Wednesday, May 26, 2021


It felt like a bit of a race to get my current Dropcloth sampler finished before the 100 Day Summer Sewalong starts on June 1. But in the end, I finished with a week to spare. The Paisley sampler took me a while to really get into. Unlike the most recent ABC Sprinkle, where there was only one stitch to focus on, this one definitely had more, plus stitch decisions to make throughout. And I had trouble narrowing in on a palette. Where usually I've kept my palette very controlled, this time it was all over the place. 

So with number eight here, I think my sampler days will be slowing down. Though don't hold me to it. Their creator, Rebecca Ringquist, has been tempting us with the upcoming release of a couple of new designs, so time will tell. Meanwhile, the basket of perle cotton will be waiting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Born from Above

You may remember A Storm Story from a few months ago, where I responded to an upcoming Sunday text by creating a small quilt. The piece was then used in communication graphics for our church that week, as well as on the cover of the bulletin.

Photo graphic by Josh Judd-Herzfeldt. Used by Permission.

So I have since learned that what I participated in has a name, Visio Divina, the practice of contemplating with the eyes, ie. through visual art.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to create another piece for Sunday, May 30; which in our denomination is recognized as Holy Trinity Sunday, and follows immediately after Pentecost. I won't go into the significance of those themes too much, though some of you may be familiar with them. Suffice it to say that I found expressing this theme very difficult. I think it was the confluence of the assigned scripture (John 3:1-17) with the actual theme. I'm no theologian, for sure. But the words that kept coming back to me in the text were "born from above." So the piece I created shows descending doves, which are a pretty well-known image representing the spirit of God.

The doves were cut from my own improvisationally drawn template; and pieced from red scraps, red also being a reference to the spirit. And to me, the scrappy mix symbolized the complexity of understanding or even reconciling oneself to a Trinity. They were then echo-quilted in red thread, and are obviously the key feature of the piece. From there, quilting itself played a secondary role, using several gold threads, including a 12wt, which is not one I commonly use, but it sure makes a statement. Those gold threads were used to symbolize both God the Father, as well as emphasize the 'born from above' theme. The vertical lines of quilting in the bottom half give a nod to God the Son, drawing the image 'down' to the earth where Jesus walked among us.

The quilt was finished with a faced binding and measures 18" x 20". Thanks to those of you who read more about the inspiration of this unique piece. I find it a distinctive challenge to combine both my faith and my creative gifts in this way.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Salsa Medallion II

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be all caught up in Seattle MQG's block of the month, the Salsa Medallion. Since sharing my center focal block, I've played around with the other prompts - lines, triangles, and text

The improv lines, stripes, or whatever, formed the borders on the top and left, paired with a couple of angled wedge 'cornerstones.' Though I made a different triangle 'border,' it didn't fit style-wise with the HSTs in the focal block, so I set them aside for later use. Instead, I added a few more HSTs along the bottom, as well as larger pieced triangles as bookends for the 'text' (IE. '2021') panel on the right side. Goodness, it's chaotic, isn't it? ha! But it was very fun to finally puzzle together, and that's exactly what I needed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

100 Day Summer Sewalong Prep

Anyone else stitching along with Jenn McMillan and her #100daysummersewalong? You know I'm always on the lookout for my next hand-stitching project, so Jenn's sew-along is perfect. Plus it's a little different than my normal embroidery, rather creating a hand-pieced quilt block every day.

Deciding what to do is always an issue, and I finally settled on the traditional bow-tie block. Ever since I learned my grandma made #bowtiequilts, I knew I needed to try my hand at one too. I'm using a tutorial by Wynn Tan of Zakka Art. It includes a template, and to make the best use of my chosen fabrics, I am actually making two sizes of blocks, 2.5" and 3". I know that will complicate things when it comes to quilt construction, but it will also challenge me to create a more modern layout - we hope!

For fabric, I really wanted to sew from stash, and for the block backgrounds, I had enough Kona Enchanted, the 2020 Kona Color of the Year. I guess I stocked up and never got around to using it - perfect! I also found a custom 6" charm pack I'd purchased from Katie Pederson years ago....a mix of wonderfully varied purple prints that play off the Enchanted nicely. That only got me so far though, so I also am incorporating a Social by Melody Miller charm pack and some scraps to bring me to 100 unique fabrics. Minor caveat: due to the second charm pack, there will be blocks with the same design, but different colorways. Hoping there will be plenty of contrast and interest with that dark background.

So I have everything cut and marked for stitching! My little sewing bag is packed, including my Sew Fine thread gloss, scissors, leather thimble, needlebook (made for me by Heidi/@libellenquilts!); and for thread, I'm going to be using Spagetti 12wt Egyptian Cotton Thread in Ecru from Wonderfil Specialty Threads

One little thing I did want to mention, and may expand on later, is that I used a sandpaper board (see photo above) when marking sewing lines on all my blocks. I actually got that decades ago in my beginning quilting class, and it works so well to stabilize the fabrics as I draw those lines. Anyway, now I'm all prepped and ready to start my summer stitching on June 1! Anyone joining me?

Thursday, May 13, 2021


You know those times when you don't quite know what to sew next? Yeah. I experienced that over last weekend. I had a little time to sew, and felt like sewing, but was wavering where to go next. So I grabbed the bin of scraps from my most recent projects, and just started in.

My initial thought was piecing some stack sets, ala Nicholas Ball's Inspiring Improv, but I wasn't very far into that when I realized they weren't the right scraps for that size-wise. So I just kept piecing stack-like blocks until the green and gold options ran out. But it didn't feel done, so I added in more colors - the navy and gray - and made some spikey triangle 'borders.' And on it went until truly, the pile of scraps was gone. I even tried a little fine-line piecing at the bottom, and used the last two little blocks over on the left.

I can't say this is the best or favorite piece I've ever created, but it definitely served a purpose. I felt compelled to MAKE, and I'm glad I followed through, whatever the result. Engaging in the process was what felt necessary and important.

Quilting was its own kind of fun, and if anything, I think it made the piece better. I quilted a very dense uneven grid using four different green threads plus a magenta. I find this kind of quilting immensely satisfying, and it made this random project feel kinda special.

I especially love the three 'pluses' scattered throughout this little quilt. They are definitely improvisational and not clearly defined. IE. You might miss them due to their irregularity.

Bound in a skinny (cut 1.75") dark navy, the quilt finished at 18.5" x 23.5" and ended up being just what I needed. This was fabric-play at its best.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

postcard quilt 2021

We all love quilt stories, right? At least I do, and I couldn't resist sharing about my participation in the postcard quilt experiment hosted by Zak Foster and Amanda Nadig. The entire project had the theme of "newness," and every step of the way, it indeed felt fresh and new.

So there were several steps involved to get us to the end result, and each was as surprising, and 'new' as the one that followed. First up, each participant was asked to create a postcard based on the theme. That took a bit of careful thought. My postcard included a 'scene' inspired by the lake view out my window, including string glued on to represent the screen I often few from.

All the participants were paired up into partners, and before long, my "newness" postcard was winging its way to none other than Heidi Parkes!

Of course, then I had to be patient and wait for the inspiration card Heidi sent to me! I love it for its simplicity, 'sprouts' of fabric hand-stitched onto the card.

After receiving Heidi's card, I spent several days mulling over how I could translate it into a quilt block for Zak and Amanda's quilt. When it came right down to it, my resultant quilt block borrowed several elements pretty literally, including turning the gray smudges into 'clouds.' The off-white fabric I chose for my background was slightly textured, just like the surface of the postcard; and the green print, as you see, included some white 'stitching.' 

In true Heidi fashion, some hand-stitching was definitely in order. 14" square, here is the 'block' I finally submitted to Zak and Amanda.

Meanwhile, Heidi was creating a 'quilt block' inspired by my postcard. Unfortunately, the card I'd sent looked a little different by the time it arrived to her!

Below is what Heidi created, and what she shared about it, "@aquilterstable mailed her beautiful postcard to me, and she’d glued a lovely thread grid on the surface that was almost entirely lost in the mail. This quilt block is in memory & honor of those lost threads, and a tribute to my ‘spring cleaning’ goals this year of letting go of things that aren’t serving me, to free up space & time for ‘newness.’" Though I felt a little bad most of the 'screen' element on my card got lost in shipping, Heidi affirmed it was meant to be. And as Zak first said, whatever happened during transit was indeed part of the quilt's story.

So after just a few weeks of inspiration, mailing, and creating, here is the finished collaboration quilt! 

With 378 participants from around the world (12 different countries!), it's an amazing, creative, beautiful digital work. Many thanks to Zak and Amanda for their vision for this project. You can see more about the individual blocks at #postcardquilt.

Final digital quilt photo by Zak Foster; the two prior, of my postcard and Heidi's resultant work, were by Heidi Parkes. All used with permission.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: The Fabric Pull

There really wasn't any question. I saw this year's Summer Sampler announced and jumped on board. Year four in a row (plus the first in 2011!), it's always a fun, relaxing sewalong, and I was definitely game. Hosted one again by KatieFaith, and Lee, the theme this year is "Vintage Restyle." Here's a mockup:

I really like to work from stash when possible, and considering I'll finalize sashing decisions down the line, here's the fabric pull I'll be starting off with. A mix of solids, prints, and substrates, it pretty much follows my formula for the last several samplers.

My swatchcard is ready too! I find this really helps with a long-term sewalong - both remembering what's what each week as well as insurance in case I need more of a certain fabric.

Sooo.... anyone else joining in? Should be fun!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Snowflake Sampler :: Woven Star + Pearvocado

Lucky me, there were TWO new chickenscratch embroidery blocks in the Snowflake Sampler this month! The first, the Woven Star, was plumb full of the white eight-pointed 'stars' used in two of the previous blocks. The weaving felt unique though, and was a pleasure to stitch.

The second block was the Pearvocado, and it's definitely a stand-out among my blocks so far. For one, it was a first for the green floss I chose; then with the weaving, I had to be extra careful with the tension, as afterwards, the woven threads were stitched down with bar stitches. Filling in the shape with three different stitches playing together made things pretty interesting, both to stitch and in the end result.

In case you missed my previous blocks, here they are!

X and O Star   +   Tiny Snowflakes   +   Lacy Flowers

Large Snowflake

Monday, May 3, 2021

April Fabric Usage

My fabric usage continues to creep (and I do mean creep) in the right direction, but finally spending my birthday gift card slowed things down. But I mostly chose solids to keep building up that part of my stash, plus just a few small pieces of Carolyn Friedlander's Kept because why not?

There was also a piece each of waxed canvas and Big Sur canvas, but they were immediately used to make my Hillside Tote and coordinating Minimalistic Wallet. Otherwise, my largest single uses were the backing for the scrappy Variations quilt and impromptu Running Stitch Napkins. So, overall, the picture is still not good, but April was my highest use month so far, and I'm hoping May sees things looking even better!

April Fabric Usage
Used up: 11.22 yards
Brought in: 9.75 yards
Net: -1.47 yards
Year to date: -2.01 yards

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Fine-Line Piecing

It’s my turn to offer a prompt to my Bee Sewcial mates! Always a quandary of sorts, I had an idea that I kept coming back to, so I guess we’ll go with it. The prompt is “Fine-line Piecing,” meaning using very skinny contrasts between the pieces of the main fabrics. Below is a small sample, measuring approximately 7" square.

This post will serve both as instructions for my beemates, but also as a mini-tutorial for fine-line piecing for the rest of you.

Please make two blocks each – any size, but not the same size – together equaling approximately two 12.5” blocks. They can be trimmed to squares or rectangles or not – your choice. For the ‘main’ fabrics, please choose a selection of dark blues. [See KONA Prussian, Storm, Nightfall, Nautical, Indigo, Navy as suggestions.] If possible, please use at least two dark blues in each of your blocks. More are definitely welcome; and if necessary, just one is fine. If you are able to use more than one, using the shades to create their own pattern is an option, but not necessary. (IE. Grouping particular blues together rather than randomly as in the sample block.)

For the “fine lines,” please use whatever you have closest to the gold-green KONA Pickle, which is what I used in my sample. IF you have Pickle on hand, using it in at least one of your blocks would be great. [See KONA Wasabi, Acid Lime, Limelight as other suggestions. Cotton Couture Gold or Acid look to be good options, as is Painter’s Palette Wasabi.] If you have none of these, choose a gold that leans to green rather than too yellow, or a green that leans to lime or blue rather than true yellow.

Piecing only, please (no applique), though the method you choose to use is up to you. I chose to cut approximately ¾” strips of my contrast (Pickle) fabric and sew to a piece of background, pressing away from the skinny strip. 

Then I placed it RST with another background piece, and used my previous stitching line as a guide, trimming to about a ¼” seam allowance after sewing if needed. (See photo below.) 

Finished skinny strips measured approximately 1/16”-1/8”, though some ended up closer to a scant ¼”. Please keep within that range, but aim toward the skinnier. In the photo above, I sewed with my foot next to the previous stitching, and the result was a scant 1/4" strip. I found if I positioned my foot ON the stitching line, the result was closer to 1/16", which I much preferred.

I kept adding to my piece, eventually starting on another and then piecing them together. Beginning with a larger background piece and cutting and piecing it down is another option.

Ruler-free or with-ruler are both welcome. Though the skinny strips appear relatively straight in my sample, they don’t have to be – whatever you choose. Feel free to vary your width in a single skinny strip, while keeping within the suggested range. Curves are welcome but not necessary. Feel free to create blocks that are more minimally pieced or dense, or play with a combination. See Pin Board for views of both as well as other options. A few pins contain some technique tips you may wish to consider, but not necessary. Finished blocks can be trimmed before being sent to me - or not. Hope you find a lot of freedom while creating your blocks and enjoy exploring fine-line piecing!

Here are links to my previous Bee Sewcial quilts - Mod MoodBaconrificLooking UpHomage, Modular, and Rings, if you missed them.