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/ :: @polkadotchair
Daisy Aschehoug/ :: @warmfolk
Katie Pedersen/ :: @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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday at the Table

After our son traveled to Germany during college, I remember he told us about how one of his classmates chose what to order at any given restaurant. Not being familiar with the local language, he would order the dish with the longest name, and apparently that strategy served him quite well.

That anecdote came to mind as I began cooking from my newest cookbook, Alison Roman's Dining In.

Truth be told, I tried the Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, or Why Would I Make Another Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever Again? before ever purchasing the book. And they were delish. So much so that I didn't pause to snap a photo. But they and all the the hubbub on social media [here, here, and here] persuaded me to go for it, and already I'm glad I did.

So far we've tried two more recipes: Baked Summer Squash with Cream and Parmesan Bread Crumbs.... (you can't see the zucchini and garlic, but it's in there and my oh my)

and then Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Hot Honey Browned Butter.

Both dishes used familiar ingredients in a unique way and are dishes we'll make again. And dare I say, this is one beautiful book. I have oodles of cookbooks(!) but this one is unique, with an engaging tone that I'm enjoying (and need right now). It's like it's inviting me in, and I fully plan to keep accepting the invitation.

This is not a sponsored post. I'm just doing my darndest to spend more quality time in the kitchen, and recently, this book has helped! 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stash Statement

The Stash Statement blog hop starts today, inspired by the new book by Kelly Young of My Quilt Infatuation. When she asked me to participate, it was the byline of Kelly's book that first caught my attention, and as I delved further, I discovered that all the projects had very scrappy beginnings, and that sounded like fun. As Kelly explains, Stash Statement is "all about structured improvisation: using your scraps with a consistent background fabric."

So I'm working behind the scenes on a scrappy project to share in a few weeks, but meanwhile, here's the entire Stash Statement Blog Tour Schedule so you can follow along!

4/16 - Kickoff

4/16- Grand Bazaar 

4/23- Louvered 

4/30- Precarious 

5/7- Beach Retreat 

5/14- Fire Pit 

5/21- Detour 

5/28- Murrina 

6/4- Scattered 

6/11- Bloom Chicka Boom 

6/18- Regatta 

6/25- Catch a Falling Star 

7/2- College Prep 

7/9- Take Flight (bonus digital pattern) 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 Finish-A-Long :: Q2 List

Considering I should have the project that I'm currently focused on done by the time the Q2 list link-up closes, that will leave just two wips to finish up this quarter. First really needs to be the multicolor wedge slab quilt for Faith circle.

After that, I'd like to get back to the Color Play quilt I started at QuiltCon. I'll need to find my notes, ahem, but with any luck I can get up to speed rather quickly. I'm looking forward to that.

So just two projects, but that worked well for me last quarter, and should still leave plenty of room for starting some yet-unknown projects as well. That sounds good to me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


As the calendar turns to a new month, it's always an anxious moment waiting to see what the new Bee Sewcial prompt will be. Felicity/@felicityquilts chose "Rooted" and my first thought was, "oh yes." It was a prompt I could connect to, and I liked Felicity's fabric request - a bright solid background for each block, with the design in variegated values of a contrasting color.

I took a very minimal approach with the first block, still in the mood to dabble with inset seams, as I had been over the weekend. At 6" x 19", I loved it for its simplicity and of course, its color.

For the second block, I specifically wanted a horizontal orientation, had a design in mind, marked it roughly in hera marker on my background fabric, and in all honesty, had trouble making it happen. That to say, I tossed it aside and started again. The second block went together better, though haltingly, but once it was done, I really didn't like it. Ugh. So I walked away for a bit, and came back knowing I needed to slice into it and trim it up. That brought it to 11" x 18.5" and resulted in a design I could live with. With my two blocks somewhat on the literal side, I'm curious to see how my bee-mates interpret the theme.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Year of Scrappy Triangles

It started back in October, and I'm not sure I've even posted here about it. But Leila/Sewn by Leila started a Year of Scrappy Triangles, offering a free paper-pieced triangle block pattern each week. Admittedly, I've been inclined to make my blocks in batches rather than one a week - that's just how it's worked out.

Though the blocks are designed for using scraps, I'm kind of cheating there, as I'm cutting into my generous stash of Denyse Schmidt prints, making more scraps than I'm using, but I'm ok with that. For 'backgrounds,' I'm using the two DS dot prints, a very pale gray solid, and some Essex Homespun in Natural. Some days I question my choices there, but I'm going with it....

I'm only making one block of each design, so my finished project won't be that large unless I change my tack. Time will tell what I decide to do about that, if anything. Meanwhile, these 6 1/2" blocks are a nice diversion now and then, so I'll let it be that for now.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

2018 Finish-A-Long :: Q1 Finishes

With just two projects on my Q1 Finish-A-Long list, I had high hopes. The table runner for my mom's birthday had an early (mid-January) deadline, so that made it a priority right off.

With a delicious mix of fabrics that mom had a hand in choosing, it was fun to create as I went along. I used a variety of quilting designs and was more than happy with the 32" x 92" finish and it looks great on mom's dining table.

The next project on the list wasn't as easy to face. Looking Up, a carry over from Q4 last year, had overwhelmed me for too long. At the beginning of the quarter, I hadn't even made my block yet. As smitten as I was with my theme and the blocks my mates had made, I really struggled on how to consolidate them into a quilt top.

At long last, I settled on an unconventional framing/sashing and then it was time to face the quilting. THAT I did have a plan for.... inspired by the power lines on our street. I'm moderately pleased with my execution, but even more so that I kept with the theme. At 75" x 60", for better or worse, Looking Up is complete.

Two for two feels good. Now it's time to think about what's next!

Want to join in? Here's all the info!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Teeny Tiny Trip Around the World

Remember the hand-piecing project I started at QuiltCon? Well I'm still working on it! Can't say I work on it every night, especially when there's a quilt to bind or a newsletter to work on, but I am making progress, and I'm good with that!

Yesterday I spent a little time with my iron and tailor's clapper spinning all the seams on the back. It's fiddly and time-consuming, but it really seems to help the piece lay flat and neat... Ie. worth the effort.

I did get an ArtBin in which to store all of my fabric squares and hand-sewing supplies, and that inspired me to cut up all the fabric in the bundle I started this project with. I need to decide if I'll use just these fabrics or add more in the mix. Hmmmm....

I'm hoping by posting monthly I'll stay accountable and moving forward on this project. People have asked, "How big are you going to make it?" And there's no answer other than, "I'll know when I'm done." I have no real expectation to make it a full-sized quilt, but I'm hoping I don't lose interest anytime soon.