Wednesday, March 3, 2021

February Fabric Usage

If you thought last month was bad, brace yourself. 

It's not that I didn't sew last month - I finished several small projects. But fact is, I brought in 9+ yards at the start of the month - solids to round out my solid stash as I was facing four QuiltCon classes; possible selections for Valentine pillowcases for my grandgirls; and a couple other 'extras.' Yeah.

So, for the first time in 14 months of keeping track, I didn't use more fabric than I brought in. Oops!

February Fabric Usage
Used up: 7.24 yards
Brought in: 9.25 yards
Net: 2.01 yards
Year to date: -.29 yards

BUT! Look at that negative year to date number, ha! I figure I'm still ahead! Now to get back at it.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Patchwork Sashiko

So having finished my latest Dropcloth sampler, and with no quilts to bind, I needed a handwork project to work on during QuiltCon lectures. I happened across the Patchwork Sashiko booklet I'd purchased from Banjo Flannel a few months ago and decided now was the time.

The process is similar yet quite different from the Kawandi quilt I made last fall. Or should I say, it looks somewhat similar, but in fact there are a few key differences. First off, all the patchwork pieces are cut before beginning for the patchwork sashisko method. I cut mine all from scraps, 1.5" x 1.5" squares and 1.5" x 2" rectangles. Then the fabric shapes are actually arranged on top of a muslin backing, then secured with pins and basted before any stitching begins. 

After pinning, the piece is basted by machine and marked with quilting lines. I used the same needle and thread for quilting as I did for my Kawandi - a Bohin crewel embroidery needle #7, and Spagetti 12wt Egyptian Cotton Thread in Ecru from Wonderfil Specialty Threads.

So here's my finished, quilted piece, with basting and quilting lines removed. It measures just slightly larger than 6.5" x 9.75".

Note that in addition to the quilting lines, there are additional little stitches to secure the occasional loose edge of fabric; and because they seemed to 'fit,' there are a handful of 'x' stitches here and there as well. 

Soooo.... the main reason I thought to try Banjo Flannel's patchwork sashiko methoed was a cute little draw-string pouch I'd seen - I'm not even sure where! But it's the Pita Pocket Pouch, with the hand-stitched fabric panel for the front, and Essex linen on the back.

Super cute! 

I made mine just a little larger than the pattern, just so I didn't trim off any more of that hand-stitching than was necessary. A piece of lightweight fusible interfacing was pressed on the back of the piece before trimming to size; and I also went so far as stitching a very tight machine stitch around the whole perimeter before constructing the bag.

This and several other patterns for things to do with patchwork sashiko are on the Banjo Flannel site. Do note that the fabric patches are raw-edge clear to the end of the project - another key difference from the Kawandi. But with all that hand-stitching, I'm confident the little pouch will hold up well for quite a while. And the occasional loose thread just adds to the bag's character, don't you think?

Friday, February 26, 2021

QuiltCon Together: The Classes

So it's not unusual to come home from QuiltCon with a couple of works in progress, and virtual QuiltCon was no different. I actually took four classes, though only started new projects in two of them - so far. 

  • Design with Contrast with Anne Sullivan was a no-sew workshop where Anne explored color and more, playing with contrast and movement in design. It was alot to take in, and thankfully came with a hefty handout to consult for future work.
  • Color Interplay with Maritza Soto felt the most like QuiltCon to me, since I was able to virtually take the class with my daughter Rachel/@snippetsofsweetness. When we've been able to attend QuiltCon together in person, taking the same class has been a highlight, and it definitely was virtually as well.

The focus, of course, was on relationships between colors, with a fun exercise that is still in the works. We enjoyed taking the enhanced version of this class, so were able to share and discuss our works in progress, and that was really enjoyable too and definitely a nice option. None of what you see in the photo is actually sewn together - just adhered and layered on the design wall. I expect it to spread out and morph quite a bit before it's done. 

  • Adventures in Improv Design with Anne Sullivan and Melanie Tuazon, who together approached story-based improvisational design in a very defined way, still ripe with many possibilities. It was a terrific presentation; and though I intended to start a project during this class, my overall schedule kind of overwhelmed me, and I just wasn't in the right mind-space to take it on. But again, it came with a good guide to explore further at a later date.
  • Improv Triangles and Maria Shell also felt very familiar, as I've sewn alot from Maria's book, Improv Patchwork. We began by choosing a 'rainbow' + several neutrals. As you can see, my rainbow is not the traditional brights, which was very intentional. Similar but decidedly different, right?

Though I've tried many of the techniques from Maria's book, I don't actually think I've made 'flying loons' before. They are similar to flying geese, but more square, and I use that term very loosely.

In my initial fabric pull, I forgot to include brown. Brown you say? Maria pretty much insisted, so you'll see that included going forward. Here I used it in my striped half-square triangle pinwheel. I'm thinking this will be inserted in the backing of my triangle quilt.

Meanwhile, here are my blocks so far. They've since been rearranged a bit, some blocks removed entirely (those dark gray and teal in the bottom right - they read entirely too dark) , and I've begun piecing some stripes to insert

So now at least I have a plan, so I'm anxious to keep going.

Now I know that four virtual classes, in addition to all the lectures, quilt show, and socializing is A LOT. But I give QuiltCon Together high marks overall, and I'm glad I was able to experience so much.

Thursday, February 25, 2021


Late last week, right before QuiltCon started, I had a bit of a major finish, in the form of my latest Dropcloth sampler. ABC Max. Three months in the making, I've grown to love it.

Stitched with a minimum of stitch types - ones I enjoy the most - made it relaxing, enjoyable work. The palette was loosely based on one I used for Disco Nap, just before I started in on ABC Max.

I do have a few more variegated threads now, and incorporated them often.

Stitching the 'rainbows' was probably my favorite part, though I think chain-stitching the alphabet in the darker threads really gave the piece some personality. 

The embroidery measures 9.5" x 13", is my sixth sampler from Dropcloth, and by far the largest. I enjoyed it so much, (surprise!) I've already started in on another.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Summer Sampler Black Lives Matter Quilt Auction

Last summer, as a former Summer Sampler block designer, I contributed a block to the Summer Sampler Black Lives Matter quilt, which is now listed on eBay for Charity, with all proceeds going to Social Justice Sewing Academy.

20 makers contributed to the quilt, which measures 72" x 72". The quilt auction is live until March 1 at 11am. 

Social Justice Sewing Academy is a great cause.... "Piecing together youth voices, textile art, and community in a 21st Century Sewing Circle." I've had the pleasure of hearing founder Sara Trail speak a couple of times, and her enthusiasm and dedication to helping youth create art that engages and educates communities is truly inspiring. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

QuiltCon Together :: Group Quilts

I do love a group quilt and though you already know about Rings hanging in the QuiltCon Together show, I had a very small hand in three additional group quilts in the show.

The first is Resilience, Seattle MQG's response to the Community Outreach Quilt Challenge. The theme for this year was "Curves," drawing from a specific color palette. The design for our quilt was initially inspired by member David Owen Hastings/@davidowenhastings

Personally, I used Stephanie Ruyle's Curves Ahead tutorial to create the blocks I submitted. The original quilt design evolved a bit to embrace the blocks that were received from members, but I really like the finish. The top was constructed by Rachel Singh/@liketosew and Matt Macomber/@odditease; quilted by Pam Cole/@pamjcole; and bound by Matt.

I'm still smiling over my friend Ellyn/@ellynz' first place win in Group or Bee Quilts! Her "Urban Emergence" portrays a relevant message about how "major cities around the world began to emerge from the smog and blue skies were revealed" at the beginning of the lockdown in 2020. Still good food for thought.

I was pleased to be invited to contribute a handful of gray improv blocks to Ellyn's quilt.

And then there's COQQUILT2020. When Jen/@jen.broemel put out a call for black and white improv blocks way back in March of last year, I got right to making and sent a block. Her intent was very clear... to create a collaborative quilt to emphasize our community's interconnectedness in spite of our separation. In the end, over 75 artists contributed to the "Collaborative Quarantine Quilt" that is currently 'hanging' in the QuiltCon Together show.

DO look close, as Jen blanketed each block with her own stitches. According to Jen, "Each stitch brought me hope, gratitude and solace in an unusual time..."

See what fun group quilts can be? And so varied.... definitely worth it to jump in when you get the chance to participate.

Friday, February 19, 2021

QuiltCon Together :: My Quilts

So the virtual QuiltCon Together is in full swing! It's very different, of course, but still very good. This is my 4th QuiltCon, and yesterday as it began, I felt the normal excitement and overwhelm. As usual, I headed straight for the quilt show for a quick look around before exploring other portions of the site. Would you like to see the quilts I have hanging in the show?

Split Segments is in the Small Quilts category. Made entirely from scraps, it started with the dark blue cut-offs from my 2019 Summer Sampler.

Note to Self was made for the MQG Classics Challenge from a pattern by Karen Foster/@capitolaquilter. There are 22 quilts in the special exhibit, all made from a pre-selected fabric palette.

And then there's Rings, my latest Bee Sewcial quilt, which of course, is in with the Bee/Group quilts. I was surprised that there are just 13 in this category! My collaborators were MarciDebetaz, Karen Foster, M-R Charbonneau, Leanne Chahley, Stephanie Ruyle, KenSmith, and Felicity Ronaghan, and they definitely helped bring my vision for this quilt to life.

And finally, there is Autumn Steps, which is in the Modern Traditionalism category. This is the one I was most surprised was accepted. It happens to be the largest of those quilts I had accepted (72" square), but quilted least densely, and the only quilt of the bunch that I had washed prior to entering. (I mention about washing mainly so I remember, as I know some folks wash every quilt when finished; but I usually do not necessarily, especially if it's a quilt I might submit to a show. Just personal preference, I know.)

To top things off, Autumn Steps was included in this year's QuiltCon Magazine!

So all that is of course very gratifying. I've already been back for a few more in-depth 'walkthroughs' of the show quilts, and they are amazing. An added bonus in these virtual times is that many of the quilts have an audio component - a short recording of the maker telling about their quilt. I like this feature very much! 

If you'd like to see the winning quilts, they are all posted on the QuiltCon Together site. They are a fantastic group!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The End of 50 Days of Scraps

Even I was surprised how much I was able to make during my 50 Days of Scraps! Though they were mostly small projects, I kept on task and had alot of fun doing it.

Even though you've seen it all before, I felt compelled to summarize. So here goes - all the ways I used scraps in the last 50 days!

    • Flashback

And though it's not completed, I got a good start on a Patchwork Sashiko project - at least the scraps are all cut to size and arranged for hand-sewing.

So that was really fun! I anticipate taking a break from the scrap focus to participate in QuiltCon and then take on a couple of new, time-critical projects. But after that, I'll definitely consider getting back to them, as you know I have plenty left!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021


The countdown on my 50 Days of Scraps is nearing its end, but don't be surprised if I pick it up again after QuiltCon, as I've really enjoyed it. After another dive into the scrap basket, I salvaged a handful of remnants from Vista Toscana, that I made last fall. All pieced from a grouping of Cotton Couture solids from Michael Miller, I decided to keep them together and see what else I could come up with

As sometimes happens, especially with improv, I wasn't happy at all with my first try at piecing a mini quilt. So obviously, I sliced it up and tried again.

And the second time, I was much happier. Plus I was able to find some scrap strips very similar if not actually left over from the previous project. Not really sure, and of course it doesn't matter. But they helped me frame up the arrangement I'd come up with, and I was good with that.

For the backing, I grabbed three lone tree blocks left from Uncommon Forest made a few years ago, also from the scrap basket. They were  Modern Christmas Trees from the tutorial by Amy/Diary of a Quilter. Sadly two of them got trimmed pretty drastically after quilting, but it still felt good to use them.

I used a mix of matchstick-quilting and organic straight-line quilting using a variegated Sulky 30wt thread #4021 [Truly Teal], and then a periodically matched-binding. The piece ended up being pretty little - just 9.5" x 13", but it was fun once I got going, and most importantly, I used up more scraps!

Though I unfortunately did not have a new big quilt to photograph during our recent snowstorm, I at least had a tiny quilt ready for the day of the big melt. I'll take it. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Design.Make.Quilt Modern

I've been an admirer of Heather Black's work for quite some time. Her modern graphic aesthetic, use of color, and the way she uses quilting to enhance her designs are indeed inspiring, as well as beautiful. I think her work is quite distinctive; you may know her best from her blog, Quiltachusetts, or on Instagram, @quiltachusetts. Whatever, of course I was happy to receive a copy of her latest book, Design.Make.Quilt Modern, for review.

The book's byline, "Taking a Quilt from Inspiration to Reality," reveals alot. Containing just 4 quilt patterns, the book's real focus is on design: 

  • Design Basics for Modern Quilts
  • Designing with Color
  • Finish the Design with Quilting
  • Making the Quilt - From Design to Reality

And honestly, that really appealed to me. Considering most of my work is of my own design (or lack thereof), I can really learn from an expert like Heather. 

Fact is, she unlocks the design process quite succinctly in each of the categories listed above. So it's a handy resource whether you want to cover the entire gamut of quilt design, or focus on a particular facet. 

One of the features that Heather incorporated into her book that I thought was brilliant was self-inventories - a way to evaluate your skills while also taking into account what you actually enjoy doing - or not. Meaning, it's important to integrate your own 'personality' into your quilt-making while considering all the design principles. That simple combination will help make your work reflect yourself better and I like that.

A section that I will refer to again and again is about Using Design to Tell a Story. That's something I've thought more about in recent years, and I'd actually like to become more intentional about it. Heather offers alot of good food for thought.

If your interest has been piqued, Heather shares alot more in her own blog post about the book, including a complete table of contents. If you're like me, that would be of interest, as I always take a glance at that before considering a book purchase.

You'll find that Design.Make.Quilt Modern is currently only available for pre-order , but luckily Heather already has copies available in her own shop. I have no doubt you'll find Heather's book to be a welcome resource as you design and create your future quilts.