Tuesday, July 25, 2017

AHIQ Linkup Plus More!

Last year about this time, Debbie of A Quilter's Table blog hosted a quilt-along, mostly on Instagram, doing the Crosscut Quilt.  I had just gotten the prompt for my local guild's yearly challenge, which was "Get Creative With Black".  There were no rules for this challenge other than a minimum size of 24" x 24".  So, I decided that it would be fun to play along, using black fabrics for the background.  Maybe not the most creative way to use black, but I thought the quilt looked like it would fit the criteria.

I promptly ordered a good selection of what I'm calling "low volume black".  In other words, black with a subtle design on it.  And I thought it might be fun to use some of those fabrics I've hand-dyed and hand-marbled, so I used those for the inserts.  I love they way they look with the black fabrics!

Crosscut beginning

I decided to make my quilt a little bigger than what Debbie was doing with the Quilt-Along and what the Challenge size minimum was, just in case the quilt shrunk up too much with quilting to end up at 24" x 24".  This was my start.  Each black square is cut at 9 1/2 inches and the X's (inserts) are cut at 1 inch.  Then the *magic* happens!  *grin*  And that's the fun part.  You'll have to go look at the tutorial on A Quilter's Table if you want to know how to make your own.   It's an easy introduction to Improv quilting.  And a lot of fun too!

The Value of X
24 " x 30"

I got the top made in pretty short order, and then put it aside because 1. I had a year to finish and 2. I couldn't decide how I wanted to quilt it.  So, along comes June this year (my deadline was early July) and it was still sitting there waiting to get quilted.  Yikes! Time to make a decision!  I hemmed and hawed for a little bit, then finally realized that, since I've always admired the quilts I've seen on blogs, IG & Pinterest that have quilted spirals, I really wanted to do a spiral on this quilt.  I thought the spiral would be a good contrast with the geometricality (yes, that is a word now - I just made it up, maybe) of the piecing.  I was a little intimidated, but went for it anyway.  

I had kind of a rough start, perhaps because I started in such a small circle.  I traced around a spool of thread.  It was hard to see the line with the walking foot because it was such a tight fit with such a small circle.  But once I got a few rounds done, it was much easier.  It was actually kind of fun!  And I love the way it came out!

You can see the quilting really well on the back of the piece.  I used up some older stash fabric on the back, including one my mom gave me years ago.

Can you see the two skulls by the arrows?
Can you find the other skulls in this photo?

When I was quilting, I decided to add a few accent lines of a blue/purple thread.  They don't really show much, but I found out that this particular fabric not only has some dots in metallic but some of those dots are actually little skulls!   What a fun discovery!  I have a small quiltlet I made with the leftovers that still needs to be quilted, so you'll see that later.

I had so much fun with this pattern that I made placemats for myself which you can see here.  And now I want to do this pattern again, maybe on a slightly larger scale.

I'm linking up with Ad Hoc Improv Quilting linkup today.  Go check out all the other bloggers giving Improv a go.  There's some good stuff to see!

my 1st Raspberry Kiss block
4 1/4 inches
The Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild was having a "white elephant" exchange at the meeting last week.  I remembered from last year that these are actually pretty awesome handmade items, so I knew I had to rise to the challenge.  The theme this year was "Make It Modern".

I've been wanting to make some Raspberry Kiss blocks that I saw on Pinterest, so I thought now was as good a time as any.  

I changed my mind about what project these blocks were going into many times during the process.  But then it jelled and became a pouch!

Inside of the pouch

Blogger won't let me place this photo where I want it, so you get to see this first!

the "cool" side

the "warm" side

I love this so much!  But now it lives with Roxanne.  I'm planning on doing something more with the Raspberry Kiss block for myself!

Here is the "white elephant" that I came home from the meeting with....a beautiful pillow made by Leigh Ann.  I love it and it has pride of place on my living room couch.  It looks so summery and it makes me smile.  I love these colors!

Here is my newest addition to my collection of sewing machines.  A 1950 Singer 221 Featherweight! (the same age as I am!)  I received this wonderful gift from my friend Judy.  She taught me how to oil and grease her up and now she's ready for me to play with.  I've been wanting a Featherweight for a while now because I've heard (and seen) what a wonderful straight stitch they make.  I'm so excited to own this!  Now I have to go shopping for some fun (and some not-so-fun-but-necessary) accessories for her.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Bird is the Word*

"Bird" is the word I drew for the Animal Challenge by the Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild.  

"Bird is The Word"
19.5" w X 18" h
The word brings to mind so many possibilities....owls, penguins, emus, cardinals, eagles and so on.  But I knew immediately that I wanted to make my bird with Lynn's tutorial.  Lynn blogs at Patchery Menagerie, and her tutorial is available on her Etsy site.  I've long admired Lynn's way with improv and especially her fabric choices.  So I bought both the bird tutorial and the tutorial on making your fabric work for you.  Both are immensely helpful! And a very reasonable price for all the information she gives you.

The quilt had to be no smaller than 12 x 12 inches and no larger than 24 x 24 inches.  I think that's a great size for a challenge quilt.  It only took me 3 tries to get a bird - the first two times I cut the fabric wrong for the wing.  The rest of the bird was pretty easy.  

check out the little ladybug button!
 But he looked a little lonely by himself.  I didn't want a very big quilt, so I didn't really want to make more birds.  Then I got the idea to do the birdhouse.  After that it just came together easily.  I kept the quilting simple too, as I was running out of time to get the quilt done before the meeting.  I'm very pleased with how my little challenge came out!

* Bird is The Word was a crazy song from 1963 by The Trashmen.  You can watch the video here, which is so bad, it makes the song even crazier!

I'm supposed to be sewing a particular quilt top together, but I wasn't quite feeling it.  So I found something else to work on.  I found this one, hiding in a pile of other projects.  I started these blocks a few years ago.  2011 to be exact.  Ok, I guess that's 6 years ago, slightly more than a few.  Wow, a little longer than I realized! You can see previous posts about this here and here.  When I pulled this out, I only needed a few more blocks.  So I made another 12!  It is set 6 blocks across by 8 blocks down, and it now 60 inches by 80 inches, with only 2 blocks left over.  I've decided what I want to do for the border and am auditioning sizes right now.  I used my brightest plaids for this quilt and it's pretty intense in person.  I love it!  And another long-time WIP almost finished!  Yay!

I had to stop working on this one to do some secret sewing.  I need to get my other guild's challenge quilt quilted.  It's all pin basted and ready to finish this weekend.

Another plaid project!  My local guild had a sew-in day where we were taught this simple quilt pattern to be used as a charity quilt.  It uses 9 fat quarters.  Except my woven plaid fat quarters weren't 18 inches across.  I pre-wash all my fabric and the FQ's had shrunken up to 17 inches across, so I ended up cutting into yardage.  It was a pretty simple pattern to do, and everyone's quilts looked so different with the different fabrics!  Now I need to trim that bottom edge, baste it and get it quilted.  It's bigger than I like to do myself, but I think simple quilting will be OK.

Here is my sample block for the Tacoma MQG's Block of the Month for July.  It's a fun, easy block and I want to make some more before the meeting.  The tutorial by Cluck Cluck Sew for this one is here, if you want to make it too.  The original quilt looks a lot different from this block!

My DS recently made a wedding gift for some friends, and I thought you'd enjoy seeing it too.  He made a woodburned clock for them, using a celtic Tree of Life design.  I think he did an beautiful job!

For Father's Day, we went with the family to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma for the day and it was a lot of fun.  The zoo had an amazing display of artwork called Washed Ashore on the zoo grounds, and I think you might enjoy it too.  It's very creative work.  Be sure to click on each photo to see it bigger.  They are incredible!

The explanation of these art works goes like this: 

About Washed Ashore - All of the plastic on these sculptures was collected from beaches by volunteers.  Each sculpture is designed and directed by a lead artist and then created through a collaboration of the artist, Washed Ashore team members and volunteers.

An ocean wave

The other side of the wave has a sea turtle!

The marine debris in this sculpture includes shot gun shells, disposable lighters,
 bottle caps, flip flops, toy shovels, soda bottles and a boogie board. 

It was fun to look at each sculpture and try to find what items were used.  There were even more sculptures, and all were just as good as these are.  I love seeing how others are creative!

That's it for now....Happy quilting, have a great weekend and Happy Independence Day to my American readers!

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts' Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I've been MIA around here for too long.  It's been a tough Spring.  We had such a wet winter and spring that the allergies are so bad this year!  I've been feeling tired and like I'm in a fog most of the time.  So, not too much sewing.  It's hard to be creative when you can't think.  I think we're almost done with the worst of the allergies now.  Just have to get through the cottonwood and fir trees "doing their thing".   We finally have some warm, dry weather and it's so nice.  Although crazy.  Yesterday was in the low 80's, today's almost as warm and then tomorrow will be a high of 63* and rain.  Like I said, crazy.  Maybe my expectations are too high?

I have managed to get a few things accomplished since I last posted.

I'm the chair of the Block of the Month committee for the Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild, so I've made some sample blocks.  The blocks above are called Urban Chickens.  I really like this block, and may end up making some for myself.   If you want to too, you can find the tutorial for these here on Wombat Quilts blog by Cath.  The "geese" (chicken beaks?) are done improv style.

We did Offset Square blocks, which are fun and easy.  That tutorial is here on Diary of a Quilter blog by Amy Smart.  I think these are great for a kid's quilt....kind of an Eye Spy thing.  

And we did the Funky Wrench - Nuts and Bolts blocks.  You cut out two blocks at a time and get a dark/light effect with the blocks.  That tutorial is here on the Happy Zombie blog by Monica Solorio-Snow.

This month for Tacoma MQG we'll be doing improv blocks with the leftover scraps from the guild's raffle quilt.  Since the raffle quilt is all curves and circles, the theme for these improv blocks will be lines, angles and triangles.  I handed out packets of fabrics and I can't wait to see what every one comes up with.

This last block was an "oops" and I need to re-do it.  I cut my base fabric too small and couldn't get a 12" block out of it.  Sometimes improv doesn't work the first try.  That's just part of the process.

More blocks!  This time was for an exchange with my friends in California.  Some of the blocks will be in a charity quilt and the remainder will be in a drawing and someone will win all of them.  These were fun to do.  The tutorial for these blocks is here.  I think this will make a fun quilt.

I finally finished a little wool pouch.  It was almost done and it took next to no time to get it done.  I still need to find my Fray Check so I can trim the ends of the handle. 

We had a name tag swap at the Tacoma MQG.  This is the name tag and lanyard I made for my swappee.  It took me two tries to get the lanyard right, but otherwise it was fun and easy.

I even included a pocket on the back. 

I've finally gotten my improv housetop blocks that I started in the class I took with Gwen Marston "Abstract Quilts in Solids" to the flimsy stage.  The photo above is from the workshop. I decided that I really like the blocks on that dark background and thought I would set them that way.

This is the bottom three rows on the design wall.  I added the grey around the blocks to recreate that background look.  But look at the top left block - that wasn't going to work the way I wanted it to.  So I took the block partially out and trimmed it down.

And this is how it looks today.  Doesn't that first block (on the left) in the 2nd row look better now?  That's the fun part about improv.  If it's too big, cut it off and if it's too small, add to it.  

Now I have to figure out and decide what to do about the outer edges.  Border or not?  Hmmmm....  I think I want to repeat the green in the center squares, but maybe in a border or maybe just binding.

I had some fun with the blocks, deciding on the layout I wanted.




I really liked layout #2, but I think I want to save it for another project.  A "someday" project.  Actually, I like most of these layouts.  I debated the layout for about 2 weeks before I decided.

I don't know if you can see it in the photos of the top, but I did something a little different in two of the blocks.  Frankly, I shamelessly copied this idea from someone else in the class.  I left the raw, ruffled selvage edge on the outside.  Just a fun little touch.

I don't think I've mentioned this before now, but in March I got a new car....my very first brand-new car!  A Subaru Forester, and I LOVE it!  My old car was 20 years old and didn't even have power door locks.  This baby has most all of the bells and whistles.  My only disappointment was the fact that it's red, and that it was the only one available with the features that I wanted.  My old car, that I had for 20 years, was red and I was hoping for something different.  But I'm happy as a clam with the car in spite of that.  I guess the universe thinks I need a red car!  *grin*

Last week @ MQG meeting, Katie Pederson of SewKatieDid blog and co-author of  the book Quilting Modern was our guest speaker.  She brought a ton of her quilts.  This one is her "Double Trouble Take Two" quilt.  I'm excited to play with this technique.  It's a combo of precision HSTs and improv triangles and she used mostly scraps.

And this quilt is called Skewed Symmetry.  Isn't it striking?  One of my favorites!

I'm linking up today with AHIQ- share your improv #21 on Sew Slowly blog.  You might want to  check out all the other links to see what others are doing.

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gwennie-Inspired Liberated Medallion Reveal!

 Today is the day!  The stars have aligned properly and I can finally show you my completed quilt.  Yay!

This was the beginning block - a liberated basket

This wall quilt was the result of my participating in the Gwennie-Inspired Medallion Quilt Along with Lori at Humble Quilts blog.  Since I love all things Gwen Marston, I thought it would be fun to play along.

We were supposed to begin our quilts with a liberated basket.  I had the basket already made - I had made it in a Liberated Basket class with Gwen I took a couple of years ago.  I thought that was perfect.  The fabric that the basket is made from is some vintage fabric from the 1960's or 70's.

The second round was "childhood memories", the third round was log cabins, the fourth round was stars and the final round was "something fishy".

Ta da!
26" wide by 30" high

For the 2nd round, I thought of that childhood game Pick Up Sticks and also stilts.  I always played Pick Up Sticks at my aunt's home, as it was one of the few kids' games she had. (My cousins were grown and gone.)  And my sister and I spent a lot of hours trying to walk on our stilts.  We never did get very good on them!  I'm not sure I ever got to the end of our short walk from the front porch that ended abuptly in the middle of the lawn.  *grin*

Third round was easy - I love liberated log cabins!  Once I had decided on keeping the black polka dot consistently in the center of the log cabins, they just flowed.

For the stars border, I really wanted to continue the black dots fabric from the log cabins.  So I thought that just a limited number of stars in that border would be good.  It was looking very static, so I got the idea to have those stars "dance".   I love the way it turned out!

By this point, the quilt was looking finished to me, so I had a hard time figuring out how to do the "fishy" part of the 5th round.  I considered adding a border of flying geese pretending they were fish.  But in the end I decided that the fishes had to live on the back of this quilt. 

I had to include more dots too!  Of course!  It makes me smile that the dots remind me of the bubbles coming from those colorful fishies' mouths.

I decided to do one of my favorite quilting designs for liberated quilts.  Just not-too-straight straight lines.  I love that it doesn't disrupt the looks of the piecing and just seems to almost disappear.

highlighted to show the quilting
The center of the quilt is quilted this way.  I decided that in the black border, I would outline the stars then do straight lines parallel with the edges.

I'm not sure how well you'll be able to see the quilting here, because I used black thread on the black fabric.

I love my little Liberated Basket quilt!  And, when I showed it to Gwen, I got her "Seal of Approval"!  That really made me happy! 

I need to say a big Thank You to Lori for getting this QAL off and running, and to Katy, Cathy, Cynthia, and Wendy for the additional prompts.  It was so much fun to participate in this QAL and to make this quilt!

You can see the grand reveal of all the participants' quilts on Lori's blog here.  Lots of fun, wonderful quilts to see!  It has been so fun to see how everyone else interpreted the prompts.  

I'm going to be sending this quilt to Lori for a display she is doing at Quiltworks (in Bend, Oregon) for their 'First Friday' and monthly exhibit for May 2017.  If you live nearby, be sure and go visit!  You won't be disappointed!

New linky party:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

AHIQ March - Improv with Gwennie & a Sneak Peek

I'm a little late to the party this month, but better late than never!  I'm linking up with Kaja, and you can see all the other improv at the linky here.

I was late because I was finishing up the quilting and binding on my Liberated Medallion quilt from the Liberated Medallion QAL with Lori at Humble Quilts.  I got it done!  Yay!  For right now, here's a sneak peek.

I'm really pleased with how this little quilt came out.  The sun is supposed to actually shine here on Friday and I hope to get the official portrait then.  You'll just have to wait to see the "full monty" until then.

I got to really play with some liberated improv last week, when I went to La Conner, Washington and took a 3 day class with Gwen Marston on Abstract Quilts in Solids.  It was so much fun!  I made new friends and played with my fabrics.  What is better than that?  I will do a post all about this class later, but right now, I'll "show and tell" my work/play from the class.

I had seen the exhibit of Gwen's abstract quilts in solids at the Northwest Quilt and Textile Museum the day before the class, and I had drawn out a few ideas.  So I knew where I wanted to start.  The night before the class, I came up with some color schemes, so I got right to work in class.

I have to add here that I was kind of freaked out about working with solids.  I haven't used solids in a long time.  They seem so "flat" to me - I'm so used to the prints in the fabrics doing some heavy lifting for texture and interest.  I made myself only bring solids - no prints of any kind!  After viewing Gwen's quilts, I realized that the actual quilting gives the texture and I really need to plan for that when working with solids.  It helped me to calm down and realize that it really wasn't too scary.

I knew I wanted to do some of the "unequal equilateral triangles", as Gwen called them, so I started with that.  And I wanted to include a curve and some floating squares.

Here was where I stopped at the end of the first day.

The next day, I changed things a little.

I decided I liked the green better than the purple/pink I had in there.  That strip across the top is actually light blue and it just looked glaringly clunky.  

And here is where I ended up at the end of the 2nd day.  That light blue strip was too much, and my table mate suggested trimming it down.  Now I like it!  This still needs to be squared up, and it's possibly not finished.  I'm still thinking about what else it needs, if anything.  Maybe another round of borders?  Maybe just some snazzy binding.  We'll see.

I wanted to try something else before the class was over, so I got started on my 2nd color scheme idea. 

I wanted to try some half log cabins, which I had never done "liberated"/improv before.  I cut some random width strips and 3 1/2 inch starting squares and just started sewing.  It was very fun and relaxing.  I'm trying to channel the Gee's Bend quilters here.  *grin*

Gwen said she'd never really used the half log cabin before.  She and Freddy used some in their collaborative quilts, but only with prints, not solids.  

I liked those so much, I made some more!  I'm not squaring these up too much yet.  These blocks are pinned up on a carpet-covered wall that was in the classroom.  I'm kind of liking that dark "background" in there.

And here they are on my design wall in my studio, in a more mixed up layout.  Looking at this photo, I can see that they do need some more dark in there.  Maybe sashing?  For right now, I'm still thinking about where I want to go with this.  More rounds on each block? 

I'm hoping to get back to this pretty soon.  However, we have to get through taxes before I can do much more.  I'd rather be sewing!