Friday, July 19, 2024

QAYG Apron

Do you wear an apron when you cook? IF you cook? I'm the main dinner cook in our family, and I wear an apron almost every night, because otherwise..... Well, you know. I actually have two that I alternate between and one of them has just about been worn out. I realized writing this post, that I made it 10!! years ago. It began with a purchased Chef Works Unisex Apron just like the ones I used to wear when I worked in a bakery. I added patchwork pockets and it's served me well over the years.

SO well, in fact, I thought I'd do something similar again - embellishing a purchased chef's apron. So I bought the exact one again, got out my mostly blue and green scraps, and used the quilt as you go method. QAYG isn't something I've done a lot of, so I referenced a tutorial by Svetlana @sotakhandmade. I appreciated her mentioning that it's a good idea to sometimes piece a longer strip before adding it on - it gives a more patchwork appearance, than sewing a bunch of long strips would. You can see I did a little of both.

Of course, I was curious how much fabric I'd use in my patchwork, so I weighed the apron before I got started (5.6 oz.) and once I was done (9.5 oz.). That means just under 3/4 yard. For the edges, I turned under about 1/4", pressed, and pinned, and then topstitched. I think it might have been easier to make a big patchwork panel, and then line it with quilter's cotton and made the neck loop and ties. But I really like the fit and durability of the chef's apron, and my method worked well enough.

I didn't really worry about what the back looked like, with a few changes in bobbin threads to use up miscellaneous colors. The top I pieced and quilted with Aurifil 40wt [Medium Mint], as it blended with both the blue and green scraps. At any rate, it was a fun experiment, I used up some scraps, and it'll serve me well in the kitchen. Now back to quilt-making!

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Studio Refresh II

In the couple weeks since my first studio refresh post, I'm still working away at small projects. It's an eclectic collection but all these things have definitely contributed to improving my sewing space.

 >> Organize wool yarns. I don't have many, but they needed a place to be together. I use them occasionally with my embroidery. A Vinyl Zipper Pouch, a pattern by @sotakhandmade, seemed a good solution. This is the large version (13" x 9") and I paired clear vinyl with one of my favorite Melody Miller fabrics ever to feature on the quilted back panel.

Svetlana's recent patterns have featured zippers by the yard, and I am loving the product from @sullivanstrim. Sorry for the glare on the photo below, but you get an idea how well this pouch worked for my need. And the zipper isn't really warped! Not quite sure what's happening in this photo.

>> Organize bag-making hardware. Similarly to how I organized my quilt labels in my previous studio refresh post, I did the same with the assortment of hardware. This helped so much! I had everything in little [cute] jars before, but this does work better, as I can see everything at a glance.

>> Sharps. You probably all already do this, but I had never been that good about disposing of used needles and bent pins. Having a small lidded container feels so much better, and I've been faithfully using it ever since I put it on the cart by my machine.

>> Restock batting. The truth was, my latest roll of Warm & White had run out a month or two ago. I'd tried a couple of other batts, but in truth, I like Warm & White as my default batting. So I waited until I saw the '50% off + free shipping' deal at Joann and stocked up. Hubby had the clever idea of setting a lazy susan under the roll so I could pull batting off the roll without laying it on the floor. (That's getting more difficult than it used to be.) He ordered a 10" Bamboo Lazy Susan, and honestly, it could have been a little bigger, but it works, and once I make a couple more quilts, it'll be quite perfect.

I also ordered a couple of packages of Quilter's Dream Select, because I've been enjoying using that too. So I should be good for ages now, and that feels good.

>> Irons. THIS is embarrassing. Over the years, when I've been unhappy with an iron for one reason or another, I set it aside as a backup (right? Do you have a backup iron??) and tried something new. Honestly, I've gone from paying good money for an iron to asking for one for Christmas to receiving them for free (the Olisos, thank you very much). And honestly, it is what it is. Some of them spit (I've since sworn off putting water in my iron), or the coating on the soleplate begins to wear off (on two versions of the same iron) leaving black specks in their wake. The latest has a feature that in essence is admirable, but sometimes it crinkles the seams when I'm pressing them. It was when I decided recently that I might pull out my backup iron that I realized the truth. I haven't thrown an iron away for years, letting the backups pile up! IE. I had FIVE irons in the house.

Make that six.

The small irons don't really count. One (a Rowenta) gets super hot and is actually a travel iron, which I've taken with me at various times over the years. The second was a gift from Oliso, works great, and is what I take to workshops. Those two are staying. But three of the large irons have been disposed of. One for spitting, one for peeling soleplate, and the last one to be found was discovered to actually be broken, so bye bye. The large Oliso remains because it does work well despite the crinkling issue which isn't 100% of the time. But that said, I ordered a new iron that I happily found on sale, and had been recommended by a workshop teacher. It's 1800 watts, hotter than any of the others, and it sounds like tolerates water well if I decide I need steam. I don't have it yet, so we'll see. But it feels good to have the truly EXTRA stock of irons out of my space.

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Monday, July 15, 2024

Improv for Everyone :: On the Grid

When I saw Maria Shell @mariashellquilts post about her Improv for Everyone workshop on Saturday, I joined right up. Having taken a previous class with her, and exploring several improv techniques in her book, Improv Patchwork, I knew it would be worth my time. Plus, last year, I'd seen her On the Grid exhibit locally. I was definitely interested in hearing what she had to say.

In preparation for the workshop, we were to pull a full range of solid fabrics representing the color wheel (purple, blue, turquoise, green, yellow, orange, red, and pink) and neutrals (black, white, brown, and grey). I remembered that Maria encouraged us to create a non-traditional - not the traditional brights - so I kept that in mind. In retrospect, the brown I chose (left fabric on bottom) looks pretty close to the red (second from right on the top). So I probably won't use both.

"On the Grid" was primarily about making improv plaid blocks, but Maria included so much more. I made the blocks in the left and center columns below during the workshop - plaid, quarter log cabins, and tiny crosses. The 'track' on the right, I couldn't resist trying once class was over. Not quite sure where all this is headed, so I'll let it marinate for a bit. I'll definitely be adding more to the quarter log cabins.

At any rate, I'm so glad I was able to attend the workshop, and am looking forward to the next Improv for Everyone workshop in January 2025.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Like, Totally :: July

This month for our Seattle MQG BOM designed by Louise @imfeelincrafty, it was all about half-rectangle triangles. I especially loved that there was a big (8" x 16" finished) one thrown into the mix!!

We're making really good progress in this BOM, and I'm still loving my colorful palette. Till next month!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

2024 Quilting Q2 Check In

With June ending recently, it's time to join in the #2024QuiltingQ2CheckIn with Yvonne of @quiltingjetgirl. I'm glancing back at my goals from January's Quilting Planning Party to see how I've done, and find that I've had a wildly productive quarter, far exceeding my loose goal of at least one quilt per month.

(Italics are from my original post; regular text is my current response.)


  • Keen was my entry into the 2024 Pantone Quilt Challenge, a simple design made with improv stripes, one of my favorite improv technique. With an unusual palette, I really enjoyed the process, right down to figuring out how to make things a little unique at each end.

  • Plus was a 'just because' project, to use some C+S stash, and join in a sewalong with Jeni @jenib320.

  • Making Mixtape was, clear and simple, a way to keep the scraps from Snippets out of the scrap basket. Just plain fun.

  • I rarely do a commission, but Woven Whispers was one, inspired by a blessing written by a friend in honor of his mom's retirement.

  • And to meet a need in our own home, I made Kintsugi on Repeat to replace a very similar table topper that had faded over it's years of use. This one makes me happy every time I look at it.

  • Summer seems to entice me to dive into my scraps, and ColorScape was my most recent response. Can't say I won't do something similar again.

  • I announced a new Bee Sewcial prompt for July, Minimal Shapes, and made sample blocks to share with my bee mates, who are now busy creating their responses. I'm anxious to see all the blocks together.

  • The "Like, Totally" 2024 Seattle MQG BOM is still progressing, and I'm keeping up with the monthly prompts. Here's what it looked like after I completed my May blocks.

Whew. It feels great to be meeting those quilting goals! Though nothing is underway (yet) for July, so I need to get with the program.

  • I've continued to enjoy stitching Dropcloth samplers @dropcloth, and have added several to the mix: 
  • Other handwork - Rachel @snippetsofsweetness, gave me a sashiko piece that I'm STILL working on, in between the samplers. I'm making good progress though!

  • I plan to continue with the regular blogging and publishing monthly or so newsletters. This has been going well, with the expected ebbs and flows, depending on what I'm working on and life happenings. 
  • I completed my participation in the Aurifil Artisan program, which was bittersweet. I definitely enjoyed it for the last two years.

New Directions

Well that feels like plenty! I continue to take it as it comes and enjoy the process. I've got a few quilting projects that are either 1)barely begun or 2)still a figment of my imagination, but that's not too overwhelming. So I'll be as surprised as you are with what I create in this new quarter of 2024.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Pop Open Pouch Repeat

It's been a while, but in making a gift for a friend this week, I revisited a pattern I'd made six times before - the Pop Open Pouch by Aneela Hoey. At 10" x 5"x 5", it's a very handy size, and it has a few really unique construction techniques that always give a great result. My favorite is how the bottom edges are aligned and sewn during construction. That detail makes for a beautifully snug lining once the bag is complete, which I really like.

I was super happy with the long-stashed fabric I found to use. The exterior print is Summersault Ping Pong in aqua by Erin McMorris. I could feel it was a little heavier than quilter's cotton, and with a little research, I realized it was home dec. The weight is actually quite nice for this particular pouch.

For the interior I used one of my very favorites ever - Metro Living Circles by Robert Kaufman. The lime was a perfect companion for the exterior, don't you think?

One of the fun details Aneela includes is suggesting leather for the zipper tab. I used just a little glue on the tabs ends to secure its placement before I machine-stitched it. The leather is actually quite easy to sew through.... just go a little slow.

So it was fun to revisit this pattern. Once pieces were cut and interfacing applied, it took just 90 minutes to construct. Not that I was counting (though I guess I was!) but it was great to be able to make this sweet bag in such a short time. Fingers crossed my friend loves it as much as I do.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Floral Stitches II

After finishing up my Spring Fling sampler, I was anxious to start in on the second in the Dropcloth Floral Stitches series. This one totally reminded me of a tiger lily, thus the oranges for the main flower petals.

In one of her videos, I saw Rebecca @dropcloth select three different colored threads to stitch a particular section, rotating each time she threaded her needle. I decided to do that for the flower petals, using two solid colors plus one variegated, and liked it so well, I did the same for the green leaves. I'll be doing that again.

I didn't know what I'd do with the border until I got there, but really enjoyed doing a wrapped chain stitch. And then, seeing a bit of red on the painted background, I decided to add red straight stitches in very organically. Gotta say, I love how it turned out!

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Haralson Belt Bag

Hubby and I have been trying hard to go out walking more often, and every once in a while, I find I wish I had a small bag to carry a few things in, something much smaller and lighter than my everyday Compass Bag. After looking around a bit, I decided to make a Noodlehead Haralson Belt Bag by Anna Graham. It can be worn as a crossbody bag, more like a sling, snug to your body, or as a fanny pack. The size - 9.5" wide x 2" deep x 7" tall, seemed just about right, and now that it's done, I'm sure it is.

For fabric, I chose echino dots by Etsuko Furuya for KOKKA for the exterior, and Wordplay by Michele D'Amore for Benartex for the lining. Both had been in my stash for a verrry long time. Luckily, I had the two metal zippers called for on hand - though instructions were given for zipper by the yard. And I used hardware I had on hand, so pieces may not match exactly, but I felt they were close enough.

The sewing of the bag went together swimmingly, except for a snafu or three with the hardware. TOTALLY user error! The first rivet I installed must have slipped, as the head was slightly smashed. Oops. I found a tool of hubby's that I was able to use to miraculously cut the stem of the rivet, so I could remove and replace it. Then, when I was nearly done, and had just turned the bag right-side out, I discovered the rivet holding the bottom closure piece (that I had just replaced) had fallen out. Soooo out came the seam ripper to open the bottom seam and reinstall that rivet again. Except then I realized that in replacing the rivet with the bag partially constructed, I caught the bag's main lining, which would have been very awkward when the bag was in use. An easy fix was to snip the lining around the rivet, that loosened the other side. In doing so, I had created a small hole in the lining, but after treating with Fray Check and sewing one of my labels over the top, isn't noticeable at all, and I think will wear just fine. What an ordeal! Obviously, purse hardware is not my strong suit, but I survived, the bag survived, and all is well.

The bag's front exterior had the most unique method to create those 'corners.' That Anna is a genius.

The only two changes I made to my bag were 1) using leather scraps for the strap holders rather than the webbing that was suggested; and 2) the leather pieces for the front closure were 1" rather then the 3/4" suggested, as that measurement fit my hardware better. I think both were fine choices.

So besides the hardware missteps, the bag was really enjoyable to make, as Anna's patterns always are. I'm looking forward to having and using the Haralson as an option when I'm out and about.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Studio Refresh I

Over the last few months, I've been trying to organize the ole studio a bit, update a few things, and generally just freshen up. Nothing is really profound, but still, these things have made me happy. 

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>> New pins. I made a point of going through all my pincushions and tossing any bent or rusted ones. How do they rust over time? I'm not sure, but I was tired of dealing with them. I tried the following, all recommended by quilting friends. They all felt a little fragile to me, or maybe I'm just a rough pinner. Basically, I think I'm just used to a thicker pin, and still on the look out for others to try, so suggestions welcome.

>> Organize notion drawers and labels. My cutting/sewing table has four small drawers on one end, and I keep tools, notions, labels, and other odds and ends in them. I found bags or containers for like-items, and also copied an idea I'd seen on IG, and bought a Plastic Organizer Tackle Storage Boxes with Dividers for my labels. This has helped a lot when it's finishing time for my projects. 

>> New rotary mat & cutter. Oh my cutting board was really showing some wear, and I found a great sale on a new brand to try by Quilters Select [] at my local sewing machine repair shop. While I was at it, I went ahead and purchased a new rotary cutter, which I'm still getting used to. I'm not going to say I don't like it, but it works different than I'm used to, so I'm real conscious of using it safely.

>> Cover ironing table. Every few years, my 42" x 50" drafting-table-converted-into-a-pressing-table needs a fresh cover. I was lucky enough to find fabric in my stash for it, Finlandia Dot by @freespiritfabrics. Pink is not my go-to color, but it was worth it, finding it in my stash, plus it's just plain fun. Under the cover is a layer of batting, and then I use painter's tape to secure the fabric on the underside. This time I used Scotch Rough Surface Extra Strength Painter's Tape, which worked really really well.

>> Aurifil thread cases. Besides the beautiful threads, another benefit of being an Aurifil Artisan was that occasionally, there were extra thread cases available. I was able to receive two, which was just enough to really sort and better organize my thread stash. For the first time, I sorted solely by color, mixing the various weights of large spools together. AND I ordered several spools I was running low on, 50wt for piecing, and 40wt for quilting.

I have a few more refreshes that I either need photos of or actually need to take care of, so stay tuned for a little postscript to this post. Meanwhile, are there any refreshes or updates you've been making in your sewing space? I'm always on the lookout for ways to make my space more workable and enjoyable.

Thursday, July 4, 2024


Thumbing through some of my quilt books the other day, I happened upon a quilt by Kathy Peters of Marquette MI, called "Table Scraps" in Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston. I didn't remember ever seeing a quilt of chair blocks, so of course, I had to give one a try....

I had just a scrap of that fun orange/pink/purple print fabric, but a week or two later, I decided to make another chair block, and incorporated it again.

That second block made me think I wouldn't mind making a bunch more chair blocks, so we'll see. I don't have much of that print left, and unfortunately can't remember what it is! But maybe I'll find other prints that fit with it, and I can continue on. We'll see!