Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Studio Ten :: Laser Levels

Squaring up is not my favorite part of the quilt-making process, but I gotta say, using laser levels to square and trim my Looking Up was highly successful! A while back I purchased a pair of Bosch GTL2 Laser Squares, which are pretty hefty levels. I should have shot a wider angle for you, but imagine in the photo below that there is another level opposite the first; and same with the square ruler, with all the laser lines lining up.

Mandy of Mandalei Quilts posted a really helpful tutorial on Trimming Your Quilt with Tools from the Hardware Store, so if you're interested in trying them, do check it out. I got mine on sale, as they're a little pricey, but worth considering. Oh, and rather than using painter's tape for marking the edges like Mandy did, I used a long ruler and FriXion pen; I just found it quicker and I was less likely to nudge anything out of alignment as I worked. At any rate, the levels made quick and accurate work of a task that often can be frustrating, and I'm all for that.

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

Monday, March 26, 2018

Still Looking Up

From the day I thought of using "Looking Up" as a Bee Sewcial prompt, I loved it, and there was no looking back. A stall, perhaps, but no looking back.

Looking Up :: 75" X 60"

I spent weeks looking up and taking inspiration photos, though I knew my bee-mates would easily find their own, just by taking a moment to look up wherever they might be. And of course, they did!

In the photo above you'll see [top to bottom, left to right]: "Storm" by Leanne/@shecanquilt, "Perception" by Silvia/@astrangerview, "Bridge" by M-R/@quiltmatters, "Dormant" by Stephanie/@spontaneousthreads, "Timber!" by Hillary/@entrophyalwayswins, "Ceiling" by Felicity/@felicityquilts, my own "Swinging", "Fascinating" by Marci/@marci_girl, "Aspire" by Anne/@playcrafts, and "Redwoods" by Karen/@capitolaquilter. Each block so unique and individually inspired.... I've spent alot of time looking at them and appreciating them.

I also spent alot of time fretting over how to puzzle the blocks into a whole, and at long last settled on an improvisational sashing using Kona Overcast, which besides being the perfect color, just added to the sentiment of the design prompt.

For quilting, I used Aurifil 50wt #2600 (light gray) to create a free-form mesh inspired by the power lines on our street. So mostly there are groupings of parallel lines angling across the quilt, grounded occasionally by a trio of vertical 'poles'. It was one more aspect in keeping with the theme, and I love the idea still, though the execution left some empty spaces larger than I would have liked, many of which were secured by just following the lines of the fabric. It all worked well enough for me to be satisfied for trying it, knowing just the same that another choice might have been better. I can live with that.

This one called to be horizontally oblong, and why not? Measuring 75" X 60", I finished it off with a faced binding. Though pulling my bee-mates' remarkable blocks into a cohesive whole nearly did me in this round, I love the finish for the thoughtfulness that went into it, for the admission (by me) that indeed, the struggle can be real, and especially for the reminder, as always, to pause for just a bit.... and look up.

This project was on my 2018 Finish-A-Long Q1 list.
Linking up with Finish It Up Friday and 2018 Finish-A-Long Q1 Finishes!

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Truth is, I had no idea what 'Kilim' meant when Marci/@marci_girl announced her prompt for Bee Sewcial this month. I quickly learned that "A kilim is a flat tapestry-woven carpet or rug traditionally produced in countries of the former Ottoman Empire, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkic countries of Central Asia. Kilims can be purely decorative or can function as prayer rugs." Oohhh! Now I know.

Marci offered an inspiration pin board, which was helpful in familiarizing myself with possible motifs, and I selected three to focus on, two types of triangles in bright colors, and a Greek Key in neutrals. I chose to create the Greek Key very 'true', ie. it was improvisational in that I made it without a pattern, but it wasn't as free-form as the triangles. In hindsight, I really like the contrast between the two styles in one block.

Per Marci's request, the block measures 14 1/2" by 20 1/2", and I think the 'chopped off' aspect to bring the block to size kind of adds to its appeal. For not knowing where I was headed during most of the construction of this block, I'm happy where I ended up!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Untitled in Raisin

It's unclear to me why, but I do not have a positive inclination towards monofilament thread. I used it years ago, but I don't believe (ever) for machine quilting. It just wasn't done. Until I saw the stunning work of Jill/Pie Lady Quilts, who uses it often so as not to 'alter any of the color work' in her quilts Let's just say it was seeing Jill use it to such great effect that I thought I might give it a try.

So the project that finally seemed right to try it on was the small half-square triangle quilt I started in Season Evans' Two-Color Quilt Composition class a few weeks ago. After first going to Instagram to see what advice I could garner, it dawned on me that it might also be wise to check the website of the specific thread I planned on using, which just happened to be Aurifil. And they actually had some suggestions as to needle size, thread in bobbin, etc. Luckily all the tips were fairly consistent, and here are the adjustments I made:
  • Used regular 50wt in the bobbin [if you choose to use monofilament in the bobbin, wind it very slowly to prevent stretching]
  • Reduced top tension slightly 
  • Increased the stitch length to 3.5
  • Used a top-stitching needle, which has a larger eye
Of course your machine may handle it differently, so adjust accordingly.

At any rate, my experiment with monofilament went really well. On another project, I may have chosen to quilt more densely, but the half-square triangles on this 34" square quilt just didn't seem to call for it.

For backing, I had found a perfect match in a stashed Lotta Jansdotter print. And as far as match goes, if you've never seen Kona Raisin, which is the color of my HSTs in this little quilt, it's a rich dark purple.... and as you'll catch a peek in some of my photos - exactly the color of the doors of our home. How's that for random?{grin}

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sidewalk Chalk on Asphalt

When I flipped the calendar to 2018, I had no idea I'd be working on a bed quilt by the end of the month, and actually be sleeping under it by the start of spring. glory be! Yes, a new quilt for our bed had been on the list for at least a couple of years, but it took Rachel/Stitched in Color hosting The Big Bed Quilt-Along to actually get me going on it.

I'd been collecting low-volume fabrics for months on end, having no idea what I'd actually do with them. I had in mind maybe an improv pineapple quilt, but when I saw Meghan/Then Came June's Sidewalk Chalk pattern start popping up in Instagram, I changed my mind. It was a pattern, yes, but with an improvisational feel, and it seemed oh so doable - you know, like it might actually get done in a reasonable amount of time. And truth was, I loved loved! every version I saw. So that was settled, and I started in.

Rachel had been posting a variety of helpful posts along the way, and near the end of sewing my rows together, her Planning Quilt Size post turned on a light bulb. so I got my measuring tape out pronto and realized I would need to add an extra row and column both to make my own quilt sized appropriately for my bed. It's a good reminder to take a look at those dimensions listed on any pattern you use - they're all relative. Luckily, with Sidewalk Chalk, it was really easy, and after a good review of the pattern, even keeping that improv feel was a cinch and adding on didn't hold me up too much.

By mid-February, I had a finished quilt top! Measuring 96" x 112", it was BIG! Ie. too big for me to want to quilt myself. My decision was quick, easy, and logical (to me) - purchase a few yards of the crisscross in black wideback by Carolyn Friedlander, which was one of the low-volume fabrics in my original pull, pack it all up, and send straightaway to Rachel/Stitched in Color herself for long-arm quilting. We conferred briefly about thread color (off-white) and quilting design and density, and before long, my quilt was on the frame.

I wanted to comment since I mentioned it in a previous post - Stitched in Color uses Quilter's Dream Select batting, which I was unfamiliar with. I've always been a Warm & Natural/White gal myself, so I didn't know what to expect. But I'm more than happy with the feel and drape of the finished quilt and honestly can't really tell a difference. (yay!) 

So for binding, all 416" of it, I used more of the Backgrounds Crossstitch in Gray by Lori Holt. And with that, I have a brand new bed quilt and am ecstatic to cross that one off my list.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

WIP Wednesday

Throughout 2011 and well through 2014, I participated weekly in Lee/Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday link-up, where we would show progress on everything we were working on, basically encouraging us to, you know, keep sewing! It was really motivating and a fun group to be a part of. By the time it ended, I wasn't posting as often, but sometimes I miss it.

I'm actively working on three different quilts right now, waiting for blocks to arrive for another, weeks behind in a sew-along, and antsy to get back to piecing one and quilting on another. And of course, should really be working on something else that has a hard deadline. It all gets to be a bit much. So for old time's sake? Simple accountability? Whatever, it seemed important to gather them all together and report in.

Sidewalk Chalk on Asphalt - So nearly finished! It's back from being quilted by Stitched in Color, and I'm half-way through 416" of binding.

Looking Up - I've been quilting a few lines whenever I have a chance, and I'm close to finishing. It's unique, inspired (at least I think so), and imperfect.

Faith Circle Multicolor Wedge Slabs are still rolling in and I absolutely love them! After all of the neutrals I've been handling lately, this one's a delightful chance of pace.

My Two-Color Composition from Season Evan's class is really what I feel like getting to - something small and quick to finish. I may use it as a breather between finishing those top two and moving on to my deadline project.... a bit of a pause.

I'd also like to get back to Color Play, which I started in Tara Faughnan's class at QuiltCon. This one will probably wait a bit, but I'm excited about it.

The hand-pieced Teeny Tiny Trip Around the World is another one I'm working on consistently. Begun with Chawne Kimber at QuiltCon, I was sewing on it a bit every night until I started in on binding. So I hope to get back to it in a few days. This one will obviously be a long-term project. I'm hoping I don't lose interest any time soon.

And lastly is the #yearofscrappytriangles. I'm way behind, but have every intention of catching up. These blocks are quick to do, so I just need the right space. It'll come.

So there. Thanks for letting me air things out. 

Friday, March 9, 2018


I'd done it once (twice even!) and there's a decent chance I'll do it again. But this week I gifted the third pillow I've made using the Christmas Snowflake block by Rachel/Wooden Spoon. As far as I'm concerned, an eight-pointed star is good any time of the year, and it was definitely fun to rummage through scraps again to create this latest version.

I made a near-duplicate of a previous one, simply because my friend said she liked it so much. Just like before, I quilted a wavy stitch down each row using Aurifil #2021 (Natural White), did a flap-closure for the back, and stuffed it with a poofy 20" pillow form. Fun stuff!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

On & Off the Frame

There's a part of me that can't even believe I've gotten this far so fast. I'm talking about the bed quilt I've been working on. You know - I joined The Big Bed Quilt-Along hosted by Rachel/Stitched in Color back in January. Having chosen Sidewalk Chalk, a pattern by Meghan/Then Came June, three weeks later I had a finished quilt top! Now just a couple of weeks later, Rachel/Stitched in Color and her husband Brandon have long-arm quilted it for me, and I love what I see!

Photos courtesy of Stitched in Color

I knew early on that at 96" x 112" there was no way I was going to quilt this one myself. In addition to the treat of sending it off to Stitched in Color Longarm Quilting Services, it was nice to confer with Rachel about thread and quilt design choices, as well as quilting density. One of the options I was thankful to see when I placed my order was that of trimming the edges after quilting - yay! That was a no-brainer for me. Now when it gets home to me, I can get straight to binding.

Rachel included my quilt in her in the Quilting Studio post yesterday, and she commented how the  "Mirage" quilting design we chose gave the illusion of diagonal straight-line quilting. That just affirmed our choice to me as you know I love my straight-line. And being on the diagonal seems to complement the diagonals in the tree print and those Xs. Oh yeah.

So I'm eager to see the quilt in person soon. Meanwhile I'll be rooting others in the #BigBedQAL along, as I know these larger quilts are no small feat!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Back It Up Again!

This is an updated repost of Back It Up from 2015. Yes, it's always a good topic to revisit, but even more so after the hard-drive in our server died and "we" realized we hadn't backed up our own hard-drive for a year. Yes, I had backed up my blog fairly regularly, but that doesn't help much when your files are gone.

SO, the word is still out on all our 2017 files, but it was a good reminder to BACK IT ALL UP! And though I'd done it quarterly or so for my blog, I've now set a reminder to do it weekly. It takes just moments, and it means that much to me. Things have changed just a tad since my 2015 post, so here's what I found most recently.

Note that this is for Blogger only. Do research if your blog is on another platform.

Step 1. SAVE YOUR THEME: First, go to your blog's dashboard just like you were going to edit a post.

See way over in the upper right corner where it says "Backup/Restore"? Click there.

Choose "Download theme." A file full of code will be downloaded. Save the file and I suggest, rename it to include the current date. 

Close the Backup/Restore window. Step one is done. [This is where the difference is from my previous post. The 'theme' used to be known as the 'template.' Otherwise, things are pretty similar.]

Step 2. SAVE YOUR CONTENT: Still on your blog's dashboard, click "Settings" in the left hand column, then "Other." See under "Import & back up" the choice to "Back up Content." Click there and another file full of code will be downloaded. This one will take a little longer than the template, but not long. Save the file and again, rename it to include the current date. 

That's it! Seriously, it'll take you ten minutes or so. And give you a whole lot more peace of mind.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

QuiltCon :: Quilts

Whoa. I'm still as immersed in QuiltCon recollections as I possibly can be considering life is back to reality with the day job, other commitments, etc. etc. And I'm afraid I better bring a halt to these posts sometime soon before you all run from overload But! There's still a tad more I want to post for memory's sake, and at the very least, I need to share a few quilts.

Walking into the Conference Center to check-in, I was so taken by the charity quilts. Truly, they were stunning - the variety, the color, the goodwill expressed in the quantity alone. I've posted quite a few on Instagram here and here, and you'll find even more under the #quiltconcharityquilt hashtag.

Of course I was anxious to find the one made by Seattle MQG!

With a chuckle, my giving committee co-chair Louise/@imfeelincrafty and I named the quilt Frannie’s Flashy Fans, and I think it suits! There were so many in the guild that had a hand in the quilt's making - from the block design by Ceclia Lehman, to all the blocks made by many Seattle MQG members, creative layout and piecing by Louise, and the wonderful quilting by Dionne Matthies-Buban - yes, it was truly a group effort.

Of course, I was also anxious to find my own Follow the Dots, hanging with the other Small Quilts. I always like to see the other quilts in 'my' category - see some of my favorites here and here.

Also meaningful was when the Bee Sewcial members who were at QuiltCon gathered for photos with our three quilts that were in the show. Considering I wasn't there when my own Mod Mood hung (and won a ribbon!) in the show two years ago, it was really special to me to be able to join in this time. To top things off, Karen/@capitolaquilter won 2nd place in the group quilt category for her Reflections!! I was just so pleased for her!

Also hanging in the show were Felicity/@felicityquilts' Winter....

and Stephanie/@spontaneousthreads' 2 Degrees Celcius. It was SO cool (no pun intended) to see all three of these quilts in person and on display.

So there are the quilts I had a connection with. Of course there were hundreds of others and hopefully you've seen many of them on Instagram and other blogs - so much creativity and beauty in this community of ours! If you  haven't seen the quilts that won awards, they are all posted on the QuiltCon website, and definitely worth a look!