Saturday, February 29, 2020

February Fabric Usage

Keeping track of the fabric that comes in and out of my studio has seriously been SO motivating! I've actually been surprised! January went well enough, with a net of -4.83 yards. But February has been substantially better, especially considering I used over 14 yards in making my Cross Country quilt alone. Consider that along with several smaller projects, and I made a major dent. Yay!

February Fabric Usage
Used up: 22.77 yards
Brought in: 3.5 yards
Net: -19.27 yards
Year to date: -24.1 yards

Mostly due to the Improv Triangle Sewalong, I found myself dipping into my scrap basket more than I had in a long while. That felt good too! So did taking the finished project to work and hanging it in my office for some fun color. Love the appeal of a freshly finished project.... it never gets old, does it?

Friday, February 28, 2020

More of Those Littles

A ruler sleeve wasn't necessarily something I knew I needed, but when I saw Krista/
@poppyprint share a tutorial recently, I quickly decided I did. Add in that I promptly added a 4" x 14 1/2" ruler to my birthday wishlist, and thanks to Rachel/@snippetsofsweetness, I now have one that I'm definitely enjoying using. SO many folks commented on Krista's post that this was their favorite size ruler, that I had to try it. Go figure.

Anyway, I was totally up for a little quilt-as-you-go. Use up batting scraps? Oh yeah. And curate a mini collection of my favorite Carolyn Friedlander prints? For sure. The sleeve was definitely a fun, quick sew.

Next up was a small Olivia Pouch for my nine-year-old grandgirl. She'd asked me to make her an "emergency kit" to keep in her desk at school - you know, to hold the essentials like ChapStick, a few Band-Aids, and a tiny flashlight. Purple was the clear color request, and this new-to-me pattern from s.o.t.a.k handmade, is one I'm glad to now have in my repertoire.

Grandgirl enthusiastically approved, and of course I was happy that she was happy. All good.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Canvas Corners

So let's take a step back to the recent reveal post for my Summer Sampler. This was a big quilt - 80" x 90" - with the longest dimension actually being the width. Ie. Longer and taller than hubby could reach to hold it for a photo. So we had to get creative if we wanted a decent photoshoot.

The idea for our solution came straight from Zak Foster. For my version, I cut two canvas rectangles 4" x 12", then folded and stitched them to keep their shape. We'd tried a simple variation of this method involving push-pins a few weeks ago, but that quilt wasn't this big, so we were hoping real canvas pockets would be up to the job.

Zak bastes his canvas corners on his quilts, but I tried to speed things up by pinning them on. Considering how big my quilt was, they were a tad flimsy, so I might just try basting next time after all.

But that said, they worked well enough!

Hubby did say that even so, the quilt was heavy and he had to brace the ends of the sticks against his body to stabilize things. So it's not a perfect method, but obviously it worked pretty much, and we at least got a few photos. Final note - hubby had bought dowels to stick into the canvas corners, but they weren't sturdy enough for a quilt this large. So those are painter extension poles he's using, and they proved good and strong.

Do tell, how would YOU get photos of a quilt this big?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020


Just as I'd expected, Nicholas/@quiltsfromtheattic's Improv Triangle Sewalong was exactly the respite I needed. I'm really happy I decided to work from scrap. Obviously this project didn't make a noticeable dent, but still. The palette felt pretty fluid as I was pulling from the scrap basket, but I was immediately drawn to the oranges, blue seemed like a logical companion, and the rest just fell into place.

At the start, Nicholas suggested starting with 50 or so triangles, and that's just about what I made. And at 26" square, this finished size is precisely what I was hoping for - something large enough to focus on the technique and yet small enough to finish fairly quickly.

Which is exactly what happened. Week 3 of the sewalong was supposed to be creating a quilt top from all of our triangles, but once that was done, I was having too much fun to stop. So I made a pieced backing with my few leftover triangles and larger scraps, and started right in on matchstick quilting, using a handful of colored threads.

A faced binding seemed the way to go, and I do love them on an improv quilt. Also love the floral I found to finish this fun little quilt. Fun times!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Summer Sampler Finish!

Well this one's been a process that's for sure! Begun last spring, it was a block a week for months, a break before the blocks came together into a top, and then several apprehensive weeks before I finally got to the finishing details.

There was a pieced back, which I'll share in a future post, and then the big dilemma of quilting design. At 80" x 92", it was large enough to make me nervous, so I finally settled on a simple freehand curve and then echo-quilted from there at 1" intervals. Using Aurifil 50wt #2600 (light gray) was perfect over all the pieced blocks and provided a pretty subtle contrast on the dark blue. Unfortunately the quilting lines don't show that great in my photos, but the golden curve shown below is a decent approximation of my first pass across the quilt, done freehand with my hera marker prior to quilting. 

To keep it as unnoticeable as possible, I bound the quilt in Kona Storm to match the background and let the circles be the focus.

So I can't tell you how fantastic it feels to have this third long-term project completed! Having finished two others since 2020 began, I'm finally feeling like I'm close to being free to do some random sewing. Yay!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Sewing up something small really is a breath of fresh air when you're surrounded by larger projects, and it's been a joy to make a few quick little makes over the last couple of weeks.

Another pop open pouch was fun - the third one I've made so far, including the one I made for myself and enjoy using as a makeup bag. The details on this little bag really shine, and I have no doubt I'll make even more.

I had high hopes for making more heart projects before Valentine's Day, but alas, I just managed one. It was a striped heart, The You & Me quilt block by Ellis & Higgs, which I started when my grandgirl was over. I had her choose all the fabric, which in itself was fun, and I was proud of her thoughtful choices. A few days layer, she was excited to see that I'd finished it, but that might have been where her excitement ended, but whatever, I had fun making it.

Finally, another Wee Braw Bag, pattern by Sweet Cinnamon Roses, this time for our teenage goddaughter. It was fun choosing fabrics for her, and I settled on a long-stashed piece of Far Far Away III by Heather Ross paired with some Alison Glass' Kaleidoscope in Pomegranate. I wasn't totally sure if the contrast was too much, but she seemed to like it, and I know my Instagram friends sure did.

I'm mulling over what's next. Considering I just finished a long-term project AND quilting a big quilt, I think I deserve a little diversion.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Teeny Tiny Trip

Just shy of two years ago this week, I took a Small Hand Piecing class from Chawne Kimber at QuiltCon in Pasadena. Made completely and utterly by hand, what began with 1 1/2" unfinished squares, is now a 38" square quilt.

Obviously, I took my time, and honestly my love for this project experienced a serious ebb and flow. Due to the nature of the hand-piecing, every single square required hand-drawn stitching lines, which I can't say I loved, but it worked well. Probably my absolute least favorite part of the process was the swirling and pressing on the back side. I would do that every round or maybe two. Any more than that and things got seriously depressing.

When I started, I had in mind this thing would be indefinite and huge! But when the time between rounds turned into months at a time, I decided that wasn't the best idea, and that finished was better than size. I made quick work of the quilt back, piecing some coordinating lengths from stash.

As far as quilting, doing it by hand was the obvious tack. And considering I had plenty of that in my quilting history, it actually felt very good to be doing it again. Can't say I ever got really proficient at it, but I was comfortable with doing it at least. That in itself felt pretty good, though it still took me a few months, even on this small size. For thread, I used what I had on hand - Aurifil 40wt #2024 [White] - and paired with some Sew Fine thread gloss, it worked wonderfully.

SO when I finally was ready to bind, I machine-pieced a length of binding strips without even thinking, just out of habit. Then it dawned on me that there wasn't a machine-stitch in this thing, and questioned why I should start as I was finishing it. The main reason was I had never done that before! Was it even a thing? I couldn't help mention my dilemma to Chawne, and she eventually confessed that yes, she does bindings completely by hand all the time. I considered for a bit, and came up with a few reasons why I decided to do the same, including removing the machine stitches I'd already put in the binding seams:
  • Even hubby(!) said, "Well, you've done the rest of it by hand."
  • The texture of the little quilt was amazing due to the handwork, and I didn't want to risk jeopardizing that.
  • After nearly two years of fits and starts, now I wasn't in a rush for it to be done!
Gotta say, it worked ok and I'm super happy that this one was created by hand, right down to the last stitch. Considering how much I tend to rush through projects, it's nice to know I can occasionally just slow down. The texture, you guys, is indeed a delight. Yeah, I wish it was at least a little larger but oh well. Thinking another hand project might be in order.

This project was on my 2020 Finish-A-Long Q1 List!
Linking up with TGIFF!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Improv Triangle Sewalong

So who's joining in with Nicholas/@quiltsfromtheattic's Improv Triangle Sewalong? The author of Inspiring Improv, I've long been a fan, and couldn't resist participating in the sewalong. Of course I already dabble plenty with improv, but not that much with triangles, and I adore the quilts Nicholas has created with them. Plus I really admire his skills with color, so obviouly, I'm IN.

As much as I love curating a palette from stash, I decided to use this opportunity as a scrap-buster. They are seriously overflowing over here, so I dove in to see what I could come up with, and I found something I liked. Yay.

Basically I pulled navy, aqua, orange, gold, and gray and variations thereof. I debated whether or not to use a consistent background and decided against it, cutting both triangles and backgrounds from all of the colors.

Even if you aren't participating, you really should check out Nicholas' Instagram stories accompanying the sewalong, just for future reference. Even though I've made improv triangles before, I hadn't necessarily followed the technique shown, so it was good to learn that.

Above is my first round at blocks. I plan to make at least double this amount. We'll see how many more I manage before Monday when the next step is announced. I wasn't really planning on a huge quilt, and I fear I may have over-cut during my prep time, but time will tell. So far, so good!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Cross Country Update

After sharing about the recent class I took with Anna Maria Horner, I thought it was only fair to share the finished quilt top before it goes into hiding for a bit. Long story short, I'm having it long-arm quilted, so it'll be sometime next month before it's back and I'm able to finish it.

But meanwhile, I'm super pleased with the finish! By the time I left Anna's class, 'we' had already settled on what fabrics I was going to use for the bars and setting triangles; it was just a matter of doing the sewing. But those center squares (each measuring 8" finished, just for reference) were undecided. And boy did I rearrange them lots, using pretty much every fabric I had as an option. I posted many on Instagram one night, and of course everyone had a favorite! Mulling over all the advice given there, my own likes and dislikes of course, and finally my daughter Rachel's thoughts when she was over for sew day, and I finally came to a decision that I liked well enough and still had a bit of the feel of the original Cross Country pattern. Whew! That was certainly a process!

Then of course it was time for a quilt back, and I had a good amount of fabric left from what I'd pulled for class. See all those squares? Most were what I mixed and matched as options for the center, and didn't make it. No reason not to include them in the backing, right?

So HUGE sigh of relief as I folded the top and backing up to take to the quilter this next week. Of course it's not done yet, but it feels pretty close now.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Improv Colorwash

The prompt Karen/@capitolaquilter chose for Bee Sewcial  this month is "Improv Colorwash". Karen will execute the colorwash once she receives all of our blocks, while our assignment now is to make a collection of 6" and 3.25" improvisational blocks, using three colors from her palette in each one.

Sorry about the bad-lighting photo... The darkest pieces used in my blocks are purple - what a fun mix with the lilac, royal blue, lime, red, and yellow. To say these blocks were fun to dive into is an understatement. Considering I've been sewing with patterns the last several weeks, it was a relief to be doing some improv. Ie. just what I needed! 

Do you have a favorite? I think mine is the one with the lime stripes on the left.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Home in the PNW

It's not my norm to repost here what I share in my newsletter, but considering Laura/Vacilando Quilt Co. and I didn't connect on my including her photos until after the newsletter went to press, I told her I'd share here, and I'm happy to do so.

Blackberry Quilt [photos courtesy of Vacilando Quilting; used by permission]

Because last weekend when Laura launched her PNW Collection, I watched her latest Instagram Story, and it really moved me. For one, living in the PNW [Pacific Northwest] as I do, I had been to many of the places she visited before, and knew their beauty for myself.

Two, it was ages ago that she was here, inspired by what she saw, and the new collection evolved from there. For her to bring that collection back to the PNW for a photoshoot, I thought, was extra special.

So check it all out - the story, the quilts and her words about them - and you'll get a feel for the part of the country I call home.

If you'd like to continue to explore her style, Laura also has a book, Simple Geometric Quilting.
Here's the latest issue of The Scrap Basket if you'd like to read more.