Thursday, September 28, 2023

Calendar Update II

So how many calendar project updates is too many? Hopefully weekly feels reasonable, as they're helping keep me motivated. In spite of a minor cold dragging me down this week, I have made good progress since last week's update. The five initial slabs for the first panel are still up on the design wall, basically untouched.

Rather than take them down, I've just been pinning the newest slabs on top... and slightly lower, so I can reach them better.

Heading into panel two of the triptych, I decided to work through each fabric color, so one of those red strips will actually fit into the third panel. The black and yellow are the only of their color. And there is more white and green slabs yet to do. 

Just for the record, the white slab in front is the largest so far, currently at 21" x 68". I'm waiting on more white fabric to finish two additional skinny strips, so I think I'll move on to the next green slab. There are three of those yet to make, and the widest will be at least 44", the largest slab of them all! Wish me luck as I face the 'long green season' of piecing. After that, the end of the slab-piecing will be in sight.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


After finishing my most recent Dropcloth sampler, Log Cabin, I happily started right in on a new one from Rebecca Ringquist @dropcloth, Pencil.

Once again, I used exclusively 12wt threads from Aurifil. Honestly, I had no problem using perle cotton for these samplers in years past, but considering my current partnership with Aurifil as an Aurifil Artisan, I really wanted to give the 12wt threads a fair chance, and I enjoy working with them so much. The colors are rich, the threads a bit silky, and they stitch beautifully. Using a double-thickness gives me great coverage.

So I actually purchased two of the Pencil samplers, with our grandgirls in mind. And as I was about to start in on the first one, the five-year-old happened to be over, so I got out my growing collection of 12wt thread colors, and asked her to choose what she thought would be nice.

She immediately suggested a 'galaxy theme,' which by no coincidence, I'm sure, was the theme of her recent birthday cake. So I'm not quite sure what about this range says 'galaxy' to her, but I went with it.

The colors she chose were 2430 [Antique Rose], 2535 [Magenta], 2479 [Medium Orchid], 2530 [Medium Orchid], 2520 [Violet], 4020 [Fuchsia], 2725 [Light Wedgewood], 2250 [Red], 2145 [Yellow Orange]. It was really enjoyable to mix stitches as I stitched along, and I tried to use a good variety of them - back stitch, straight stitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, coral stitch, and wrapped back stitch.

Once the bodies of the pencils were stitched, I had to make some decisions about the other components. The erasers were done in both 5021 [Light Gray] and 2430 [Antique Rose] with an accent of 4020 [Fuchsia] on one eraser. The ferrules were all stitched in 2615 [Aluminum]; the wood in 2314 [Beige]; and all the leads matching the pencil bodies. Additional stitches on these parts included couching, French knots, satin stitch, and plus stitch. 

Oh, and I did go back at the very end and do some wrapped stitching on the yellow orange pencil with 2120 [Canary], only because grandgirl really liked that color, but I talked her out of it because I thought it might get lost on the golden background fabric. Whatever, it makes me feel better that I found a way to include that color too.

So Rebecca's original idea with the Pencil sampler was to make them into pencil pouches, and I fully intend to do that.... after I stitch the second sampler.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Diamond Flare :: September

Before the month comes to an end, I took some time to whip up the latest segments for my Seattle MQG Diamond Flare BOM quilt. This month's assignment - the stepping stone blocks on the sides of the pieced triangle blocks from last month - took a while and definitely demanded some concentration, but I love that they used all but one of the fabrics in my palette.

So this month's pieces were stitched together with last month's, but what comes next remains to be seen. One step at a time, right?

Friday, September 22, 2023

Calendar Update I

So I've been working on one project and one project only - A Different Kind of Calendar. It feels overwhelming, but in a very good way. It's time-consuming, but I'm enjoying the improv construction very much. And happily, I have all the slabs completed for the first panel!

The colors are a tad off in the photo above (especially the purple), and the slabs are not yet sewn to each other, but at least the majority of the piecing is complete. I decided to move on for now to start the improv piecing of the second panel, and come back to actually sew the slabs together. I admit I'm kind of intimidated by that, but that day will come!

So these last few days I have pieced the three red segments (not shown), which will be used in panels two and three, and the single black segment, which will be used in panel two. See here for a reminder of the complete layout. For the black, I changed things up and rather than build the row bit by bit using the design wall, I made a bunch of improv blocks, then decided how they best fit together. 

That worked really well for this skinny (6" x 68") strip. Next up is a similarly-sized yellow strip, and I think I'll use the same method. Just for reference, these skinny strips are taking me 60-90 minutes to piece. The purple shown in the first photo took roughly four hours. So progress has been good, but is definitely taking all my sewing-time focus.

Friday, September 15, 2023

A Different Kind of Calendar

So I'm embarking on one of the largest quilt projects I've ever attempted. A commission for our church, I'll be creating a triptych, or "a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together." [Source: OxfordLanguages and Google

The subject of the trio is pretty specific - it will be a representation of what is called a liturgical calendar following the Revised Common Lectionary. In a nutshell, the calendar provides a three-year series of Biblical readings for Sundays for many many denominations in the US and Canada and beyond. The major seasons of the church year are represented by color, and that is the part that I am focusing on. I'm happy to tell anyone interested more about the colors and what they represent, but won't get into that unless asked. But I will share the graphic I came up with as I was planning the layout of the three pieces. Picture the gray as the wall behind the three hangings, then the other colors as what will be depicted in fabric.

So once I had a good sense of how large each of the three panels would be - approximately 52" x 68" - I could begin to consider fabric choices. Consulting with our minister of music & worship, who asked for me to create the panels in the first place, we agreed that the composition of each color would be constructed improvisationally, and each color strip would be made with a mix of solid fabrics and prints and/or textures. So I chose 3 to 5 fabrics for each of the seven colors, depending how large I planned for each section to be. IE. the greens would be needed for three 'seasons,' including the long green season that would actually stretch over two panels. So I selected five fabrics for that section. Where the black and yellow seasons were the smallest, and for each of them I selected just three fabrics. Etc. etc.

So just for the record - and possibly your interest - here are the 25 fabrics I have collected to begin this project.

Kona Riviera
Marcia Derse Palette in Royal Blue
Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed Ocean

Kona White
Essex Yarn Dyed Metallic Crystal
Diamond Textiles Top Stitch in White
Ruby Star Society Wink in Lunar Rock

Kona Rich Red
Essex Ruby
Jennifer Sampous Chalk & Charcoal in Persimmon
Marcia Derse Palette in Cardinal

Diamond Textiles Crossed in Onyx
RJR Between the Lines Skinny Stripe in Crow

Kona Eggplant
Figo Fabrics' Ghazal Razavi Elements Water in Wine
Marcia Derse Palette in Grape

Kona Corn Yellow
Marcia Derse Palette in Daffodil
Ruby Star Society Speckled in Sunshine Metallic 

Kona Clover
Essex Kelly
Marcia Derse Palette in This Green
Jennifer Sampou Chalk & Charcoal in Grass
Cotton Couture Turf

So this week I started cutting and sewing! I'm working from left to right, beginning with the left-hand panel first. For my first big slab, I taped masking tape to my design wall, measuring the size I wanted it to be. Then I made small improv blocks using my three blue fabrics, and bit by bit, filled in the space.

Once that first slab was done, I hung it vertically on the design wall, and moved on to the first white slab. And I'll continue on in that fashion, one slab, one panel at a time. 

Obviously, this project will take me a while, so expect periodic updates along the way. Holler if you have any questions, as I know this isn't quite my normal project. But then again, all that improv makes me feel right at home. So maybe it is?

Monday, September 11, 2023

Aurifil Artisan Challenge :: Scissors Cozy

This month's Aurifil Artisan challenge was to make a project using the thread collection that was sent in our welcome packs. I received Orchard by Jill Finley @jillilystudio, which included seven small spools of Aurifil 50wt

Colors included: 4020 [Fuchsia], 2430 [Antique Rose], 2410 [Pale Pink], 2420 [Light Blush], 2115 [Lemon], 2886 [Light Avocado], 1114 [Grass Green]

So I debated a while on what to make with my thread collection, and finally settled on a scissors cozy from a tutorial by Svetlana Sotak. I made one for myself  a while back and really like it and use it to keep my best shears protected. For this new one, I chose an Essex Yarn Dyed in Steel for the main exterior, and a mix of fabric scraps and stash for the solid colored strips, which measure 1/8" wide finished. Note that you can piece and quilt the cozy exteriors however you wish before continuing with project construction. The pieced design I chose is not part of Svetlana's pattern.

To show off the assorted threads, I densely topstitched three rows of each thread color on either side of the coordinating fabric strip. Then on the two ends, I continued the pattern by quilting in the neighboring colors - Antique Rose on the left, and Light Avocado on the right.

On the cozy back, I did an angular grid using all the thread colors. Unfortunately, photos don't do it justice, but I think the two sides coordinate really nicely in person.

I found a sweet floral print for the lining.

And for the side tab and zipper pull, I used some gray scrap leather, which made for a perfect finish.

This was a fun little project, and I highly recommend it, if you need a scissors cozy too. I don't think I'd ever focused on using the threads in an Aurifil collection exclusively for a specific project like this, so that was a good challenge. Plus I really enjoyed using the thread colors that Jill @jillilystudio had selected for her Orchard collection. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Diamond Flare :: August

It took me a while to sew up the latest installment of my Diamond Flare, the BOM quilt with Seattle MQG, but once I did, it was done in no time.

Of course I have no idea how those pieces will fit into the final round, but they're ready when the next step is revealed! We actually have three more installments before the quilt top is complete, so we've a ways to go. Until then, the mystery remains....

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

In the Moment

After weeks of sewing 6.5" improv blocks along with Shannon @shannonfraserdesigns and Amanda @broadclothstudio, hosts of the #30DaysOfImprovQAL, I finally have a finished quilt to share! If you want to be reminded and look back at all the different categories of blocks, there were Stripes, L shapes, Triangles, and Curves. Honestly, I could have gone on and continued with more themes, but other projects are waiting, so I stuck with the QAL schedule. Ta da!

So once my blocks were completed, I put them all up on the design wall to see what I had to work with. I also made a reel if you want to see each one up close.

Next, I rearranged the blocks so like fabrics or colors were touching.

And then I began pinning up possible filler fabrics. Some remained to be a part of the final quilt top, but I think through my process, I settled on 'less is more.' I was definitely using what scraps I could to fill in, but at this point also had to begin pulling larger pieces from my Carolyn Friedlander fabric stash.

Below is a progress shot, with the bottom right corner and right side yet to be finished.

And finally, we had a quilt top!

I moved right on to piece a quilt back, using pretty much all of my remaining CF scraps, as well as pulling a few pieces from stash.

For quilting, I chose a lovely Aurifil 50wt from my 2022 Aurifil Artisan welcome pack - 2612 [Arctic Sky]. I had originally thought to quilt with a light gray, but when I happened across this blue-gray, it felt perfect. I quilted vertical straight lines ranging from 1/16" to 1/2" apart, then went back and added in some slightly curvy organic straight lines as a nod to the handful of improv curve blocks in the quilt. Unfortunately, it's very hard to photograph!

And then came the question about binding. After a thorough search, I confirmed I had enough of absolutely zero of the CF fabrics used in the quilt left to bind with. So that meant a new print entirely. I thought I had settled on a gray and black print when at the bottom of my stack, I found a fat quarter of an old (no offense! It's a treasure.) print from Carolyn's very first line, Architextures. One of her ledger prints, it had just a touch of black, but also a red-orange and blue that my other choice did not have. It's a much lighter frame that I'd usually go with, but it felt like the best of the bunch to me. And as it ends up, I really like it!

This piece finished at 34.5" wide by 32.5" tall. I finally settled on the name "In the Moment," as such is the nature of improv. There were so many 'in the moment' choices during the making of each block, composing the top and back, and even the unique choice in binding. I think that's one thing I like about improv - that it's a very different style than much of my life, where I like to know what's next, and am always consulting lists and such. The freedom of improv is always such a breath of fresh air.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Log Cabin

You may have caught a glimpse of the Dropcloth Log Cabin sampler I've been working on when I shared my recent Aurifil Artisan challenge, but I'm back to share the completed sampler. 

I may be just a tiny bit disappointed in my execution of this one. Not because of the sampler itself, nor the beautiful Aurifil 12wt threads I worked it in. That all has been great, and I'm really pretty sold on using the 12wt for embroidery. 

But if you look close, you may be able to tell that the center log cabin is stitched in two colors. The contrast doesn't show as much as I thought it would, and I probably should  have taken it out and redone it. But instead, I just continued with stitching.

I tried a variety of stitching in the various log cabins, and as usual, choosing which stitch and which color to stitch as I approached each new section. My disappointment lies in making all but the center log cabin just one color. I'm not really sure why I didn't try out several log cabin variations and stitch more sections in multiple colors. Seriously, I may need to stitch another Log Cabin one of these days to try that out. But still, I did enjoy stitching a nice variety of stitches.

And otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the stitching and am ready to move on to a new sampler and an expanded selection of 12wt threads. I'm excited.

Friday, September 1, 2023

August Fabric Usage

After what felt like mediocre fabric usage stats the last few months, I outdid myself in August by buying NONE and using A LOT! The variety of projects made it a very fun month, that's for sure.

I also gifted a pretty good stack of batiks and coordinating fabrics to an IG follower. It was left over from several projects a few years ago, and I thought someone else might put it to good use going forward.

It's been a while since I mentioned it, but I do also include in my tracking the fabric bits (usually smaller than scraps) that I am able to recycle. We are fortunate to actually have a local recycling service that includes 'threads,' which makes me feel better about those bits I do discard. I collect them in a bag until pick-up day, then weigh them, using the method I learned from Jeni @jenib320

So here are my August stats:

August Fabric Usage
Used up: 15.86 yards
Brought in: 0.00 yards
Net: -15.86 yards

I know a couple of quilt backs are waiting to be made in September, but I also have plans to start in on a big commission. I'll be keeping track of those fabric stats separately, but I expect that project to be my focus for a few weeks. Whatever, August has been a great finale for summer sewing.