Tuesday, October 17, 2017


For some reason, I fell out of love with this quilt the moment I started in on the quilting. Something just didn't feel right, as often is the case with curvy straight-line. I think it had something to do with the thread color I chose. With the variations in color in the quilt, nothing I had was the perfect choice - I even momentarily wondered if this is why Jill/Pie Lady Quilts often uses mono-filament thread for her value quilts. But I wasn't prepared to go there quite yet, so I forged ahead, and often throughout the process I doubted my action.

The quilt started with high hopes at our guild retreat last month. I had actually talked to Jill a bit about playing with value quilts, and she mentioned that Nancy Crow suggests using at least 7 different values in a quilt. Since I had a pretty generous stack of cool Cotton Supreme Solids, I actually chose 9 and then for a bit of contrast, some Kona Pink Flamingo. Again inspired by an actual Starbucks cup, I made my own template, and then was able to cut all the tumbler shapes to size with the help of the measurements on my cutting board. [Like this....]

I gotta say, tumbler quilts go together as quick as anything I know. This one measures 56" square, and piecing the top took just a few hours once the blocks were cut. Besides making the top at retreat, I also recruited my guild-mate's help in pattern-matching a backing. Matt/@odditease is obsessive about this technique, and gave me plenty of good tips.

So up to that point, I was super pleased with what I had going. And now that it's done, I'm happy enough with the quilting. I used two Aurifil 50wts - #2810 (Turquoise) and #5006 (Light Turquoise) - for the bulk of the quilting, and obviously they're perfectly fine in and of themselves. I think it was all those different shades of fabric that made me question my choices. On some blocks, the quilting is pretty much hidden, while in others it stands out alot. I really don't know what would have been a better choice, actually. And I'll just say that almost always with quilting such as this, I always doubt it until I really get into it. The denser it gets, the more I fall back in love with it. Oh, and I did quilt the pink blocks with matching thread in squarish spirals - #2435 (Peachy Pink) - and I really like that bit.

I didn't have enough of any of my solids for a binding, and scrappy didn't seem quite right. Fortunately, I found the perfect unidentified shot cotton in my stash. Blue, cross-woven with a dark green, it totally 'fit' with those greener blocks included in the quilt.

At some point, I'm pretty sure there will be another in what I am beginning to consider a series. With Double Tall Skinny Vanilla, and now Venti, I feel like there's more I want to explore, and the tumbler block is such a friendly one to partner with. Time will tell.

This quilt was on my Q4 2017 Finish-A-Long list!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Quilt Radio

I think I actually gasped when I opened an email from Pat Sloan a couple of weeks ago to see an invitation to be a guest on her quilting podcast, American Patchwork & Quilting Talk Show.

Pat is a designer, author, lecturer, and with her weekly radio show, is known as the "Voice of Quilting". Over five years ago, she started the all-quilting podcast, during which she interviews quilt personalities, historians, designers and authors from around the world. How she tagged me to join her on the show, I'm not quite sure, but it should be fun to chat a bit about our favorite topic!

Here is a handy guide on ways to listen. You can find recent past shows here, and if you are able to listen live, just click the 'Live on Air' button here. The podcast airs at 4 PM Eastern time and will be recorded and available afterwards in the show archives. Hope you can tune in!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Victoria + That Binding

Goodness, time has just done quite a job of getting away from me lately! It's been over two weeks since I had the pleasure of presenting a trunk show to MQG Victoria, which was alot of fun! What a friendly bunch they are.

It was good to see what other guilds do - they happened to be celebrating their birthday as a guild with a fabric challenge, and it was a delight to see so much of their beautiful work! I also met a few long-time friends on social media, plus of course some new ones!

After the meeting, there was opportunity to gather round all of the (30!) quilts I'd brought, look up close, and of course, ask questions and chat about what they'd seen and heard. There was one prevalent inquiry and that was about the quilts that had faced bindings.

So I wanted to share the tutorials I've used for this technique - all come highly recommended, yet each has unique differences that may make one your favorite over another. And of course, that's ok!

Faced Binding by Elizabeth/OPQuilt
This was the first tutorial I tried, and it worked lovely, and pretty perfect with mitered corners and all.

Facing Finish by Terry/Terry Aske Art Quilt Studio
Terry's tutorial is an alternative to the mitered method, and really focuses on reducing bulk and controlling the 'squareness' of the corners.

Knife Edge Binding by Anita/Bloomin' Workshop
A bit of a simplified version of the previous technique, here's the one I personally use most often. Call it my go-to.

Non-Binding Binding by Victoria/The Silly BooDilly
I haven't actually used this one, but it's unique in that it's single-fold, but it might suit your project just fine, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

So hope that's helpful! A faced binding is a really lovely way to finish off certain quilts. The one thing about it, is that is needs to be finished by hand on the back side. So a bit of a different method, but not really any more difficult or time consuming than 'regular' binding. Consider trying it sometime so at least you have it in your quilty 'toolkit' when you need it!

Friday, October 6, 2017

What They Don't Know

You've surely seen that the premier issue of Curated Quilts is out in the world. I'm still perusing my own copy and thoroughly enjoying it.... nicely done!

Two of my quilts are included in the Gallery - a showcase of sorts spread throughout the issue with quilts focusing on the theme - in the case of this first issue - "Linear". Of course I'll admit to showing the journal around a bit to a few family and friends, and an interesting thing happened.

And I don't mean this negatively necessarily. It happens and I think we're all used to it and can handle it. But one person, when they saw my two quilts - Monochrome (above) and Yay or Nay (below) - instantly said of Monochrome, "oh this one's better."

Now please don't feel like you have to stand up and defend me or either of my quilts. Please. That's not the point. I totally get that folks may like some of my work better that others. My work may not appeal to them at all. And that's ok! But what struck me about this comment was the fact that others can't usually know what lies within a finished quilt. I'm not talking batting and stitches, color or pattern. I'm talking the process.... the raw emotion that was felt in the creating. Sometimes it's the spirit of adventure, sometimes dabbling with a new technique. With Yay or Nay, it was deeper - being true to myself and not being afraid to do something wrong, to try something just to see what happened. It was a profound moment for me, and truth is, no matter what quilt you put up against it, Yay or Nay is likely to win out for me because of that experience alone.

Of course, most folks won't see that and they definitely won't feel it. Again, if nothing else, it's a reminder to me - and hopefully to you - to let folks see what they see and be ok with that. But also to acknowledge that what we do and what we have is something pretty special. And to savor it. It's easy to get caught up in the stash, the new thing to try, the deadlines, the wips. In fact I'm in the midst of that sort of whirlwind right now. But what I want most is to drink in the process, to acknowledge the gift of creating that I've been given, to cherish the ways that my work reflects a bit of me that noone else may see.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Note to Self

After making a pillowcase to take on retreat a while back, I was in the mood to make more! So with Island Quilter on site with us, I took the opportunity to purchase some fabric to make a set for my mom, and also a fun seasonal one for grandgirl to use through October. [Guess I really should have consulted her mama first, as it turns out the ghosts and googly eyes on the Halloweeny print were a bit scary. oops.]

Anyway, I used the same tutorial as before - the one by The Twiddletails Blog - which I really like. But.... I learned a couple of things in making these.... things I need to remember for next time!

1) Pay attention to directional fabrics. Unfortunately, I did not, and on all of these, I'd really intended for the pattern to go the other direction. Just remember that the WOF (41") goes around the pillow, so depending on the orientation of your print, you may want to purchase a little more fabric.

feature fabric is Joel Dewberry's Bungalow

2) The other thing, is that the seam where the main, contrast, and trim fabrics all meet is thick! I found using my walking foot for those final couple of seams worked really well.

both focus fabrics are from Cotton + Steel Lil Monsters

3) Lastly, just a note that if you are wanting to make queen or king size pillowcases, see the pdf version of the tutorial, as it gives the measurements for those larger sizes. The purple set above I made king-size and they turned out more than generous.

So just fyi! I really want to make more!

Monday, October 2, 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long :: Q4 List

After such a fun and productive Q3, I almost feel like a little breather would be in order, but I have, of course, several projects in the works, so here's hoping I can make decent work of them this quarter.

1. It may not even be fair to put my Venti quilt on the list, as I'm in the quilting phase already. But it IS officially a w.i.p., so there ya go. AND I'm not overly motivated to work on it, so all the more reason to put it on the list.

2. I don't even know where I'm taking the improv spikes I've been making, but I hope to figure that out before long. Cuz I kinda love em!

3. And then there's my "Looking Up" quilt. Yikes. All the blocks are here, and I have no ideas how to puzzle them together. But I trust eventually I will. Fingers crossed!

4. And for a little something different, I'm really hoping to get a Traverse bag made. The noodlehead pattern's been purchased, and the fabric and hardware as well. I just need to do it.

5. And lastly, this may be a stretch, but I'd really like to have my Minimal Day Sampler done too so I can start the new #seamqgbom year fresh. It's a smallish project so I have high hopes, even though we don't even have all the instructions yet for the remaining blocks. Still.... let's be optimistic, shall we?

So that seems like plenty, no? Yeah....that's good.

Linking up with Q4 of the 2017 Finish-A-Long!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Improv + Structure

One of the challenges in working with a quilt top with a variety of block sizes is how to puzzle them all together. And that's exactly where I'm sitting with my most recent Bee Sewcial quilt, Looking Up.

With Mod Mood, I used a 18" x 22" painters tape frame on my design wall, and filled in with smaller blocks. The skinny accent strips of one of the blocks was used repeatedly on other blocks to tie it all together.

That didn't work quite so well with Baconrific, where once I had the blocks all on the wall, I had three 'holes.' All is took (ahem) were three similar blocks to fill in.... I used improv circles aka pancetta blocks.

With Improv Alliance, I turned to improv spikes to fill in the gaps, and that worked beautifully. Only problem was I wasn't happy with the finished size of the quilt top. After much consideration, I opted for one wider side strip of spikes, and that not only connected with the other spike slabs, but brought the quilt top up to a size I was happy with.

So.... all my bee-mates' blocks from my "Looking Up" prompt are up on the design wall, and I'm mulling.... just what will it take to bring this quilt top together. I trust time will tell.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Minimal Day :: Dalle de Verre

The latest block for the Seattle MQG BOM is called Dalle de Verre, named for the "glass art technique where slabs of glass are set in a matrix of concrete and epoxy resin or other supporting material. " (thanks Wikipedia!) There's a cool example pictured in this article about glass artist Russell Day, for whom our BOM is named, and who happened to be our hostess Jonna/bespokeoutlaw's great-uncle. Pretty cool!

I can't said that my fabric choices did me any favors when it came to this block. Up until now, the voile was easily appliqued onto the Essex. But working the opposite - reverse-appliqueing linen onto the voile, was a bit fiddly. I also had a quandary over using matching thread. First I chose a dark brown thinking that was the way to go (why?) but no, it was eventually obvious that it would be better to match the top fabric color, not the bottom. So I switched halfway through my stitching. Not my best work, but...... nestled in amongst the other blocks, I think I can live with it!

Monday, September 25, 2017


Remember me telling you about Curated Quilts, the new quarterly quilting journal coming out soon? Well one of the features in each issue is a mini quilt challenge. For the second issue, the call for log cabin quilts has been announced. In fact, the deadline is coming soon - October 1!

I can't honestly say that what I'm submitting is quite the result I may have gone after if it hadn't been for the traveling I've done the last several days. Ie. I knew I'd be away from my machine for a while, and the week waiting for me when I returned didn't guarantee much sewing time either. So when I managed to get a quilt top done before I left, I knew the only logical way to proceed was with hand-quilting.

Which is all fine and good. I've had plenty of experience at it back in the day, but lately not so much. And with the use of both Art Gallery denim and Essex linen in the piece, the thickness varied quite alot, and my stitches were kind of wobbly and uneven. You know - a very handmade look. The best part, though, was the thread I used - Aurifil 28wt #2625 (Arctic Ice). It was a first for me, as far as hand-quilting goes, and it stitched oh-so-smooth.

By the way, the backing I'd found in my stash was pretty perfect, I thought. In person, the colors really mesh with those of the required palette. Which reminds me - there was a required palette! What I saw in the photo posted was gray, tan, coral, gold, and pink. I read somewhere that the gray was really 'a soft navy', which is why I chose the denim. At any rate, it was a really captivating palette for me, and very enjoyable to work with.

One other little issue, though, was that I took the opportunity to use a machine I was quite unfamiliar with to sew on the binding. Don't get me wrong - it was a delight having a brief sewing spell in a borrowed (with permission!) sewing room, but it was kind of like sewing in Greek - none of the buttons were familiar, and I wasn't about to switch out the walking foot, thus my seam allowances weren't as precise as normal, and that resulted in a bit of bunching in the finished binding. In an odd sort of way, maybe that just adds to the wonky log cabin and the imperfect quilting, eh?

Whatever, it was a very enjoyable sew and gave me some hand-stitching for the car ride. Finishing at 15" square, it's the smallest quilt I've made in a while, and I confess, that was a bonus. Perfect it's not, but who ever said it all had to be? ....Exactly.

Linking up with Curated Quilts' Call for Entries - Log Cabin Mini Quilt.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long :: Q3 Finishes

Nearly three months ago I went out on a limb by putting five projects on my Q3 Finish-A-Long list... and survived to tell about it!

1. My scrappy improv quarter log cabin quilt top sat for a while, but eventually I pushed through to get it done.

I really appreciated how many scraps it used up, and it's a block I always enjoy making. So win-win on this one.

Fragmentary :: 72" x 72"

2. Juneish was made during Amanda Jean/crazy mom quilts' June Quilt QAL, and again, used up alot of scraps! Separated by those backing squares, it made for a really large quilt.

I treated myself and asked my guild-mate Pam Cole of Keeping it Simple to quilt it for me and I'm so glad I did!

Juneish :: 86" x 86"

3. Another scrap-involved project led directly to the improv stripes QAL and it was great fun to have a crowd sewing along with me.

Here's the basic block tutorial, in case you missed it. I have no doubt I'll be making more of these.

variegated :: 32" x 35"

4. A scrappy tumbler quilt with a mix of all my brown scraps had been on my list for a while.

The result, Double Tall Skinny Vanilla, went together really fast, and I enjoyed it so much, I'm working on another version. Love when that happens.

5. Last on my Q3 list and the most recent finish was a baby quilt made with the Geo pattern by Samantha Green/MissyMackCreations.

This was the one project that wasn't begun from scraps, but I appreciated being able to mix some stash fabrics with a few new purchases to be able to make the envisioned quilt.

Geo Baby :: 32" x 44"

So that was a terrific quarter.... loved using up so many scraps, and focusing on some really enjoyable sewing!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blogger's Quilt Festival :: EverGreenery

It's time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival, an opportunity for the online quilting community to share their quilts and admire the work of others. Hardest part about it is deciding what to share, right? Scrolling through the quilts I've made this year, I finally settled on EverGreenery, basically because it still makes me smile and I had so much fun making it!

Inspired by Greenery, the Pantone Color of the Year, I started with improv spikes, then filled in around them with improv hourglasses, diamonds, and stripes, basically made to order as the design came together.

Quilting was improvisational as well, with different designs in various areas of the quilt - all done with my walking foot.

Chunky binding (5/8" finished) seemed the perfect frame!

Creating quilts such as EverGreenery is my favorite.... going to the cutting board with rotary cutter and a stack of fabric or scraps - or both! - and just seeing where it takes you....

Quilt stats:
Finished size35" x 36"
Pattern: my own, improvisational
Fabric: Kona Parrot and green scraps + one lone scrap of Kona Pink Flamingo
Thread: Aurifil 50wt - 2021 [Natural White], with a touch of both 1114 [Grass Green] 
and 2435 [Peachy Pink]
Quilted by: myself, using a walking foot

My previous entries in the Blogger's Quilt Festival:
StringSong, 9/23/16 ~ Yay or Nay, 9/21/16
Room Temp, 5/20/15 ~ Keychain, 5/19/15
Red Hots, 10/27/14
Unlocked, 5/16/14
Crazy Rainbow, 10/25/13
Absolutely Mod Pop, 5/19/13 ~ 
HST Love, 5/17/13
Hopscotch, 5/19/12
Mango Revisited, 10/28/11
Supernova, 5/13/11

Monday, September 18, 2017

Of All Stripes

It feels like I haven't done any Bee Sewcial creating for ages, and in a way that's true! After M-R/quiltmatters' Group Hug prompt in June, it was my turn, with my choice being Looking Up. I didn't make a block, but those of my bee-mates have all arrived by now, and then we took a month off in August. So yeah, it's been a while.

12" x 14"

Imagine my surprise - and pleasure! - when Anne/playcrafts announced her September prompt "Of All Stripes." Yup. Improv stripes - one of my very favorites. Just perusing her inspiration pin board made me very happy!

13" x 16.5"

So those were very fun to make! AND the hard task of puzzling my Looking Up blocks into a quilt top remains.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Improv Spikes

Smitten as I am with the improv spike blocks I've been working on, I figured it's high time to share a tutorial. So here's how I make them!

For me, it works well to cut the background pieces to approximately my finished size. Cutting the 'spike' fabric the same size isn't necessary, but doesn't hurt.

Lay the spike fabric on top of the background, right sides together. See top arrow, where spike fabric extends 1/4" past the background. Note the bottom arrow to make sure once you sew your 1/4" seam down the righthand-side of the spike fabric, that there is about 1/4" of the background fabric to the left of the spike.

Sew 1/4" seam along right side of spike fabric.

You can press the spike fabric to the right before or after trimming the background fabric underneath.

Once pressed, flip the piece over.

Lay a ruler over the background portion of the block, lining up so you can trim off the excess spike fabric.

Flip back over right-side up, and you've got a finished spike block!

If  you want your spikes to butt up against each other, trim to the left of the spike so the background extends just 1/4" further - like the red block below. I tend to trim most of my blocks but leave the random one untrimmed and if occasionally there isn't even 1/4" extra there, that's ok too.... just creates a fun mix.

So go explore and see if you don't enjoy improv spikes as much as I do!