Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: Brae

Devon Iott of Miss Make designed the latest Summer Sampler block, and her "Brae" was a really fun (and quick!) sew. I felt like I made really good use of my tools and skills with this one, beginning by using my 28mm rotary cutter to cut my fabric pieces using the included template. With just four fairly good sized curved seams to deal with , I chose to use a small glue stick to 'baste' the curves before sewing them with a scant quarter-inch seam. All that brought them together in no time.

There was a very intriguing construction method, I thought, much like HSTs, but it required some precise trimming, and thankfully that went swimmingly. In no time at all, Brae was pieced, pressed, and added to the growing stack of blocks.

Week 1: Trellis     Week 2: Infinite Pinwheels
Week 3: Lakeside     Week 4: Tide Pool

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Red Striped One

By the time I was done with my original Dropcloth Sampler and my Kantha-stitched pillow, I was ready for more hand-stitching. Next up was the Red Stripe Sampler, another from Dropcloth. This one had alot of stitch patterns marked on it while still leaving plenty to one's own design. As with the original, I used #8 perle cotton, focusing on red, orange, and golds.

I mostly used stitches I already knew, but did try several new couching varieties, plus the new-to-me coral stitch. I ended with the edge-stitching I'd seen in the Stitch Club Journal about Kantha. It'll keep the edges nice and neat until I decide what to do with the finished sampler. It now measures 7 1/4" x 9 1/4", and I'm kinda sad it's done.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Split Segments

I've thoroughly enjoyed sewing through my scrap baskets the last several weeks, and that's exactly where this latest quilt started too. You may remember my Summer Sampler from last year.... well it had an awesome circle layout that just happened to result in a good-sized pile of dark blue off-cuts, and they were the beginning of Split Segments.

I began with pairing each blue piece with a lighter scrap, and tried a few different iterations of using those pairings before I came up with one I liked well enough to continue. Basically, in the end, each pair was cut in 'half' and then mixed up and pieced into four-patches. Even then, I wasn't sure, but what did I have to lose?

I kept going until the blue segments were gone, ending up with 25 blocks, which I squared to 5 1/2". I rummaged through those scraps again to see what I could use to tie them together, and settled on some oranges and red, which I used to 'frame' the center blocks before adding the final round.

It still felt like it needed a little something, and I decided rather than a border, a nice wide binding of gray Essex linen would be good. But unfortunately that wasn't to be, as after quilting, I inadvertently cut off the extra batting I'd carefully measured and preserved, and that, as they say, was that. Darn.

The backing was made with a mix of scraps and small stash pieces, plus one lone 'test block'.... a real modge podge. Quilting was a curved 1" grid done in a perfect light blue grey thread [Aurifil 50wt #2610], which somehow was a nice compromise between a dark blue thread to match the original segments, and a light gray that would have been nice with the lighter scraps. I actually originally planned to go back and quilt the grid more densely, but really, the 1" seemed to suit the design well without overpowering it.

And since my original plan with the chunky binding had been foiled, I put away that gray Essex and went back to my scrap basket to see what I could find for a binding. And what do you know but I found a long-enough length of leftover binding from another project in a pretty blue shot-cotton. Not a perfect match, but at this point it really didn't nor shouldn't have been. I sewed it right on and called it done.

The final quilt measures 25 1/2" square and I'll admit, though I was really tempted to toss those original blue "scraps" after finishing last year's sampler, I'm glad I saved them and challenged myself to use them. A tad disappointed about my blunder near the end, but the project was otherwise enjoyable and though I struggled for a while with where to go with it, I'm quite fond with the finish. All's good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: Tide Pool

This week's Summer Sampler block is Tide Pool by Lee Heinrich. At first I thought I'd piece it traditionally, since I'm not a huge paper-piecing fan. But I figured, why not for accuracy's sake, and it went together so smoothly. It was nice Lee gave the option to construct either way.

I also was second-guessing those two 'grid' fabrics next to each other. I'd already cut out the fabrics according to the pattern before I realized what the implications would be. When I did, I rearranged everything for a bit, but decided I could live with it, and now that the block's done, I'm actually ok with it.

So! Four blocks are done, and I'm really liking how they look together!

Week 1: Trellis Week 2: Infinite Pinwheels
Week 3: Lakeside

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Modern Japanese Rice Bag

One of the ways our guild has tried to stay connected during this stay-home time - in addition to our online meetings and sew-ins, and our group hashtag, #seattlemqgsewathome - is with a swap! The basic rules were to use supplies you had at home, and to make whatever YOU wanted to make. Then, of course, your swap gift would be sent off to your assigned (secret) recipient.

It took me SO long to decide what to make my secret swap partner, David Owen Hasting, our guild president. Talk about pressure! David is a very gifted contemporary print + textile artist, and I must say making something for him was a tad intimidating. And unfortunately, handmade guy gifts aren't my forte. But after a while it came to me that David's passion for all things Japanese might lend a cue and I settled on making him a Modern Japanese Rice Bag using the pattern by @kzstevens.

The bag could be made with one piece of fabric, but I of course, chose to piece the front with a variety of fabrics and substrates, and in looking through my stash for a suitable lining, I happened upon a lovely piece by Yoshiko Jinzenji, Rose Petals - neutrals on gray, and it immediately helped solidify my vision for the project.

Dare I say, this was really fun - first pulling together fabrics, and then adding two small patches and stitching with #8 perle cotton. I made the original version of the pattern, which basically is a 6" cube. That doesn't sound very big, but it's actually a really nice, practical size.

I used some cording that I had on hand for the handles. I love that the view from each side of the bag is a little different, showing off the various fabrics and stitching details.

So swaps can be a little stressful, with trying to make something your partner will really like, but I think I did ok this time - once I decided what to make! And I'm glad to have finally tried this pattern. I already have some ideas for another.

See #seattlemqgscrappygiftswap for more of the swap happenings!

Monday, June 22, 2020


Before I was even done with Scrap Stacks, I knew I would try to take the handful of leftover blocks and make another project with them. There weren't many, but enough for something small.

I started by framing them on two sides with gray string scraps, put them on the design wall, and wasn't all that thrilled. Then I changed course, divided the smalls blocks into groups, and pieced them into four blocks, shown below.

I proceded as I had done in the beginning, using the stacks technique, sliced into them, shuffled, and sewed them back together. NOW I liked it.

More scraps - and the last little block - went in to make the quilt back. Boy I love working on this small scale. So when it was time for quilting, a dense grid was no problem. I used Aurifil 50wt #2910 [Medium Olive] in an effort to highlight the green on the front of the quilt, and I kinda love it. Measuring just 14" x 15", deciding what I wanted to do took much longer than actually doing it.

I love that every bit of this little guy is straight from the scrap bin, a good portion of it via the previous project. I had Jill/@pieladyquilts on my mind often as I made this little postscript of a quilt. She has such an innate ability to make a series of projects, one leading to another. Maybe one of these days I'll manage to make a series of more than two, but for now, I'll take it.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Scrap Stacks

So if you look back at the last several quilts I've made, you'll find that their focus has either been repurposed fabric or scraps. And after piecing together my second carefully measured and constructed Plaid-ish quilt top (which just got sent off to be long-arm quilted), I was back in the mood for some more improv.

I flipped thru Nicholas' Inspiring Improv (again) and realized I hadn't ever tried the 'stacks' technique. Well maybe I had done something similar, but it had been a very long time. So I rummaged through that scrap basket again, just pulling some bits and pieces that felt like they'd be good together. I just started making blocks and putting them up on the design wall, building as I went. I started in the upper left corner, so you can kind of see how some colors (like the lilac) are concentrated there, then as I move out, other colors (and sizes) are added in and then left behind. There really was very little rearranging of blocks once I'd worked my way through the pile. Maybe there should have been, but that just wasn't what I was feeling.

Once the blocks were done, I actually pulled another small pile of strings and stuff that I thought I would incorporate as I puzzled the blocks together, but strangely enough, I never added a thing. I just pieced and trimmed in sections, again building as I went. And then it was time for a pieced quilt back.

For quilting I did a randomly spaced and non-straight grid with Aurifil 50wt #2600 [light gray]. I like how it really stands out on the darker fabrics, yet recedes nearly completely on the lighter ones. 

And oops! When it came time for trimming, I just couldn't square it up. Again. Binding was made out of those strings I mentioned earlier, so yes, I did use some of them after all.

And once the quilt was done, I threw it right in the wash. Not my norm necessarily, but this one just called out to be crinkled. Measuring about 44" x 49", it's a funky finish - soft and textured and teeming with a scrappy spontaneity that I love.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: Lakeside

Another week, another Summer Sampler block, and it's a great way to start the week. Can't say flying geese are my favorites nor most successful, but things went really well this time - yay.

The block design is by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew, and gotta say, I do like the finished design alot. I confess I traded the position of the two blacks and also the two oranges, as the one I ended up using for the center seemed more appropriate in that role. At first I wasn't too happy with those peachy triangles next to the more orange in the center. But it's growing on me, and I think as more blocks are made it'll all be OK.

Week 1: Trellis     Week 2: Infinite Pinwheels

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

At the Table

It's been about a month since I shared some of the new recipes I've been trying during isolation. I had a bit of a lull but am back at it, and have plenty more to share including some new favorites.

But first, one of my recent discoveries has been Colu Henry, who is a NYT Cooking contributor. I saw a photo of her creamy white beans with herb oil on Instagram, made it almost immediately, and soon after ordered her Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly. The two recipes I've tried so far are sausage risotto with balsamic-roasted shallots and Sicilian escarole & sausage (with orecchiette pasta and pine nuts!). Both were delish, and I've got about a dozen pages marked of other recipes I want to try - always a good sign. And seriously, anyone who includes a recipe for aperol spritz on her website and in her pasta book is my kind of cook.

So here's what else is worth sharing:

  • quick pasta and chickpeas - seriously, one of my favorite new recipes. I've made it twice, after ordering the circle pasta, anellini, which makes it look kind of like spaghettios, but it tastes much more sophisticated, especially since it is also finished off with herb oil. mmm mmm good.
  • quick zucchini saute - so simple, but with the addition of toasted almonds, is a unique change of pace. This, too, will stay on the regular rotation.

  • polenta-baked eggs with corn, tomato, and fontina - a perfect Sunday brunch recipe. Polenta-lovers that we are, I'll definitely make this one again.
  • grilled yogurt flatbread - Unlike the flatbread I tried a few weeks ago, this recipe contains yeast. Though I liked the first recipe, this one was even better, and honestly, hubby gets all the credit, as he actually made these.

Lastly I finally got around to trying the recipe that was all the rage at the beginning of the pandemic - dalgona coffee. I used the recipe from delish, and cheated by putting just a little vanilla coffee flavoring in my milk, but it was worth trying, for sure.

So thanks for bearing with me as I post these both to share and to remember. It's been good to add this kind of 'creativity' into our stay-home routine.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Stitch Club :: Kantha

A few weeks ago, I decided I really needed some handwork to work on in the evenings. My Teeny Tiny Trip had been a semi-long-term project (two years), and it was followed by a hand-stitched mini I started during our European vacation last year. Then I needed a new project, and I hunted down a Dropcloth Sampler I'd started many moons ago. I'd say I was about half done, and since then I've actually finished it!

I was already mulling over what to work on next when I saw Alison Glass post about her new Stitch Club. I went and read about it and joined right in.

"A Hand Stitching Club With a New Theme Each Month," Stitch Club sounded perfect.... some community via Instagram and a private Facebook group, which I really enjoy; and a chance to focus on a variety of types of hand-stitching. In fact when I received the first 'journal,' I was really impressed and excited to get started.

So jump forward a few weeks, and I just finished my first kantha-stitched project, a 12" x 24" pillow.

All the stitching lines were marked before I got started, with a hera-marker. Most of them stood the test of time as I did my stitching. Just the whitest of the fabrics needed a little extra marking midstream.

But otherwise, the stitching went very well, and I found it very relaxing. I used a mix of neutral fabrics found in my stash, and #8 perle cotton that I had on hand. I had in mind to made something that would coordinate with the quilt on our bed, and these quiet fabrics fit the bill.

Probably the most curious thing about this type of stitching for me was the leaving tails of thread to deal with at the end. Once done with my stitching, I went ahead and tied my threads off for added security.

For the back of my pillow, I once again used the lapped zipper tutorial by Pile O'Fabric. I would have loved an exposed metal zipper on this one, but I didn't have a workable size on hand, so opted for the lapped method with a standard polyester zip.

SO, I'm really happy with the finished pillow, but even happier with how much I enjoyed the kantha, or running-stitch, stitching. Totally hope to try it again.