Monday, January 31, 2022

11 Years

Seriously? As of today, I've been blogging for 11 years. The online quilting community has evolved so much over that time, that I sometimes feel like a bit of an enigma. Blog-writing and blog-reading aren't as popular - or prolific - as they once were, but right here still feels like home to me. Sure, I post frequently on Instagram, and occasionally on my A Quilter's Table facebook page. And The Scrap Basket newsletter is a whole 'nother thing, with a more outward focus. But here's where I enjoy sharing in detail about everything I make and more, so I'm figuring I'll just keep doing that.

Quilting Modern, 2012 - first improv quilt

It's hard to know how to even talk about all those years of blogging. I guess if I look back at some early posts, I see a few things have changed dramatically over time.

Mod Mood , 2015 - Bee Sewcial group quilt

  • Most of the quilts I create these days are improvisational.
  • In general, scraps play a much larger part in my projects of any size and type.
  • Different substrates are also used much more frequently.
  • I'm no longer afraid of color or choosing fabric for a project. It took me years to feel comfortable doing that alone.
  • Overall, I guess I'm more confident, and enjoy creating whatever feels fun to me.

Sizzling, 2015 - Pantone Marsala challenge quilt

Truth is, I don't have a whole lot to say this anniversary. It's been a unique couple of years, hasn't it? And I think I'm just feeling grateful that I'm here, doing what I love to do, creating every chance I get and sharing it with you all here. Heartfelt thanks for following along, being a part of so many of my days, and for encouraging me along. It means so much.

Chaotic Order, 2016 Embrace the Chaos pattern by Libs Elliott

Sooo.... are you wondering about the collection of quilts I'm sharing today? Made during my years of quilt-blogging, these happen to currently all hang in our home. The first, over my desk, where I can be reminded of my improv-beginnings; Mod Mood is front and center in our family room, a QuiltCon ribbon winner; Sizzling, AKA the bacon quilt, is in the dining room of course; and the final two - Chaotic Order and Double Tall Skinny Vanilla - in living spaces where their colors coordinate. Do you hang your quilts in your home??

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Inside Out Patchwork Hearts

When I joined Emily DennisPatchwork Hearts QALI had in mind to sew a few blocks a week and have the baby-sized quilt done in mid-February, forcusing primarily on other projects I already had going. Well that all changed once I began piecing the scrappy blocks. The repetition of the same precision block over and over just isn't really my favorite kind of sewing right now. So at some point I just decided to get past the piecing of the blocks, and made all 22 of them in just a few sewing sessions.

By the time I got the quilt top finished, I was gung ho to just finish the quilt, and forgot to even take a photo of the quilt top before moving on to make a backing and getting the sandwich basted!

I made quick work of the quilting, using the serpentine stitch on my back-up machine before I stored it away, my JUKI having just returned home from servicing. With the quilt being so small (45" x 45") and the quilting 2" apart, I was ready to sew on binding in no time.

Emily calls this version of her Patchwork Hearts pattern an inside out heart quilt, and it called to me the first time I saw it, with the backgrounds of the heart blocks in scrappy low-volume prints. I took it a step further and made the hearts super scrappy too.

It feels good to have a small finish + a gift at the ready. AND this one obviously fit well into my 50 Days of Scraps! Makes me anxious to use more!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Yarrow Sew-Along

You know that in addition to quilts, I like to make small sewn items, and it's always fun to mix them in with larger projects. So when I saw that Anna Graham of Noodlehead was hosting a short sew-along to make her new pattern, I figured why not?

Photo by Anna Graham; used by permission.

One big reason was that Yarrow, her new wristlet/pouch, has a zipper going around a curve, and I have never done that! What better way to try than in a sew-along, complete with videos and virtual hand-holding. I'm sure I have fabric in my stash that I can use, but I did need to purchase a few notions - two zippers and a wristlet hardware kit. So I'm ready for it all to begin on January 27, and plan to squeeze it in amongst the quilts I'll be working on over the next few weeks, which are each at a different stage. With any luck, maybe I'll even have one of them completed before the sew-along begins!

Friday, January 21, 2022

Patchwork Hearts

There are a couple of reasons that I'm joining in on Emily Dennis' Patchwork Hearts QAL - it accommodates scraps, and as you know, I've started in on another 50 Days of Scraps. AND I want to make a baby quilt for a friend, so double duty, right?

Over the weekend I cut everything I needed - whew! I'd like to say the worst is over, but the tops of those hearts include squares just 1.25". Yikes. So once I've sewn all those on, I'll breathe a sigh of relief.

But I'm liking the super scrappy heart blocks a lot! Don't expect me to take four weeks to sew up the 22 blocks I need. My improv is calling to me, so I'll probably get these blocks pieced and ready as quickly as I can so I can move on.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the fun mix of fabrics, and am actually looking forward to piecing a pink quilt back from stash!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

50 Days + Primary Color Challenge

So back in December I mentioned starting another 50 (or 100?) Days of Scraps, and two things about that: 

1) I settled on 50 days because it felt manageable AND I can just start another if it feels right; and

2) Without a speck of fanfare, I started in several days ago.

So far, I've made Bee Sewcial blocks I'm super happy with, cut out an entire patchwork hearts quilt top (stay tuned!), and started in on my response to the latest Quilt Improv Studio challenge centering on primary colors + black & white, and the common theme of lines.

So above is my (scrap) fabric pull for the improv challenge piece, though I don't think I'm going to incorporate that yellow dotted fabric, the rest has found it's way into the piece I'm working on. And below is my first slab of lines. Considering I started piecing the black and white lines into a rectangle of blue fabric, things really took on a shape of its own.

I made a similar slab starting with a red square, then cut both slabs into triangle-ish shapes. I did grab a yard of black fabric from stash to use as the background, and came up with a composition I'm really excited about. At this point, the piece measures about 26" square, with my goal being a 24" square when finished.

So I plan to wait a few days before starting in quilting, basically because I ordered some thread, but also because I like to save really focused sewing for the weekend. So stay tuned for that later, but meanwhile I've got a couple of other scrappy projects I've started that I'll share with you soon!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Learning with the Schoolhouse Sampler

About time for a mid-month update on my Schoolhouse Sampler, right?  I've been stitching with a double thread, like I mentioned before, and have really been liking that look. I've also learned a new way to do chain stitch(!) which I can't stop doing, now that I've learned it; and to use a miliner's needle to do French knots. Lightbulb!

I've also been noticing that lots of participants are covering every bit of white fabric in those boxes on the left.  I had no idea, as I'd been strictly following the lines, so to speak. So I may revisit some of them at least. (Confession: I'm already working on filling in my rainbow!) Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the handwork very much. As a daily practice, this sampler with Rebecca Ringquist's daily videos, can't be beat.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Circles and Chevrons

For our first Bee Sewcial prompt of the year, Kenny/@thekingslacker asked for circles and chevrons in the style of Kenneth Noland in bright yet unexpeced palettes. Expecting it to be the most challenging, I started with the inset circle block, using the tutorial by my bee-mate Stephanie/@spontaneousthreads as a guide. Usually a mess when using glue, the process went really well this time. My block finished at 14" sqaure, and I fully expect Ken to trim that outer reddish section into a circle before inserting it into his own quilt. I'm just leaving it square for mailing.

And then it was on to the chevron, which was indeed simpler, though I was surprised how quickly it 'grew'. As shown, it measures 12" wide and 24" long. 

I really love the two blocks together and am anxious to see how Ken uses them! What a fun first prompt for the year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Snowflake Sampler :: Patchwork Quilt

What a block to end on! The final chickenscratch block assignment in the Snowflake Sampler block-of-the-month, was a big one at 21" square. SO many star stitches in this one - 456 to be exact - and then a variety of weaving in three different variegated threads. Let's just say it was an enjoyable week of handwork. Sorry it doesn't photograph better!

Here's a close-up of some of the stitching so you get a better idea....

And I couldn't resist putting all the blocks up on the design wall for a glimpse of how they're going to look together in a quilt. Pretty good, I'd say! I'm hoping to get a quilt back pieced before we get our final assignment of putting the blocks together at the end of the month.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Late Summer

At long last, my Summer Sampler 2021 quilt is done! It was one of my final work-in-progress quilts left over from last year, so it feels really good to have it finished. Begun back in May with the fabric pull, I kept up well with the weekly sewing of new blocks. By September, I had the large final center block pieced, and then all progress stopped. It took me until mid-December to get my blocks out again and consider sashing options and then get those cut. But before the year's end, I had a pieced quilt back and a finished top, and that felt like real progress!

So as I attempted to get started on quilting last week, there was an unfortunate development with my JUKI.... it cut the threads no matter where I placed my foot on the pedal to sew. Considering it, by now, had been a few years since it had been serviced pre-pandemic, I unplugged it and got out my back-up machine. And though I had originally planned on straight-line quilting this quilt, the temptation to use one of the fancy stitches my back-up machine offered proved too great. I ended up using the serpentine stitch, vertically about 1"-1.5" apart, just because I could. 

So now, finally, my Vintage Restyle sampler is bound and ready to be used! Measuring 68" square, it re-emphasized my dislike for sewing a sashing, but I do indeed like the look of it on this quilt, and am happy I was able to gather fabrics from stash that would work. 

The pieced back was also made from stash, more Carolyn Friedlander prints, mixed with solids. I'm not sure why, in the brief rain-break I had, that I forgot to take a photo of the quilted back, but at least you get an idea from this photo. Trust me, if looks even better quilted.

The binding is an unknown stash find that was used in the sashing as well. Rarely do I hand-stitch binding during the day, as I save it for evening couch-time, but I did last weekend. I was just so anxious to have my first finish of the year before the work week began again.

Anyway, I'm thrilled and relieved to have my first finish of 2021! And yeah, this final photo shows our weather-worn house and winter-empty planting beds, but I loved how the grass green and faint blue sky accented the palette of the quilt. It's the little things, right?

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Schoolhouse Sampler: A Daily Embroidery Practice

Before we get too far along in January, I wanted to mark the beginning of my latest embroidery project, the Schoolhouse Sampler from Dropcloth Samplers. For the first time, I've joined a stitch-along with creator Rebecca Ringquist. With a new video on creativebug every day this month, I'm bound to learn a thing or two.

Since I'm also stitching on my final chickenscratch embroidery block, I'm trying to do a little of each new stitch on the Schoolhouse Sampler each night before I dive back into the chickenscratch. Once I'm done with that block, I'll be able to concentrate fully on the new sampler. 

Already I've learned that Rebecca often stitches with a double-thickness of perle cotten! On all the samplers I've done so far, I've stitched with a single-thickness, so I'm trying the double, and so far I like it! Can you see the difference between the running stitch (single) and the back stitch (double) above? Anyway, I'm enjoying hand-stitching by night, while machine-quilting by day.... well at least for an hour or so after work. Feels like a good start to my year!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Abstract Piecing Scrap Play

So the other day, I saw a post on Instagram about Sherri Lynn Wood's Abstract Piecing Scrap Play workshop, the first session in a series of workshops with a variety of guest speakers throughout the year. I went ahead and signed up, not knowing what my weekend schedule would look like, but just in case it worked out. And it did, thanks to my friend, Louise/@imfeelincrafty, who pointed out I was planning on the wrong time zone. Oops.

Anyway, there was an introduction of the series' speakers and some good conversation about abstract piecing, using value to your advantage, and creating order out of scraps. In retrospect, I maybe wasn't clear enough about my own personal algorithm for my piece, but then again; Sherri Lynn commented that success could merely be 'just playing' with the fabric and design, so in that regard, my creation was a total success. The pure satisfaction of exploring color and rediscovering some scraps that had been buried for too long felt really, really good. When the session ended, my piece measured about 21" x 22", and I plan to revisit it another day.

One thing I really appreciated was Sherri Lynn encouraging us to share a surprise, discovery, satisfaction, or challenge in our work. During this particular session, mine was pretty simple - the satisfaction of play. But food for thought as I work through my scraps this year. I'm not that practiced at self-reflection, but it's worth focusing on, so I hope I can keep coming back to that.

I don't think I'll count this as the official start of my next 50(?) Days of Scraps, as I really need to focus on finishing my final 2021 quilt wip, but it was really fun and refreshing, and in rummaging through my scrap basket, I found several fabrics and groupings I'd like to build projects around. So that feels good and is incentive for getting that quilt done so I can get back to the scraps!