Thursday, April 30, 2020

April Fabric Usage

So April continued to feel fairly strong in the "sew my stash" game, especially considering I promptly set in to use much of what I brought in last month. So that was good of course, but I was super happy to make another quilt entirely of stash minus one repurposed garment. And then there were three pieced quilt backs. That always helps. So here are my stats:

April Fabric Usage
Used up: 19.68 yards
Brought in: 9.75 yards
Net: -9.93 yards
Year to date: -42.7 yards

Truth is, I really needed some fabric therapy recently and purchased this stack, with some future projects in mind. So that's all good but it didn't help my numbers, now did it? Still, it wasn't my best month, but it wasn't my worst AND I've still used over 40 yards of stash fabric so far this year, which feels reallly good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Modern Boro Zipper Pouch + Tiny Flower Pot Cozy

My progress on larger quilted projects has been going pretty well this month, but you know me. I'm still sneaking in a small finish now and then. It's just fun for me, and I can't see that changing.

So in the past couple of weeks I've tried two new patterns. The first was the Modern Boro Zipper Pouch, a free pattern by Karen/kzstevens. It's small - 6" x 4" - but what drew me to it was the little bits of boro stitching, which is actually part of the pattern. Being new to boro, this was the perfect test-case for me.

Plus, I could make it out of scraps, which was obviously both fun and productive, and there was sweet detailing on both front and back.

I liked it so well, I immediately made another.

I could have gone on and on, really. But instead, got back to the main project at hand.

But several days later, I needed another breather, and when I saw Svetlana/SOTAK Handmade post a video tutorial for her little Pot Cozy on Instagram, I had to try that too. Again, scraps, and I swear no longer than 30 minutes and I had this little basket put to work beside my sewing machine.

So those were fun, but I'm back to work now quilting my latest quilt, and of course, mulling over what little make I can slip in next.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Sometimes It Takes A While

This poor little project got neglected more times than I can count, but finally, irrevocably, I'm calling it done. Just 9" x 12", it was begun in September of last year, on a touring bus, somewhere between Paris and Beaune, France. It had seemed such a good idea to take a little handwork on our trip to Europe, and it was. It's just that the project rarely called to me, and in fact, a sense of obligation and a few fond memories are what finally convinced me to finish it at all.

The fabric came from my scrap basket, and also from little sample packs from Brooklyn Haberdashery that I'd picked up at my last two QuiltCons. And I really did like all of it. Every little block was hand-pieced, and by the time I got home, I had a nice handful.

Then it was time to puzzle them together, and that was tricky. Considering they were all hand-pieced, I couldn't just trim anywhere without risking releasing a seamline. But eventually they were all pieced into a rectangle and it was time to quilt.

I stitched-in-the-ditch along some of the major seamlines, and then started in on some boro-style stitching. This is definitely an area where I'm no expert, but my goal was to try and try I did. For the first time, I used Aurifloss, #2311 [Muslin], so that was cool, though for this kind of stitching, I think I'd use two strands next time, rather than three. But it all worked well enough.

The binding was cut skinnier than usual (1 1/2" to finish at 1/4"), and I did machine-stitch it around the quilt before finishing by hand. And with that this little piece is done. Not my favorite, but that's totally ok. There's some travel stitched in, some exploring, and a fondness for those bits of fabric and those wary stitches. I think all that's enough.

Friday, April 24, 2020


A week or so ago, I was kinda moping around trying to decide what to make next, and happened upon a too-small skirt that, a while back, I'd transferred from my closet to my stash. I loved that skirt. So much that I'd kept it around way longer that practical to serve its original purpose. But considering it was made from a nice neutral linen-cotton blend with subtlety contrasting top-stitching, I'd deemed it worthy of cutting up and incorporating into a quilt project. Without a clear plan for what was next, I cut my new 'fabric' free from its zipper, waistband, and hem, and set to finding some stash and scraps to mix with it.

As far as design inspiration, I thumbed through a few of my improv books, and in Gwen Marston's Minimal Quiltmaking, I found something I felt inclined to explore. The chapter was entitled "Hard-Edge Quilts," and in it, Gwen mentioned that the term "was coined in 1959 to describe the work of California painters who were painting 'non-representative work with clear and sharp delineated areas of color.'"

I ended up taking my project in two directions somewhat different than what Gwen described. One, my main 'fabric' was neutral, and I kept all my other fabrics the same, the notable exception, if you call it that, was an Essex Yarn Dyed in Leather - a light gold that matched one of the top-stitched threads in the skirt fabric. So color was definitely not a focus, rather the lack of it. Two, Gwen's examples were mostly on quite a large scale, where I got bogged down in smaller segments, though throughout the progression of my quilt, I worked to change that.

So in addition to the skirt, and that Leather Essex, I also used the skirt lining, which was a cotton poly blend, definitely not something I normally use in my quilts, but it was fabric, and it contrasted nicely to the skirt fabric. Also in the mix was a good bit of Essex Homespun in Natural, a fat-quarter of Carolyn Friedlander's Gleaned in White, and a scrap of Essex in Natural. All told, I added approximately three-quarters of a yard of stash and scrap fabric to the 1 1/2 yard of skirt/lining fabric to make the quilt top/

For quilting, I did emulate the mood of Gwen's quilts in the book, and used several different designs as I moved around the quilt. Guidelines were marked as needed with my trust hera marker, which means I marked stitching lines 2-3" apart then eyeballed the stitching lines in between.

I used mostly Aurifil 50wt #2309 [Silver White], though on the Leather Essex - and beyond just a bit - I used #2314 [Beige, but really a nice light gold]. The backing was pieced from stash, and I bound it in an unknown neutral, though I was just about 12" short after cutting up a fat-quarter.

Luckily a short length of another slightly lighter neutral was in my scrap basket nearby, so that was handy. For that short bit, I went ahead and top-stitched the binding as I was sewing it on - quirky maybe and not that visible in the finish - but it was fun and why not?

The quilt finished at 44" x 50", and it really fit the bill for what I needed this last week. Plus it was a nice change of pace to use a repurposed piece of clothing as my starting off point. There are two additional clothing items I moved from closet to stash along with this one, so don't be surprised to see another similarly inspired project soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A MQG Modern Classic

If you are an MQG member, you might have read about the MQG Modern Classics, where they are re-releasing some of the previous Quilt of the Month patterns in a fresh new palette. Here's the challenge to us as members:

"Choose any MQG pattern in the Resources section and make it using our 2020 color palette. Follow along with the fun using the hashtag #mqgmodernclassic and enter your quilt to be a part of a special MQG Modern Classics exhibit at QuiltCon 2021. 
To be eligible for the exhibit, a quilt must be made from an MQG Quilt of the Month released prior to 2020 and in the 2020 color palette."
Well! I glanced through the patterns, and quickly found one I wanted to make. It's "Note to Self" by my Bee Sewcial mate Karen Foster/@capitolaquilter. Choosing fabric from the palette took a while, but I finely chose Moda Bella Solids in Violet, Petunia, and Mustard.

So the quilt is not done yet, but the top is, and it was really fun (and quick!) to sew together. Just thought I'd post a little progress post now in case you want to consider joining the challenge too!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Tuscan Pom

You just might wonder what possessed me to create an improvisational pomegranate. Hard to say, really, but there are a few clues. After participating in Nicholas/@quiltsfromtheattic's improv triangle sewalong, I went on to explore more in Nicholas' Inspiring Improv, specifically improv rings and even kintsugi. All the while, I had my eye on the Warholian Cabbage.

Truth was, though, I really didn't want to make a cabbage. But scrolling through some photos from our trip to Europe last year, I suddenly knew exactly what I would like to make.

For one, this photo evokes very fond memories, the very least of which was seeing my first pomegranate tree ever, in Tuscany no less. Plus, the pom has a mostly roundish shape akin to the cabbage, so hopefully some of the technique would translate easily. And for some reason, its reddish purple color really called to me. That was enough.

So I started pulling some stash fabrics, plus ordered a few to round things out. Here's what I ended up with, top to bottom:

Basically, Nicholas used the slab technique in building his cabbage, though I saw them mostly as stripes, so that's the direction I went. I made three large striped slabs, then started cutting into them as I 'built' my pomegranate on the design wall.

Though first, I cut random strips of the white print to serve as the pom's 'mesocarp,' the spongy wall where the seeds attach. So obviously, my stripes don't really replicate 'seeds', but that's what I felt like making, that's what called to me in Nicholas' cabbage, and I love the result. Improv is improv after all, right?

It took quite a bit of puzzling to bring the pom segments to represent a whole. Making two halves, so to speak, definitely made it easier. That was Nicholas' suggestion, and a good one to remember going forward.

Once the pomegranate was a relative circle, the rings technique came into play to create the rind. That became a little tricky considering the calyx - that upside-down crown shape at the bottom of my pom. Let's just say a couple of serious y-seams were involved. As well as a seam-ripper a time or three, but all ended well.

Quilting was very fun, partly due to the use of numerous threads (thanks Yvonne for the nudge!). They included:
  • Aurifil 50wt #2021[Natural White] for the mesocarp, and #1103[Burgundy], #2250[Red], #2535[Magenta], and #4030[Plum] for the stripey 'seeds'
  • Aurifil 28wt #1240[Very Dark Eggplant] for the background

The designs were improv angles for the stripes, changing direction and thread color in every section. I really like how changing the thread colors so often helped bring out that reddish purple pomegranate color I was first drawn to. Then for the rest, I used echoing lines in more coordinating colors. 

For the background, I used the thicker 28wt thread, and at first I wasn't sure about that, but in the end, I think it all frames the pom quite nicely. It definitely made for some nice texture with that Kaleidoscope.

By that time, I was running seriously low on my fabrics. I didn't really want to do a regular binding with the Kaleidoscope anyway, just due to thickness, so I followed Cotton & Bourbon's single-fold faced binding technique, and that worked perfectly. The finished piece is 36" x 38."

Well this was definitely one of those projects that was purely for me. It came at a time when I needed to play, and the fabrics in themselves gave me alot of joy. The finish is quirky (unique, distinctive, unconventional??), I know, but it really made me happy to make it. And it let me escape, just the tiniest bit, to a time that was much more carefree. I think that's justification enough, don't you?

Linking up with Meadow Mist Designs' Favorite Finish Monthly Linky!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

2020 Finish-A-Long :: Q1 Finishes

Can't deny I'm feeling pretty darn good about how my Finish-A-Long quarter went. All three of the projects on my list were long-term, so on one hand it was kind of weird finishing them all up in a relatively short time frame. But all's good!

First up was Begonia, a block-of-the-month from Seattle MQG.

There were months and months of HSTs while the design revealed itself. The pattern is by Stefanie Satterwhite, and was alot of fun to do as a group.

Next was my Summer Sampler 2019.

Gotta say, finishing this one was challenging. At 80" x 92", it helped that I chose a relatively simple quilting design of echoing curves, and finished it in good time. Not sure the last stitch was in before hubby claimed it for himself. So that was nice.

And finally.... two years in the making, my Teeny Tiny Trip Around the World.

Absolutely and completely hand-stitched, it was alternately a joy and a burden, but in the end, I am so pleased and proud of it.

So I felt real relief once those three were done. All quite different, but each a satisfying finish in its own way. Now enjoying seeing what else the year has to offer!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Round Pincushion + Pop Open Pouches (Again)

In addition to playing with scraps and stripes lately, I've tried another new pattern and made a few gifts. The pattern was Happy Sew Lucky's new Round Pincushion, which offers several sizes and designs of cute little puck-shaped pincushions. The one I made has a Plus on top and measures 4" across by 2 1/2" tall. Can't say I really needed a new pincushion, but I love the shape, so had to try one.

Then, after my planned quilting retreat in California got canceled due to you know what, I decided to go ahead and finish the Pop Open Pouches I had cut out to make for my retreat buddies. I've enjoyed making this pattern by Aneela Hoey several times already, so I was more than happy to revisit it.

I made three, each (hopefully) suited to the recipient. I love using a cotton/linen blend for the exterior of this particular pattern, and considering they contain a layer of fusible fleece, the combo makes for a soft but sturdy pouch.

Dare say, I think picking out linings are half the fun.

Each was finished with a leather zipper tab, which I enjoy so much. I think it's a nice touch and seem to have much more consistent results than with fabric.

And of course, leather zipper pulls were also in order. They seem to be my go-to now.

Soooo, those got mailed off to my retreat friends, just a small reminder of how much I missed being able to be with them.

Thursday, April 2, 2020


It's been well over a year since my then Seattle MQG Giving Quilt Co-chair Louise/
@imfeelincrafty and I brought our three-year stint to a close. Our final quilt was The Last Hurrah, which was destined for QuiltCon 2019. It contained 185 string-pieced diamonds, and of course in cutting those, scraps happened, small odd-shaped striped bits.

The bits that I trimmed myself were stuffed in a plastic bag and put away for another day. That day happened last week, when I just started sewing a bunch of them together, arranging them in an improvisational diamond pattern.

For quilting, I focused on one of the diamonds, and using Aurifil 50wt #2021 (natural white), spiral-quilted around it all the way out to the edges. Then I went back and filled in said diamond with horizontal lines.

The little quilt finished at 20 1/2" x 22 1/2", and with a two-tone binding, is just a little reminder of a very good time