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!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


There's one more thing I worked on during retreat that I thought you might appreciate hearing about. I made the Venti quilt top, and with Island Quilter just down the hall, I decided to shop the sale bin for a quilt back. I happened to mention it to my guild-mate Matt/@odditease, and he suggested I pattern-match the backing, and he'd share some tips with me. He's kind of obsessive about matching his quilt backs (and wildly successful), so I didn't have to think long before accepting his offer.

Matt (and now I) follows a tutorial from Samantha/Aqua Paisley Studio that he happened to read about in an issue of The Scrap Basket. (smile) It's pretty straightforward and before too long, I was ready to stitch the seam up. Unfortunately, my pattern shifted ever so slightly and I had a decision to make. Let it be - as it really did look ok, even though not perfectly matched - or start over. I opted for the second option because it was more important to me to figure the technique out so I was 1) comfortable with it, and 2) happy with the results.

So once home, after confirming I had enough fabric to do so, I trimmed off what I had done and started over. The first time around, I had used a glue stick, and Matt thought that wasn't quite as secure as actual glue. So I tried again with what I had on hand - Aleene's Fabric Fusion. I gotta say, I'm a mess with glue! But I forged ahead and also opted to use my walking foot on the second go. It still didn't turn out perfect, and I confess I didn't pin at this point as the tutorial suggested. So I might try that next time. Here's a peek at one of the best sections....

And from farther away, I think it looks pretty darn awesome! I'll definitely try again. I've since asked Matt exactly what glue he uses (Elmer's Washable School Glue), so I'll try that along with pinning on the sewing step. Pretty cool though!

I'd love to hear about your experiences pattern-matching a quilt back. Or not!

Monday, September 11, 2017


The unpacked bags are piled all around me and I am totally wiped out. But going on retreat with Seattle MQG was great fun, as I fully expected it would be!! We stayed at Camp Huston in Gold Bar and though the accommodations were simple, the lodge (aka the sewing room) was spacious and the meals absolutely delicious (think homemade baked goods at every meal, prime rib dip, salmon, etc. etc.). And with 36 guild members attending, the company was excellent!

I made one special item before I went - a pillowcase from the tutorial by The Twiddletails Blog. I had no idea how satisfying this would be to make! With stash fabrics, it took all of 45 minutes, and went terrific with the quilt I chose to take for my bed - my Crossex quilt. It's nice to sleep handmade anytime, but especially at a quilting retreat, right?

The first project I started once I got set up was a new tumbler quilt made with a range of cool RJR Cotton Supreme Solids. I made my own template, based on a Venti Starbucks cup (truth), and cutting out the tumbler shapes was quick work.

Truth be told, piecing this quilt top (about 56" square) was quick to sew too - amazingly so. Within just a few hours I had a flimsy ready for the traditional Camp Huston water tower photo.

Next up was a little secret sewing and believe it or not, a bit of fabric shopping with Island Quilter, who traveled to us! Oh yeah.

Come morning while I was still fresh, I tackled a Devon Pouch, a pattern by Svetlana/Sotak Handmade that I'd been wanting to try. I made the large version which measures 7 ¼” wide x 5” tall x 1 ½” deep. It's marked 'intermediate' and I'd agree with that rating. It took my attention while not being overly challenging. In a perfect world, I'd have two sewing machines set up - one with a 1/4" foot and one with a zipper foot, as there were several times I needed to switch back and forth. But that was just a minor inconvenience, and definitely worth the effort.

My pair of metal zippers came from Zipit, who had the matching zips in the two sizes needed. I used one of my custom leather labels, which I love! Unfortunately when I went to look for a link to share, it looks like the seller, cocosheaven, may have left etsy. (sad face)

Meanwhile, some of my fellow guild members took the retreat as a chance to make their improv Dresden block for the 2018 QuiltCon charity quilt challenge. [Thanks for Louise/@imfeelincrafty and Monica/@monicathequilter for the fun photo!]

So, the other project I worked on was a new one involving improv spikes! I'm pulling from my scrap basket, which explains the eclectic palette. The shortest slabs are 3 1/2" tall, the tallest 8". Where this is headed I'm not sure, but though tedious, I'm really liking the evolving piece.

So, now back to reality! Nuff said.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Geo Baby

The fabric and pattern for this baby quilt were chosen two full months ago, but let's just say I got distracted by pincushions and stuff. And wouldn't you know, new baby boy was born over the weekend as I was finally working to get his quilt finished.

Baby's mama chose the pattern - "Geo" by Samantha Green/For the Love of Fabric - one of oodles she and daughter dear and I have jointly pinned to a baby quilt ideas pin board over the last couple of years. I totally approved and was pleased when she asked for a similar look with the green and blue dots and ginghams. When all was chosen, I included 15 different fabrics.

Of course making and trimming all those half-square triangles took the most time, but at 32" x 44", it was actually fun, and I placed the trimmed squares on the design wall a handful at a time. I could have spent alot of time rearranging before final construction, but I always find that more confounding than living with the original layout. With a scrappy design such as this, no matter what you move, you'll have similar fabrics nearby etc. etc.

For backing, I pieced three different sizes of gingham together and I kinda love it! Random fact.... this gingham is soft! I used the same batting as usual, but the quilt definitely has a softer hand than normal. Perfect for baby. 

I quilted in Aurifil 50wt #2021 (Natural White) in a grid to one side of each square, horizontally and vertically, then to one side of the diagonal in one direction. With all that vivid green and blue, I didn't think I needed to accentuate anything with colored thread. Subtle suited this one.

Oh! The binding.... is the softest organic Window Dressing in Shamrock and Ocean by Cloud9 Fabrics. You may or may not remember I used Window Dressing in Twig and Coral to bind my recent Junish. I'm seriously tempted to plan my next quilt on which colorway I want to bind in next. It's that good.

This project was on my 2017 Q3 Finish-A-Long list!
Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pincushion Parade Fini!

Whew! I really need to make up for lost time on a baby quilt that should have been done by now (oops!) but that aside, the #pinnieparade was great fun, and I'm glad I did it. Did I really need nearly 25 new pincushions? Uh, not really, But it was a really enjoyable diversion, and even though on several days when I literally didn't have a spare moment I shared old favorites, most days I sat down for 30+ minutes to try a new pattern or an improvisational design. Here are links to the previous round-ups [one, two, three], and below you'll see my final batch!

Day 24 - I kinda love pink flamingo and red together. For this one, I used the flying geese paper-piecing template from Amanda Jean/crazy mom quilts' Plenty of Pincushions Vol. 1, but neglected to glance at the instructions again or I would have noticed there should have been another strip of gray to the right of the geese. I still like it so oooh well.

Day 25 - On this day, I challenged myself to just use the scraps piled on my cutting table. Even with it's tiny improv curves, I still really enjoyed making this one.

Day 26 - This one was inspired by the scrappy strings 9-patch by @therootconnection.... and is one of my favorites.

Day 27 - After posting the Improv Quarter Log Cabin tutorial, of course I had to make one pincushion size, totally drawn from the scrap basket in black and white and red.

Day 28 - Oh goodness. This little one featuring Cotton + Steel Strawberry Peach was so fun. As I mentioned on Instagram, I had grandgirl on my mind when I made it, even tho she told me over the weekend that she didn't like quilting.... When I made a sad face, she quickly changed her story... "I'm sure I will when I'm older, Grammy!" Fingers crossed!

Day 29 - Though this little liberated star kinda fades into the background. Um.... plaid.

Day 30 - I'm a little disappointed in this one, inspired by my X Marks the Improv block tutorial, basically because I wish I'd cut the Xs narrower. OH well. This is actually one of the smaller pinnies I made.

Day 31 - And for the last day of the #pinnieparade, I know sewing is not in the cards, but that's OK, because I really needed to include this Circle of Geese. I made it a few years back for my friend Sharon/@redapplestitches after seeing Kelly/Jeliquilts' "A Circle of Geese" pincushion. The pattern is by Piece by Number, printed at 33%. I kinda love it.

Soooo. I made it! Thirty-one days, and I managed to make at least one pincushion on 23 of them. Yikes! But cool.