Thursday, November 30, 2023

Bee Sewcial Round-Up 2023

Hard to believe but Bee Sewcial's 9th year together is winding down. We have no prompt scheduled for December, but we will get together over Zoom to celebrate the season and unwrap the gifts we've made and mailed. Meanwhile, I thought it would be fun to do a little round-up of this year's prompts and the blocks I've made.

January: Vision for Stephanie @spontaneousthreads
Inspired by the work of Hilma af Klint, my block for Stephanie measured 17.5" by 20.5". The elements were all set in, and I'll confess I found this prompt very challenging.

February: It's Winter, Witches! for Marci @marci_girl
Marci chose another seasonally-inspired prompt for her month in "It's Winter, Witches!." (Last year was It's Fall Y'All.) Living in Louisiana, she doesn't get the traditional winter weather, but here in the PNW, we definitely do. I could have gone in a lot of directions, but what came to mind were the icicles that develop on the eaves of our roof during winter, as well as the drip drip drip that happens as they begin to melt. I didn't really mean to make such a big block, but there ya go. It was 20.5" x 20.5", plenty big for Marci to trim down later if need be.

For my month, I challenged my beemates to spend the month being inspired by the work of Josef Albers, making blocks in a style I dubbed 'Albersesque.' I asked that the key focus be on simple shapes and color, with three 9.5" square blocks from each member. Each of their three blocks were to follow the same inspiration piece. I made my first block quite similar to my chosen inspiration, hoping to illustrate clearly my intent with the prompt, then the other two were a little more improvisational.

Happily, I was able to complete my Albersesque quilt, with blocks, layout, quilt back, and quilting all inspired by works of Josef Albers. 

May: Black and White Stripes for M-R @quiltmatters
With the prompt of black and white stripes. I started by experimenting with varying widths, 1/4", 1/2", & 3/4". The first block size was 13.5" x 14". The second, with it's irregular shape, 10.5" tall by 13" wide. And finally a smaller pair (6" x 9" and 5" x 9.5"), which I'd originally planned to sew together, but decided to send separately so M-R could choose how to use them.

July: Fireworks for Leanne @shecanquilt
Right away, I had a loose idea of where I wanted to take this prompt. But somewhere along the way, the scale got waaayyyy off. Things got big fast. After talking with Leanne about it, we both decided I should leave my 'block' as is - at least 13" x 36", larger that our normal equivalent of two 12.5" blocks. Leanne liked having the option to trim it, cut it up, or whatever, when she goes to piece her quilt top.

August: Tiles for Kari @quiltsforthemaking
Kari's prompt was inspired by all the ceramic tiles she saw while traveling in Spain and Portugal. Her suggested dominant colors were cream, terra cotta, navy, and cobalt blue with accent colors as we saw fit. (I did not.) My first go at a block was a mix of ruler-cut and freehand improv, and measured approximately 15" square. On the second block, though composed of pretty simple shapes, the improv was evident in elements not matching up, etc. I think that was my favorite part. It measured about 12" square.

October: Coffee for Felicity @felicityquilts
"Rich browns in all shades, including very dark all the way to cream. Think roasted beans, a freshly pulled espresso shot, an iced coffee with swirls of cream, latte art." Oh yeah. Felicity's coffee prompt was one I could easily embrace. Folks so seldom lean to the browns, but I love them, so creating these two blocks were a joy. First up were improv coffee beans (14.5" x 17.5"), followed by a row of coffee drinks at the local coffee shop (7" x 11").

November: Echo for Karen @capitolaquilter
Karen offered two palettes for our blocks this month, and I chose Combo Two: orange-red and blue-green for both of my blocks. I was surprised how challenged I was by this prompt. I had ideas, but executing them within the space confines proved kind of difficult, as was concentrating on the components themselves while also the majority vs. accent color focus Karen requested. My X block measured 8" x 24", and the diamond one, 10.5" x 17".

So that's a wrap! I'm looking forward to another year of improv with my Bee Sewcial mates in 2024. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Karen @capitolaquilter challenged us with "Echo" as her Bee Sewcial prompt this month, and offered a couple of inspiration blocks, which was nice. "On one end please have one color the majority with the second color used as an accent. The colors in remaining portion of the rectangle can be mixed however you want. For the design, shapes or motifs within your blocks you’ve got full creative control." Karen also gave two palettes to choose from, and I chose Combo Two: orange-red and blue-green for both of my blocks. Here's the first, 8" x 24".

I was surprised how challenged I was by this prompt. I had ideas, but executing them within the space confines proved kind of difficult. I really enjoyed the mix of colors though I might have done a little better at using different values. Concentrating on the components themselves and the majority vs. accent color focus played out as you see. The second block measures 10.5" x 17", slightly taller in comparison than Karen suggested, but has room to trim if Karen sees fit.

So that was our final prompt for the year. I'll be back before long with a round-up!

Monday, November 27, 2023

#2 Pencil

Back in September, I stitched a Dropcloth Pencil sampler for my 5yo grandgirl, in thread colors she chose.

Ever since, I've been slowly stitching along on another, intended for her 13yo sister. When I asked about her favorite colors, I was told, "I love lavender, cyan, and any shade of blue." Nice! As with the first, I stitched the second Pencil sampler with 12wt threads from Aurifil, used double-thickness. I'm definitely a fan, though word on the street is Aurifil will be releasing limited-edition 8wt threads early next year. You know I'll be trying those too!

The colors I used for the pencils on this second sampler were 2520 [Violet], 2562 [Lilac], 6738 [Peacock Blue], 2725 [Light Wedgewood], 2715 [Robins Egg], 5005 [Medium Turquoise], 2805 [Light Turquoise], 2780 [Dark Delft Blue], 1320 [Medium Teal]. The erasers were done primarily using 5021 [Light Gray] and 2430 [Antique Rose]. The ferrules were mostly stitched in 2615 [Aluminum] - I say mostly as I realized later that I picked up the wrong thread a time or two - oops! And then the wood on each pencil was stitched in 2314 [Beige]; with all the leads matching the pencil bodies. 

Again, I chose to mix stitches as I stitched along, using my pretty normal variety - back stitch, straight stitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, coral stitch, wrapped back stitch, and French knots. And I used a new-to-me stitch on one pencil, the interlaced band stitch on the teal pencil.

You might remember that the original idea with the Pencil samplers was to make them into pencil pouches, and that is still my plan. So I'll be back to show them off once they're done!

Friday, November 24, 2023

Calendar Update VIII

I made it! For those of you who have been following the progress of this large project, you knew I had my fingers crossed that I could get the final panel quilted by Thanksgiving. There were several times during the week that I doubted I could make it happen, but thankfully, I did. 

I even had company during the last stretch!

It feels exceedingly good to have all three panels quilted. This isn't a perfect collage, but at least it gives you a rough idea of how the panels will look together.
So I'll be taking several days off from this project to catch up on some smaller ones, and I'm really looking forward to that. But don't worry.... I'll be back to start the trimming and binding soon!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Split Pouch Sew Along

Early last month, I tried Carolyn Friedlander's new Split Pouch pattern, and quickly proceeded to make a couple more.

Those were all the medium size, made with quilter's cotton, SF101stabilizer, and metal magnetic snaps. When Carolyn announced a sew along, I decided to give the large split pouch a try, using striped Essex Yarn Dyed Classic Woven, quilted onto Soft and Stable. I also used the plastic snaps that Carolyn suggested. Since this first large version I was making was for a fellow sewist, I made a cute little pincushion out of the quilted scraps.

I really liked the heavier structure for the larger pouch, and decided to make and gift another. In both, I included a cute label from @sarahhearts.

I have plans for more, but the sew along has ended, and fun pouches are going on the back burner for now. Don't be surprised to see me make a few more in the future though. For one, I still need a large split pouch for myself. ;-)

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Calendar Update VII

Just popping in real quilt to report that I finished quilting the second panel of my liturgical calendar project!

This panel took about nine quilting-hours over seven days, and having the more frequent thread color changes made it fun. I've since taken a few days break from the project, but hope to get the final panel basted today. There is the largest swath of color yet in this one - green. Once I get that done, I think the quilting will be smooth sailing. Fingers crossed I can maayyybbbee get the panel quilted by Thanksgiving? Time will tell....

Monday, November 13, 2023

Diamond Flare :: October + November

It had been too long. Focusing on the big project, I had let making my blocks for the guild BOM #SeattleMQGBOM2023 go, and was behind a couple of months. I finally took some time to get caught up.

First the set of blocks for October....

and then the ones for November.

Since these were the last of the blocks, I tried to lay everything out on the floor to get an idea of the final design, but there just wasn't room. And of course, I now have three sets of blocks in addition to the big center section, but I'm not sure how they should be arranged. So I'll put them all away for now and wait for the big layout reveal next month. At least all the building blocks are done!

Monday, November 6, 2023

International Scrap Sorting Day

So the MQG deemed November 4, 2023 as International Scrap Sorting Day, and I decided it might be a good time to do just that. Though my solid scraps have been separated into their own bin for a few years now, all my print scraps have gotten tossed into an appropriately-named scrap basket, willy nilly. And when I've wanted to use any of them, I either rummage through them or dump the whole thing out and search that way. Not ideal, but it's obviously worked for me.

In tidying up the studio a bit in preparation for the big day, I discovered the majority of my red scraps already separated, for a reason I couldn't remember. Inspired by Cheryl's @cheryl_arkison post, I dove in to make a Quilted Storage Box from Cheryl and Amanda @crazymomquilts book, Sunday Morning Quilts. I chose not to use the suggested cardboard inserts, and though the shape is less box-like than it might have been, it works great. 

One new bin was all I had time for, so I looked around the studio and found several baskets and bins I could repurpose, for now at least, for scrap sorting. Below they're shown with THE long-time scrap basket.

Eventually, it was time to dump out the scrap basket and get to work. 

For some reason, I was in the mood, and it actually only took 90 minutes! I was surprised at the time, and also, surprised by how many black, gray, and brown scraps I had!

I had forgotten, until I started sorting, that I did also have a fabric basket already full of most of my low-volume print scraps, so I was able to add that to my collection of containers. And I was short a container for my small supply of purple and pink scraps, which I've since added to a corner of my blues.

One final note that pressing my scraps was not part of my plan for scrap-sorting day. MAYBE for another day, but most likely that'll be done when I want to use them. I also don't plan on cutting them down to particular sizes, as I usually do improv with my scraps, so I'm more likely to use the irregular shapes. And honestly, I'm itching to do just that, but as you know, I'm smack dab in the middle of a big project, and will look forward to using some of these scraps in the near future. Meanwhile, what I've done feels good, though it IS bittersweet to say goodbye to the big wicker basket, as it's served me well for a long time. And I'm curious to see how this new system will work for me.