Sunday, December 10, 2017

Catching Up...

It's been such a looong time since I posted, and I'm not quite sure where to start.  Let's just say that Life has been busy!  And so have I.  It was a long, hot, smokey summer and a very busy autumn, with a visit to my sister, a quilt show and a visit to California, as well as having bronchitis, holidays and generally Life.  But I'm here now, with a few things to share.

First off, I have a finished quilt to share!  This one was a few years in the making.  The blocks were started as samples for a quilt show demonstration 4 or 5 years ago.  These 16 Patch blocks are made with a Quick and Easy 4-patch method I learned from Billie Lauder on 'Simply Quilts' many, many years ago.  I couldn't find that episode to share with you, but I found this video on You Tube that shows the same method. (They are showing a scrappy method, but it's the same concept.)

Chex Mix
75 in. x 95 in.
hanging at the quilt show
I used my collection of plaid fat quarters to make this, and I picked out the brightest ones I had.  My son talked me into using black for the consistent color, instead of white, and I'm so glad he did.  These are all woven plaids and they fray something crazy.  I could never have hidden all the stray threads on the back side of the quilt top with a white fabric!

I was actually supposed to be working on a different quilt, but this one really caught my attention instead.  I managed to get the quilt done in time for my local quilt show this year.

i initially wasn't going to add a border to this quilt, but then I decided that all those seams at the edge should be contained.  The idea of an all-black border sounded boring, so I came up with the idea of  a strip of the plaids in the middle of the black border for something different.  This photo shows a close-up of the border corner that was also suggested by my son.  Something a little fun.

My quilter, Shari, had carte blanche to quilt however she thought the quilt needed.  I like what she came up with!

Here's a photo of the fabric I used on the back.  I love the way it looks and wish I'd bought more of it!  I think this is the first time I've used extra-wide (108 inch) fabric on the back - no piecing!!  Warning to my Future Self - it did shrink up quite a bit when I pre-washed it.

Going back in time a little bit, here are the Halloween placemats I made at my California quilt retreat in October.  I didn't have a pattern, just an inspiration photo from Pinterest of a table runner.  

I quilted 2 of the placemats the same, and did something else on each of the other two.  I was trying to be done in time to use these on Halloween, but I didn't quite make the deadline.  I still needed to bind them, so I didn't use them.  I am ready for next year, though!

Here are the placemats as the background to show off the little hand-made ceramic jack o'lantern I made this year.

I used up fat quarters for the backs.  I'm trying to reduce my stash, as it has gotten out of control.

And here is my favorite pumpkin that my DH The Potter made for me a couple of years ago.  It is one-of-a-kind.

I whipped up a little whole-cloth baby quilt a couple of weeks ago.  Cute baby fabric, lovely flannel on the back and simple grid quilting made it quick, fast and comfy!  It went to a local facility for a new baby to have.

I won the Wine & Chocolate Basket at our local quilt guild meeting this month!  It's a beautiful Longaberger basket, perfect for a picnic!  I also got some yummy chocolate candy, which we're all enjoying, and a bottle of wine for The Potter.  For me, there's some fabric!  I got a 5 Yard Quilt kit (with 5 yards of fabric, of course), a tablerunner kit with 3 yards of batik fabrics and a Layer Cake of batik fabrics!    Sweet!

In case you were wondering what a potter's kiln looks like, this photo is for you!  My DH was getting ready for the state fair this summer and was making lots of mugs.  This is only one layer in the kiln, out of 3 or 4.  Just a few mugs!  These mugs have gone through the bisque (the first) firing, and are ready for him to add the glaze and fire them again.  He sold a LOT of mugs at the fair!  You can see more of his work on his blog - there's a link to that on my left side bar.

We've been having some cold, frosty nights here lately.  I snapped this photo of my frozen geranium leaves the other morning.  (No, they will not survive this weather for long, poor things.)  I thought they were so pretty all frosted.

I hope to be more regular in my blogging again.  I've missed it and I've missed visiting everyone else's blog too.  I guess that will be my New Year's resolution!

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 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!