Friday, February 3, 2023

improv in an afternoon

have you ever gotten the urge to just make something right away? to sit down with a project and see it through to completion in an afternoon?

one recent saturday morning i was quickly browsing instagram when an image caught my attention and i suddently needed to get making the thing instantly. i wanted to create something on a whim and it was something that could be done in one day if i put in the work. i just wanted to see if i could do it.

i liked the mix of bright colors and low-volume blenders; and i especially liked the giant flying geese blocks surrounded by randomly sized strips.

so i walked into my sewing room and started pulling fabric.

i decided my flying geese would be made from the gorgeous large-scale floral by dylan mierzwinski for free spirit fabrics. there was a small pile of fabrics from an order that hadn't been put away yet which i thought coordinated really well and had the same feel i wanted.

first, i made the flying geese. i wanted them to be as big as possible. i had a generously cut half yard of the dylan m floral to work with, which allowed me to cut four rectangles at 18.5" x 9.5".

i prefer stitch-and-flip construction for my geese because it allows me to trim to size when completed. if i didn't always get distortion from my horrible pressing (ironing) habits, i could use the no-waste method. but i know myself and i go stitch-and-flip 99% of the time.

i referenced this article by alderwood studios for its measurement equations, which it has for three different methods for making flying geese.

for stitch-and-flip construction, you add .5" to the finished size to get your cutting dimesions. my finished geese were going to be 9" x 18".

the squares for the "sky" portion of the geese (outer triangles in the corners surrounding the central "geese" triangle) are the height of the rectangle squared, plus .5".

i liked the yellowish tan color krystina paired with her pink geese, and looked through my solids stash for something suitable. i had a half yard cut of the perfect shade (i think it's moda "sunflower"? not exactly sure), but it wasn't as generously cut as my half yard of the focal floral, so i couldn't get enough squares out of it. i auditioned many yellows in my stash and finally settled on the one from the ruby and bee solids collection by heather ross for windham. it was a touch brighter than i wanted, but it was the best i had.

i recently saw a tip to sew both seams for the hsts before you cut the outer triangles off, just like you would when making a pair of hsts.

what a great idea!

my personal tip: i always press before i cut my hsts off.

there you have it - four super-sized flying geese blocks.

you can see i kept placement of the different yellows consistent along the sides. i considered mixing them up or doing two geese with one color, and went with this set up.

once my geese were made, it was time to fill in around them with the other fabrics.

one reason i like the stitch-and-flip method is i enjoy all the extra hsts it creates. i think it's a bonus method, not a wasteful method. i had 8 hsts leftover from my flying geese and decided to incorporate them on the front. i wasn't sure if it would detract from my focal point of flying geese or not, but the only way to find out is to try it.

i made one pinwheel block and one diamond block with the hsts, wanting both to run off the edge of the quilt. 

i had a large piece of batting leftover from another quilt make which was a nice small throw size - bigger than a crib or baby, but not quite as large as i usually make my throw quilts. since this was very much a make-do, use up stash and scraps kind of quilt, i chose to use it to determine my dimensions for this quilt that had no set size.

i got out that stack of fabrics i wanted to use and just started laying pieces out in a pleasing configuration, folding them up to fit different sized spots.

i pulled a few more scraps and coordinating fabrics out to fill in little gaps and to add a bit more blue.

once i liked it, i began cutting pieces to size and sewing.

i found a spot for a small bit of my robert kauffman umbrella girls.

i used a cutting of heather ross's sleepiing beauty in blue at the top. i've worked heather ross's princesses from her far, far away lines into several quilts lately and am really enjoying it.

i had a small cutting accident when cutting my squares - the fabric was folded in a tiny bit along the top fold, so it made an inny on one square and an outy on another.

the inny cut showed up in my pinwheel block, so i patched it with a small piece of this pear fabric.

i actually really like the effect it creates; one more little make-do moment in the improv quilt.

two and a half hours after i started piecing it all together, i had a completed top.

it measures about 46" x 64" and i absolutely adore the results. it's soft and bright and feminine and lovely. i left it out in the open on the floor outside my sewing room for several days because it just makes me so happy to see it.

this is definitely one project that makes my heart sing.
it was a joy to put together and the results are so pleasing.

if you're ever in need of a fun and quick make, give an improv quilt built around a few large blocks a try.

Friday, January 27, 2023

betsy scrappy trip, a finish

trip around the world is a very traditional, popular pattern. and i've never liked it much.

melonie traylor from southern charm quilts made a pink-and-gold version that caught my attention and made me rethink the pattern. but i've never really been interested in making one.

but then alli at woodberry way hosted a scrappy trip quilt along in january 2020. i kept seeing all these scrappy trip quilts and as i was ready to do another church lap quilt, i decided to make a smaller version with liberty tana lawn. i had betsy in several colorways and decided to make it completely from betsy prints.

scrappy trip is a quilting technique that is explained by bonnie hunter in her tutorial on her quiltville blog.

you can read all about the various decisions i made when assembling this quilt in this post here.

it's handquilted in a crosshatch pattern in all the chambray blocks with aurifil thread in 12wt, color 2021.

the backing is a paring of a bold red betsy and a soft grey one. it sort of represents the spectrum of colorways betsy comes in. i didn't really want to use the grey here as i was saving it for a particular project, but it was the best piece i had on hand at the time and i didn't want to wait for more to come in the mail. it came from my visit to the liberty flagship store in london whilston holiday there in 2017.

the binding is a blue herringbone flannel i purchased from the fat quarter shop and used on my other liberty church lap quilts. they have a listing for this maywood studio flannel right now, but i don't think it's quite the same one i got from them originally.

this is one of two betsy and chambray liberty church lap quilts i've made. the second, which i actually finished first, is "betsys all in a row." she came about when i had scraps from this scrappy trip quilt that i wanted to use and there is a free tutorial for her on this blog. they're quite similar, but i think the "betsys all in a row" is actually my favorite of the two.

i love looking at the different betsy colorways in these two quilts and trying to decide which is my favorite. verdict - i can't decide! there are so many good ones.

i take my liberty lap quilts to church even when they're not complete, so both quilts have been in use since 2020. which is probably why i made the mistake i did recently when i posted my new year's eve finish on instagram a few days after the fact. i grabbed the rows quilt to photograph and post rather than the scrappy trip! haha.

i guess i was thinking it's the one that was started second and must have been the one i finished second, even though it was only a few days after the fact. i didn't realize my mistake until a few days later.

parting shot on this quilt: my not-so-little quilt buddy getting ready to hold the quilt up for a quick snap. d5 came along about a year into my quilt journey. just look how big she is now! that means i've been at this hobby for over a decade now. 

both she and the quilts feel like they have been a part of me always.

Friday, January 20, 2023

seester baby doll quilts

just before christmas my seester*, loree, stopped by and asked if i could help her make some dolls quilts for a doll bunk bed santa would be bringing her 3 year old daugther. 

loree's called me before just before christmas wanting to know if i could make a stocking like the ones my mom made for everyone and i had to tell her no. the stockings would have taken me forever to figure out and i wasn't confident in my ability to make one.

but a doll quilt (or two) i could do.

we talked about possible fabrics and patterns. loree, like most members of my family, has really big ideas, and as she has no experience quilting, i had to keep reigning her in on what was feasible for me to pull off before the deadline.

she thought everything was cute and kept flitting around. "we just need a pattern. where is the book of patterns?," she said. i laughed out loud because there are a gazillion quilt patterns in the world, not just a single book of patterns.

and this was a doll quilt. for a very active little girls who's probably going to love and use them to pieces. we settled on a simple strips quilt using 2.5" strips and made plans for which day to assemble them.

she came over a few days before christmas and we got to work. 

first, was fabric selection. i'd been thinking about the fabrics loree was drawn to, which were mostly light colored. i suggested we do something that would withstand the love they're going to get a little better, but she kept coming back to the low volume prints and i just gave in so we could get started.

at one point she started looking at my shelf of liberty tana lawn prints. "these are pretty!" oh, yes, they are. i was feeling very generous about the project but that's where i drew the line. "yes, those are really nice. they're my best fabrics. but everything on that shelf comes from london and costs $35/yard. i'm sorry but we're not using them for this doll quilt." she laughed out loud and totally understood.

we finally settled on fabric strips, mostly leftovers from my "collins" quilt, with a few butterflies thrown in because her daughter loves butterflies and they have a connection to our mom, an accomplished seamstress who passed away in 2018. we chose this ruby star society butterfly print (i think from "stay gold" by melody miller?) as a sort of feature fabric to use 3 times and give the quilt a little bit of cohesion. (that's the backing print in the upper right corner.)

then i set her to work on one machine on one quilt and i did the other one on my second machine and pressed for both of us. like most first-timers, she was laughing about her accuracy and the unexpected difficulty of sewing a simple straight line. but she did just fine. i had her sew on the turtle (slow speed) and it worked well.

she heard me ripping away on the hare (high speed) and said, "that's the sound i remember coming from mom's machine." i assured her it took me 10 years to work up to sewing on the hare and she was doing great.

"why are you so much faster than me?," she asked. i wasn't that much faster. since i was also pressing both our strips, we ended up finishing up about the same time.

she had to go at that point, so i finished them off myself. 

 before she left, she picked a backing, but not a binding. when i completed the simple straightline quilting, i decided on this cute amy sinibaldi polka dot print for the binding. for durability, i chose to machine attach the binding. i do despise machine binding! it went much better on the second one. i was cursing through most of it, wishing i could just handbind. but timing was of the essence and they need to survive a lot of rough play. 

i had both dolly quilts completed by evening.

they got delivered in time for christmas morning and later that day i had the great pleasure of seeing my niece lovingly playing with her dolls, tucking them into their beds under the quilts over and over. she was at it most of the day.

that was sweet, but spending hours quilting with my seester was the best gift of all.

*all five us of sisters have double "e" names - hydee, loree, marcee, jodee, katee - which is why we call each other "seester."

Friday, January 13, 2023

year in review 2022

my personal top nine from instagram @hydeeannsews 

2022 was not a big quilting year for me. i chose to focus on other things in my life, specifically a home we purchased that needs renovations and additions. this was a massive creative project for me and left no time for anything else. however, that project came to a halt in september and i picked up quilting again in the latter end of the year.

my 2022 instagram top nine by likes

i don't think a year has to produce a lot of finishes or even have a ton of quilting in it to be a successful quilting year. i immensely enjoyed the quilting i did get to do, worked on several projects i really like, moved a good handful of projects forward, and started some new ones i'm excited about. that's a good quilting year to me.

i began the year with a finish during the holidays in january, which was nice, but as it was only completing the binding on a project that had been around quite a while, it doesn't exactly feel like it's a quilt that belongs to this year. still, i finished off "guys and dolls improv quilt," which is my 50th full size quilt completed.

that does feel like something to celebrate!

when i started quilting in november 2010, 50 quilts seemed like an impossible number to ever reach. one stitch, one session of sewing, one completed quilt at a time and here i am. it doesn't matter a bit that it took 11 years to do it. they were quilts, after al!

in january i also helped a group of young ladies from church put together a charity quilt. when a youth activity i was in charge of had to be changed last minute, i pulled out several fabrics i was willing to part with (mostly heather ross bits that came in bundles of which i wasn't over fond) and had the girls assemble four patches. i thought because they were cute fabrics they'd make a cute quilt. however, the results have left me stumped as it feels like a halloween quilt with all the purple, orange, and black in it. i'll either adjust something or just finish it off soon and get it donated.

in february, my youngest, d5, and i went to quiltcon for a day to check out quilts and shop at the vendors. initially, she kept saying "blanket" instead of "quilt" while we were talking about the displays and i finally told her no child of a quilter should do that and she was embarrassing me, haha. all tongue-in-cheek, of course. it was a really fun day with my daughter, who was inspired by the children's quilt section to possibly submit her own work in the near future. i really enjoyed seeing the work of quilty internet friends in person, too.

i kept making those addictive crossroads blocks, at some point after march finishing the top.

in the spring, i took "cheery easter quilt" with me on spring break for some handwork pleasure.

in april, the house came on the scene. parts of it were recently renovated and it's as if the previous owners knew a quilter would be living here next. there are several quilty-style cement tiles on the property that i just love. but this is also when actual quilting came to a complete halt as i got involved in the design process for the additional work that needed to be done.

but eventually i can see myself making quilts inspired by parts of the house. in time. 

in may, my oldest daughter gave birth to my first grandchild. i'm smitten. he's a complete bundle of joy and we all adore him. i haven't made a quilt for him yet, but it doesn't feel wrong and there's plenty of time for that coming up. 

in june we somehow tore ourselves away from the baby and took a family trip to peru. quilts aren't a thing in peru, but i did see this sign in the airport that could make a great quilt. i would swap the toucan, which we didn't see, with a hummingbird, which we saw a lot.

alpaca textiles are the thing in peru and it was everywhere. we brought home throw blankets, sweaters, scarves and a table runner similar to the one on the bed above. there are some amazing artists doing fantastic work all over peru. 

hst sighting in the gothic district, barcelona

in august the mr. and i took our 25th anniversary trip two years late (thank you, covid). delayed or not, it was a fabulous two weeks in paris, provence, and barcelona. i saw plenty of quilt inspo everywhere that deserves it's own post.

a quilt color palette sighting in a shop window in paris.

gaudi was a quilter at heart - he broke tiles and put them back together, and made use of other people's scraps. his work is so creative and unusual.

freshly home from our anniversary trip, i took our younger son/middle child out of state to college. this is such a big transition for us. we now have more children out of the home than in it. four down, three to go, not that i'm in a rush. it actually makes me so sad, as happy as i am about the people they're turning into.

i took my fall log cabin quilt along for the ride to do some roadtrip handwork.

this move was also noteworthy because my son took his mama-made quilt, star on the field, with him to college! this was all his own decision and it warmed my heart to no end.

quilt inspiration sighting on a wall across the street from the NY public library in NYC, spotted on a trip for our d3's 16th birthday in september.

i got a bee in my bonnet about d5 getting back to work on her "the pleasantest thing" quilt and we got it basted so she could quilt it, which she started doing.

while i was basting things, i decided to quickly baste a quilt for myself and got "liberty holly hobby" samiched together. (samiched is my lingo for sandwiched, quilt speak for when all the quilt layers are basted together.) i wanted to have handwork available. never mind that i have four other quilts in that phase. this one had a back already made and just wanted to be put together. plus, after months of no quilting, i was itching to do something with fabric.

things with the house had hit a bump in the road and i was doing some quilt therapy to deal with it. i pulled out a few other projects and did some little bits here and there.

then we officially put the whole house project on hold til the new year (long story). that's when i decided i'd had enough and was going to put quilting back in my life.


i made more houses for my 2020 quarantine commemorative quilt, shelter in place.

i worked on handquilting "liberty holly hobbie" whenever i got a chance, including between sessions at a feed my starving children food packing event our family organized for our community. don't i look like a quilting granny with my hairnet, readers, and handwork?!

i backed and basted 4 quilts in one weekend and made a mess of my feet for a day. 

i put more fall strips together for this fun scrap quilt i've had going for a while. i finished the top in december.

and of course i played with the growing baby boy. this photo happened to be on one of my quilts. it made it into our christmas card this year. i love that.

by november, i was in full quilt mode again. i even started some new projects.

i started a new crossroads quilt in low-volume fabrics and am so in love with this project.

the little corner cut-offs from "shelter in place" have become my leaders-and-enders project. i'm probably going to add the hsts i'm getting to that quilt somewhere.

i saw a cute and colorful improv tree christmas quilt and decided the leftovers from my "shelter in place" quilt would be a great palette for the pattern and started that mid-december.

my philosophy on starts is that you don't get finishes without starting. if i want to make a quilt and have an idea, i just start it so that it's put in motion. eventually it will become a finish.

late november i was perusing the beautiful "quilt lovely" book by jen kingwell and was taken with her "bonnie lass" pattern. it's all scraps in a fun chaotic swirly pile. i knew i had the scraps to do it, so i pulled out the scrap basket and got cutting. it was the most fun i've had quilting in a while, and that's saying a lot because i've had a lot of fun quilting the last quarter of this year since i picked it up again.

baby boy helped his grandma put blocks together. or at least looked on as i did so. he's going to grow up with memories of me doing this and at some point will actually be helping me, i think.

the week before christmas, i had just settled in next to the tree with "betsy scrappy trip" to get the binding on her before year's end when my sister, loree, called and asked me to help her make two little dolls quilts for the bunk bed santa would be bringing her daughter.

i couldn't say no.

we spent a day sewing strips together and making the doll quilts.

my daughter, who lives next door with her grandmother for now, came over with baby boy and was doing some work in a chair outside my sewing room. baby boy kept peeking around the corner into 'grandma's magic room," as my daughter calls it, to see what i was up to.

in the lull between christmas and new year's, i finished the fall scrappy strips quilt.

as the year blinked out, i finished off the binding on "betsy scrappy trip" on new year's eve.

that was my second "finish" for the year - another quilt started and mostly completed quite a while ago and not really associated with my making this year at all except for that binding.

two other items of quilty note for the year:

at some point in 2020/2021 i decided to get a new roll of batting as the roll i had at the time was getting low and i like to keep it on hand. i couldn't find warm and natural anywhere. joann crafts didn't have it in store or online. i couldn't find it to order on the internet, either. i figured it must be a victim of covid and bought what joann crafts did have on the bolt instead, some brand i'd never heard of. but i didn't like the look of the new batting much.

in october, when i basted those four quilts, i used up the last of my w&n on the bolt. i decided to look one last time on the internet to see if i could scrounge up a roll somewhere. low and behold it was back on the market! with great joy, i ordered a new roll, which was delivered right to my house early december. merry quilty christmas to me! i really am so very happy about this. i think it may even be taller than my last rolls, which will mean better scraps from making quilts, possibly two per width instead of one. as for that other brand roll, maybe i can donate it?

when i became an active quilter (and ig poster) again in october, i started getting lots and lots of ideas for new quilts. the inception phase is one of my favorite parts of the process. some of my ideas center around making companion quilts to previously made quilts in the same fabrics, particularly some of my solid-colored quilts. i made a trip to the local-ish store that carries the full line of kona solids and stocked up on a bunch of colors. that was so fun. not so much for the lady who had to cut it all, but they are always so kind to me about it. probably because i'm a paying customer?

that wraps up my year in quilts.

finishes: 2
completed tops: 4
starts: 4
start-to-finish: the doll quilts
backed and basted: 5
handwork project that got some stitches: 5

sometimes when you (i) see other quilters churning out quilts on the regular, it feels like i don't get anything done or that i'm really slow. and i AM. the way i overlap projects and sometimes go months without quilting means a quilt will often be worked on sporadically over several months or even years. i rarely start and finish a quilt in the same calendar year, much less 365 consecutive days.

and THAT'S A-OK.

i've had a great year, even with half of it off the needle and thread.

i hope you can say the same with your quilting however it went for you this year.

now let's see what 2023 is going to do for us.