Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Looking Atcha 2019

Offhand, I'd thought this year had been a little less eventful than last year, but then this post just started filling up, so I think my perception was off! It's been plenty full that's for sure - sewing every chance I got, with enough 'special events' to keep things challenging.... a nice manageable mix I'd say.

QuiltCon was definitely a high point, with Leanne/@shecanquilt's "Smile" winning best of show. It was so good to have most of Bee Sewcial there, and we had fun taking photos in front of our various quilts. Here we are with Baconrific.

Creating with Bee Sewcial was also a constant continuing through the year. The prompts and subsequent blocks are challenging each and every time, and I'm thankful for the ways creating with them stretches me. Below are the blocks I made this year.

L to R, top row: Be Counted, Triptych JewelsPortraits
bottom row: StripesSonia Delaunay, Energy

There were three trunk shows this year - for the women in my church at their annual spring luncheon, for the Mukilteo Lighthouse Quilters, and for the Bainbridge Island MQG. Unfortunately I rarely get photos at those, but still, they were all very good times.

There were 18 quilts made, in a variety of sizes, which is my favorite. Big ole quilts are so great, of course, but I also love making smaller ones to try new things or just for pure enjoyment. Links to posts on all of them are under the 2019 Quilts tab above.

Alot of us talk about how many quilts pile up around the house, and throughout the year I was blessed to be able to share some of mine by donating three to causes I support, and gifting others to family members and friends. That felt good!

And finally, in amongst all of the above were little bursts of sewing, small projects that served as respite from either the busyness of life or the larger project, and as I glance at them together, I realize alot of them were gifted. That, too, feels really good. But seriously, when did I manage to make all these??

All in all, a really terrific year, filled to the brim with meaningful community moments, plenty of creative time, and a good amount of sharing. Thanks for being a part of it!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Compass Bag

When Anna/noodlehead came out with her Compass Bag a couple of years ago, I really liked it, but I didn't need a new bag then, so passed it by. Fast forward to this fall when I did need a new bag, and when I saw Anna had remade the Compass using waxed canvas, I was sold. I decided to make the small version, 9½” W, 11” H, 4” deep, with the slip style exterior pockets. 

It took me a while to gather my supplies:

I already had other supplies on hand - lining fabric, Carolyn Friedlander's scallop in olive and brown from her harriot line; rivets; 1" leather for the handle. 

Now there's a couple of things to remember when working with waxed canvas

  • Do Not use your iron or you'll mar the canvas. All 'pressing' needs to be finger pressing.
  • Don't use pins either; use wonder clips if needed.
  • Expect the 'fabric' to become distressed as you work with it. To quote the Robert Kaufman website: "Fabric cracks, scratches, wrinkles and creases are a natural part of this fabric’s character as it ages and patinas."

So back to the bag itself.... as is my nature with bag-making, it's a thoughtful, methodical process, ie. not necessarily speedy. I take it easy, one step or two at a time. After a while, I reached the step where I 'got' to add some rivets, which was a whole 'nother thing. The Compass Bag hardware was some of what called me to this bag, but that doesn't mean I'm completely comfortable with it. A quick review of Anna's "installing rivets" tutorial, and I was feeling pretty good.

The bag also features two interior pockets - a slip pocket as well as a zippered pocket, in a configuration that is really unique - one on top of the other. I made the most of those details by fussy-cutting the scallop design of my lining fabric. 

So hard to get a good photo, but maybe you can look close and see the scallop inside the zippered pocket as well? I know no one will see that once the bag is in use, but you know I will!

There were a couple of options for the handle, and I loved the look of the leather. It involved a few more rivets, but that went well.

In fact they were one of the details I really loved - that and the handle hardware, and especially that D-Ring Holder and Strap Tab with an 'X' combo. Oh yeah.

So I took the bag out for a trial run yesterday and it felt great! It's a little bigger than I needed, but is definitely a pretty normal 'purse' size, and gotta say, I really love it. When I started, I didn't really realize it would be so distressed, and actually worried about that in the process, but as a finished bag, I'm really liking it, and am very glad I tried it!


Anyone out there like to make their own handmade purses? I looked back, and this is the sixth one I've made for myself since 2013. I think it's a fun thing for a maker like me.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Best of 2019

There are alot of ways to tell the story of a year, #best nine and #colouroftheyear being just two of them. Cheryl/Meadow Mist Designs once again gives us the chance to declare the Best of 2019 with her annual linky party by sharing our top five blog posts of the year. As is my tradition, I'm choosing to base my 'best' solely on reader views, though this year, let's go in reverse order.

#5B. Scrap-ish Plaid-ish
This one is actually a tie with 5A, believe it or not. I love that a quilt made the list and yet a bit amused it's a scrappy one. But I'll take it. Plaid-ish is a free tutorial shared by Erica/
@kitchentablequilting and a great one for working through one's scrap basket.

#5A. Summer Sampler 2019 :: Spring Fever
There were 21 blocks included in this year's Summer Sampler, and Spring Fever was the first. Designed by Lynn Carson Harris, it taught us how to twirl seams to increase accuracy.

#4. QuiltCon 2019 :: The Quilts
Fun to see a QuiltCon post on the list, especially when it included Leanne/@shecanquilt's "Smile" which won Best in Show.... a proud moment for our Bee Sewcial bee!

#3. The Latest Set
Inspired by Jayne/Twiggy & Opal's Log Cabin Pot Holders tutorial, this pair was made just last month, another project made straight from the scrap basket.

#2. Pieced Batting
A simple trick is usually the best, so I'm not surprised my readers wanted to check out this tutorial. 

#1. 10 Ways to Make a Quilt Back II

Actually an updated version of 10 Ways to Make a Quilt Back from 2017, this compilation of ways to create a quilt back really is a terrific resource, even for me! 

So that's what my readers thought was 'best' here on the blog. Though the blog may primarily be a place for me to share my own work, it obviously is also a place folks look to for inspiration and tutorials for their own creating. And I'm definitely good with that!

Linking up with Meadow Mist Designs' Best of 2019 Linky Party!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Other Small Makes

Looking back, I apparently started my pre-holiday sewing with a Pop Open Pouch, pattern by Aneela Hoey. I think I was really celebrating having finished my Modular quilt by trying a new pattern - something small and doable in a couple of hours. This pouch totally fit the bill, at 10" x 5"x 5", a great size and the pop-open design is really clever!

Fabric is all Carolyn Friedlander, which I love to pair for pouches.

And finished off with a leather pull and zipper tab, it became my new favorite and since I had the perfect use for it, I gifted it to myself. It's good to do that sometimes!

As always, I had ambitious plans for all the reusable fabric gift-bags I'd make. First were a handful using s.o.t.a.k handmade's drawstring bag tutorial, which I've made so many of, I have it memorized.

Then were a few using the Lined Drawstring Bag pattern + Expansion Pack from Jeni Baker. I especially love the new Mini Accent variation, like the two on either side of the basic bag below. Though they're all so great for gift-giving, and truth is I made a couple more that got used so quick I didn't get a photo.

Next up was a set of potholders that I hadn't planned until I saw Allison/@allisonehs post, inspired by a pattern in Modern Rainbow by Bryan House Quilts. They looked so perfect for what I needed, I stopped by my bookshelf for my copy of the book, then headed straight to my stash, where I happened across a "Strip-It Bundle" of Ombre Hand Dyes by Marcus Fabrics. It'd been there a while, obviously saved for this project. Made for someone who loves the ocean, the varying blues were just right. I loved them with that gray Essex, and quilted the potholders with straight lines.

I used the full width of the strips to piece backs for the potholders, and then found the ombre to be perfectly perfect for the binding.

On I went to make a sweet and small Wee Braw Bag, using Laura Cunningham's pattern, which I'd made a few times before, so I knew it would be enjoyable.

It's fun to pick out fabric for these, and I coordinated everything to go with that Rifle Paper Co. floral. Super sweet.

And finally, a Boxy Pouch, the original size in Pink Stitches' tutorial. Waxed Canvas is perfect for this pouch, in my humble opinion, and though I didn't get a photo, it's lined with a handsome print from Carolyn Friedlander's Instead. And again, a bit of leather lacing is the perfect finish.

So I think that catches you up on December's "special" sewing. Now I'll head to that WIP pile and see what else I need to finish up....

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Reading Pillows

I really didn't do much gift sewing this month, but I couldn't help but make a few things. More to come in a future post, but I think the Reading Pocket Book Pillows deserve a post of their own.

Both of my granddaughters, aged nine and 16 months, enjoy books. They (well, the older one anyway) also enjoys "sister" things. So a pair of coordinating Reading Pillows sounded like something they might have fun with - either together or individually. The pattern by Polka Dot Chair was my starting point, which incorporates a front pocket, appliqued letters, piping(!), and 18" pillow forms. In making these, I realized that I don't have a piping foot, so I used my zipper foot. Not ideal, but it definitely worked. I did change up the handles on mine - a feature I love by the way, especially for children - by making one with fabric matching the personalization, rather than using a ribbon as suggested. Other fabrics I used were Essex in gray and that cute cat print from Dear Stella.

Even though the photos above show plain pockets, I actually machine-appliqued the girls' names on the pillows, and surprised myself with how much I enjoyed that. See below an edited photo that shows another idea from Melissa, the word {READ}. Which is great, of course, but imagine them being personalized instead, and you'll have a good idea what mine looked like.

Books were tucked into the pockets before gifting them to my grandgirls, and from all indications after unwrapping all the gifts on Christmas, they will be well-used and enjoyed. I sure hope so.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Monday, December 23, 2019


First, Classic Blue was announced as Pantone's new color of the year. Then on Friday, Robert Kaufman revealed the new Kona color of the year as Enchanted.... "a spellbinding green." Oh yeah. I'm in my color happy place.

photo courtesy Robert Kaufman

So yeah, I'm really looking forward to dabbling with both colors of the year. Who knows what it'll be, but expect it! You up for the challenge?

Friday, December 20, 2019

2020 Planning Party

So even though I'm still finishing up some 2019 wips and doing a bit of holiday sewing, it's time for Yvonne/Quilting JETgirl's #2020PlanningParty, so I'm taking a moment to look ahead. Well, ahead and back just to review the plans I made this time last year.

The Quilts
The Community
  • I managed to blog two to three times a week most weeks, sometimes more, and kept up on Instagram too.
  • The 88th issue of The Scrap Basket just went live. Publication has slowed just a bit but it is still going strong and readership continues to grow.
Going to Nashville was a treat, that's for sure, and there was so much to love about this year's experience.

Trunk Shows
There were three, all went very well, though I get pretty nervous beforehand. Once I start, though, it's fun and feels good.

The Rest
The pattern I had on my mind dissipated, and the right time for hosting the next improv sewalong never came along. But thankfully, the spontaneous sewing was able to happen, so that was a good thing.

So on to 2020....

The Quilts
Knowing that making quilts is where I'll spend most of my sewing time, I do have several goals, most of which aren't much different from the past few years:
  • Finishing a couple of wips is first on the list, namely my Begonia quilt and this year's Summer Sampler.
  • Finish at least one quilt a month throughout the year.
  • Incorporate both the Pantone and Kona colors of the year in at least one quilt, as a way to experiment with color.
  • Stash-busting will be a priority, basically because it adds another element of challenge.
  • Make a couple of scrappy quilts.
  • Maybe make a Christmas quilt? Come December I always wish I had one for our bed, and I never do.
The Community
Again, mostly I want to do more of the same:
  • Blog 2-3 times/week, hopefully expanding from just sharing what I make, but I'm not quite sure what that will look like yet.
  • Have a goal of publishing The Scrap Basket every 3-4 weeks.
  • Figure out some Instagram features like linking to posts etc.
  • Definitely find time for another IG improv sewalong. They are so fun, and I've had so many questions about 'when can we do that again?' that I really want to make it happen.
New Directions
I love what I do, but have been feeling for a while that I need to tweak it a bit, though the vision for that is fuzzy at this point. A few ideas though:
  • Do a new kind of challenge: a friend who happens to be a computer artist and I have talked about doing a challenge together from a single prompt. I'm hoping that can happen.
  • Look into monetizing my blog in some way, basically to cover the rising cost of publishing the newsletter.
  • Do more "surprise" making and gifting.
So I feel like I could mull over this list and tweak it till the end of the year, but I think I'll let it be what it is and move on. Creating isn't a science, and it doesn't need to be. Above and beyond everything written here, I want time for spontaneous sewing - letting the joy in it take me wherever it wills. 

Linking up with Quilting JETgirl's #2020PlanningParty.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Modular Realized

It's taken a while to get this far, and now that I'm here, neither schedule nor weather has allowed for the truly modular photoshoot I had in mind. But that doesn't mean the finish isn't worth celebrating, so I'll call it a day and maybe another time I'll get that photo I'd hoped for.

So my Modular Bee Sewcial finished at 68" x 82". Two of the blocks I'd received plus my own were unique shapes, and the others were all more rectangular. So it ended up that I added to the three unique-shaped ones to square them up a bit. That wasn't my original intent, but it's what seemed to make sense once I'd come up with a layout. One end of Marci/@marci_girl's I did leave angled though, just because I liked the interest it added.

In trying to tie in the orange spots in each block, I used half-inch strips of two orange solids, drawing them all the way to the quilt's edge via matched binding once on each side. Another thing about the binding is that I made it to finish at 1/2" wide to add another connected element to the orange "sashing."

Quilted with a hand-drafted 3 1/2" x 4" tumbler design, execution went really well, though overall it's less dense than I usually quilt. I tried out several tumbler sizes and shapes, though, and the one I went with just seemed to fit the scale of the rest of the blocks. Not sure why the quilt looks wrinkled in these photos, because in person it looks really sharp. In fact I'm super pleased with it. Bee Sewcial quilts are always a special kind of challenge, and I'm glad to have conquered this one. Thanks to Karen/capitolaquilter, M-R/quiltmatters, Leanne/shecanquilt, Stephanie/spontaneousthreads, Ken/thekinglacker, Felicity/felicityquilts, Silvia/astrangerview, Marci/marci_girl for their inspired blocks - exactly the kind of improv with intent I was hoping for.

More about this quilt was shared during its making, so if you'd like to know more, see:

And of course #inspiredbybeesewcial is worth a periodic perusal. 

Lastly, this project was on my 2019 Finish-A-Long Q4 List!
Linking up with 2019 Finish-A-Long Q4 Link Up!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Juried In.... and Not

One short week from the deadline, I very nearly had decided not to enter any quilts into QuiltCon this year. I just was dreading the process and the whole comparison/competition thing. But I really did want to submit my Bee Sewcial quilt, an Homage to Gwen Marston, and at least give it a chance to be shown. So I bucked up and did the work, and while I was at it, entered a few others.

The news rolled out last night, and gotta say, I'm pretty pleased that Homage was accepted. The whole story of this quilt, including being able to share it with Gwen herself (and subsequently her daughter) has been so meaningful, that having the opportunity to share it publicly makes a perfect 'finale.'

That Home Away from Home was also accepted is icing on the cake. And the fact that I started it in class with Denyse Schmidt at QuiltCon this year, is oddly satisfying.

Of course there are a couple of quilts that won't be traveling - Timeless....

and Rework.... two quilts I really love and enjoyed making. So I'm feeling pretty fortunate, but even more, content with the work represented here, accepted or not. That feeling feels pretty good too.

Monday, December 9, 2019

SeaMQG Swap!

It's tradition, and I do my very best to make time to participate. Every year at our holiday party, the Seattle MQG has a handmade item swap - either a quilted item, or at least something a quilter would use. This year I made another On-the-Go Project bag from Svetlana Sotak's That Handmade Touch. I'm really enjoying mine - though I've been using it more for errands than an actual project. But still, I think it's a bag any crafty person could make good use of. 

Fabric on this one was Triangles in Red from Kobayashi. It's a Linen Cotton Canvas, which I paired with Essex Linen in Natural, and lined with Freckles in Twinkle Metallic from Cotton + Steel Basics. The leather handles I got from Anna/noodlehead.

Sooooo. What did I bring home? A darling little Boxy Clear Pouch made by @sadiesews. The pattern is by Aneela Hoey, made especially cute by the fabrics Katie chose. Super fun all around!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Classic Blue

I knew from years past that the announcement of Pantone's new color of the year was coming soon. So a couple of days ago I followed the #pantone hashtag, and tried to be patient. In case you don't know, the reveal is always drawn out - almost painfully so. And then suddenly, there it is, and no matter what the choice, there are folks that love it, and of course, those that don't. I've had my favorites over the years, and those I wasn't as fond of, but no matter, I've enjoyed the ritual of creating with it in the new year. Gotta say, though, Classic Blue is a clear winner. In general, I like blue, but I really like this blue.

Keeping with tradition, here's a run-through of my previous Pantone-inspired creations....

:: Living Coral 2019 :: "Timeless"

:: Ultra Violet 2018 :: "Grape Fizzy"

:: Greenery 2017 :: "Evergreenery"

:: Rose Quartz and Serenity 2016 :: "Pantone Meets Bias Tape"

:: Marsala 2015 :: "Sizzling"

:: Emerald 2013 :: "An Emerald Table"