Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Original

Something about these weeks on end evenings at home led to the rediscovery of my love of handwork. Over the years, though less so more recently, I did quite a variety of hand-stitching. It started with stamped cross-stitch when I was a young girl (thanks grandma!) and led on to embroidery, needlepoint, counted cross-stitch, and more.

So a few weeks ago I rummaged around to find a Dropcloth Sampler I had started ages ago. Come to find out, it was, ahem, FIVE years ago that I had set it aside. It was an "Original Sampler," which measured 10"x12". And I had made decent progress, but definitely had a ways to go.

Fast forward to last week when I finally finished the sampler after some diligent weeknights of stitching. I backed and framed it simply with a stash find, hemming it with a running stitch and a couple of small stitches in each corner. Now looking to see what I can hand-stitch up next!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Let It Be

After my last couple of quilt projects being created from repurposed fabric, I found myself in the mood for scraps. Usually that will mean heading straight to the scrap basket full of print scraps. But my solid scrap bin was also overwhelmingly full, and that's what called to me this time. Specifically, scrappy stripes.

I love stripes, and there's no shortage of stripes, especially improv stripes, amongst the many quilts I've made. For this project, I came up with a simple block design - basically a slab of coordinating stripes, finished with a strip along the left edge in one of the stripe colors. For a long while, I just worked at filling my design wall with them, a variety of all shapes and sizes, all mandated, of course, by the scraps themselves.

So eventually I had pretty much filled the wall with blocks, and used up the scraps that would work. I mentioned on Instagram that I had no idea what was next, and the overwhelming response was one of 'leave them just the way they are!' Well that wasn't totally a bad idea, but there were gaps here and there so I set to filling in the gaps with 'design wall gray' aka Kona Overcast. Kind of crazy, maybe, but I really liked it! [Below is the 'before filling the gaps' photo; the next is the completed top.]

The most unusual thing about this entire project is that once I got all the blocks together, the quilt 'top' was nowhere near square. And the notion that that was ok began to grow.

A backing was pieced from stash, with the majority share-holder being a long-hoarded (since 2012!) Jay McCarroll Center City print. Even now, I'm kinda sad it's 'gone' but then again, it suited the quilt so well.

For quilting, I did a horizontal-ish organic straight-line using a variegated Aurifil 50 wt #4653 [spring prairie]. It actually felt pretty perfect, obvious but subtle amidst the array of color.

Binding was a little wider than my normal 2" strips, as I had some jellyroll strips that suited the quilt perfectly. I used six shades of blue and green loosely coordinating with the blocks they touched. And happily the slightly wider binding felt like a serendipitous choice. And by the way, there were curves. Meaning I chose not to trim this quilt 'square' in the least, but followed the edges of the blocks on each side. Trimming off any more than necessary bits of the striped blocks seemed totally inappropriate and unnecessary this time around.

So finished, the quilt measures, starting with the top and moving clockwise: 70" x 55" x 67" x 50". I can honestly say that creating my wonkiest quilt ever was nowhere in my mind when I started out a few weeks ago. But does it make sense, or what? To me, in these times, it totally does.

A little postscript if you will... I did a little poll on Instagram. Just fun to see where other folks are at.

Interesting, no? I think so. And glad, this time at least, I just let it be.

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Not My Bee

When my friend Ellyn told me she was making a bunch of 5" gray improv blocks to mix with the blue and white minimalist blocks being made for her by #thesolidseven bee, I offered to make some for her. The prompt was “urban architecture," which really inspired me to pull out my gray solid scraps and play.

Fact is, I had very specific things in mind as I made each one:

  • top: a multi-level building with windows between two other less interesting buildings
  • middle left: a row of buildings with awnings
  • middle right: the decks of a multi-level building
  • lower left: quite possibly a mid-century modern multi-level building (confession: saw one on my most recent quilt back)
  • lower right: a downtown shop, emphasizing its door and awning

As much as I love color, I really also like working in neutrals, so I enjoyed making these little blocks very much. And having just finished a very maximalist stripey quilt top, working minimally was a treat.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: The Fabric Pull

Surprise, surprise. I'm back for another Summer Sampler, hosted once again by Katie, Faith, and Lee. The theme this year is "Summer of Easy Piecing." Sounds good to me! And honestly, I don't even do sashing, but I love the sashing on this sampler, enough that I want to sew along.

AND I have my fabric all sorted out! You know I'm trying to use stash as much as possible, so it was perfect when I remembered I had a half-yard bundle of some Carolyn Friedlander Collection CF prints my daughter gave me for my birthday. (Thanks Rachel!) I added a few other prints from Carolyn's various lines (Architextures!, Euclid, Gleaned, Polk, Harriot), and just had to order a couple solids and Essex blends to round things out. I do love a mix of solids, prints, and substrates.

So I'm ready to go. Anyone else joining in? There's still time!

Monday, May 11, 2020

At the Table

If there's been a real positive to staying home for the past two months, it's that I've gotten back into the kitchen. I mean I never really left. I never stopped being the one to manage dinnertime, but things had gotten a little too simplistic. Somewhere along the line during this stay-home time, I rediscovered how much fun it was to try new recipes. And this is as much for me as for you, I confess, but I've rounded up the printed copies and post-it tabbed cookbook pages to list the recipes I've tried for the first time. Of course I've omitted the ones I tried and wouldn't recommend. All of the recipes below, I'd definitely make again, and those Chocolate Chip Cookies? I've already made them three times! Oops.

The Pioneer Woman
basically/bon appetit

Barefoot Contessa
  • Overnight Mac & Cheese - delish! So easy to make ahead & then pop in the oven the next night. I've had requests to make it again.

Studio DIY

Fine Cooking
Damn Delicious
Smitten Kitchen
  • Parsley Leaf Potatoes - these fall into the fun to make category, especially since we had plenty of flat-leaf parsley in the herb garden.
  • Crispy Crumbled Potatoes - Not my norm to fry things like this, but they were delish & oh-so-worth-it.
  • Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs - a spin on an old family favorite, gotta say these were even better, with that brown butter and all.
  • Tomato and Sausage Risotto - SO good and I'm making it again this week.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
  • Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema - just tried this yesterday and we really enjoyed it. I cut the recipe down since there's just two of us.
  • Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby - fall-ish, yes, but it was quick, easy, and tasty.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day
  • Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar - a favorite combo in a new way.
  • Chicken and Rice, Street Cart Style [with Layered Yogurt Flatbreads from Smitten Kitchen] - ok, this was a bit of work but totally worth it. Note Smitten Kitchen has two Yogurt Flatbread recipes. I tried the one from her site without yeast. We liked it alot but I'll try the one from her book too just to compare. Marinate the chicken the day before and that will help with timing the day of.
  • Tomato and Gigante Bean Bake/Pizza Beans - I never would have tried this one without all the rave reviews, but we really enjoyed it. I subbed canned, drained white beans, as the ones the recipe calls for are out of stock everywhere I tried.

So, that's alot of what I've been cooking up! DO tell.... what's the best new recipe you've tried? Has staying home gotten you back to cooking too, or no? Is there a Smitten Kitchen recipe you think I should try? What's been going on in your kitchen?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Digging Deep

Not really sure why, but after my last two repurposed clothing quilts, I was really in the mood for a scrap quilt. And since I have an idea in mind for a quilt with my print scraps (here's looking at you, Erica/Kitchen Table Quilting's #plaidishquilt2), I thought why not just see what I could do with my solid scraps. And to be honest, though I use my solid scraps plenty, I'm not sure I've actually tried making an entire quilt from them.

SOoooo, I came up with a block idea that used the improv stripes I love so much. Basically, for each block I choose one stripe color that remains (pretty) consistent (in the case above, the gold); and another stripe color that is contrasting BUT might be in various shades of one color and/or a mix of colors (the green and blue), or at least is a combination of colors that I like together. Once I sew a bunch of stripes together, I add a strip along the left edge, and trim all sides, though this is random, and some edges I have left curvy. My 'rules' aren't hard and fast, and obviously, my blocks are turning out a variety of sizes, all depending on the scraps I pull for that particular block.

For now, I'm just filling up my design wall, having no idea at all how I'm going to pull everything together. Time will tell. But for now, I'm just enjoying this process, and when I don't anymore, I'll stop. Simple goals for complex times, right?

Monday, May 4, 2020


I warned you when I finished Skirted a few weeks ago that I had another piece of clothing in my stash to repurpose, and I figured no time like the present. So next up was a pair of light green fine-wale corduroy pants. I didn't realize till I'd cut them out of their waistband, zipper, and hems how hard it would be to match the color to absolutely anything in my stash!

It was seriously difficult and I about gave up after going through all of my quilting cottons. Then, down on the bottom shelf where I stash my cross-weaves, I found a decent length of a multi-color stripe that was, just maybe, a possibility. It was Exotic Stripe Parma by Kaffe Fassett, and while not actually a match, it looked good with the green. I dug some more and found more cross-weaves to add to the mix. The largest piece was another Kaffe in terracotta, which I think I actually purchased to go with the stripe.

The quilt's design was inspired by a Josef Albers work, and I built it from the bottom up on my design wall. Many of the components were strongly dictated by the amount of fabric in my pull, which of course, was part of the fun.

The backing was pieced using the few remaining bits paired with two Denyse Schmidt prints that mixed in surprisingly well. For quilting, I totally wanted to replicate the "cross-weave" effect by quilting a grid, but unfortunately my two chosen threads, Aurifil 50wt #2155 [Cinnamon] and #2350 [Copper], though perfect for the quilt, were too similar, and the effect I was after doesn't really show up too well, but of course I know it's there.

I'd saved some of the terracotta for the binding, and I gotta say, I think it's perfect. The finish is a bit of an unusual shape for my quilts, but it just seemed to want to be that way. At 30" x 52", it was quite manageable size-wise, which just added to the fun. And one of my favorite parts? How those vertical stripes don't match. Don't know what it is, but I love that.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Improv Double Wedding Rings

It's hard to believe this is the sixth opportunity I've had to select a prompt for Bee Sewcial. Coming up with a prompt has never been easy for me, and sometimes I think I've chosen to be much more literal than some of my bee mates. But the improv with intent definitely found its way in with my previous Bee Sewcial quilts - Mod Mood, Baconrific, Looking Up, Homage, and last year's Modular.

For May, I'm asking my mates to create improvisational double wedding ring blocks with black and white and blue(s) - think sky blue - in each block. A single block may contain one or more "sky" blues, but definitely both black and white in some quantity as well.

A typical wedding ring block contains a center "melon," rings or "arcs", cornerstones, and background. I'm giving them the freedom to blur or ignore the lines between any of these components, as long as the general feel of the block evokes the shape of one double wedding ring block, and its end points point approximately in opposite corners of the block. Also, any piecing within the components of the block is welcome. I'm asking for two 12 1/2" square blocks, each containing one "wedding ring" block segment. Here is my first try at a block.

I've created a pin board with some inspiration photos, but totally encourage my mates to give their blocks their own characteristic spin on things. I can't wait to see!

Bee Sewcialites, you'll find details posted in our Flickr group. Please check in there so I know you've seen this month's prompt. #inspiredbybeesewcial