Tuesday, December 31, 2013

From Whence I've Come

Goodness gracious. Am I the only one that feels a tad speechless in trying to sum up this past year? For the record, I've made mosaics galore - all the blocks (it took two, not including the City Sampler!), littles (here and here), bags, Patchwork, Please projects, and of course, the quilts.

Besides all the actual sewing, there were numerous unforgettable experiences and highlights. Bear with me as I recount some of them and celebrate the steps along the journey.
  • Becoming a quilter in the FAITH Circle of do.Good Stitches - Funny how something seems so implausible at one point in time, but later, it just becomes the right thing to do. 
  • Six new tutorials - These were challenging, yet rewarding, and I hope to share more.
So that's it! To say this year has been full is an understatement. Full of fabric and thread, yes. But so much more. Thank you to all of you for filling this year with encouragement, challenge, and affirmation. And of course, friendship. You make all of it so much more rewarding.

Monday, December 30, 2013


July 6, 2012. I remember clearly the day this quilt began. I had seen Karen/CapitolaQuilter's post on Polaroid blocks a few days before and was quite smitten with them. But realizing my stash didn't really have the fabric needed for a good variety of Polaroids, I did what any of you might have done, I'm sure. I started the *Picture-Perfect* Polaroid Block Swap! Just two months later, the swap came to a close after 114 swappers from all over the world swapped 3293(!) blocks, and in the end, I had 205 precious ones in my possession.

And they sat. You know how it goes. Sad but true. Finally, in May of this year, I hatched a plan. I asked the members of my Always Bee Learning bee to help me out. I sent them each 9 Polaroid blocks + 2 1/2" strips of at least three black or black & white fabrics. I asked that they 'frame' each Polaroid block and then create one large block with them all. 
My sample measured 18 1/2" square, but I gave them free reign to do whatever they wanted with what I sent.

In July of this year, a year after I started the block swap, I put my Polaroid quilt on my Q3 Finish-A-Long list. Obviously I didn't make it that round, so I'm more than pleased that I managed it in Q4. Backed with the bright and bold Mod Century by Jenn Ski, I quilted a square meander around the Polaroids that unfortunately/fortunately you can barely see. Let's just say I'm still perfecting that technique. For binding I found the perfect tomato red that coordinates with the backing yet contrasts nicely with the blocks.
Hubby was kind enough to photograph "Snapshots" while I was at work today, and in his mind, this is a "postcards" quilt, thus all the travel books in this carefully composed shot. smile 
And considering these blocks came from all over, that really isn't far from the truth.
You can see my bee-mates were also creative in their block designs, and I was pleased how I managed to have a 'unique' block in each row. If you're a counter like me, you'll have figured out already that I haven't used all my Polaroids yet. But for my final finish of a terrific year, this one's picture-perfect!

This quilt was on my Q4 Finish-A-Long List! Also linking up with Finish it Up Friday.

Prepare To Be Inspired

When I began A Quilter’s Table nearly three years ago, it was all about community. Getting more involved in the online quilting community has brought new friendships my way, opportunities and challenges I could not have foreseen, and in addition to all that goodness has been major inspiration. It’s been more than “oh, isn’t that pretty.” It’s been more like “OH! I just have to try that!” or "How clever is that!?" or many times, a jaw-dropping "Oh My Gosh!!" Plain and simple, the inspiration I have found through all of you moved me into creative overdrive.

With that said, it’s a pleasure indeed to be able to present the series 31 Inspiring Quilters” as a part of sew mama sew's January Quilting Month. Beginning January 1, and continuing through the month, an inspiring quilter will be highlighted each day over on sew mama sewSo stay tuned! Follow along! And be inspired.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

City Sampler Quilt Along :: Blocks 94, 95, & 96

Seriously! How can we be almost through this book?! 

#96 is my favorite of this bunch, though #95 above is fun, isn't it?
And a few of you have been clamoring for an updated grid, so here it is! I expect a bit of shuffling prior to final layout, but this is per the "Gridlock" diagram in the book, which I intend to follow pretty closely. Soon, very soon!
Gridlock layout 12/27/13
(To make your own grid, click here. To see all the blocks up close and personal, click here.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Postscript {three}

Pretend briefly that it's Christmas morning and there's a flurry of gift-opening. Instead, a final flurry of project reveals . . .

I'd seen and heard about the Jane Market Bag and boy am I glad I went and found the pattern and tried it. It sewed up like a dream, and I'll definitely be making more. I really wanted to use a linen print from my stash, an Echino Fabric by Estuko Furuya, but realized that it was a border print. Not to dissuade myself, I made it work, putting the birds on the front panels and the dots on the back. Since the recipient is a writer I used  a comma print for the pockets and lining. My favorite feature of the bag is the sewn-down corner seams, though next time I plan on using some interfacing to stabilize the bag. Though sturdy enough, mine doesn't stand tall on its own, and I would really like it too. Meanwhile, I highly recommend this bag - check out the Jane Market Bag flickr group for lots of lovlies.

We gifted my mom with a Kindle, so of course it needed a quilted cover! I had used the Kindle Case Tutorial by Ellison Lane once before so I knew exactly what to do. A floral from Ruby Star Shining seemed perfect as the main fabric, especially once it was straight-line quilted. Luckily it fit mom's Kindle like a glove.

For grandgirl, I started off intending to make the log cabin slippers from Ayumi Mills on Interweave{By the way, there's Interweave coupons right here.} But they were sized for adults and time was getting tight. So when I came across a toddler's pattern by ithinksew, I kind of merged the two. As a substitute for the grippy fabric that was called for as the soles of the slippers, I used Pellon Peltex wrong-side out. That worked fine, but the final project isn't as cushy as I'd like, so next time, I'll used some fusible fleece in both the uppers and soles. But the cute factor - totally right on.

I wanted to make some potholders for my coworker, and used Jeni Baker's hst potholder tutorial which worked perfectly with the mini charms I had on hand. With Essex as the 'solid' and a layer of both batting and Insul-bright, these stitched up quick and sturdy.

Lastly, I tried a couple new gift bag tutorials in my race to Christmas. Both happened to be by s.o.t.a.k handmade, and I was more than pleased with them both. There was a Drawstring Bag with an easy to install casing . . .
and an altered version of The Big Apple Shoulder Bag, with only one side tie. Here's a few of my fabric-wrapped packages (clockwise from upper-left): Lined Drawstring Bag, a Ruby Star Pillowcase Pouch, a fat-quarter-as gift-wrap, and the Big Apple bag.
Very festive, yes? Now forward to the new year . . .

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Postscript {two}

Web-surfing one night, I happened upon a darling apron that I thought would be a perfect gift for my new daughter-in-law. The Cloud9 post led me straight to my sewing book shelf, where luckily I indeed had a copy of i love patchwork by Rashida Coleman-Hale, and the necessary pattern for the Patchwork Bordered Apron.
I had just enough navy Essex, which I thought would give the apron a nice feel and weight, as well as be a sweet 'background' for the loulouthi I'd chosen as the main patchwork fabric. I added in a few coordinating prints to add to the patchy look, but you can get a little peek at the apron's lining below - pure loulouthi.

A couple of quilted potholders seemed to be in order so I used the same prints as the apron, mirroring the 9-patch pocket, binding in more Essex and quilting a la teaginny Designs.
This set was a really satisfying sew, and hopefully will be useful, while adding a bright, fun touch to the newlyweds' kitchen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Postscript {one}

When I saw Svetlana's Christmas patchwork table runner, I wanted to make one for myself!
photo permission by s.o.t.a.k handmade

But being handmade gifts was high on my priority list at the time, I instead sewed one up for a friend.
I had a charm pack of cloud9 Cut Out & Keep that I had been hanging onto for reasons unknown, and I'm so glad I brought it out for this project. It went so nice with the flax-colored Essex I used, and of course, I always love how that Essex quilts up! I followed Svetlana's lead, doing straight-line quilting and used one of my newer favorite Aurifil 50wt threads - #2326. It's called 'tan' but seriously has a bit of a gold tone, and has gone so nicely with several of my recent makes.

Since there was no matching yardage in my stash for the binding, I went with the charcoal stripe from the awesome new Botanics collection. And I think it finished it off just fine. With the Essex and organic prints, the texture of this runner is just lovely.
Finished size: 15 3/4" x 41"

Svetlana's tutorial was a joy to follow, and being so pleased with my first finish, I went on to make another.
For the second one, I used a light and creamy Essex, along with a mini charm pack of V and co.'s Simply Color. Where the original runner used 2" squares for the patchwork, I went ahead and used the 2 1/2" mini charms as cut, and adjusted the sizes of the other fabric pieces as needed. This resulted in a slightly larger runner, about 20"x46". (The sashing between blocks was cut at 2 1/2" wide, the side borders 3 1/2", and the ends 4 1/2".) Again I straight-line quilted, this time using my stand-by Aurifil 50wt #2000 (beige) and there it is again - the most texture indeed. Backed and bound with Notting Hill, it's similar yet different from the original, and just goes to show where inspiration can take you.

And guess what? Santa left a mini charm pack of Moda's Blitzen in my stocking, so guess who's ordering up some more linen and may just make a Christmas patchwork table runner for herself after all?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday at the Table

Brace yourself for a few days of project reveals once Christmas is over, but for now, it's all about the food. Finally the menu is set, and prep-work has begun. It'll be a full day tomorrow in more ways than one, and per usual, a mix of family favorite recipes plus plenty of new ones just for fun. I've linked every recipe I could find online - for you and me both! Enjoy!

Christmas Brunch

Macrina Bakery, p. 186


Orange Juice/Mimosas
Food & Wine from David & Christena


Stocking Snack Time


The Comfort of Cooking

Framed Cooks from Christmas with Southern Living

John Cusimano/Mix That Drink from David & Christena



I thee cook

Bon Appétit

Holiday Salad


The Pioneer Woman

Monday, December 23, 2013

City Sampler Quilt Along :: Blocks 91, 92, & 93

Might as well tell you straight out: knowing this week would be super busy at work and home, I made this set of blocks earlier in the month so I'd be sure not to miss making them!
Don't you just love the asymmetry? I'm swooning over this moon block!
There's not much black in my blocks so far, but it just seemed to fit with the fabrics I chose for #93. Hoping it works in the overall layout. Of course, time will tell.

These blocks are from Tula Pink's City Sampler: 100 Modern Quilt Blocks, part of the City Sampler Quilt Along. I'll be linking up with Sew Sweetness.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Falling Hard

Though it's felt like winter for several weeks, today is actually the last day of fall and seems an appropriate time to report in on the Falling for Modern Maples flickr group. Not that the group is going anywhere - in fact there are several terrific Modern Maples projects still in the works and I hope more to come. But for now, check out all we've accomplished in a few short months.

There's a great pattern for the basic block at Lark Crafts {here}, and if you like to play around with different sizes, check in with Darcy/Modern Cozy, who not only made some Mini Modern Maples, but also some Massive Maples

I'm as smitten with this traditional-made-modern block as ever, and if you end up Falling for Modern Maples too, feel free to join in with the rest of us!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Crossed Paths

It's kinda funny how things work out sometimes. Remember when I made Crazy Rainbow a while back for the Mini Quilt Swap? Simply put, I never received a mini back. Which happens sometimes, but still was disappointing. Enough said. Well last week, some swap angels, purely out of the kindness of their hearts, stepped up to make mini quilts pronto for the few of us that had been missed. Now how nice is that?!

Yesterday I received this delightful creation by Kristan of doodle do designs!
She called it Crossed Paths, due to the curious nature of our 'meeting' and just look at those details! A wonky cross block, that straight yet organic quilting, the striped bit in the binding, and that pieced back. It's me, don't you think?
So I'm beyond pleased, the swap has come to a more than satisfying finish for me, and I've been reminded of a couple of important things . . . good things sometimes do come to those who wait, and stepping forward to be an "angel" is a really really kind thing to do. End of story.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A New Color

You've probably heard all about Pantone's recent big announcement. It's only been a few years that I've known such a thing as a Pantone Color of the Year even existed. But once I did, I paid attention. In 2012, when the color of the year was Tangerine Tango, I created Tangerisk
"Tangerisk" for Tangerine Tango Challenge

In 2013, the color was Emerald, and I made some oh-so-practical but very Emerald placemats.
Emerald, black, & white placemats

So this year it's all about Radiant Orchid. The name alone is somewhat exotic, don't you think? Here's a couple of interesting reads from Blossom Heart Quilts and modern handcraft, and check out what I got when I searched for Radiant Orchid on Pinterest! Should be interesting, as orchid will be a ways out of my fabric comfort zone, but I'm willing to give it a chance in the new year. Armed with my official swatch card, I'll be watching out for my own fabric finds, and seeing what inspiration they bring. You?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

City Sampler Quilt Along :: Blocks 88, 89, & 90

With each new set of blocks lately, I am increasingly incredulous that we're almost through the book
It seems every time I use this tree print, I have a new favorite block.
I'm definitely enjoying the final chapter of "Haiku" blocks!

These blocks are from Tula Pink's City Sampler: 100 Modern Quilt Blocks, part of the City Sampler Quilt Along. I'll be linking up with Sew Sweetness.

Monday, December 16, 2013

On Trend

When I shared my Quilted Gift Tags last week, I had no inkling they'd receive such a stir! 
Quilted Gift Tags
And then today, they appear in Sewing Trends with Rachael at sew, mama, sew. Go figure.

I haven't tried matchstick quilting on anything larger than a mug rug yet, but I am definitely enjoying that.
trying out a bit of matchstick quilting - I like!

It's a technique the provides crazy good texture and I hope to try it on something larger in the new year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

We Have a {Giveaway Day} Winner!

Well wasn't that fun? Giveaway Day is now over and 652 of you vied for this lovely bundle!
In doing so, I asked you to share one thing you'd like to see happen in the new year in your life as a sewist or crafter. Organization and finishing wips was definitely represented in the comments, as was simply finding the time to express your creativity. But overwhelmingly, there were two skills mentioned over and over again - free-motion quilting and paper-piecing. Interesting reading, for sure, and I thank you all for sharing!

Of course, there's only one winner, and #458, Rocksteadyemme, you are it! Congratulations. I'll be emailing you! And thanks again to all of you for stopping by and playing along. Fun times.