Friday, December 30, 2022

More Small Makes

Soooo.... there wasn't much quilting going on this last month, but small random projects - oh yeah. I've already shared about all the gift bags, the hand-stitched oven mitt (which I am really enjoying using!), the embroidered snowflake ornaments, and the Quilted Fabric Basket. But there was also a pair of cute pillowcases for my granddaughters using my favorite tutorial by The Twiddletails Blog. Thanks to my friend Sharon @redapplestitches for sharing the print fabrics with me, which I subsequently paired with Kona Petunia.

There was another hand-stitched oven mitt inspired by the workshop with Aaron Sanders Head. I stitched the back with a different stitch than the first, which I really like. The exterior fabric is Essex Homespun, just like the first, and I really like it for this particular project.

And then there were a whole bunch more stitched ornaments, though quite different from the first. There were Bitty Brush Trees....





and a pair of Snowflake Season, both patterns by Cheri @tinkerellen.


The designs fit in 3" wooden hoops, and were lots of fun to stitch and gift. Using beads isn't my norm but perfect for the little trees! You can see somewhere along the line, I changed from 'potted' trees to trees on a stand. For some reason, the simplicity of those stands really charmed me.

So that's it for finished projects in 2022! I have just a couple of WIPs moving into the new year with me, and a new quilt already going up on the design wall. Looking forward to what the new creative year holds for all of us!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

2023 Planning Party

Once again, Yvonne/Quilting JETgirl is hosting her 2023 Planning Party, a time to look back on 2022 and consider plans and goals for next year.

The Quilts
  • This year felt different, and I know one big reason is that I retired on March 31. The use of my time has definitely been different since then, and I've felt like I've had waves of creativity alternating with very little. I keep telling myself that's ok.
  • Again, I had a goal of at least one finished quilt project a month, and I was able to accomplish that until sickness hit the house around Thanksgiving. Looking at my collection of finished quilts, I was happy to see that the majority were improvisational or of my own design. 
  • Stash-busting continued to be a priority all year, and I did my own 50 Days of Scraps and then some. For the third year, I logged every little bit of fabric I brought in and subsequently used up, gave away, or recycled. 
  • Continued entering challenges with the Improv Quilt Studio, and occasionally with Curated Quilts.
The Community
  • Blogging continues to be consistent but not as inovative as I would have liked - mostly sharing all my projects, though I still really enjoy doing that. I obstained from the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge this month, even though I was prepared with topics for nearly all 31 days. I think it was the right decision even though I've enjoyed it in the past.
  • The Scrap Basket newsletter continued as a mostly monthly publication, and the readership continues to grow, so that's all good. 
New Directions

  • One big new opportunity this last year was being selected as an Aurifil Artisan, which has been great fun. I've participated in the monthly challenges, which has giving me a lot of chances to experiment with new-to-me threads or techniques. 
  • Bee Sewcial having a special exhibit at Quilt Festival in Houston was huge, and what a wonderful thing it was to be able to travel to experience and enjoy the show with my bee mates. 
So considering everything, I'd say 2022 was successful enough! So on to 2023....

The Quilts
  • More stash-busting and scrap-using is definitely in order. In fact, I'm considering starting 100 Days of Scraps (or maybe I already have??), since I enjoyed my 50 so much this year. AND my scrap basket is truly overflowing. Again.
  • There are just a couple of key quilt WIPs that I'm still working on finishing - our Seattle MQG block-of-the-month; and the hand-pieced bowtie quilt begun in the 100 Day Summer Sewalong. I expect the first to be a priority early in the year. Well, both actually.
  • I had in mind to start in on a scrappy Christmas quilt - something that can go on our bed come next December. Impulsively, I made a few wonky sawtooth star blocks the other day to see what I thought and I like it A LOT. So that just might be my current and on-going project.
  • Also on my list for next year is a quilt using the stack of Giuseppe Ribaudo's Entwine that I picked up at Quilt Festival. An impulse buy for sure, they are soft and lovely wovens, so I was thinking something I'd hand-quilt. We'll see.
  • As usual, I plan to make something with 2023's Pantone color of the year, Viva Magenta. Once I get an official Pantone swatch, I'll work on figuring out fabrics. 
  • The goal of at least one finished quilt project a month continues to encourage me along, so I plan to continue with that. I really think I want to continue to go with the flow, though, about what those quilts might be.... whatever brings me joy in the moment would be my preference, and discovering what that might be is a big part of the fun.
  • Bee Sewcial, an improv and solid-only bee, is heading into our 9th(!) year together and I'm up again to offer a prompt come spring.
  • And I plan to continue to participate in challenges with the Improv Quilt Studio, as I really enjoy the community and the challenges.
  • I definitely want to keep up with the handwork, and continue to be open to learning new techniques. I recently started in on a new sashiko project, and am stitching away on it in the evenings.
  • Plus I have a new project I plan to start in January - stitching a 2023 Gingiber tea towel along with Jen @stitchalongwithjen. And I do have a nearly finished cross-stitch project to work on too.
  • I expect I'll continue to stitch the occasional Dropcloth Sampler, and have one in my 'to do' pile, as well as seeing what else new comes up.
  • And I hope to hand-quilt that bow tie quilt, since it's all hand-stitched so far. It goes in and out of priority, and I guess that's ok too.
The Community
  • Regular, frequent posting on the blog here and on Instagram. Still wishing I could master reels, but that takes some focus I haven't yet given it. Maybe it'll happen.
  • I'll take The Scrap Basket into its 8th year, and monthly editions seem to make sense for the time being. 
  • Bee Sewcial has a new website, and I'm hoping to help with that this year, with updates, etc.
  • I'm not going to make it to QuiltCon in Atlanta, but just shipped off threee of my quilts going in my place, which I'm grateful for.
New Directions
  • Nothing specific! One day at a time is my motto of late, and I plan to stick with it. Of course, I'm open to new opportunities - I just don't know what those might be yet.
Boy that feels like a lot, though, and I'm sure I'm missing something. But it's been good to give a little thought to my creative side, and am looking forward to a fresh start in 2023.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Best of 2022

It's always fun to join in Cheryl/Meadow Mist Designs' annual 'Best of' linky party. There's a variety of ways to go about it, and personallyI like to base my 'best' solely on reader views of blog posts, since the linky is primarily blog-related. 

It's worth mentioning, though, that after I posted my 'Best of 2021' last year on 12/27/21, a nearly year-end (12/30/21) post, 'About Those Scraps,' far exceeded any of my 2022 posts. In it, I shared various ways I use scraps, so if that's something you're interested in, please check it out. Now on to this year, counting up from #5 to the most viewed post of 2022.

5. Italiano antico was one of my favorite quilts this year, both due to the fabrics I chose to use - a lot of crossweaves - and the resultant color story. It's already in Austin in waiting for QuiltCon 2023 in Atlanta, so if you see it there, please let me know!

4. The Scrappy Potholders were a scrap-lover's joy. Originally begun purely to try a new potholder shape and use up a multitude of scrappy slabs leftover from a years-old project, they ending up being perfect gifts to several family members.

3. Rich Red I was the first in an on-going exploration of using Kona Rich Red in my quilting projects. Pure improv play, it was a great beginning to my color-based series.

2. The Stitch Club Kantha Quilt was such an enjoyable project for me. Machine-pieced and hand-quilted and hemmed, it was so unique (no batting!), and I'm really glad I took the time to try something new.

1. The top post of this year, Patchwork Hearts was the only one of this 'top' group that wasn't a finished project. But as always, scraps really speak to people, and I totally get that.

I did have a finished quilt, though, that wasn't nearly as popular as its beginnings - Inside Out Patchwork Hearts. It did indeed use a lot of scraps, and I enjoyed gifting it to my co-worker's new baby.

So are you surprised at any of the top posts? I was surprised there were so many finished projects, though the Improv eXtra block and Quilted Bookmarks tutorials were #6 and #7! As always, I just really appreciate your interest in what I'm up to through the year! Thank you!

Linking up with Meadow Mist Designs' Best of 2022 linky party.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Aurifil Artisan Challenge :: Maker's Choice | Wristlet Keychains

Happily, the theme for this month's Aurifil Artisan Challenge was "Maker's Choice!" I sewed quite a variety of small projects these past weeks, all of them with Aurifil thread. And most were with my standard Aurifil 50wt. The exception was a whole bunch of wristlet keychains.

I think I made a dozen in all, each with a fabric scrap chosen specifically with the recipient in mind. Most recipients found theirs in their stocking on Christmas, so I heard a chorus of, "Did you make this?" Why yes, I did.

Since I used different fabrics on each, it made perfect sense to load up my machine with Aurifil Monofilament - both in the top thread, and in the bobbin. I increased the stitch length just slightly, and the monofilament sewed beautifully through the cotton webbing and fabric pairings, which I had interfaced with Pellon fusible SF101 down the center of the fabric - ie. not the seam allowances, which I pressed under before stitching.

The key fob hardware I had was 1" in a variety of finishes, and the cotton webbing 1" medium-heavy weight. It was really satisfying to be able to make a little something for each of my family, as I know they all appreciate the gift of handmade.

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Scrap Basket 2022 Top 10

One of the regular features of my newsletter, The Scrap Basket - and probably the one folks love the most - are the links. They find their way woven throughout each issue, but specifically in the section titled "Worth A Read." I include anything and everything that I think would be of interest to creatives.

I'm always curious to go back through all of the year's issues, and see what were the most popular links. Enjoy!

1. New Denim Potholders from Old Jeans | NordicCrafter

2. Ideas for How to Use Up Fabric Scraps | Feel Good Fibers

3. My Top 10 Favorite Scrap Projects | Kitchen Table Quilting

Anything you particularly enjoyed? If you aren't already a subscriber, you can subscribe in the sidebar, or feel free to just glance through the back issues here.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas!

It's not often I share photos of my hubby, Joe, and I here on the blog. But we were out shopping last week and thought to take a snap out amongst the holiday decorations. We both really appreciate the friendship and support you all give during the year, so want to take the chance to say thank you!! Your being here means so much!

Wishing you a Christmas
pause filled with wonder and hope.... 
and a healthy, joyful New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

All the Dropcloth Samplers 2022

After getting hooked on stitching Dropcloth Samplers last year, I kept it right up this year. So here's a round-up!

Schoolhouse Sampler SAL

Drawing Stitches


Yo Yo Rainbow SAL


Ice Cream Social SAL



Looking back, I was trying to choose my favorites. I definitely learned the most new stitches with the Schoolhouse Sampler, so that was very fun. Yo Yo is up there, though I think I was most surprised how much I enjoyed Compass. And then it was great to use Aurifil 12wt for the first time to stitch Sunshine. 

I did make a couple of samplers into finished projects, in addition to the Snowflake ornaments. My mom was admiring my collection of stitched samplers, and I encouraged her to choose a couple for me to finish off for her. She selected Disco Nap and Pie Sampler, both of which I finished with a matching self-binding with mitered corners. The samplers were both stitched with size 8 perle cotton, but I tried hand-stitching the binding with three strands of variegated Aurifil floss (4654 Seamist), which worked like a charm.

Whatever, it's a lot! I kinda feel like I'm branching out a bit with my handwork, but don't be surprised to see at least a few more Dropcloth samplers in the year to come.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Quilted Fabric Basket

Once I saw the Quilted Fabric Basket made by Irina @nordiccrafter, I knew it would be a perfect gift for a certain someone. The tutorial by Irina and Larisa @stitchingnotes was super easy to follow, and I really enjoyed coordinating fabrics from my stash.

This project had a little of everything - fussy-cutting, EPP, ribbon trim, machine-quilting, hand-stitching, and a couple of buttons from the button jar to finish things off!

It was the perfect size - 6 1/2" wide at the bottom x 3" deep x 5 1/4" tall - to add a couple of goodies, and yet be useful later all on its own.

Love when a new little project pops up and can easily be finished quickly. It's just the kind of thing that adds some cheer to the holiday busyness.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Bee Sewcial Round-Up 2022

The improv bee, Bee Sewcial, is finishing up its 8th(!) year of improvisational creating, and I thought it would be fun to see my year's blocks all together.

Kenny asked for circles and chevrons in the style of Kenneth NolandFor the inset circle block, I used the tutorial by my bee-mate Stephanie/@spontaneousthreads as a guide. Ken was fine with doing the final circle trimming, which was a plus. The Chevron was really fun and grew quickly! As shown, it measures 12" wide and 24" long.

February: Windows Aglow for M-R/@quiltmatters
Imagine going on a winter evening walk...that's what M-R asked us to depict in our blocks - those lights glowing from windows we pass. Using scraps was a must, as well as a particular scale, which was maybe the trickiest part of all. I loved working with all those reds!

For my prompt this year, I asked for long, oblong 'horizon' blocks with layered colors inspired by the work of Grant Haffner. An abstract use of color was encouraged, but not required. I struggled to make my own block, but finally, it came to pass,  measuring 10" x 36", and with a hint of similarity to the lake-view photos I've posted over the years.

And after weeks of mulling, I was able to finish "Horizon Views," my 8th quilt with Bee Sewcial. Big relief to have this one complete before the year's end.

Leanne asked for 'close up' views in fantasy seed colors, with blocks left untrimmed. My first block represents a poppy seed pod; the second, a thistle.

July: X Blocks for Stephanie/@spontaneousthreads
Stephanie's request was for cool-colored improv-pieced Xs on a warm pieced background; again, left untrimmed. This prompt was a little tricky to execute, but definitely some improvisational fun.

August: Jellyfish for Karen/@capitolaquilter
Can't tell you how many times I tuned in to the Monterey Bay Acquarium Jellyfish Cam after Karen shared her jellyfish prompt! Karen encouraged us to "focus on one or multiple parts rather than the whole," which was interesting to execute. For the jellyfish "tentacles" on the right, I used the Insert Strips on the Fly tutorial found on Hillary/@entropyalwayswins' blog.

October: Improv Letter Study for Felicity/@felicityquilts
Felicity wanted a different letter for each block, and different values of one color for each block. This was very fun! Can you tell my first block letter was 'L' and the second, 'A'?

November: It's Fall Y'All for Marci/@marci_girl
Marci asked for a unique and full fall palette of abstract blocks based off of tangible things or feelings or emotions. My first block was inspired by the leaves on the trees that have different colors on different parts of the tree. The second block was my interpretation of the fall skies during the week I was making these blocks. The weather had been brisk, but we enjoyed some blue skies, tinged with pink later in the day. Imagine looking up through bare tree branches and maybe you'll 'see' what I'd been seeing. We had the option of trimming our blocks, so I trimmed the first and left the second untrimmed.

So that was another fun year of improv with intent! I'm always in awe of the prompts my bee mates set forth, and am looking forward to more in 2023. See the #beesewcial hashtag if you'd like to see more, or follow the new Bee Sewcial Instagram page or website