshop, Everyday Improv, focused on the 15 improvisational piecing techniques I'd worked into my recent All In. I also shared several other quilts with the group that used some of those techniques, just to give them some idea of how versatile they can be.

Guild president Martha/@sewgreen created the perfect atmosphere with her infamous letter dishes.

And needless to say, we all had alot of fun immersing ourselves in improv.

It was so good seeing friends again, meeting online friends for the first time, and of course, making new friends.

Chris, Chris, Jeri, Stephanie, Michelle [Sterrett, not pictured]

So the next couple of days I had 'off' and had a chance to explore McKinney with my hubby, who had traveled to Texas with me. [Check out the Instagram hashtag #debandjoegototexas if you like.] We also hooked up with Ellyn again to visit Urban Spools, a wonderfully modern shop and 'sewing lounge' in nearby Dallas.

That night, it was time to share a trunk show with the entire McKinney MQG! I had taken 25(!) quilts of various sizes, from my very first quilt to my most recent, and a variety representing my quilting journey in between. I gotta say, it's gratifying when folks are interested in your story... a good reminder to be open and affirming, no matter what phase and stage our fellow creators may be at.

Bonnie gifted me with a McKinney MQG mug and a few tasty treats.

And Stephanie kindly brought one of her quilts that I had admired on Instagram and featured in my most recent newsletter. It was SO good to see it in person!

So... there's a little recap of my visit to McKinney MQG. It was a very good time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Triangle Mix

My turn is coming up again to choose the design for the next Faith Circle quilt, and I've settled on a combo I've wanted to try for a while now.

So I'm asking my bee-mates to make basic half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles including some mix-and-match ones, and even some half-square plus quarter-square triangles.

I found Emily DennisHow to Sew a Perfect Quarter-Square Triangle on Craftsy a really nice tutorial for all of these, with a formula for block-sizes, and just a good resource overall. I'm asking for 4 - 8.5" unfinished blocks, which is a loose equivalent of two - 12.5" blocks. I simplified by cutting 9.75" squares of fabric, so I could intermix them and make a variety of blocks. Below are my fabric choices - Kona Parrot, Breakers, and White, along with a couple of coordinating prints.

Making a note to myself that a 6x7 block layout will call for 42 blocks. I already made 6, and with each of my mates making 4, we'll make a 48" x 56" quilt. Perfect for do.Good Stitches.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Grape Fizzy

Nothing like deciding you need to drop everything to make a little something against a deadline. That's what happened with me and the 2018 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Ultra Violet Edition. I had declared early on that I'd be participating in the challenge, as it's basically been a years-long tradition for me, so I'm glad I was able to make it happen.

"It" being a small quilt [21 1/2" x 29 1/2"] that began with a length of Kona Bright Peri, a couple of gray stash solids, and bits of blue and burgundy. The improvisational courthouse steps design evolved well after I began, but I was more than happy to let that happen. Quilting was done with King Tut 40wt thread #403 (Crushed Grapes) in a variable grid. Though the thread was the most purple-y I had on hand, quilted onto that Bright Peri, it leaned a bit toward the burgundy, which oddly, seemed pretty awesome.

I bound it all in more of the Bright Peri - it just seemed to let the design stand on its own. The whole time I was working with the purple, I kept thinking of Grape Fizzies, a carbonated beverage I enjoyed as a child when I visited my grandparents. So Grape Fizzy it is.

Thanks to Sarah/No Hats in the House and Rebecca/Bryan House Quilts for hosting the challenge. I'm anxious to see all the entries. And for the record, I live in the USA!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Road Trip!

Back in 2011, I joined in the very first Summer Sampler quilt-along hosted by Lee/Freshly Pieced, Faith/Fresh Lemons Quilts, and Katie/Swim Bike Quilt, and it was a memorable experience for sure. I was very new to paper-piecing, which some of the blocks required, and it was just the second quilt I had done in solids, so that felt very unfamiliar. Basically, it was an important step in my quilting journey. Which is why being asked to be a guest designer for this year's road-trip themed quilt-along is especially gratifying.

My block is the top one in the farthest right column, with inspiration drawn from the square in front of the Duomo in Milan, Italy.

You get alot when you subscribe to the Summer Sampler 2018:
  • Fully-tested instructions for a new 12″ (finished) block each week, beginning May 14 and running through September 17
  • Complete finishing instructions for an 80″ x 80″ sampler quilt with the layout shown in the mock-up (delivered September 24)
  • All fabric requirements and suggested Kona Solids colors
  • Quilt mock-up coloring sheet for planning
  • Weekly Summer Sampler newsletter email subscription with information about our inspiration, tips for sewing that week’s block, and other bonus content
  • Access to a subscriber-only Facebook group to interact with other quilters and the designers
So meet the Summer Sampler 2018 Design Team....

Melissa Mortensen/www.polkadotchair.com :: @polkadotchair
Daisy Aschehoug/www.warmfolk.com :: @warmfolk
Katie Pedersen/www.sewkatiedid.com :: @sewkatiedid
Sound interesting? I think so!

Be sure and check it out, get all the scoop, as well as see the quilt mocked up in two other striking colorways. Nothing like a little summer fun!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ultra Violet

I saw a sliver of time and I took it. After reading a friend's post about her Ultra Violet project, I commented that I hadn't had the chance to join in the 2018 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Ultra Violet Edition. My focus has just been elsewhere, I guess. But the challenge, hosted by Sarah/No Hats in the House and Rebecca/Bryan House Quilts is a bit of a tradition for me, and when I realized I wouldn't have access to my sewing machine during much of the time between now and then, I set everything aside and did a bit of reward sewing. You know - the kind where you got your chores done and then you get to play!

Luckily, I had a yard of Kona Bright Peri on hand in preparation for this moment, so I curated a few other solids from my stash and started in. At first I was thinking something with improv dots in varying densities, then somewhere along the line I got caught up in the idea of an improvisational courthouse steps design. It's kind of funky, a bit oddly shaped, and with the shortest side being under 30", it'll fit in the mini category. But though I'm just showing a progress photo here, the top is done, and I'll move right on in to quilting soon, glad for the chance to dabble just a bit and stick with tradition.

Here's a link if you'd like to see my previous Pantone challenge projects.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Maker's Thought

The other day, I joined a group of friends mid-conversation, and immediately realized that one of them was telling about the 'knitted' hat and scarf combination that she was wearing. I burst out with 'did you make it?' She looked at me funny and then shared what the others already knew: she had purchased it on her recent trip to Peru. It was creative and lovely, and she had bought it directly from the maker, and even had gotten the opportunity to take a photo with the maker, and I thought all of that was very cool. But as I walked away, what struck me was that my mind immediately goes to the thought that something might be handmade and that everyone could be a maker. And I reveled in that moment where anything was possible, and in my little world sometimes even probable. And I kinda liked that. All that to say that I'm glad to be immersed in a community that allows and encourages and sometimes even presumes that to be the case. Of course we need to be careful about that presumption bit, but anyway, that's my thought for the day....

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

All In

As I was planning for the Everyday Improv workshop I'll be teaching with McKinney MQG in a couple of weeks, I was listing all the improv techniques I wanted to share with them, and decided it might be fun to have a sample quilt using all of them. Crazy, no? Probably. Most definitely. But that's how All In came to be.

I chose some solids that I thought would be fun to work with, and they definitely were - Kona Bright Peri, Tiger Lily, Pickle, and Lipstick. I cut and pieced, adding segments to the design wall as I finished them, not really knowing where I was headed. Gotta say I love designing that way.

Of course things get rearranged as more is added, and eventually some trimming and make-to-fit is in order.

And as some point, you just start sewing parts together and figuring it out as you go. When playing with these techniques, I find I usually just squish things together - ie. go very maximalist and dense. One of these days I might think about giving these shapes some room to breathe. Another time!

For quilting I used Aurifil 50wt #2250 [Red], at first because that was the only coordinating thread I had, but the more I quilted, the more I loved the choice, and eventually that red component ended up following into the binding. About the quilting though.... I used the section of dots as a guide to start an organic grid - straight lines, though angled as needed to avoid quilting over a dot - and then just carried it out from there in both directions, approximately 1 1/2" apart. That's less compact than my usual, but I think it really suits this quilt. Maybe that's where I let it breathe a little.

Just for fun, I added in a little pieced scrap into the binding.

And then I chose just one more technique of sorts for the backing - drawing from a traditional block, the Improv Quarter Log Cabin.

Sooo.... there are 15 improvisational techniques pieced into this smallish 32.5" x 34" quilt. Hopefully my students will have as much fun playing with them as I did.