Friday, July 31, 2020

Geo Baby

Recently the occasion arrived where I needed to make a baby quilt, and the one I'd made my youngest grandgirl came to mind to replicate. Actually, it was originally inspired by a darling patchwork quilt by @tincatsew. Taking color cues from the new baby boy's gift registry, I pulled solids from my stash. I do know that the orange is Kona Tiger Lily, and the blue is Kona blueprint. Piecing this simple design combining basic quilt blocks with blocks of color was most enjoyable. And yes, the stripes were all pieced as well.

The backing fabrics were actually purchased on a long-ago quilting retreat in California - Big Sky by Annie Brady for Moda. I had originally planed for the animal print to be the focus fabric for the front of a baby quilt, but I'm glad I waited, as it was a perfect backing for this one.

Of course, this quilt called for a special label, hand-embroidered and incorporating a lone left-over block. The quilt finished at 37" x 40" and was just delivered to its young recipient. I trust it gives the little guy some joy and comfort as he grows up with it. That's my hope.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: Midsummer

This week's Summer Sampler block was designed by Megan/Canoe Ridge Creations and isn't the name, Midsummer, just perfect? Here in the Pacific Northwest, we're having some lovely summer days, and just drinking them in.

Unfortunately, I, um, didn't completely follow directions, so at first I considered my pinwheels as going backwards. But then Katy pointed out it all depends on the way the wind is blowing. That made me feel so much better. So my block isn't exactly like the designer's but still nice of course.

AND I've come to a realization.... After a long-time issue with sewing accurate flying geese, I've had much better luck when I pressed their seams open. Considering I've been a 'to-the-dark-side' presser for decades, here's one situation where I've definitely changed my ways.

Meanwhile, we're just past halfway through the sewalong, and I'm pretty darn happy where I'm headed.

Week 1: Trellis     Week 2: Infinite Pinwheel
Week 3: Lakeside     Week 4: Tide Pool
Week 5: Brae     Week 6: Convergence
Week 7: Diverge   Week 8: Direction

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

At the Table

It really surprised me, when I actually created a database of all the new recipes I've tried during quarantine, that they totaled over 50! I posted about my favorites in both May and June, so I figured why not just keep at it? There are also a couple of recipes that came out of my archives to make again, and they are so good that I figured I might as well share them here too.
  • Tomato Tart - from my mom's recipe file!
Pastry for single crust pie
3 large tomatoes -- cut into ½" slices
Salt to taste
2 Tb. Dijon mustard
3 Tb. chopped fresh mint
4 oz. Gruyere cheese - cut into 8 thin slices
2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Line pastry in 10" pie or tart pan (I like an oblong tart pan with a removable bottom). Set in freezer 30 minutes.

Seed tomato slices; sprinkle with salt & place in colander to drain. After 30 minutes, remove tomatoes from colander & pat dry.

Preheat oven to 350°.With rubber spatula, spread mustard over bottom of tart shell & sprinkle with chopped mint. Top with cheese, then tomatoes. In bowl, beat together eggs & cream; season with salt & pepper & pour over the tomatoes. Bake till pale gold & custard is set, about 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes, then slice & serve. Though I like the Gruyere/mint version the best, you could also try substituting mozzarella & fresh basil.

So here are the best of the 'new' recipes I've been trying:

Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly
  • Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Sage - especially nice if you have sage in your herb garden.
  • Creamy Zucchini and Sausage - simple and easy with flavors we love.
Repertoire: All the Recipes You Need
  • The Greenest Green Salad - a new favorite; I just love the flavors & mix of ingredients.
  • Green Goddess Dressing - have made this several times - for the Greenest salad, plus I really like it on hard-cooked eggs.
  • Roasted Carrots with Burrata and Salsa Rustica - basically the reason I purchased this book - the salsa rustica is so bright & flavorful!

  • Candy Pork - I made a mess of the kitchen with this one, so do use a pan with high sides; but oh so delicious, even left-over.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day
  • Broccoli Melts - far exceeded my expectations!

Half Baked Harvest

Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics
  • Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts - actually I had made these before! Good as an appetizer or main dish.

  • Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli - took regular ole broccoli up a notch.
Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes
  • Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions and Parsley - another version of smashed potatoes; I love fried onions so really really enjoyed this one.
Oh! And kudos to hubby for making King Arthur Baking Company's Beautiful Burger Buns. Twice. So yeah, we've been eating well.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: Direction

Above all, I love the fabric placement on this one, the latest Summer Sampler block. AND I got to use a 'new' fabric in this block, Essex Yarn Dyed Homespun Silver - the background of the center star.

The Direction block was designed by Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, and the trickiest part was matching up the corner segments to the sides. Got to use the ole seam ripper a time or three and then finally called it done. On we go....

Week 1: Trellis     Week 2: Infinite Pinwheel
Week 3: Lakeside     Week 4: Tide Pool
Week 5: Brae     Week 6: Convergence
Week 7: Diverge

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Cutting Corners

After following patterns for the last couple of quilt finishes, I was ready for more improv and went back to diving for scraps. I found a good-sized piece of Kona [Celestial??] and the rest of my pull was influenced by that. As I sometimes do, I flipped through several of my improv books to be inspired, and what caught my eye was a quilt made by Cindy Bowker in Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking using the 'stitch and flip' technique. 

Once I had a technique in mind, I just started making blocks and putting them up on the design wall. In addition to the 'teal', I also had pulled all the gray Essex blends and two dusty blues (can you find them?) from the scrap basket, and cut them into rectangle shapes if they weren't already. Though I had a pretty controlled palette of 'corners' pulled, I kept needing more, so the palette expanded pretty quickly. Different from the inspiration quilt, my rectangles and corners both were a wide variety of shaped and sizes.

For a backing, I pieced a couple of old stashed favorites with some coordinating dots. I'll admit I love those Michael Miller Maggie Maye Circles, and am a little sad to see them used up. Then again, I REALLY like them with this little quilt's front, so there's that.

I went hunting for quilting thread, and the best choice, which in fact was a very good choice, was a variegated King Tut 40wt. #964 [Asher Blue] from Superior Threads. For quilting design, I settled on Fancy Straight Line from Jacquie Gering's Walk book. I think it really fit this particular improv quilt 'design,' plus was alot of fun to execute.

Even the binding (pre-cut and folded!) came out of the scrap bin, though I can't remember which project it was left from. It was a shot cotton, so when I discovered I was short just a bit, I was happy to find a small piece of a similar, but pleasantly different shade, of shot cotton in my stash.

The quilt finished at 31" square, another one of relatively unuseful size. But I let the scraps speak, and for the time being, I'm happy enough to let that happen.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Kaleidoscope Pin Cushion + Fat Quarter Bag + WIP Pouch + Pleated Pouch

In addition to all the quilts, I've continued the occasional making of small things. They are good refreshment after a larger quilt finish; plus they often make great gifts.

The latest has been the Kaleidoscope Pin Cushion, designed by Jeni Baker for C&T Publishing. Happily, I had the perfect scraps for this little guy, and it went to a very new sewist, which proved exciting for us both. Small pleasures, right?

A while back, I tried the Laundry Bag pattern by Polka Dot Chair. What drew me to it was that it used five fat quarters! I actually used it as a gift bag, and I think combining several stashed Cotton + Steel prints was perfect for this bag. I'd love to make some to have on hand for gift-giving.

Then I made myself another WIP Pouch from S.O.T.A.K Handmade's That Handmade Touch. For the current Summer Sampler, we needed to cut border strips at the beginning of the sewalong and save them for final construction. So mine are safely stored where I won't lose them or forget what they are! I found a fun piece of Art Gallery Oval Elements for the focus fabric. Love using those old favorites!

And then, I made a Pleated Pouch, also from Svetlana's That Handmade Touch. I've made several of these, and they are really enjoyable with a unique construction method. Do note though, that there's a slight misprint in the book: the dimensions of the lining should be 12" x 9". Make that adjustment and everything will go together smoothly!

So there are a couple of new patterns for small makes that I'm looking forward to trying. I'm sure you'll see them here before long!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: Diverge

Flying geese and I aren't the best of friends, but I was very very careful, and thankfully this week's Summer Sampler block came out great. Designed by my friend Nicole Neblett of mama love quilts, Diverge makes an impact, while being composed of the most basic block designs. I love that.

I came very close to changing out that center square for something more 'exciting,' but I decided to just stick with the directions and I do think the placement of fabrics in this one is interesting - in a good way, of course. Not matchy matchy at all, and it reaffirms (to me at least) throwing in a solid here and there into a pile of prints (and vice versa). It's a good thing.

Week 1: Trellis     Week 2: Infinite Pinwheel
Week 3: Lakeside     Week 4: Tide Pool
Week 5: Brae     Week 6: Convergence

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

2020 Mid-Year Check-In

Not sure at what point I totally forgot I had joined in Yvonne/@quiltingjetgirl's planning party last December and actually made some goals for 2020. I'd guess around mid-March when Covid became the primary thought on everyone's mind. But good thing Yvonne posted a reminder, as it gave me a chance to look back and see what my hopes were back then. And they must have been rooted deep, as I actually haven't been doing too bad!

The Quilts

  • Finishing a couple of wips is first on the list, namely my Begonia quilt and this year's Summer Sampler. - Done! Both were long-term projects, and they were definitely my focus as 2020 began.
  • Finish at least one quilt a month throughout the year. - I'm sure being home so much hasn't hurt, but so far so good!
  • Incorporate both the Pantone and Kona colors of the year in at least one quilt, as a way to experiment with color. - Not yet! Is the Pantone Quilt Challenge even happening this year? Yes or no, I've got fabric for both colors of the year stashed for when the time is right.
  • Stash-busting will be a priority, basically because it adds another element of challenge. - It's going well! As you know, I'm keeping track of my fabric usage, and so far, I'm using more stash fabric than I've purchased.
  • Make a couple of scrappy quilts. - Um. I've outdone myself. By my count, I've finished six scrap quilts of various sizes, and am currently working on another. Yay! One of my favorites was definitely Let It Be.
  • Maybe make a Christmas quilt? Come December I always wish I had one for our bed, and I never do. - I hadn't given it another thought, but now I am!
The Community
  • 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. - Still not sure, but I am consistently blogging about my finishes.
  • Have a goal of publishing The Scrap Basket every 3-4 weeks. - I started off ok, but was shocked to realize the other day that I haven't published in over six weeks. Gotta get on that!
  • Figure out some Instagram features like linking to posts etc.- I'm not sure that'll work with my non-business account. But I AM trying to post to stories a little more.
  • 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. - No progress, and really, it hasn't been the best time.
New Directions
  • 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. - No new discussion about it. Maybe one of these days.
  • Look into monetizing my blog in some way, basically to cover the rising cost of publishing the newsletter. - It's a concern, but not one I've found an answer to yet.
  • Do more "surprise" making and gifting. - I've done this a handful of times, and really want to do more!
I ended my December post with, "Above and beyond everything written here, I want time for spontaneous sewing - letting the joy in it take me wherever it wills." And thankfully, that's been able to happen. Yes, I'd definitely like to get out and about more and discover our new normal, but this time at home has also allowed for plenty of free-creating, and I think that has helped me deal with it all. So moving forward.... one day at a time.

Linking up with Quilting JetGirl's 2020 Mid-Year Check-In!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Stitch Club :: Sashiko

After exploring kantha-stitching for the first month of Alison Glass' Stitch Club, I was pretty excited to see what was up next. Sashiko! Something I have admired for sure but never ever dabbled with. I originally had three projects in mind, but ended up settling on just two, omitting the final one where I would actually mark a design on fabric.

So first, I used Alison's Observatory Pulsar in Meteorite, which actually has +s printed right on it. I chose the color I did as it was dark blue and off-white, a clear nod to traditional sashiko. I stitched right over the +s with #8 perle cotton, not traditional, but great for a first try. The design is called a modified Asagao, and I purposely stitched on an oblong piece of fabric - about 6 1/2" x 18" because I had a tentative final project in mind. And just for the record, I backed it with a length of Kona cotton for my stitching.

I really enjoyed the stitching! I suspect the distance between the +s was larger than might be traditional, and the finished stitching is somewhat loose, but it really was a fun way to go.

So having recently made a Modern Japanese Rice Bag using the pattern by @kzstevens, I thought that would be a perfect pattern to use with my very first sashiko piece. I forewent the boro patches and stitching and just let my saskiko be the focal point.

A favorite detail of this bag are the drawstring casings which are especially fun with a mix of fabrics.

And I was so happy that I had enough left of the Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric that I used in the first bag that I could use it for a bit of the exterior plus the lining of this new bag. The piece is Rose Petals - neutrals on gray. "arbre Rose" translated means "pink tree" in English.

For my second Sashiko project, I chose to purchase an all-over pattern printed on 100% cotton Sashiko cloth from a Japanese company. The one I chose was 12" square with a Kaku-Shippo design. I used an off-white Japanese sashiko cotton thread that I purchased from snuggly monkey with Tulip long sashiko needles. I enjoyed stitching this piece very very much.

Once complete, I chose a simple Table Mat pattern from Simple Sashiko by Susan Briscoe.

I used Essex Linen in Ivory for the backing, as it pretty much matched the thread I used. What drew me to this pattern, besides its simplicity and being something I would actually use, was the way the 'backing' peeks out on the sides by just 1/8", and is secured by hand-stitching. Something about that little detail really 'fit' for me.

So I don't expect that Sashiko will be my go-to stitching going forward, but I was more than happy to give it a try.

If you missed my June Stitch Club project, you'll find it here.

Friday, July 10, 2020


When I made the original Plaid-ish quilt, I loved the finish so much, there really wasn't a question if I'd made Erica/Kitchen Table Quilting's second version when the tutorial came out. Plaid-ish2 is similar but different from Plaid-ish. This second one, at 69" x 86", is ever so slightly larger, and of course, even after making both of them in less than a year's time, my scrap bin is still full.

As thrilled as I was with the finished quilt top, I wasn't really in the mood to quilt such a large one, and asked my guild-mate Pam Cole of Keeping it Simple Quilts to help me out again. We agreed on a maze-like panto called 'square dance', with cream thread.

Of course, a pieced back was more than appropriate, and I was happy to find some reasonably large stash fabrics that semi-coordinated.

When I realized I was out of black and white Michael Miller Clown Stripe, my favorite binding for scrap quilts, I went stash-diving for something else and came up with plenty of Carolyn Friedlander's Doe, many scraps of which were pieced into the quilt. It's much more subtle than the stripe, but considering there are so many low-volumes in this version, I think it works. Stitching it on, I realized it was actually the gray and white left from a Doe Wide Fabric, not black and white, but still fine.

So that felt like an accomplishment, even with Pam's help. It really IS amazing how many scraps you can use up and still be inundated with them. But no worries, I'm diving into that scrap basket again!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Summer Sampler 2020 :: Convergence

Well this was just what I needed. I knew the minute I caught the first glimpse of this year's Summer Sampler, that this particular block must be by Giuseppe/@giucy_giuce. It's called Covergence, and was a real joy to sew together. A mix of paper-piecing and regular piecing, it just got better with every seam.

A couple of years ago, I took a Tiny Piecing class with Giuseppe, and this was definitely not that, but captivating just the same. Plus I got to include some new fabrics from my sampler stash, which made me extra happy. Definitely a good time.

Week 1: Trellis     Week 2: Infinite Pinwheel
Week 3: Lakeside     Week 4: Tide Pool
Week 5: Brae

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Subtle Secrets

Well THIS was interesting! I was intrigued enough when Felicity/@felicityquilts announced her Bee Sewcial prompt for the month - Subtle Secrets. Wonky, ruler-free improv blocks based on traditional quilt patterns sounded like a good challenge, but it was Felicity's choice of colors that really caught my interest.... We were asked to use "two shades of white for one of the blocks, and two shades of the darkest color in [our] stash such as black, grey or blue for the other."

My first block is a Monkey Wrench (aka Snail's Trail) block in two blacks, Kona black and pepper.

The second is Jacob's Ladder in Kona snow and Michael Miller Cotton Couture in soft white, which believe it or not, I did press really well.

Anyway, I enjoyed this prompt alot! I'm anxious to see more blocks, and of course, this quilt put together. I was surprised how much I loved the resultant blocks, especially the black with black. Despite how they look in my photos, in person the two-tone is very subtle (yay!) but visible.