Wednesday, March 29, 2023

2023 Quilting Q1 Check In

Back in December, Yvonne @quiltingjetgirl hosted a 2023 Planning Partytime to look back on 2022 and consider plans and goals for this year. Currently, she's encouraging us to do a little 2023 Quilting Q1 Check In, so let's see how things are going.

Happily, I have several first quarter quilt finishes.

I'll just link to my current WIPS:

2023 BOM Diamond Flare - a year-long project with Seattle MQG

Brown Scraps quilt - in progress

Bow Tie quilt - a left-over from 2022 and one I hope to finish this year

Special Aurifil Challenge - secret sewing that I can share in a few weeks

So on to my stated goals back in December. Note my current status/notes are in bold italics.

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. I DID indeed start in on a 100 Day Project, AKA 100 Days of Scraps. My rules for myself are loose - basically move a scrap project forward each day, even if it's simply pulling scraps, trimming, or actually sewing. I missed two days while out of town, so I'll tack those on at the end. Keeping the focus fluid and workable.
  • 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. You can see I finished The BOM, above, but haven't touched the bowtie quilt. I've purchased batting though, and I haven't forgotten about it!
  • 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. I did it! Scrappy Sparkle Punch is done and ready for the Christmas season later this year, though I didn't make it as big as I originally intended.
  • 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. Haven't touched them yet, but I've admired them several times in my stash. The day will come.
  • 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. Fabrics have been explored, and I hope to start in the next week or so.
  • 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. So far I'm on track with at least one quilt finish a month, deciding as I go along what those might be.
  • 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. Yikes! I kind of struggled with a prompt this year, but I'm ready to share with my bee mates on April 1. 
  • And I plan to continue to participate in challenges with the Improv Quilt Studio, as I really enjoy the community and the challenges. The latest IQS challenge, Dualism, has been announced, and I still plan to participate. I've thought about it, but haven't come up with a quilt plan quite yet.
  • A new (possible) goal is that I was approached about creating a trio of quilted liturgical wall hangings for our church. I know the basic colors and themes, but no specific design ideas yet. This project will take some dedicated focus.
  • 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. That sashiko project was great fun, and my Coffee Fukin is being used under our own coffee station in our kitchen. I'm really glad I made it.
  • 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. Let's just say I'm plugging along on this one - haven't abandoned it, but I've let other handwork projects sneak in. The community aspect of the stitchalong didn't turn out as I expected, but I still plan to stick with it.
  • 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. I stitched the Love sampler in February, am currently working on the Strawberry Needle Book, and have the new Garden Path standing by to work on next month. These samplers continue to be my favorite kind of hand-stitching.
  • 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. Like I said, I haven't forgotten about it!
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'm averaging 2-3 blog posts a week, and posting most days on Instagram. And I actually made a couple of successful reels - here and here! But honestly, it's a big challenge each and every time I try.
  • I'll take The Scrap Basket into its 8th year, and monthly editions seem to make sense for the time being. This plan has gone pretty well and I hope to continue monthly publications.
  • Bee Sewcial has a new website, and I'm hoping to help with that this year, with updates, etc. Haven't done anything new, but I'm up for it as needed.
  • I realized I had nothing in my December goals about being an Aurifil Artisan! I began in that role in May 2022, and have enjoyed it very much, participating in nearly-monthly challenges and using a much wider range of Aurifil threads than I even had before. 
  • 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. I so appreciated friends sharing photos from the show! Even though I wasn't there, I totally kept watch on things via social media. 
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. I was able to take a workshop with David Owen Hastings @davidowenhastings, and that proved to be such a good choice, resulting in l'uscita, in which I tried a lot of new-to-me techniques.

So that was a bit much, but a good little review. I feel like I'm on track, yet have a lot to look forward to in the coming months. All's good on the creative front!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Aurifil Artisan Challenge :: Aurifloss | Whisper

So the scrappy quilt I began a few weeks ago using Aurifloss for big-stitch quilting is complete. Glance back if you missed the beginnings of project. What started me off was a box of small spools of Aurifloss - the Rosso Rubino collection by Susan Ache @yardgrl60 for Aurifil. The collection consisted of 10 colors of Aurifloss, 5002 [Medium Red], 6729 [Tangerine Dream], 2220 [Light Salmon], 2270 [Paprika], 2435 [Peachy Pink], 2420 [Light Blush], 2255 [Dark Red Orange], 2277 [Light Red Orange], 2230 [Medium Peony], 2415 [Blush]. I originally intended to use every thread color, and I came very very close. 

The floss worked really well for hand-quilting. I ended up using three strands throughout, and that felt good and strong; not too thick, yet still very noticeable. I really like the look of the different colors of thread playing over the quilt. 

All the stitching designs were on a whim, decided as I approached a new section. Most were done 'by eye,' though on a few of the larger ones, I marked stitching lines with my hera marker. 

For binding, I tried Erica's @kitchentablequilting method of big-stitch binding, referring to the highlight in her IG stories for tips on beginning and ending. I thought those very visible binding stitches really suited this particular quilt. 

I chose to wrap the binding and stitch on the back of the quilt, as the Kona Ivory quilt back shows off the quilting nicely.

I used Quilters Dream Natural Cotton Request Batting for this quilt, and it was lovely to hand-quilt on. The quilt is baby-sized, finishing at 34" x 40". It had been ages since I'd hand-quilted, so this was a fun change of pace. And I gave the Aurifloss a good workout and it came through swimmingly. I'm glad I gave it a go, and have a sweet, soft finish to show for it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Diamond Flare :: March

Just popping in quickly to share the first block assignment for the Seattle MQG block-of-the-month, Diamond Flare. It's a mystery quilt designed by guild member Taylor Krz @toadandsew, and it started off easy with a bunch of HSTs.

It was hard to get a decent true-color photo of the blocks, but, as instructed, I used my lightest and darkest colors from my fabric pull - Kona Blue and Kona Forest.

So now we wait until April's meeting when the next assignment will be released. No worries... plenty of wips to work on here.

Saturday, March 18, 2023


A brief comment on the name of this little quilt, "l'uscita." In Italian, that means 'the exit.' And I named it that solely because my inspiration photo was of the exit from the Vatican Museum in Rome, taken when we were there in the fall of 2019. And we all know how profound memories of the end of 2019 are - before everything changed.

So here's the rest of the story....

Let's just say that after the Inspired by Art workshop with David Owen Hastings @davidowenhastings, all I could think about was finishing what I'd started. At 31" x 40", it was quick work to make a quilt sandwich, and like I'd mentioned before, I took Yvonne's @quiltingjetgirl suggestion and used a solid fabric for the quilt backing - Kona Graphite. I was eager to see the quilting I had planned on both sides of this quilt.

So after all I'd gleaned from David's class in regards to creating my quilt top, he also provided lightbulb moments in regards to quilting it. One was to select an element of the piecing, enlarge it, and use it as a quilting design. That floral shape in the upper right hand corner jumped out at me, and I used it twice as a quilting design, tracing it first on a piece of parchment, then marking on the quilt top with my hera marker. I especially loved that the outer and inner edges curved in different ways. I felt like that added a lot of fun quilting!

Another lightbulb from David was overlapping quilting design elements. I did that several times - I counted 10 at least. Again, that really added to my enjoyment of the quilting.

And lastly, changing the density of the quilting added a lot of interest - both in the quilting itself and for me!

For quilting thread, I used Aurifil 50wt in several colors - 2692 [Black], 2021 [Natural White], 2730 [Delft Blue], 2715 [Robins Egg], and just a bit of 1103 [Burgundy]. The reason I added in the Burgundy is that in my inspiration photo, I'd noticed a figure in red, and for some ridiculous reason, I needed to acknowledge that in my quilt. Initially my thought was with fabric, but obviously that changed during the process.

The different thread colors is much more apparent in person than in the photos unfortunately, but hopefully you can catch glimpses of it as you scroll through this post.

For the final finishing touch, I did a faced binding... not my favorite to execute but I do think it suited this quilt. 

So my to-do list is/was long for March, but this little interlude was definitely worth it. For one, it was good to immediately execute some of the techniques mentioned in the workshop. I also really enjoyed the fabric mix I ended up using, and that floral was not my norm, but I felt like it connected me to the inspiration photo in an additional way.

Anyway, this piece was great fun, and I look forward to exploring art as inspiration another day!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Bombazine and More

With my own 100 Day Project being all about using scraps, I settled in to make several gifts, namely Bombazine oven mitts and potholders.

A friend had gifted me with her generous selection of embroidery thread which she could no longer use, and obviously a hand-made thank you gift was necessary. I'd been wanting to try the Bombazine Mitt from Bombazine for a while, and that with a coordinating potholder seemed perfect.

The mitt came first, pieced with various scraps, enhanced with a bit of hand-stitching using some of the floss I'd been gifted, and finished with a leather 'hanger.'

Then came the mitt, 8" square-ish, with the two rounded edges I'd seen Hannah @verdigrissewing do (and copied) last year.

Then mom, who had been a recipient of the great potholder giveaway last spring, randomly asked for another set - scrappy like the first, but larger. Per her request, the new set was made 10" square, equally handy as potholders or trivets. 

Though the fronts of all these projects were straight from the scrap basket, the backs were sometimes from stash - still trying to use the smaller pieces that linger there.

Then I decided my brother might enjoy a Bombazine Mitt to use with the scrappy potholders he'd already gotten. A simple uneven grid was a fun way to quilt his mitt.

And last of this bunch, was a pair of potholders for my daughter, Rachel @snippetsofsweetness.... just because. I made them 8" like the originals, happy to have found at least a few scraps to include that I knew were her old favorites.

So I felt like a change of pace after all those, and you'll be surprised (I think) to see what I started pulling from the scrap basket next....

Monday, March 13, 2023

Inspired by Art

Oh, I'd been wanting to take a workshop with David Owen Hastings @davidowenhastings for a long time, and it finally worked out to take his "Inspired by Art" class last Saturday with fellow Seattle MQG members. And what a terrific session it was. David, who is also a SeaMQG member, helped us look at creating in a new way (to me!), and had so many helpful tips and examples to share.

Per insturctions, I had chosen some fabrics before class, but with my stash just a few feet away, I found myself changing things up once I was ready to sew on my project. 

What I ended up using were Konas Black, Snow, and Copen; Essex Homespun Navy, and a piece of Ebony & Ivory, a long-stasted 100% Cotton Screen Print from Benartex [Style 3583]. David said that the print piece was 'a bold choice,' and I totally agree. But in looking at my inspiration photo, I saw some detailing in the railing that I wanted to emphasize in the finished piece, and that dainty floral did it for me.

So yes, we were each working off an inspiration photo of a piece of art. The one I chose was a photo of the exit from the Vatican Museum in Rome, taken when we were there in 2019.

The process photos I'm sharing in this post are in order of completion. You can see I started with some very simple blocks, then jumped ahead to a more complex one. I think the upper left unit in the photo below is my favorite of the whole bunch. To create the element I wanted, I needed to incorporate a Y-seam, which thankfully, worked out swimmingly.

Here are the eight units I was able to create in class, along with one 'blank' square to remind myself that leaving space is always something to consider. 

After class, I made two more blocks, and played with layout, finally coming up with the one shown below.

But one thing really bothered me, and it was that wide stripe of snow in the bottom left block. I studied my inspiration photo for a few moments, and then edited the block just a bit, and liked it so much better. Overall, I was surprised, and a little disappointed that there was so little of my lightest fabric in the overall piece. But I didn't want to rethink the entire project, so decided I could live with it and moved on.

What I didn't expect to add, but decided the piece needed, was two black borders, on the left and bottom. That consolidated all the blackness in a way I liked, so I quickly sewed it up before I changed my mind. The quilt top currently measures 31" x 40", and I've decided to take Yvonne's @quiltingjetgirl suggestion and use a solid fabric for the quilt backing. The scraps were minimal once I'd gotten this far, including a lack of yardage of either the blue or black. I finally settled on Kona Graphite, and armed with the beginnings of a quilting plan, hope to get started soon!

Friday, March 10, 2023

My Viva Magenta

Keeping with tradition, I set out to see if I could find a reasonably close fabric match to this year's Pantone Color of the Year, Viva Magenta. With Sarah @saroy and Elizabeth @elizabethkray co-hosting the 2023 Pantone Quilt Challenge, I definetely had plenty of incentive. But let's just say this year is proving to be one of the most difficult ones yet!

Here were my candidates (L-R): 

Essex Crimson 

Peppered Cotton Garnet 

Alison Glass' Kaleidoscope Strawberry 

Kona Wine 

Kona Crush

Kona Pomegranate

Pure Solids Dragonfruit

Cotton Couture Fuchsia

Painter's Palette Raspberry

Note that the first three - Essex, Peppered Cotton, and Kaleidoscope - were ordered purely as different substrate options to quilter's cotton, which I sometimes enjoy including in a project like this. Ordered purely due to the color they appeared on screen when ordering and/or their name, none are even close matches to Viva Magenta. But the Kaleidoscope especially could prove to be an interesting contrast to include. We'll see.

So that left the six solids shown below with the official Pantone color card, in the same order as the photo above. Thanks again to my daughter Rachel @snippetsofsweetness for ordering the swatch cards for us. We really enjoy having the actual swatch to compare to.

From the fabric I had in my stash as I was beginning my 'research,' Kona Wine was the closest, even though it was definitely darker.

In my opinion, Kona Crush - the Kona Color of the Year - wasn't even close.

The rest of the fabrics, I ordered. I consulted Sarah's blog post and Steph's @stephskardal mobile app “A Quilty Solid” (before the latest update) before choosing some possible fabric options. In my mind, three of the fabrics I chose were obviously way too pink to be considered a close match: (L-R) Kona Pomegranate, Cotton Couture Fuchsia, and Painter's Palette Raspberry.

That left Pure Solids Dragonfruit, which Rachel and I think is the best match from this group of fabrics. And yes, I took them all to Rachel for her to confirm what I thought I was seeing.

We actually thought that the trio below - Kona Wine, Pure Solids Dragonfruit, and Kaleidoscope Strawberry - might be nice to use together. But I'll see once I come up with a plan.

I'm curious to see what other folks doing the challenge choose as their Viva Magenta. Unless someone shares that they have found a very close match, I don't epect to order any more fabric options at this point. It's not an exact science, of course, but it's been fun to explore just the same.