Monday, November 25, 2019

The Latest Set

As far as I can tell, this was the 8th year I made a set of potholders for hubby's family gift exchange. Funny thing, I saw those from year one in our niece's kitchen this weekend, and though they had obviously been well-used, they were also holding up great. Yay!

So for this year, I was inspired by Jayne/Twiggy & Opal's Log Cabin Pot Holders tutorial over on bluprint. I didn't follow it exactly, in that instead of measuring the strips, I pulled and trimmed right from the solid scrap basket. But the distinct flavor remains.

As always, I quilted the potholders together with one layer each of Insul-Bright and Warm & White to make them heat-proof and sturdy. For backing I used the prettiest blue Moonscape in Dresden by Dear Stella. It along with the Kona Blueprint binding somehow brought all those colorful scraps together.

So this year's pair went home with our nephew, and I trust they will serve his family well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


As with all Bee Sewcial prompts, once I read through Leanne/@shecanquilt's post, I sat for a bit mulling things over. The prompt was "energy," any form at all. Leanne had even shared a pin board she'd started with inspiration for her own "energy" quilt. So there was lots to think about.

The goal was a block (or blocks) equivalent to a 12" x 24" block. For colors, we were free to use them all, or just a few, with the stipulations that we 1) draw at least a bit of our color to the edge of our block(s); and 2) if we wanted to incorporate negative space or a background, to keep that dark but not black.

In the end, the symbol of energy that I took inspiration from was solar panels. In fact, I googled images of them and their gridded nature felt familiar and welcome. My finished block measures 15 1/2" x 24", so if Leanne wishes to trim it to expose some of those smaller shapes to the block's edge, there's plenty of room for that. It's not always the case, but playing with this prompt and these shapes ended a little too soon.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Twice As Nice

Every now and then, especially when I've got some large projects going, I really need to take a break and make something smaller so I actually finish something. This time, it was Aneela Hoey's new Twice As Nice Pouch, and I'm happy to say it was just what I needed.

Besides being a really sweet finish, it has some features that were really enjoyable to execute. As well as a main zippered compartment, there's a front vinyl pocket that's a breeze to install. There's also a unique detail on the lining to accommodate turning that vinyl that makes for a very neat and snug fit. Made following the pattern, the pouch would measure 10" x 6" using two 10" zippers. I only had 9" zippers on hand but it was really easy to tweak the pattern to accommodate the zippers I had. So my pouch measures 9" x 6" and is still a really nice size. Actually I'm pretty happy to have discovered how easy the pattern is to adjust, as I can see it in a variety of sizes.

Adding to the enjoyment was pairing a couple of Carolyn Friedlander prints, including that blue and black from her newish "instead" line with one from the older "doe". I love how her fabric lines mix and match. For all of the above reasons, this was a fun one, and gave me the oomph I needed to get back to that big project.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Modular Report

It was back in May that I posted my latest Bee Sewcial prompt for my bee-mates. The "modular" blocks trickled in, and I'd press them, admire them, and put them up on the design wall together, and then fold them up while I waited for the next. Eventually of course, they were all in and it was time to start some serious puzzling which as often as not is the hardest part for me.

So five months later, after rearranging them numerous times, I finally got an inkling of how to make them one. I 'added' to a few of the blocks including my own, and cut some skinny (1") orange strips to help accentuate the modular theme. And I pulled the largest piece of gray solid I had stashed to use for background - and I plan to use that at least until I run out.

Though I initially started just sewing from the design wall, eventually I needed a little cheat-sheet to clarify my vision, so I 'drew one up' in Publisher which has really helped. (Obviously I'm not too savvy when it comes to design software!) But  progress is being made, even more than shown here, and I'm pretty excited about it! Just a few more hours' work, and I should have a quilt top.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tuesday at the Table

So I've taken you through our time in Paris, to Beaune, Bern, the Lauterbrunnen Valley, and on to Munich. At long last, we reached Italy. On this trip, everything prior had been new to us, but Italy... Italy was familiar.

In Venice, where Al Peoceto Risorto is located in the Rialto fish market just a few steps from the famous bridge, we had the most delicious fish dinner. Not surprising, since we were surrounded by water. There was pasta too that night, and it was obviously so enticing I gobbled it down before getting a photo. But the fish dish - with vegetables, garlic cloves, and olives - and tiramisu, too, were a real treat, and just part of a magical night with our group.

And after discovering the Spritz aperitif last time we were in Venice, of course we had to hunt down where we'd first tried them, so we did that the first evening we were on our own. The tiny bar had changed hands, but the drinks were no less delicious, and we enjoyed chatting with the owner as he sat on the stoop, all the while watching the neighborhood play and stroll in the piazza. It wasn't easy leaving Art Cafe Venezia and our hosts Lucia and Andrea, not knowing when we'd be back. But you can bet we'll be thinking of them every time we enjoy a Spritz at home.

Then we were off to Florence, another city that held fond memories for us, as it was where we first stepped into Italy years ago. (You may remember me recreating that first trip in fabric.) Anyway, of course there's the pizza, much thinner, and simpler, if you will. But truly delicious. We lunched at Trattoria Zà Zà at the suggestion of our tour guide, and were not disappointed. Pizza everywhere we went came whole, uncut, and one pie per person. I guess we could have ignored the trend, but why? 
And then after lunch, we wandered over to EATALY, which we had visited first when we went to Chicago for a long weekend a few years ago. It was really a treat to visit one IN Italy.

Our tour ended in Rome, where for our final group dinner, we gathered at Cuoco e Camicia Ristorante, which was lovely and elegant, and where every bite was savored. The photos don't do justice but the Arancini (rice balls stuffed with cheese in tomato sauce), Orecchiette (with broccoli sauce, sausage, and cheese), and Tiramisu Chocolate Mouse were each exquisite.

And then we were on our own for a day before flying home, so why not take a cooking class, right? We walked to Rimessa Roscioli, where our instructor Lily met us at the door. Wouldn't you know we were the only two that signed up that day, so we got a private lesson, from working in the kitchen with her to cut the guanciale for the Carbonara we'd make, to each rolling out and filling pasta
, mixing and forming meatballs, and whipping up some Tiramisu for dessert. We ended up making three different pasta dishes - Amatriciana, Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe - and at the end, we sat and enjoyed wine-pairings as we ate what we'd created. SO MUCH great food, each dish better than the one before.

So that's the end of my little trip review.... makes me want to get into the kitchen and cook up a memory soon!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Begonia :: November

I know it's only been 10 days or so since I posted last month's Begonia quilt progress, but doing November's assignment just seemed the easiest thing to tackle yesterday, and it made me feel a sense of accomplishment that was needed.

Truth is, it actually doesn't look that much different. All I did was add 3 1/2" strips to all sides, bringing the final quilt top size to 72" square, a generous lap size. Our Seattle MQG BOM hostess, Stefanie/@satterwhitequilts, actually shared directions for three size options - throw, twin, and bed size. But considering I already have two big quilts in the works, I decided to stick with something more manageable for this one. The plan is to wait till December to continue on, as Stefanie is gleaning finishing tutorials and quilting ideas from our fellow guild members, and I'm kinda curious about all that. Let's see if I can wait that long.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Pieced Batting

The other day, as I was piecing batting scraps together for my latest quilt, I was so pleased how nicely they went together, I thought it worth sharing. I know lots of folks zig-zag their batting scraps together, but I've never had good luck with that method. I end up with bumps and the result is never as smooth as I'd like. So enter an alternative method.

To start, I almost always use Warm & White batting, which is pretty flat to begin with. It's important to have straight edges butting together, so if you need to cut fresh edges on your batting scraps, definitely do. Since I always have a bolt of fusible SF101 interfacing on hand, I cut several 1" strips to get me started. Then it's the simple process of laying your scraps on your ironing surface, straight edges together, and ironing a strip of interfacing over the 'seam'. Once you iron on one strip, add on another, slightly overlapping the ends. When you reach the edge of your batting, just trim the strip. Then I like to turn the whole piece over and do the flip side of the seam as well.

When it comes to quilting quilt sandwiches with this kind of pieced batting, I haven't found any issues. Instead, I celebrate the smoothness of the batt seams and the use of those batting bits. All in all, a very good thing.