Sunday, January 31, 2021

10 Years

It's hard to know how to even start a post about having blogged for 10 whole years, except to say I never would have guessed it would still be a consistent routine for me. We all know that blogs have become a little passé for some; so many seem to prefer the spontaneity and speed of Instagram. I get that, I really do, as I love it too. But the blog here still feels like my creative home. I find it much easier to 'speak' and even 'show and tell' than I do on other platforms, including in-person. Plus I really love the history I've been able to record here.

As I look back at my very early posts, I recall that in my first months as a quilt-blogger, I joined my first quilt-along; took a machine-quilting class, as I'd only ever hand-quilted before; and made my first solid quilt. My stash consisted only of project leftovers, I had just discovered the hera marker, and 'improv' was not in my vocabulary yet.


By year's end, everything had changed, it seemed. "Blogging has spurred me into production-mode, learning new techniques, experimenting with new fabrics, just in general thinking about the process a whole lot more!" And as you all know, that has pretty much been the story of the last ten years.

The joy I find in creating has indeed grown exponentially through sharing together and being in community with you. Every day I find fresh inspiration as well as generous affirmation, and together, they spur me on.

So I'd just like to say thank you for being here, year in and year out. You've added such joy to my days, and allowed my creative world to grow so big; and at the same time, so personal. I really can't thank you enough.

All quilts shown were created in 2011. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


So when I finished with my Personal Flag Bee Sewcial block last week, I got alot of comments on how much folks liked the color palette, and honestly, I did too. And considering I was barely halfway into my 50 Days of Scraps, the obvious thing to do was to take the 'flag' scraps and see what I could do with them.

I had a few pieced segments in each colorway left over, and a small pile of larger fabric pieces... a good start. I pulled just a few more solid scraps - a single piece of red and some orange. I also gathered some black and white scraps I'd set aside a few days ago when I was rummaging through the basket. They felt like a good fit. And then I just started piecing.

I assembled maybe 8 or 9 green blocks, thinking I'd scatter them around and fill in with the warm strips. But though I spent a bit of time arranging them this way and that, nothing really struck me. And then it dawned on me that the block this project had been birthed from consisted of letters ("I" and "H", remember?). And suddenly, this one needed to be "L"s for leftovers. Then everything fell into place.

Luckily one little block was left from the front, and a pieced back came together in about 10 minutes. Love that!

For quilting, I gathered the rich mix of four Aurifil 50wt threads - #2250 [Red], #1103 [Burgundy], #2535 [Magenta], and #4030 [Plum]. (If those threads look familiar together, you may be remembering my Tuscan Pom.)

Matchstick quilting it was. I hadn't done it in a while, so it was a fun change of pace. There's nothing quite like it, and I'm especially fond of it when several different threads are used.

A little one, "L" measures just 14" x 17", finished off with a length of scrap black & white striped binding.

The functionality of this little quilt may be in question, but I love that it evolved and was finished so quickly. Every once in a while, it's great to just get carried away by the fabric, the thread, the process. When that's able to happen, I just drink it in.

#aqt50daysofscraps #quiltingthecountdown

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

Monday, January 25, 2021

Slow but Steady

So I've been working on my ABC Max sampler from Dropcloth for a full two months now, and it's still pretty slow stitching. But finally, over the weekend I finished all of the interior designs and was able to start in on the alphabet!

Not a fan of doing the satin stitch, I decided to outline all the letters in a chainstitch. I've chosen four of the darker perle cottons in my thread stash, and will mix those up as I work randomly through the alphabet.

So considering I managed to do four letters the first night I worked on them, I don't expect them to take too long. And I'm looking forward to that 'rainbow' frame, and plan to refer back to my Disco Nap sampler for color inspiration, as I really liked how that one turned out. 

Anyone else machine-sew during daylight and hand-stitch in the evenings? It's been a good routine for me these past months...

Friday, January 22, 2021

Personal Flag

I have never made a personal flag that I can recall, and when Ken/@thekingslacker, announced this month's Bee Sewcial prompt, I'm afraid I responded with my typical, "Oh dear."

Our flag was to represent our 4 Ps (personality, principles, place, and priorities). Ken said not to overthink it or stress over it, so of course I did both. Here are the thoughts behind my piece:

  • Personality - I am an introvert, so that was expressed with "I" blocks.
  • Principles - The first one I thought of was honesty, and when I realized turning an "I" on its side would result in an "H," I stopped there. Or shall I say, I continued on and made a variety of sized blocks.
  • Place - I was born in California, The Golden State; and have lived in Washington, The Evergreen State, since I was 9 months old. Thus the main colors were determined by state nicknames.
  • Priorities - Right off I thought of my family, and that led me to create a family tree of sorts, built of those green and golden I and H blocks.
So you don't think I always get these things right the first time, I'll show you my first block.

Though a fun mix of improv blocks, my tree got totally hidden, didn't it? So out came my seam ripper and more scraps in a contrasting colorway. I pieced improv stripes, one of my trademarks to some, and filled back in around my yellow and green blocks. Still abstract, but the 'tree' is much more visible, to me at least. Can you see it?

What a conglomeration, in a way, but I 'read' alot in it, and am pleased with the finished block, which measures 16" x 19", very close to the equivalent of the suggested two 12 1/2" blocks. And I did confirm with Ken that our 'flags' did not have to fly horizontal, so I'm good there. Very interesting assignment, for sure.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Liberated Rings

So the finish I'm sharing today is the second project in my 50 Days of Scraps; the first being The Tumbler Dilemma, which used both scrap blocks as well as actual scraps from the scrap basket. In case you missed it, this current project was inspired by the Liberated Wedding Ring block pattern I discovered in Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston's Freddy & Gwen Collaborate Again: Freewheeling Twists on Traditional Quilt Designs. In fact the blocks themselves are just as described, though I did not sew on paper as suggested. 

I really did enjoy making the blocks, as well as my pull of scraps. I guess I just wasn't in the mood to continue on to make a big quilt. So I stopped at 36 - 7 1/2" (unfinished) blocks, which I arranged into 9 'rings' that measured 14" (finished) each, making a quilt top that would measure 42". I quickly pieced a back from two lengths of stash Denyse Schmidt fabrics and started in quilting. [I know the larger blue/green backing fabric is from the Hadley line; not sure about the yellow.]

I went with an uneven grid using a variegated green Aurifil 50wt #4653 [spring prairie], really easy and stress-free quilting on a quilt this size. But I have to let you in on a little secret! When I made my backing and basted the quilt sandwich, I left a few extra inches all around the quilt top. SO THAT I could make an extra wide binding (2 1/4"!), thus bringing my quilt up to 46 1/2" square.

I actually had totally planned  - like already started cutting and piecing - a fully scrappy binding, but then I thought that might actually be kind of cumbersome on those corners, so I gave up on that idea. I swear I rummaged through every shelf of my stash looking for a suitable binding choice before happening upon a yard of  Melody Miller Ruby Star Polka Dot Arrows for Kokka. I really thought the background was a dusty olive, which went well enough with the greens I used in many of my block backgrounds. But as I researched the fabric online while writing this post, the only color I could find was 'natural.' Hmmm. So not sure. I knew it wasn't an exact match, but I think it grounds the very scrappy blocks in the quilt, and the arrows give a bit of a stripe effect to the binding.

So, I ran into one little issue. Not actually sewing the binding, as it went on very nicely and boy did those corners want to miter themselves with no problem. And I did stitch down those miters on both front and back due to their size. 

But with a binding that wide, I was a little concerned the batting might bunch up a bit when washed. So I took a gold perle cotton and stitched a trio of Xs in several places on each side of the quilt - never more than 12" apart, but often less, a total of three times on each side. So that added some fun little hand-stitched detailing that I hope will help keep everything secure. 

Once again, I feel that twinge of guilt that I didn't keep on going and make a big ole quilt using the liberated wedding ring blocks, as you know darn well I have plenty of scraps to do so. But then again, it is what it is, and I'm ready to move on, continuing on with my 50 days of scraps.

Friday, January 15, 2021

My Yellow and Gray

Thanks right off to my daughter, Rachel/@snippetsofsweetness, who kept up tradition and ordered us official Pantone Color of the Year swatch cards after the 2021 colors were announced. A pair this year - Illuminating and Ultimate Gray - the goal was now to find fabrics that closely 'matched' the actual swatches. This year I happened to have four different fabric manufacturers' color cards in hand, so that's pretty much where I focused my attention, which was fine, because I found good matches right there.

Surprisingly (no offense of course), two of them, RJR Cotton Supreme Solids and Painter's Palette Solids had nothing I considered really close. Obviously they have yellows and grays that would be great to pair, but as far as having a match to the definitive Pantone swatch cards, they did not.

But in looking through the Michael Miller Cotton Couture and Robert Kaufman Kona color cards, I found several options I thought worth considering, and promptly ordered some of each. 

The yellows I ordered:
Cotton Couture in Citrus
Kona in Bright Idea
Kona in Citrus 

And the grays:
Kona in Overcast
Cotton Couture in Pewter

For Illuminating, it was a surprising but obvious choice among the fabrics I'd ordered. Though I had anticipated one of the Citruses winning out, it was actually Kona Bright Idea.

And for Ultimate Gray, it was a challenge, as both Overcast and Pewter are REALLY good choices. By themselves, you can see they are different, but when each were put next to the color card, they both looked like very close matches. In fact, standing together in good natural light, at first hubby chose the Pewter, and I chose the Overcast. But after considering again and again on different days, I also choose Cotton Couture Pewter, though Kona Overcast (a personal favorite) would indeed be a very close choice.

So.... there you go! Not a scientific experiment in the least, but those are my choices for this year's colors of the year. Now to think up a project....

Monday, January 11, 2021

Still Stitching

So it's a few more weeks before the Snowflake Sampler with Blair Stocker begins, but I'm ready!

The main supplies we need are several yards of 1/4" gingham, some white perle cotton, and a selection of Aurifil Cotton Floss (AKA Aurifloss). Blair suggested using variegated floss, so I went ahead and selected a mixed palette - basically green, blue, and gold. I haven't really used these threads before, so I'm looking forward to that, along with learning chicken-scratch embroidery, of course.

With a new major hand-stitching project looming ahead, you can bet I'm working like crazy on my current Dropcloth sampler, ABC Max.

I'm making good progress, and am enjoying incorporating some new threads, but it's still going to take a while. I'm not sure if I can get it done by month's end - in fact, I'm thinking probably not - but I'm giving it a serious effort. It's been motivating to include a few new threads, both variegated and plain, and I'm still totally stitching on whim when it comes to thread color and location on the sampler. Whatever, it continues to be a relaxing diversion at day's end.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Liberated Wedding Rings

Of course, once The Tumbler Dilemma was settled, I was mulling over what my next scrap project might be. I randomly pulled Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston's Freddy & Gwen Collaborate Again: Freewheeling Twists on Traditional Quilt Designs off the shelf and didn't even thumb to the end before I settled on what I wanted to try - the liberated wedding ring blocks.

Debating on a palette, I pulled a long strip of an Anna Maria Horner print, and there I had it - green, blue, rust, pink. That morphed into including gold and a bit of purple. The palette has been growing the more I dig through the scraps to make more blocks.

Though Gwen and Freddy suggest piecing the oblong shape on paper, I've just been piecing strips together, angling edges here and there as I go. Then I spritz them good with flatter spray before cutting with my paper template. It's working well enough!

Four smaller blocks will be put together to create a larger block that measures 14" finished. The size of the quilt will depend on the scraps I have (and my interest level, ahem), so that remains to be seen. 

Anyway, the project is growing, so for now I'll just keep plugging away at it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2020 Fabric Usage

Well keeping track of fabric usage last year was definitely an interesting experiment. I hope you don't mind if I do it again in 2021....

I made just two purchases in December, the first being a length of the Kona Color of the Year, Horizon. 

The other was for the upcoming Snowflake Sampler, but I'll show you that once my threads arrive. 

I did very little Christmas sewing this year, aside from some gift bags and a few small gifts. So the bulk of my fabric usage went into making Luminaries and RAY.

So here's how I did number-wise last month:

December Fabric Usage
Used up: 13.86 yards
Brought in: 5 yards
Net: -8.86 yards

And here are the annual totals!

2020 Fabric Usage Totals
2020 used up: 199.47
2020 brought in: 73.2 yards
2020 Net: -126.27 yards

I'm a little surprised that I brought in as much as I did, as there was very little purchasing that wasn't for a specific project. But that just goes to show you what buying a little every month can add up to. BUT a net use of over 126 yards sounds pretty good, and I can see it just by looking at my stash. I'm off to a bad start in the new year, considering research is underway to determine fabrics that match the Pantone Colors of the Year, but it is what it is. I'm still going to try to sew from stash as much as possible in the year to come. Thankfully, I find it pretty motivating!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Tumbler Dilemma

By the time I'd decided to make my colorful tumbler blocks into a 'back,' I was pretty psyched to figure out what the 'front' would be. 

I'd already thrown the last three tumbler blocks in the trash, but went and retrieved one and decided to see what an improv courthouse steps would be like with the little block as a non-traditional center. Let's just say I was immediately in my groove, grabbing scraps from the pile on the floor to add in as I sewed along. THIS was fun.

I settled on a chunky angled grid for the quilting using Aurifil 50wt #2314 (Beige), a color that would work well enough for both sides of the quilt. (I still felt some loyalty to the side with all the tumblers, since so many folks on Instagram liked them - ha!) I actually quilted from the front, checking now and then that things were looking just as good on the back, and thankfully, they were.

So all ended well enough. The Tumbler Dilemma finished at about 18" square-ish and I'm happy with my decision to use the tumbler blocks, even though figuring out how took some twists and turns. 

So I'm already well into my next scrap project, still pretty motivated in my attempt at 50 Days of Scraps.

Check out #quiltingthecountdown and #aqt50daysofscraps to see more.

Monday, January 4, 2021

50 Days of Scraps

To the best of my knowledge, Cassandra/The (not so) Dramatic Life is the master of 100 day projects, with at least 4 to her credit. So when she invited a bunch of us to join her latest one as a countdown to QuiltCon a couple of months ago, I was intrigued, but wasn't sure I was up for it. Fast forward to last week, when she posted that it was now just 50 days until QuiltCon, and I impulsively jumped on board. I basically glanced around my studio, and within moments was posting I'd join in by doing my own 50 days of scraps. And so it began.

At the time, I was responding to Melanie/@mellmeyer's question, "Do you even have older UFOs that you totally squished in the back of the closet?" Fact was, I did not, but I DID have a handful of discarded blocks from the Candy Land quilt I made several years ago. And I was debating what to do with them, knowing that I should deal with them now or never. 

I posed some options on Instagtam, and boy did I get some opinions. 

There were lots of clever ideas, though I really didn't want to spend a whole lot more time on them. What I ended up doing was sewing the blocks into four-patches, trimming them wonky, and then sewing all 36 blocks together as the 'back' of something yet to come. 

That decision alone was oh-so liberating, and left me free to pursue a 'front' that I found much more engaging than the tumblers. 

So stay tuned for the rest of the story, as they say. And know that my scraps are still dumped in a pile on my studio floor, and I'm committing at least a few minutes a day to them. Hopefully I can keep it up!

Check out #quiltingthecountdown and #aqt50daysofscraps to see more.