Saturday, December 20, 2014

pile 'o fabric

 after i got my penny patch 2.0 all laid out and then made a baby penny patch, too, i needed a break from it for just a little while. so it sat for several days. i knew i should go ahead and get the top pieced and be done with it, but i didn't have a lot of time or even inclination to do that just yet. the mr was planning on taking the little kids to the zoo and giving me the day off last friday, so i thought i'd probably get around to it at that point.

but then some boys were kicking a soccer ball around in our large central hallway, adjacent to the dining room/sewing space and my design wall got hit. game over, for me at least.

it's been sitting there for about a week now. i don't even have the heart to go in and put everything back up yet. yes, i was mad and even teared up a bit, but this is life in a large family, life with children, life with boys. they are the more important piece of this equation. so i'll just sigh a bit, reassemble it when i get a chance, and get that top sewn together, hopefully before they strike again.

thank goodness i always take a layout shot to work from when piecing so i at least know how it's supposed to look and don't have to figure out the layout all over again. because that took hours!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

a master's touch

 maybe you remember these quilt blocks i made several week ago to learn a few techniques during the online  ::angled:: class from rachel hauser at stiched in color? they were sent in to rachel so she could make a quilt to donate to a charity. originally, rachel was going to make one baby quilt from each style block if she got enough submissions. however, when i emailed her that i'd sent my blocks she said she hadn't got enough of each for individual quilts so she was probably going to combine some of them, maybe even put them all together in one big quilt. i'll have to admit that when she told me this, i was highly skeptical that would work at all based on the block assortment i had sent her alone. i could not see how my blocks would work together, much less how she could mix in whatever else she received.

but that's why rachel is a quilt master and teacher, and i'm not. just look what she did:

all photos courtesy of rachel hauser at stitched in color
 i absolutely adore this quilt! it has a homey, vintage feel - like maybe it was found in someone's grandma's attic or buried in a chest of heirlooms somewhere. at the same time, it has a very modern aesthetic to it, too. i think putting together such a wide assortment of blocks from several quilters lends to the scrappy, make-do vintage feel it has, as well as the black-and-white ticking stripe sashing she used.  some of the block styles, the colors, and various fabrics give it it's modern side. i'm posivitely stunned by what she made out of these blocks. never in a million years could i have dreamed this up. rachel is simply magic.

 i can see my two wonky star blocks and four butterfly blocks in this photo. play a little "eye spy" if you want to find them. here's a hint: none of them are touching each other but they are either lined up or in the same position as their mates.

 the envelope blocks, which i might have been the only person besides rachel to make, went on the back of the quilt, which is a softer, sweeter layout than the bold front. but it still has plenty of color and punch to it!

i really love how she threw in the typewriter block among all the envelopes. that coupled with a text print she put in the lower left corner turns the back into a writing themed spread. i like to think of them as notes of love and encouragement to the recipient of this quilt from those who contributed to it's making. it's so fun how both sides of this quilt have a strong and unique personality. because there were so many blocks put together, this turned into a generous throw sized quilt that will be going to a women's shelter. i hope the mother who gets this feels wrapped in the love of ladies who cared enough about her and her situation to make something warm and comforting even though they didn't know her personally. the whole time i was working on these blocks i thought of how they would be for someone in need and although i didn't know who they were, their story or situation, i knew they needed love and that God knew who they were even if i didn't. He'd see the quilt got to the right place. my part was just to make pieces of it and send them out.

again, i am so grateful to rachel for not only offering an excellent class but for giving the students a chance to put their budding skills to good use to bless the life of someone who could use a quilt.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


 get ready, i'm gonna talk fabric a whole, whole lot. you may just want to come back later.
first trip out in 6 months
 my fabric fast is over. i stopped and started, soared and fell, for the first several months of this year, not making it through the goal of 6 months. but then i did it! i went 6 whole months without purchasing a single inch of fabric, not even my allowable exceptions. i was going to just continue on until the end of the year but i got wind of some favorite solids being discontinued and on sale.

crash, bang, boom, bang! that was the end of the fast.
and the beginning of the feast.

i don't know how pleased i should be with myself when as soon as the fast was over i went out and purchased everything i'd wanted to in the past 6 months. really, did i accomplish anything at all?

i ordered from a few online stores and then went local to find some more bits for penny patch 2.0.

local store #1, etc, used to be my favorite scrapbook store. when they started carrying designer quilting fabrics, that's when i got into the world of modern quilting. (or the modern world of quilting. i don't think i'm fully a modern quilter if you talk about style and aesthetics. anywho . . . that's how i got started.) they have a very nice selection of quilting fabrics but don't carry everything my little quilter's heart could desire. then again, who does? they also have a rewards program so i routinely get my purchases at 10% off. and seeing fabric in person is the best possible way to select fabric. while there, i got lots of little bits for the blue/red/yellow/black chevron quilt i want to do and stocked up on some old favorites that were on 60% clearance. i also signed up for two new classes.

on my second trip there a few days later (for a class), i picked out some fabrics for the baby shower quilt i needed. i was starting to second guess my recent pull so i began replacing the missing fabrics for my original plan A (corals and purple dot). and i also picked out some fabrics to go with the plan B pull i'd made (pink and black dots). it wasn't until later that i realized i didn't need to shop for both pulls because it was an either/or situation. oh, well. i also got a new DS print for my triangle quilt. then i spied the zen chic circles in green and orange. yikes! these are such perfect blenders/low volumes that i thought were all gone. 2 yds each now stocked.

 next i stopped in to local store #2, which is a more traditional store - the kind where you find a loooooong aisle or two of batiks and sweet little white haired ladies wandering around. mulqueen's caters to the large group of snowbird/seasonal retired persons who visit each winter, and their style of fabric and quilts reflects this. however, they have some really great things going for them. firstly, they have a huge selection - tons of choices. if i take the time to scan through everything, i can always find some nice surprises. secondly, they only charge $6.95 a yard for designer quilting fabrics. wowsers, that can't be beat! thirdly, there are some really sweet ladies in there. it's always worth the stop and hunt if i'm on that end of town.

also local, is the national chain, joann fabric and crafts. they now carry a growing selection of designer fabrics from the likes of denyse schmidt, jennifer paganelli, cloud 9, and julianna horner. the big pre-christmas sale of 40% off is hard to pass up and a great time to stock up.

are you tired yet? i am. but we haven't even gone online yet!

llama fabrics on etsy surprised me by including a nice chunk of samples with my yardage. all those smaller cuts on top were extras. (i keep saying, "llama face!!!" in my best david spade voice every time i see the shop name. hee hee! anyone else an "emperor's new groove" fan?)

at llama i found the elusive katy jones art gallery line, priory square, i was looking for. also, some fox field stars and various low volumes to build my stash.

the darling and talented heather bailey has a lovely holiday sale going on so 1/2 yd cuts of up parasol are finally mine! and i already think i need more even though i've only cut into one of them. heather just knows how to produce fabric that makes my heart sing. i'm obsessing over the quilt market brochure she included in the order which features her up-coming clementine line and the most amazing "spin daisy" quilt pattern. i think it's time for me to tackle curves and templates just for "spin daisy." (it's not on her blog yet but you can see it on IG.)

there are two orders from on their way here. yes, two. darn cyber monday.
and a fat quarter set of summer love from art gallery so i can make this plus quilt like jolene's.
that's enough. i've already made myself sick thinking about all of this at one time so i'm done for today.

happy sewing!
i hope you are more responsible and less of a hoarder than i am.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

plan c

 penny patch 2.0 is well underway. in fact, it's all on the board (and floor) awaiting piecing now. last week after i got the initial fabrics cut and started placing them up, i found myself feeling like there was something lacking. the colors just weren't balancing out the way i wanted. on examining rachel's original penny patch, one of the things i noticed about it that i like was the large amount of low-volume and white space in it with punches and sprinklings of her colors. even fabrics she was calling her "color" fabrics were mostly white with touches of the colors. this gave the quilt an overall light, airy feeling and helped the colors shine out.

my first penny patch quilt turned out with a much more earthy, autumnal feel than i was originally going for because many of my fabrics were color saturated and/or on a cream background. so this time i intentionally went for as much white in my fabrics as i could get. but once on the board, i found myself craving a little more variety in prints and even more white space. so i went shopping, of course! i went to my local store for the first time in 6 months (more on that later) and got some additional fabrics to round out penny patch 2.0. not all are on a white base, but it added what i wanted.

 and a little of what i didn't want. that very light blue scrolly print front-and-center in this photo was too baby blue for me. so out it came. some of the new fabrics actually never made it in at all because i found i didn't need as many as i got. in fact, when all was said and done, i had a nice little pile of leftover squares.

now while all this was going on, i was also supposed to be making a baby quilt for my sister-in-law's shower. i'd already been through plan A, but couldn't find the fabrics i'd pulled, and moved on to plan B. however, i was second guessing that plan B and wavering toward replacing the fabrics for plan A. then i got the best idea yet - plan C:

i simply used all the leftover squares from penny patch 2.0 and made a mini penny patch baby quilt. voila! it's a bit less white than my big penny patch will be because i left out the white eyelets in the smaller sizes since this is for a baby. now i just need to quilt and bind this little gal in the next two months before her owner arrives.

and get my own penny patch 2.0 pieced for myself.

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced

Monday, December 8, 2014

big baby

 my sister-in-law's baby shower snuck up on me. its this weekend and i didn't even have a plan for the quilt. when i thought about it, i decided to make the mod colored chevron baby quilt i nixed for a friend in the spring, but i couldn't find the pull for that quilt anywhere at all. how a pile of fabric gets lost around here is beyond me. maybe it's the gazillion other little piles everywhere?

so after about 30 minutes of fruitless searching, i came across the above birdy print and decided to use that as an inspiration piece and backing. the other fabrics unceremoniously thrown on the sewing room floor are my other choices to go with it.

 i didn't stop to do any math, just figured i should make large chevrons so as to get done more quickly. i simply went off the largest square cut i could get out of my quarter yard of the first fabric i chose to cut, which was 9". well, i should have done a little math because this first block turned out so big i can only fit about 6 of them in a baby-sized quilt. it's a behemoth 16+ inches. bigger has not turned out to be faster or better at all.

for a little perspective, here it is on the design wall next to my penny patch 2.0. now i'm in a design pickle and i just need it done for saturday.

also, i noticed once again how short my extensive stash is on low-volume blender pieces. i did try to find some more at the store last week, but my local store doesn't cater to them any more than my stash does. i think it's time to search on-line. anyone have a great source shop for low-volume pieces?

Monday, December 1, 2014

indian summer bliss

while i was plugging away at horrid straightline quilting on "bandwidth" all through october and into november, i kept eyeing this tempting pile of loveliness so fetchingly stacked in front of my AMH rose print atop a shelf in my sewing room. as much as i liked my colors in "bandwidth," orange and navy were getting old and quite boring. i longed for fresh, pretty colors the way one longs for spring in the dead of winter.

i kept telling this pile, "soon, soon!"

but i also really, really desperately want my kids to each have their mama-made quilt done and wrapped around them. so i kept at those not-so-straight lines. endlessly.

then one day the lines were done.

did i rush straight to this pile? that was my plan. but on the morning of my freedom i passed by my penny patch 2.0 pile, which was stuffed in a bag and set in my bawthroom sewing area months ago. sure enough, i cut into the penny patch pile that night instead of the triangle quilt stack.

but the next day, a blissful friday of nothing much but sewing, i alternated back and forth between the two projects. if i felt like triangles, i did triangles. if i wanted squares, penny patch it was. that afternoon i decided i didn't have enough room on my design half-wall, so i just up and made another one.

 my current half-wall simply leans up against the room wall, so i figured it was easy enough to slide one behind the other when not in use. the excess batting on the first wall wasn't quite enough to cover the second wall fully, but it's functional for now and i am considering sewing together batting scraps to make up the difference. and someday, when i get my dedicated sewing room, i'll have one whole wall when i attach these two, one above the other.

i got to sew most of saturday, not just that friday, which was a welcome treat after very little sewing time for most of the fall months. i managed to get two more rows of triangles together. the top row had me holding my breath a bit because the ditsy floral is a silky, somewhat slippery cotton lawn rather than a quilting weight. add the slippery lawn to a bias cut and there's plenty of potential for trouble. but so far so good!

there are now three rows done and they are looking a bit clashy as is. i hope when i get the other rows in between them all will play nice together. if not, there's room for rejects on the back, right? this quilt will have such a different feel than rachel's original, but i am liking it thus far. she called her quilt "indian blanket." with the golden and rosey colors in this one and the warm, extended summer we've had around here, i think mine feels more like an "indian-summer blanket."

all this bliss sewing has been so refreshing. soon i'll have to get that "bandwidth" trimmed and bound. then the wonky stacked coins will need to be finished for s1. in the meantime, i'm going to keep my indian summer sewing of triangles and penny patch 2.0 inching forward whenever i need a break from orange and navy in boy prints.

linking up with lee's wip wednesday at freshly pieced.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

birthday disaster coming right

 my birthday is in the summer and this year two dear, international quilting friends both surprised me with some beautiful handmade goodies. however, i was on an extended trip when they mailed the surprise packages. we've been gone before so i didn't fret about what was happening with my packages and was looking forward to the mail when i got home. since i stopped purchasing fabric earlier this year, going to the mail has not been nearly as fun. so i was doubly excited about what was waiting for me at home.

unfortunately, the person we'd asked to occasionally check our mail couldn't find the key. and our unwanted junk mail crowded the box so much the postal carrier pulled all our mail and left a note saying if it wasn't picked up in 10 days our service would be discontinued. this was two weeks before we got home.

so the morning i hopefully went to the post office to collect my treasures i was informed that all mail had been returned because they assumed we had moved. all mail. in dismay, i said, almost tearfully, "even surprise internationally shipped birthday presents?!" the postal worker at the window looked at me like i was short a few brain cells. "yes," was the ominous reply. unable to yet grasp the concept i tried again, "so packages sent from indonesia and new zealand were returned there?" again, the horrid reply, "yes."

can i tell you how very strongly and intensely i dislike junk mail?!  the reasons are plethora and this incident just caps it all.

i went home, empty handed and crying. those beautiful handmade goods, sent at considerable expense over oceans from other hemispheres were somewhere in mail transit oblivion. it was doubtful they would ever make it back. how was i going to tell my friends? it was a full-blown quilting disaster.

 surprisingly, the package from deborah in indonesia was the one that made it home safely and the cutest-ever dumpling pouch (in heather bailey fabric!!!) never found it's way back to liz in new zealand. i'd have bet on it being the other way around.

deborah had a friend returning to the states who kindly agreed to mail the package to me when they got state-side. so a few weeks ago this lovely mini of epp liberty hexies on linen showed up in my mailbox. i can not overstate how exquisite it is. this is something i would not have made for myself but i can't stop looking at or caressing when i walk by.

i just love everything about it. for starters, deborah is very accomplished at handwork so the craftsmanship on this is delicate and refined. the subtly-colored hand quilting is exquisite. i love the diminutive size of the hexies - less than an inch measured by sides. of course i'm over the moon about the liberty of london prints. some are my very favorites (betsy and mitsy) and other's i've never seen before. the liberty paired with natural linen is a match made in quilting heaven. the fact that deborah made it and that i happen to know she was stitching it whilst on a train traveling through england adds to it's value.

thank you, thank you deborah! again, i'm sorry for all the trouble but all's well that ends well. it now has a home on my sewing table, where i can look at it all the time, until i have a sewing room of my own where i can display it on the wall.

that's just one more reason i could use a dedicated sewing room.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

around the sewing room

 for whatever reason, as i was walking past my dining/sewing room the other day, i decided to pause a moment and take photos of the various bits and pieces of the room. sometimes i like to just look at different parts of my sewing process or set up, and consider the individual components of my hobby. as one who likes to capture moments and pieces in pixels, i just decided to photograph it all, too.

"bandwidth" has occupied my sewing time for more than a month, and, happily, is finally quilted and awaiting binding. yay! time to move on to something besides orange and navy. also captured here: the way the afternoon sun moves across my sewing area and has to be blocked if i want to work (hence the sewing machine cover in front of the machine); the endless supply of soccer balls that my kids always kick into (and leave) in my sewing space.

 all the little tools and necessities i keep close at hand by the machine: pin cushions for various pins and needles, a tray for tidiness, indispensable snips, ott light, my tool caddy. and a bracelet i shed while sewing. i always seem to do that.

 my recipe stand-turned-pattern-and-ruler-holder, currently sporting the gypsy wife pattern, photos of various wips that i use for reference, and my quilting sketch book/idea journal where i work out my ideas and maths.

 design wall where s1's wonky coins quilt awaits (so there is lots more navy and orange in my near future after all), a msih-mash of scraps where d4 was playing at making a quilt top for "a sick little child", and the beginnings of my indian blanket quilt taunt me.

 the pressing board area: gypsy wife blocks all gathered in a pile to make room on the design wall (how they landed here, i'm not sure?); d4's pile of scraps and pins for that "sick child" quilt she's designing nearby; rulers that were flattening blocks; a little chicken costume shed late on halloween and still hanging around; something super precious in that white bag on the floor - how did that get here?; and some bins of scraps and charity quilt yardage waiting their turn.

lastly, just above the cutting mat: some dishes that hold my cutting scraps (hsts in the green dish and little strips in the white); marking and cutting tools i want at hand but out of reach of little fingers;  and the rulers presently in use at the cutting mat. oh, and something special hiding behind there, to be highlighted another day.

what are the little stories your space tells?

Monday, November 10, 2014

chain mail

 if that post title makes you cringe - yeah, me, too. but it was just too obvious a title for these little chains of envelope blocks. so even though i have never liked chain mail, i do like these liberated envelope blocks, which were the last "liberated" block i worked up from an ::angled:: class tutorial to donate for charity quilts. rachel said we could send chains of 1 to 5 envelopes, as many as we wanted. once i cut out hsts, i had to use both of them, and then i also wanted variety in the way the envelopes were constructed. so i just kept going until i made myself stop.

for some reason, these were the hardest blocks for me of the 3 styles i tried. not only did i have to unpick and resew a few times, i ended up with three reject blocks (that now need a home or an unpick). two of them have points that were cut off by the seam allowance and one of them i turned the wrong way so the darkest color was not the "flap" of the envelope, which rachel had requested. i think the ones that cut off the point were because i wasn't using a true hst on the right side (green dots). they looked like hsts but i didn't check them to make sure, so they didn't trim up right.

but despite these rejects and a few other unpicking moments, i did like the way they turned out. especially with the light blue background. i just might need to use up scraps for a quilt in this style for myself someday.

now the envelopes and other blocks are all in the mail.
i can't wait to see them worked into actual collaborative quilts!

Monday, November 3, 2014

::angled:: liberated blocks

wonky stars block
 at the end of each instruction week during the ::angled:: class, rachel taught us how to make an improvised, "liberated" block from angled scraps leftover from the shapes cut during that week's lessons. if we wanted to practice the block without committing to an entire project, she kindly allowed us to submit the blocks to her for inclusion in a charity quilt to be donated to a child in need, much like her do. good stitches groups make.

i have long wanted to be involved with charity quilting but have been unable to commit to the monthly time and deadline involved, so i really appreciated the chance to try out these blocks and have the honor of contributing them to a quilt rachel was making. and i was also a lot bit nervous about making a block good enough to be used in the quilts. while my skills have been improving, precision is still not my strongest suit; hit-and-miss at best.

first, i did the wonky stars block, comprised of small hsts and 2.5" squares. rachel asked for blocks that had either the star points or the background in a solid. i did one of each. i must have got my scant seams right because the blocks were just large enough to trim squarely at 6.5" finished. whew! that was the bit i was most concerned about. my corners do not all match up exactly, but some do and the others are only a hair off. i think it's good enough.

this was a super fun block to make and my kids loved it so i will probably be finding a project to feature these at some point in the future. maybe a fun christmas quilt?

as a sidenote and tip, the first block i pressed all seams to the side and although there is some bulk, all was well. when i tried pressing open for the second block, so as to reduce bulk, it simply did not work as well. i had to go back and do some extra pressing to get the block large enough to be fully square. this is the opposite of what i expected.

liberated butterfly block
next up, the liberated butterfly block, which is hsts sew into the corners, sew-and-flip style, of 3.75" blocks. these blocks were super easy and have a playful, retro feel to them. one of my butterflies is on the small side and the rest are medium to large. the only bit of redoing required here was on that teal and floral block. originally, one of the butterfly wings had a navy flower in it and the other didn't. it just looked wrong and completely un-butterfly like. so i quickly undid the block and switched it out for another piece with a navy flower included. while it's still not symmetrical, it works and looks so much better. i'm glad i took the extra 5 minutes to rework the block.

there are two more liberated block styles rachel shared with us and asked for submissions for a charity quilt. i may or may not have time to try those out this week before the mailing deadline. either way, i had an enjoyable sunday evening working on these blocks and am so excited to see them in rache's quilts when completed. i wish i had the opportunity to contribute a few quick and simple blocks like these more often.

and d4 reminded me last night, as she was helping me select fabrics for these blocks, that we need to finish up our own charity quilt from girls weekend. maybe when the family gets together over thanksgiving?