Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Summer Fabric Usage

You may remember that back at the end of May, I reported that I was going to step away from the monthly fabric usage posts, due to my own frustration at making any progress. Not to say that I haven't kept up keeping track, as I have. And now, nearly at summer's end, I'm happy to report for the last three months. There have been just a few purchases....

I placed one final order from my friend Kristina of Fabric Bubb before she moved to North Carolina, a sale solid, and a lovely little bundle of Diamond Textiles bolt ends. I knew those wovens would be perfect add-ins for some improv quilts.

In fact, a few of them worked their way into Octo. They have such a beautiful hand and add lovely texture to any project. 

Another purchase was made to help fill out what was needed for the Bowtie baby quilt, so that felt justified, as it's destined to become a gift. Included was the first quilt back I've purchased for ages, since I usually piece together backs from stash. 

And lastly, I felt some urgency in finding additional fabrics for the QuiltCon Artisan Cotton Fabric Challenge, so I went ahead and ordered a few yards.

So not too much, and I actually survived July without buying a thing! Overall, I'm feeling good about the summer. Here are the stats:

June Fabric Usage
Used up: 11.40 yards
Brought in: 8.25 yards
Net: -3.15 yards
Year to date: 5.5 yards

July Fabric Usage
Used up: 5.07 yards
Brought in: 0 yards!!
Net: -5.07 yards
Year to date: .43 yards

August Fabric Usage
Used up: 6.83 yards
Brought in: 3 yards
Net: -3.83 yards
Year to date: -3.4 yards

So that's not terribly terrific, but at least there's a negative balance as of today! I feel like even though I've been sewing, the actual fabric usage hasn't been that much, and that's kind of a mystery. So maybe there's not a whole lot to celebrate, but I'm going to just the same!

Monday, August 30, 2021


I was so excited to see Karen/CapitolaQuilter's August Bee Sewcial prompt: "Pickle-ish," or rather, improv interpretations of the Pickle Dish Block. Not too far off from my own Rings last year, I expected these blocks to be a breeze. NOT. 

And seriously, I don't know why I found them so challenging. But scale was definitely an issue. My original arcs - both times - could have turned into blocks nearly twice the size Karen was asking for - the standard 12.5". So there was definitely some tweaking in the final construction. And then those cornerstones look innocent enough. But they, too, were a little tricky.

But once fully pieced and trimmed up, I love them! I used triangles in the first block and spikes in the second, thought they turned out a little more similar than I anticipated. Whatever, I can't wait to see this quilt evolve.

Friday, August 27, 2021

SewTogether Bag

Well friends, I did it. With the help of Julia/Red Rainboots Handmade and the SewTogether Bag Sewalong, I made the infamous SewTogether Bag, a pattern by Michelle/SewDemented. I'd long been shy of it - all those zippers, the very unique shape, those curved handles - so much to be intimidated by. And yes, it was challenging, but oh so doable, especially with Julia holding my hand with her awesome videos of every step. I'm glad I took the plunge.

As planned, I used Lee Heinrich's Perfect Geese template to make my own bag front. And I veered off ever so slightly from my original fabric pull after I made an error in cutting. So my bag's lining became a different Carolyn Friedlander low-volume print (5th goose from the left on the front, rather than the 3rd).

All my zips were from Zipit Zippers - Mustard Yellow for the interior pockets and Slate Gray for the exterior. Zipit even has a special bundle where you can mix and match your zips for the SewTogether Bag - how handy is that? Anyway, I want to mention that the step pictured below was one I was afraid of but I shouldn't have been. It went together so nicely.

The moment my bag took on 3D status was an exciting one. Adding those side panels was a little finicky (IE. my seam ripper came out briefly), but it was fun to finally see a construction technique I'd been wondering about. Oh, and I took a moment to add in one of my leather labels!

It looks like I totally missed taking any photos of the attaching the lining to the exterior. That's probably because that was the trickiest step of all. It was just cumbersome, and I ended up switching to a bigger needle, which really  helped. I machine-stitched the end bindings on, and then finished them by hand, just because I wasn't confident I could get nice straight machine stitches with those bulky edges. 

From there, it was just that main exterior zipper and binding, which was more of a breeze than I'd expected. I did completely machine-stitch those bindings, though, because with the zipper totally open, it wasn't difficult to finish them off neatly.

Somewhere around the middle of constructing the bag, I was mulling over how much less glitzy my bag was going to be than the majority of those I've seen over the years. And it came to me that I could add one little detail that would put it over the top, for me at least.

And that was leather zipper tabs. The pattern calls for little fabric pocket-like tabs, which are perfectly fine of course. But why, when you have some short scraps of leather on hand? I cut mine 1" x 5", marked the center at 2.5" on the back with my hera marker, and double-stitched along that line at the base of the bag on each end. Then I tucked in the zipper end(s) with a bit of glue, and finger-pressed together for a few seconds before I stitched the end together. GO SLOW if you try this. It's thick, as you can imagine, but obviously worked just fine. I triple-stitched, and it feels good and secure.

Not sure why the photo below makes it look like there's a loose thread, because there isn't, but oh well. I'm super happy that I thought of trying this AND that it worked so well. I love the look!

Soooo..... SewTogether Bag success! I added a little leather cord zipper pull to the main zipper, and it's a wrap. Now to decide what to put in it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Providence

Paper-piecing is not my first or favorite piecing language, but that said, I really enjoyed it the last couple of evenings as I stitched Faith Jones' block design together. Providence, based on the Economy block, is our 12th and final 12.5" block in this year's Summer Sampler. Somehow after prepping all my fabrics, I switched things around unintentionally, though I don't think the block is any worse for my error.

Maybe I say this every year, but I've been super pleased with how my fabric pull played out. I still have some choices to make in choosing fabric for the quilt's sashing, so time will tell as far as that's concerned. But next week, we have the large center block #13, and I'm looking forward to that!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Picnic Stitch Along

It had been nearly three months since I finished my last Dropcloth Sampler when I saw their creator, Rebecca Ringquist, post that not only was there a new sampler coming, but a stitch along to boot. I confess I wasn't 100% sure about the Picnic sampler having a painted background, but I was game to try.

To top things off, Rebecca offered a specially curated collection of Wonderfil Specialty Threads, that at first I resisted. But when I went shopping for a few new threads to round out my stash of perle cotton, I had trouble finding what I wanted available in the timeframe I hoped for. So I splurged on my first 
collection ever.

For my own future reference, I'm going to list the threads included in the collection:

EZM1059-Citrus  ~  EZM1021-Meditation  ~  EZM1039-Space Station
EZM1061-Rose Bush  ~  EZM1083-Banksia  ~  EZM1099-Deep Jungle
EZM1022-City Lights  ~  EZM1034-Canopy  ~  EZM1055-Ball Pit

So I'm just getting started stitching on my Picnic Sampler, trying that "Ball Pit" thread first. Rebecca offered a suggestion of threading several needles with different colors of thread before starting to stitch. I've always just threaded my needle as I've chosen my next color, but I'm considering trying that. I'm also going to try some needles that she suggested. Not that the size 7 Bohin embroidery needles I've been using haven't been working just fine, but it's always worth checking out a recommendation, right? And the stitching on this sampler is going to get pretty dense, so I figured they're worth a try. I'm kind of excited to sit down to stitch!

Monday, August 23, 2021


Hopefully by now you're familiar with the periodic challenges hosted by Quilt Improv Studio. I have participated in two previously, making Utterly Blue for the Blue Repetition Challenge and Bow Ties No. 1 for the Black and White Challenge. And now my newly completed Redwork is my response to the current Monochrome Dreams Challenge, which runs July 1st – October 15th, 2021. 

Of course I debated a while over which color to use, finally settling on red, or rather redS. I've grown to love the mix of various reds over the last couple of years, so I was eager to revisit them. I had quite a few in my stash, including Kona red, rich red, wine, brick, crimson, Chinese red, cardinal, lipstick, and ruby. 

I started by taping off a 24" blue painter's tape square on my design wall and filling it with shapes. I started with various sized rectangles, then somewhere along the line I created some triangles, a few HRTs, and some stripes. At the point shown in the photo below, I was confident enough to begin sewing pieces together, while knowing that I still needed to build out some, as the minimum size for the challenge was 24" square. Still, I liked where it was going.

So you can see in this next photo (below), that most of the build out happened on the right side and along the bottom. I ended up incorporating more triangles as I pieced, as well as more of the other elements. The top, when complete, measured 26.5" square. 

When I shared the blue tape photo on Instagram, Latifah Saafir commented that she loved the contrast of the reds with the blue. I totally agreed, and chose to combine the two for the quilt's back. I included both a solid (Kona Harbour) and a blue print, as both were such great matches for 'painter's-tape blue.' You can see I also had just a few small leftover striped bits that I was able to incorporate. Quilt backs aren't usually my favorites to piece, but this one was totally fun.

For quilting, I used two red threads, Aurifil 50wt #2250 [Red] and #1103 [Burgundy] and once again used the Fancy Straight Line from Jacquie Gering's WALK book. It just goes so nicely with this kind of improv, and provides awesome texture, though I think this is the smallest scale I've done it. The finished, trimmed quilt measured 25" square.

It was difficult to get a good shot of the quilting once that was underway. I tried both indoors and out, and I couldn't get the colors to show true. Thankfully a follower reminded me to try putting a white sheet of paper in the photo and then crop the photo afterwards. That definitely helped. The photo below was actually taken indoors on a big sheet of white foam board near my best light source. The first photo in this post was taken outdoors on a pretty cloudy day, so you can see there's a difference no matter what I did.

Here's a closer look at the quilting. Between the palette, the improv, the smallish-size, and that quilting, this project was truly enjoyable; and being my first finish in weeks, felt delightfully good.

So there's still time if you're interested in joining the Monochrome Dreams Challenge. And if you want to see more of what folks are creating, just check out the hashtags #qismonochrome and #quiltimprovstudio.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Create Whimsy

A few weeks ago, Create Whimsy asked if they could interview me about my work. Since Create Whimsy is known for sharing stories and journeys of makers and their work, "providing inspiration for living creatively every day," it felt like a good fit.

So if you're new here, or would just like to know a little more about my quilting journey and current process, click here.

Create Whimsy does Spotlight Stories on all sorts of creatives, in addition to modern quilters - fiber artists, art quilters, embroidery artists, and much more. Take a look!

Friday, August 20, 2021

100 Day Summer Sewalong :: Day 80

Well things didn't go entirely as planned, with me getting a little impatient during the 100 Day Summer Sewalong and finishing the hand-piecing of my 100 bow tie blocks over 20 days early. Ooops.


Real life has since intervened, and little sewing of any kind has transpired this last week, but obviously that's just fine. I'll have to clear the design wall before I can start playing with a quilt layout for these blocks, knowing full well I may need to order more Kona Enchanted for puzzling, or even make more blocks. So expect to see more of this project in the future, though I'm not committing to when that might be. Meanwhile, I have several machine-sewing works in progress, and a new Dropcloth sampler to start in on to keep with that summer hand-stitching. So all is good!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Modern Saw

Modern Saw by Porfiria Gomez of Eat.Quilt.Pray turned out to be one of my favorite Summer Sampler 2021 blocks. It's not all the flying geese blocks (I don't enjoy making them) and it's not my fabric placement (kinda wishing I'd switched things up where those greens are all bunched together), but still. I really really like it, and I think what keeps drawing me in are those HSTs on the two sides that don't all point as one would typically expect in a Sawtooth Star. 

I realized once I was done that the photo on the pattern actually showed those blue geese pointing out, and I kind of wish I'd realized that so I could at least see what I liked best. But whatever, Modern Saw fit perfectly into my week, and it's a keeper.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Marigold

Soooo hard to believe we're getting down near the end of the Summer Sampler 2021 blocks! Block 10 this week is by Lori Holt of a bee in my bonnet, who put her own twist on a traditional flower vase design.

There was an option to add 'stems' to each flower, but I preferred it without, thinking this was a tad less traditional. And I got to include that striped fabric and used my alternate dark blue, so I'm a happy camper.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Snowflake Sampler :: Favorite Coffee Mug + Small Classic Star

The latest Snowflake Sampler block-of-the-month assignment consisted of two 11" blocks, a coffee mug and a small star. The weaving on the mug felt different than what we'd done before, and I really really enjoyed it.

Actually, both blocks felt like they had a triple layer of stitching. The first had the basic star stitches, the 'X' weaving, and then the flowers. Then the star had star stitches - in both white perle and variegated floss - and then straight stitches before the 'circle' weaving.

So yeah, these were most enjoyable. The base star stitches are a little ho-hum at this point, but the weaving - always worth it.

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

X and O Star   +   Tiny Snowflakes   +   Lacy Flowers

Large Snowflake   +   Woven Star   +   Pearvocado

Classic Star   +   Simple Woven Flower

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Summer Sampler 2021 :: Cross Churn

With the churn dash being one of my favorite traditional quilt blocks, I was happy to see a modern variation included in Summer Sampler 2021. "Cross Churn" by Megan Lopez/The Athena Workshop was quite the breather after last week's multiple curvesIt's a striking design, isn't it? 

And 9 weeks into the sew along, I'm loving my blocks together. Do you have a favorite? Do tell!