Saturday, July 18, 2015

thimbles and threads

i've done no sewing since the start of summer, but my summer travels and activities have taken me to a few quilting stops along the way, so that's what i've got to share right now. when i was in utah around the time of my birthday earlier this summer, my sweet aunt barbara (who is only 12 years my senior and a lifelong friend) gave me a day of quilt and family history touring. one of the stops we made was at a shop in draper, ut called thimbles and threads. barbara had looked up shops in the area and thought this best suited my tastes. the selection in the two-story shop was pretty extensive, i must say!

this is a look at half the main room just inside the front door. bright and cheery and friendly. this section was heavy on riley blake and moda fabrics, with some surprising mix-ins of cloud 9, tula pink, amy butler true colors, cotton + steel, amh, a little bit of heather bailey, and lots of other fun picks i cant't even recall now. so while i wouldn't call this an ultra modern shop, it did have great variety and offerings on all ends. there are two more rooms of fabric here. lots and lots of fabric. the shop calls itself "modern traditionalist" and i think that's pretty apt.

lori holt's "farm girl vintage" was all over the place and i noticed on the shop's instagram account that she's been there for book signings and events before. i suspect this is her local quilt shop or at least a frequently visited shop. there were longarm services and a classroom in the basement, too.

when we first got there and i was browsing, i had no desire whatsoever to buy fabric despite all the cute pickings. strange, huh? i think it's just because i've been so out of sewing for a while and i have all this fabric sitting at home that is still begging to be used. i couldn't even think of anything i would actually need or recall what i was working on that might benefit from additional fabrics. then i remembered i always want more red. and it's a good idea to stock up on blenders or low volume given the chance. so i managed to find some things and not pass up a good opportunity to shop in person and support a brick-and-mortar.

probably the thing i was most excited about was finding the wonder wheel, an item useful for adding a 1/4" seam allowance to templates, that's recommended in the quilt lovely book. the staff didn't know they had it but i scanned the gadget wall closely and found it. now maybe i can get some of those cabin quilts started. the little moda reference book looked pretty handy, too.

if i ever get back to sewing once summer is over, i'll let you know just how useful my purchases turn out.

in the meantime, i'm working on three separate tutorials for three quilts, which are close to completion once i get to them: my "cinched" pattern, the "arrow check" pattern, and a work up of how to make a 3 block penny patch quilt since rachel's tutorial only covered the 2 block version.

fall will tell all!
see you soon when the weather gets cozy and life settles in again, if not before.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

field trip to craft south

i'm not a girl who gets out much for quilting or sewing events. as much as i'd like to attend a sewing retreat or quilting conference, it's just not practical for me to take the time away from my family for such things at this point in my life. i always admire these events from afar and enjoy them vicariously through others' reports on social media. i try to take in fabric sights when i'm travelling, but i don't travel specifically for my hobby. so imagine my surprise and giddiness when i realized i'd be in nashville, tn on the weekend craft south was opening its doors. i could not believe my luck that i'd be in town the day everyone's fabric design darling, anna maria horner, opened up her lovely, brick and mortar crafters heaven.

vintage record player actually playing vintage vinyls - i wish you could hear it
the space was smaller and more intimate than i'd expected, but it was chock full of goodies, all artfully displayed. i was in town for another event and only had a short time to spare for popping in, so i didn't get to explore very fully. and after i left, i was appalled at the small number of photos i'd taken while there. but i did not leave empty handed.

the whole event was rather low-key. there were refreshments laid out on the table in the fabric section and ms. horner herself was greeting people by the cutting counter. a few of her family members were also wandering around mingling with customers. there wasn't a lot of hype going on, they were letting the beauty of the space and the products speak for themselves, mostly. and from what i could tell most of the customers were local people. it wasn't like being at quilt market or quiltcon with a bunch of super excited fans around. this made me a bit shy, especially with the camera. i felt like i might be the only star-struck fan girl there at the moment. but i played it cool and did not embarrass myself too badly.

the main attraction to me as a quilter was seeing some of amh's recent quilts in person and the fabric section. while there was not a ton of fabric, it was a beautifully curated selection of fine pickings. it almost felt like shopping ms. horner's personal stash of bolts, if that makes any sense. the collection is organized by color family rather than fabric line or designer, which was a new experience for me and makes for some very different shopping. i would see one print from a line and wonder where the others were since that's how i'm used to shopping. not finding them together, i forgot what some of the prints in a range were and didn't look them out. and it wasn't until later that i realized the plaids i had seen mixed in were probably bits of loominous, her latest line. i so wish that line had been presented by itself somewhere!

on the upside, having the fabrics organized by color really helps you not only select based on color but i also found it helped me look at fabrics individually rather than as part of a line or as belonging to a certain designer. you let go of expectations or preconceived notions you had about the designer or line and just see the fabric. it really does help get over the hype factor that comes with some fabrics. once again, i was surprised with how i liked certain fabrics on their own that i hadn't really liked before because i had only viewed them as a line, not as individual prints. really, there is no replacement for seeing fabrics in person.

of course there was plenty of amh on the shelves, as well as fabrics i have never seen on the bolt before - leah duncan, various art gallery designs, heather ross, birch fabrics, and liberty. yes, liberty of london on the bolt. just a few, but all the same, there it was in abundance and in real life. the liberty was on a special shelf of its own behind the cutting counter.

even though everyone else seemed to be mostly browsing i got over my shyness enough to start taking bolts off the shelf for purchasing. the way some people were acting it was like we were supposed to admire and look-but-not-touch because it was all so artfully set out. i decided to indulge in a few quarter yards. as i scanned the shelves with about 7 bolts in my arms, an elderly gentelman and his wife wandered over. "are you going to buy all that?!," he asked? "yes!," i said. "but just pieces of each, of course." i don't think he'd ever seen a fabricholic in shopping action before and he seemed greatly amused.

i picked out some low-volume prints and the dodo bird fabric from liberty's new alice line for my quarter yards, and since i was in house, got some yards of a lovely amh print, "summer totem" from loulouthi, for a backing.

while i was waiting at the fabric counter, mr. horner, canned beverage in hand, casually mosied on by and stopped to comment on my purchases. "you're mr. horner, aren't you?" i asked. "yes, i am. who are you?," he replied, in a friendly and earnest manner, reaching out to shake my hand. just a few minutes before i had seen amh, out of the corner of my eye, greet someone who seemed to be from the industry and i knew there were other people from the community around, so with that in mind i tried to introduce myself as a person-of-the-masses customer, not anyone who he should know. i didn't manage it well at all, getting tongue-tied and a bit confused. "i'm, well, i'm not, i mean, i'm just hydee (last name)," i stammered. holy cow, i was silly! but he was very gracious and pretended he didn't notice at all. we then proceeded to have a pleasant conversation about my fabric purchases, large families (we both have 7 children), and nashville, since he's mostly a native and i lived there in high school. after a few minutes he excused himself to go put a record on the record player.

juliana horner, their eldest daughter and creative genius in her own right, was also there, with colorful, pixie-styled hair, helping customers find things. after chatting with mr. horner, i decided i should just go say hello to The Lady herself once my fabric was all cut. i know she's used to it, so i was even going to ask if i could take a photo with her. to my dismay, shortly before i was ready to go, she disappeared into the back to take a break. my time was up and i wasn't fan girl enough to barge into her break time, so i left without speaking to her.

the whole experience was a little surreal, like walking into a book i've read before, and having it be alive all around you. but at the same time it was very down-to-earth, warm and inviting at the shop. it's located in a lovely neighborhood of nashville i'd never been in before. i believe it's called 12 South. that's the road it's off of anyway. there are several unique shops and eateries all within walking distance. most notable to me was a jeni's splendid ice creams scoop shop, home of the absolute best ice cream i've ever had in my life. seriously. i didn't get back to craft south the rest of the trip, but my travel companions gladly accompanied me to jeni's twice more in the four days we were there. nashville is lucky enough to have three locations.

jeni's nashville 12 south location

 darkest chocolate was my absolute favorite - the best chocolate ice cream i've ever had. i tried most of the flavors because they'll let you sample all of them if you'd like, and thought they were all great but the darkest chocolate and passion fruit were my favorites. jeni is pretty smart and offers mini scoops so you can get a bit of everything if you'd like. on my second visit i got a 4-scoop sampler. delicious!

 the 12 South area has lots of small, charming old homes, some of which have been turned into businesses. it was pleasurable to drive around and look at them. i wish i knew more of their history, time period, or even the name of the architectural style prevalent in the area. even in my ignorance, i could enjoy looking at them, nestled into all the growing greenery as they lined the gently rolling streets.

jeni's round three, two mini scoops, this time with a sugar cone
after my visit to craft south (and jeni's, of course) i was ready to move back to nashville. it's such a nice, quirky town with so much distinct flavor. but since moving is not in the cards for me anytime soon, i'll have to settle for trying to capture this in a quilt somehow. thank goodness for online orders to help me fill in the gaps whenever i need to. like that loominous collection i missed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

a little bit of heart and a book review

 a few weeks ago i got a copy of jen kingwell's new book, quilt lovely, and instantly fell in love with 99% of the patterns. in love, as in "i absolutely must stop all other plans and spend all my quilty time for the next few years making these designs." they really are spectacular. as you may know, i've had my qualms with ms. kingwell's pattern writing for gypsy wife so i was a bit leery of a whole book of her patterns, but the absolute gorgeousness of the designs makes up for any weaknesses in pattern clarity. i am in need of several new quilts for our new mountain cabin and i think these will be absolutely perfect for the place.

doesn't this one say "cabin" to you?
the day after my book arrived, i was feeling less than inclined to work on my several wips laying around and picked up quilt lovely to see if there was something i could dabble in. i find taking a break from what i'm working on often helps me clear my head and refreshes my interest in the project which has gone stale. many of the patterns in the new book require templates or other involved processes, so i settled on making just one courthouse steps heart block from one of the pillow patterns, "she loves you." i figured i could make just one and work it into gypsy wife somehow if i didn't want to make any more.

the pieces for this block are so tiny! 1" high each. most quilters will throw something that small away. it reaffirmed to me that i'm not completely crazy for holding onto such small scraps, something i have a propensity to do. i started out by cutting pieces to the sizes needed and lining them up in rows according to size. there is a pile of color and a pile of neutral for each length.

first block - not very heart-ish
 the blocks, made up of four smaller component blocks, finish at 6" square. i love the combination of all the colored scraps in the hearts against the neutrals. i had fun digging through my tiniest scraps to come up with bits for the blocks. i completed one block after a friday morning sewing social with my friend, becky, and another evening session with fellow blogging quilt friend, kate, from quarter mile quilts. (kate and i met through blogging and instagram, and finally got together in person for some sewing, chatting, and chocolate. sew fun!) yes, it took me a whole day to complete one block.

putting together that first block taught me a few things about fabric choices, as well as how to put the blocks together. kate said she was surprised i could talk and work on such an intricate block at the same time. well, really, i couldn't. not very well.

 i made not one but three of the smaller component blocks incorrectly! almost enough for a whole heart. ugh! oh well. they're not wasted, i'll work them into something somewhere. and they are pretty cute all on their own. i might just make one more and put them all together into one jumbled courthouse steps/log cabin block.

anyway, after getting my first block finished, i had learned a few things and wanted to test my ideas out, so i made another block. also, i didn't feel like it looked much like a heart at all. i hoped that by making more than one, side by side they would start looking heart-ish.

 it does help to have more than one to give the effect of a heart. i'm thinking about making a row of them for a quilt, maybe a whole quilt out of the intricate blocks from the pillow patterns in the book. those patterns were written as pillows so you wouldn't have to commit to making a whole quilt out of them. they would be amazing that way but the work involved would be quite extensive. anyway, maybe a row of each kind would make a nice quilt altogether.

so here's what i found while working on these blocks:

1. absolute neutrals or nearly-neutrals were best for the white space parts of the block, the not-heart parts. originally i thought just low-volume was going to be good enough but i could tell immediately that i didn't want any low-volumes with color in them and weeded them out. but even low-volume prints that had an obvious pattern, like the floral or comma print i used (see above) were a little too loud, competed with the eye against seeing the heart shape formed by the colored strips. i had very few nearly-neutral low-volumes as it was so i had to invest in a few more tone-on-tone prints and solid colored neutrals for future blocks. upon closer inspection, the ones used in the book mostly seemed to be various colors of white, cream, ecru, etc. i like the effect of having different colors but the low-volume prints i used were a bit too attention getting.

good options
2. low-contrast, high-volume prints were best for the colored sections. by that i mean it was better if the print didn't have a super busy design or a lot of white/light colors in them, if there was little contrast within the strip's design itself. bold colors were best for if the prints were too light, they didn't show up well against the neutral strips. they sort of got lost and the shape of the heart did, too. if a light colored or high/contrast-busy strip was included, it was better to have it closer to the interior of the heart, not on the outer edges.

not-so-good options
these are all prints i like and prints i even used, but the ones with a lot of contrast between the colors within the print itself, especially with a lot of white, didn't define the shape of the heart very well at all. i tried to make sure that if i did use them, the white sections were facing inward, touching another color rather than turned out against a neutral strip. what really helps the most is to have a lot of contrast between the color strips and the neutral strips, however you do that.

here's a case of where i had a colored print with white in it and when all the seam allowances were hidden, i ended up with mostly white showing! i didn't expect that tiny tip of the heart to come out looking like this. it would have been better if i had used a solid or tone-on-tone print here. that white half of the top pink strip, coupled with the yellow part of the next strip distorts the shape of the heart because they basically disappear.

 in the book, ms. kingwell suggests considering the backside of fabrics as well as the front, for their effect. this worked nicely with some of the neutrals i was using. you can see above, that if you turn them around so the wrong side is showing, you get an even subtler effect of the print.

so now i have two nice little hearts hanging out on my design wall while i get back to work on my other projects. i do find that stepping back from them and viewing them from a distance really helps them look heart-ish. and some day when i have a whole row of them, they will probably look pretty lovely and heart-like together.

daisy do - the cover quilt - which i will eventually need to make. by hand.
there are several things i really like about the book other than the gorgeous patterns. there is some introductory writing about each of the designs. every quilt has a story and i like when the designer shares that story or at least some thoughts about it's inception. also, each quilt is photographed in use as well as fully laid out flat with a complete view of the top. seeing a quilt from different angles gives you different perspectives on it. there are no pictures of the backs, but ms. kingwell does not piece her backings, preferring as few seams on the back as possible, so they aren't relevant here. there are clear, colored assembly diagrams for the blocks as well as the whole quilt for each project. quilting ideas are also included, with basic sketches for some of the projects. in addition, i enjoyed reading ms. kingwell's thoughts in the appendix sections. all quilters have their own techniques, preferences, and reasonings, which can vary widely, so i appreciate hearing her ideas and rationales.

spinning around - composed of three different pinwheel blocks - is the other top contender for my favorite
as for what i think of the pattern writing this time around, i'd say it's improved. the pattern that i followed for this block was pretty good, it had nice color illustrations that helped with assembly. however, it wasn't labeled with where the different sizes of strips went, even though they were numbered in order of placement. with the help of the illustration i could accurately guess which was which and still got the block assembled. a beginner might have more confusion over the process. browsing some of the other patterns i'm interested in i could tell that some of the other instructions were not super detailed, like how to sew the template pieces together. it's just the nature of her writing style and of these types of quilts, meant for more experienced quilters, that there are levels of assumed knowledge. i know and accept that now. if i can't figure out something from written instructions that are rather general and don't include diagrams, i'm sure there are tutorials and videos online that will help. overall, it's a splendid book full of really, really lovely quilt patterns. especially if you love scrappy quilts with dozens of prints per quilt and want challenging projects that will push your skills. which i do.

this book has been read and browsed nearly every day since it got here. even if i only ever just looked at it, it was a worthwhile purchase for all the viewing pleasure it gives!

if you've seen the book, which pattern is your favorite?

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced

Saturday, May 9, 2015

making room

so, the sewing won out. no surprise there! this room is officially becoming a sewing room, no longer a split-personality dining/sewing room. it doesn't look too different yet and there is a lot of work to go, but i've begun the process of transitioning this room into a full-fledged, dedicated sewing room. and begun bringing everything down here from my bawthroom sewing space. if i'm going to have a sewing room, all my stash is going to be in it. so far, i've shortened the dining table (which will be leaving eventually) and turned it around. i moved my low shelves to create a cutting space (on the right). i want to build a new pressing table that's better proportioned to the room and will allow me to store boxes under it, but for now the ironing board is still holding it up. the design walls have been propped up on the actual walls where they will go but still need attaching and some extending. there is still so much to do. this weekend my dad is supposed to put together some more shelves for me to go under that back design wall. this is the tip of the iceberg, but it already feels good to have it started and to know where i'm heading.

something i realized while moving everything around: i have way too much fabric. it's helped curb my buying appetite tremendously to once again rifle through what i already own.

there is another new addition to the room, too: a sewing space for d4, my bestest little sewing buddy.

 last week, we finally got back my old Little (Pink) Brother machine, which i'm giving to her (but still retaining rights to). poor little (pink) brother fell out of the back window of the suburban last fall and has needed repair ever since. frankly, i was surprised and relived it could be salvaged after a four foot fall onto the driveway. but it's all better now and ready for her to sew on. i put a small table and chair in one corner of the room and this is her spot.

she's been enthusiastically trying out lots of different stitches and supposedly practicing sewing a straight line. i have to say that i didn't realize how much i love and value the auto thread cutter and knee lift bar on my juki until i was helping her get set up on this machine. goodness, what a lot of time is spent in those simple functions when you don't have the auto option!

 she picked out a mini charm pack to make into a doll quilt and had so much fun laying it out on the design wall.

i love watching her work and listening to all her humming or funny comments to herself while she plays with fabric.

sharing this space with her makes it that much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

home ec highlights

what's wrong with this picture?
 i've had several people tell me they enjoy when i share all my sewing debacles, or what i call "home ec moments." apparently it's amusing and maybe even comforting to see things go wrong for someone else. i like to keep things real and honest here, which is why i share the mishaps. no way am i a quilting expert who turns out flawless finishes. my quilting experience is a study in mistakes! but i think i am living proof you can continually make mistakes and still turn out usable, maybe even likable, quilts.

here are a few gems from when i quilted "bloom where you are planted" over the course of a weekend. i'm still not sure if i had an unusual number of problems occurring or if it just seemed that way because i sewed a lot more in a shorter space of time. i documented them as i was going on instagram, much to the amusement of several friends.

here are photos i took with the real camera as i went along:

somehow i managed to move my fmq foot under the thread of a very large stitch and then sew over that thread, by one stitch, before i stopped. in effect, i sewed my foot to the quilt top. genius! if this was a required technique, i'm sure i'd never manage it.

in a fmq craftsy class i took from leah day, she said if your stitch wasn't big enough to catch your toe in and trip on, then you should leave it. i wonder if being able to fit your sewing foot under it counts as big enough for catching your toe?

don't you just loathe when you barely get started quilting and then your bobbin thread runs out?! right after i had fixed a messed up spot, i got moving again only to have my thread run out three loops into the row. and when i wound the bobbin, i accidentally wound the thread under the bobbin on the spindle rather than on the bobbin. that was a big mess and further delay, too. (the photo didn't turn out so you'll just have to imagine it.)

my biggest trick i pulled off may have been sewing my foot to the quilt but sewing this tail of fabric to the back of the quilt took a lot of untapped talent, too. see, the backing had three vertical strips sewn into it and one of them was about a foot longer than the rest. i was too lazy to cut it off before i started quilting. this is a reminder why you should always trim the back properly before attempting fmq.

well, that particular loop there was looking flat on the top anyway so it was a good excuse to have to unpick and resew that portion. i considered leaving it on the back for a "design feature," a sort of raw-edge ruffle on the back, but decided that loop really needed to be redone. so out it went. and the tail got trimmed immediately.

looking back at these photos, it doesn't seem like much at all. in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't. that's the point. it took me some extra time, but everything got fixed and the quilt got finished, even on deadline to be delivered to it's owner.

so when you mess up, just fix it and keep moving on.
think of me and laugh a little, too.

Friday, May 1, 2015

my process for a pieced backing

i have always loved a pieced backing on a quilt. it's one more place to have a little fun with fabric and even an opportunity to play with a more modern, large-scale, improv-pieced scheme than i would normally go for on a quilt top. if you have a beloved fabric you want to feature in a large panel, the back is the perfect place to do so. unless i'm making a baby quilt, i always make a pieced backing. even on my very first quilt, i made a pieced backing. i didn't know much about quilting at all, but i knew i liked pieced backings. so my first backing, for "at last" was a four panel piece which echoed the block pattern used on the front. i remember carefully selecting the four fabrics so the colors and shapes best represented my ideas for the front. it just might be the best part of that quilt. it's definitely one thing i did right when i was struggling with so many aspects of launching a first quilt.

"taite" uses large panels of fabrics from the front interspersed with leftover chain-pieced block strips wherever seams were needed in the panels. my daughter chose the main panel and i chose the two side fabrics. the fabric selections also reflect the pattern i used on the front. this was another backing i carefully designed with the design elements of the front in mind, and also to use up leftover pieces.

not all of my tops are so carefully laid out and designed. there are also those that are improvised and less structured.

a pieced backing can make a great home for leftover or bungled blocks or yardage that were originally for the top. when i made "twirly" i accidentally cut the large fabric panels too short, so they went on the back. because they were oddly sized, i joined them with leftover border blocks in the seam. i also had a few extra blocks and more leftover border strips that went into the back, too. the rest was made up of excess fabrics not used in the blocks. since i usually buy generously for the fabric requirements, i always have leftovers to play with on a backing. in fact, this is one reason i over buy.

knowing i can use pieces on the back makes it less stressful when something doesn't work out or gets miscut. i'll just use it to make the back more interesting. this makes the "what do i do with this now?!" problem solved and i grieve mistakes less, too.

sure, you can always make a backing inexpensively out of a plain muslin or you can sew one or two seams in the same fabric to make one great big piece. but i like to have fun with the back. also, i don't like to pattern match and mismatched patterns bother me. so even if i do use large pieces of fabric for the back, i will put at least a small strip of something in between the panels. my all-time favorite backing is on my "out on a limb" quilt. it's just three 2.5" wide strips sewn together and placed in between two large vertical fabric panels of the same fabric, but i really, really love this one - as much as the front, maybe more. a pieced backing doesn't have to be complicated at all to be effective. 

some other quilters that come to mind when i think of pieced backings are elizabeth hartman of oh, frannson! (especially in her book the practical guide to patchwork), kelly of my quilt infatuation, and rachel hauser of stitched in color (like here and here).

in my experience, a pieced backing can be either a planned design to compliment the front or a place to use up leftovers from the front. or maybe sometimes something in between. as i got ready to make my backing for my latest quilt, "dreaming easy" i decided to document the process in case anyone was interested in trying their hand at a pieced backing but didn't really know where to start.

this backing was unplanned until i saw what was leftover once the front was complete. i did have one feature print in mind for the backing - a 4 yd piece from the main fabric line i used for this quilt ("dream on" by urban chiks for moda). i could have made a backing out of that, but of course didn't want to use just one single fabric. so i pulled out what i had to work with: the 4 yd cut (green floral), a 2 yd cut of another fabric i had used on the top (pink "modern meadow" joel dewberry print), a small piece of "meadow dot" in robin's egg, and a few charm squares that were too low-volume/light for me to use in the arrow check blocks on the front. if i didn't have that large piece of pink fabric, i probably would have used the green fabric for both large panels with a strip in between. however, i did have it and liked the variety of prints.

 you can go about the process mathematically, but i prefer to just lay out the top and build organically over that. as long as the back i'm building has a few inches more on each side than the quilt top does, i know i'm good to go. so first step - lay the top out on the floor. really, you could place it face down so it's oriented the way the quilt will actually be put together, but i didn't here. that only matters if you want certain pieces under other pieces. this time that wasn't a concern and i just did it for sizing reference.

 next i lay out my largest pieces across the top to see which way they are going to fit. i could have placed these panels vertically, but the pink print wasn't quite long enough when laid that direction. in order to avoid extra piecing, i turned the pieces horizontally. here i had plenty extra of that lower floral print, so once i decided on the orientation, i cut the excess off with my shears, leaving it a few inches larger than the top. same with the upper pink print.

now i have two large panels and i'll just need to make a strip to put between them in order to use up those charm squares. the top was composed of blocks that included hsts and i could have made some out of the charm squares to echo the design on the front, but i chose a simpler route.

 the charm squares were all very similar in appearance to each other and hardly distinguishable if placed next to each other in a row. i wanted to break them up visually a little, so i cut half charm square pieces (2.5"x5"cut) of the random "meadow dot" piece and placed that between all the charm squares.

i just did this without measuring until i had a strip long enough to cross the width of the quilt top, with the needed excess inches on each side.

 then i attached the two large panels to the pieced charm squares strip and i had a pretty pieced backing. this one was quite simple and came together in no time. if the pieces you are working with are of various sizes or you have blocks to include, you can just play around with fabric placement, sort of like building a puzzle, until you have the back big enough to cover the top. next time i make that sort of backing, i will make sure to take photos so i can walk you through that process, too.

 something else i did on this backing - i included the selvages on the large pieces. i've done this twice before and find it can be a very nice design feature, like when i did it on "paris daydreams." if the print on the selvage is placed right, you can see it well and it's kind of cute, i think, to have it showing.

 the "dream on" panel had it's selvage print mostly well placed and it showed nicely. the "modern meadow" print did not have a good selvage for display purposes, but i was feeling lazy and didn't want to trim it off that long piece of fabric before i sewed the backing together. so i included it, too. lazy, i know.

once you have a back, you are home free to sandwich and baste your quilt! i positioned the top so that the charm square strip fell about 2/3rds the way up the quilt, making the green panel on the lower portion of the back larger than the pink panel on the top portion. if you don't cut off excess backing before sandwiching you can play around with top placement like this.

that ends the tour of piecing a backing splish splash stash style. i hope you found it informative, interesting, or at least entertaining. or maybe you just like looking at the pretty fabrics. that's alright by me.

linking up with kelly at my quilt infatuation's needle and thread thursday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


 i missed quiltcon 2015. did you? i flirted with the idea of going, but i just couldn't justify being gone for it. not now, not at this point in my life and my children's lives. that's totally a personal decision and i was ok with it. but when the photos started pouring in to instagram and i realized how many of my favorite internet quilty people were there, not to mention that it was in austin, one of my very favorite cities i ever lived in, i may have regretted that choice just a little bit. especially missing the gee's bend ladies! however, austin quiltcon is all water under the bridge, memories for those who went or didn't.

i looked up the next dates for upcoming quiltcons and was excited to see that the 2017 show is in savannah, ga. i've heard all kinds of good, romantic things about savannah, but inspite of having lived in the south several times and the state of georgia twice, i've never been there. quiltcon seemed like a good excuse/opportunity to go in a few years and check the place out. i was talking about the missed austin conference and the upcoming savannah one with my husband. he said, "great! you should go. i'll come with you. you can do your quilt stuff during the day and hang out with me at night." um, that's not how it works, hon. quiltcon is for being with your quiltly people all day and night.

fortunately for me, he took me to savannah for our 20th anniversary this spring instead. whew! and i have to tell you, savannah is amazing. we were there for the beginning of azalea season, so blooms were just starting to pop up all town. savannah is built around 24 sqaures, which are kind of like parks in the center of the blocks, in a grid pattern. it's very walkable and incredibly pretty.

i'm sharing a few shots i took around town in case you were thinking of going to quiltcon 2017 and need some incentive beyond quilts. here follows some sightseeing photos i took and a bit about some savannah sewing spots as well.

 personally, i just loved all the colors and natural textures everywhere on all the architectural features and structures.

 savannah is a city of churches. this catholic cathedral had some incredible stained glass inside. we visited this one and several historic homes open for tour, also.

there are a variety of architectural styles preserved through out the city.

 and there are some pretty good eats - like the ice cream sandwiches at byrd cookie company. the cookies are famous, but we went right for the cookies with ice cream combo. they were perfectly sized and utterly delicious.

 the highlight of the trip may have been lunch at the wilkes house. our first day there, i kept noticing poeple coming out of a street level entrance, which was curious because most of the main entrances are on the second floor. one of the patrons explained to us they'd just eaten lunch at the wilkes house. lunch is served, boarding house style, daily from 11am to 2pm. you have to line up outside and wait to be seated at a table for 10 with whoever is next to you in line. a typical wait is about 30 minutes. there are 20+ dishes of authentic southern home cooking served up to the table, followed by dessert. $20 a person, cash only. we were assured it was really great food and worth the wait.

the next day, we tried it out, waiting in the rain with a larger-than-normal crowd (which had started to gather for st. patty's day the next week. another story.) my husband is in the above photo, at the rear with the black and rainbow striped umbrella.

 we were a bit afraid this was mostly hype, just an experience you had to have if you went to savannah, with mediocre food. fortunately we were dead wrong! it was so completely delicious, every last dish. if you do quiltcon 2017, you had better make time in your schedule for lunch at mrs. wilkes or you will have missed one of the finest institutions of southern cooking on the planet.

ok, ok, you're thinking. architecture and great food. fine. but we're quilters and fabric lovers. well, savannah has that too! i was on my anniversary trip, but the mr was very nice about letting me do some fabric shopping when the chance occurred. unfortunately for me, the luck of the irish was being spent elsewhere during that holiday season. no kidding, the very first shop we passed on the street after we parked our car the first day was a fabric shop. he said i could go in, but that seemed the wrong way to start our romancing, so i told him it could wait til later. later that day, i noticed another store, but we were in a hurry to get to our anniversary dinner, so i let that one pass, too.

the next day we were out and about, i was ready for some fabric shopping.  fabrika fine fabrics is in downtown proper, pretty close to byrd cookies, if i remember correctly. a peek in the windows had me drooling. it's a wonderful looking shop.

 unfortunately, window peeking is all i got. they had just closed down for the st. patrick's day weekend. i was crushed.

 apparently savannah is the second largest st. patrick's day gathering in the united states. it's rather like mardi gras. the streets get closed down to auto traffic and the party gets big. we were there the week before the holiday and things were already getting plenty green and crowded. they city even "greens" the fountains, shown above. i guess the local merchants not in the party business are wise to this and they simply close shop. if i'd known this, i would have taken the husband up on the fabric shopping offer the first day instead of being such a noble, self-sacrificing wife.

 the first shop i had seen on the first day, measure - a fabric parlor, was closed also when i tried it the second time. i couldn't believe my bad luck! both shops were open the first day and closed when i went back.

measure had some very cute window displays with some fun fabric projects and vintage items in the window displays, but i couldn't see any more than that. looking at the site on-line i can tell i missed out! (they have an etsy shop, and ig account, too.)

so, yeah, i didn't come home with any fabric for a 20th anniversary commemorative quilt or anything like that. but i will definitely be going back to savannah. maybe for quiltcon 2017.

anyone thinking of being there, too?