Monday, March 31, 2014

a finish!

chaos quilt finished



Yes, this one did come together quickly!  But remember, I used so many already-pieced sections that it was mainly juggling design elements and filling in with scraps or yardage.  Mostly I threw paint at the canvas and things splattered into place.  I think the vibe is going to work nicely for my almost-teenage niece who likes things on the wild side!


I think this crazy quilt is going to look best on a bed.  It's best to zoom in on the little bits and pieces rather than try to take it in as a whole, cohesive work (which it's not).   I do like how the black is sprinkled throughout.  Nice and moody.


This big section of gingham-like patchwork is one of my favorite parts.  So glad I saved those pieced bits.  I had originally made them as a border for this quilt, and was bummed after I did so much piecing and discovered didn't like the effect.  So grateful I saved them now, rather than using them anyways.

Cracking Codes binding

Bound in Cracking Codes by Anna Maria Horner.

Oh, I've been meaning to show you something!  Want to see how I photograph these big bed quilts?


Awhile back my husband used metal piping to create a big T-stand quilt holder.  I made this brown sleeve designed to accept the metal pipe.  I simply safety pin the sleeve to the back of my quilt top, being careful not to go all the way through the quilt so that you won't see the pins.


Then we slide the metal pipe through one sleeve, through the T-shaped pipe fitting and through the other sleeve.  He drilled a hole in the pipe fitting so that a screw can be tightened to prevent the pipe from sliding during photos.  All-in-all it's a heavy contraption, but it works.  He likes this better than trying to hold his arms as far as possible, plus this way even tall quilts can get clearance!  So grateful for my handy man.

Next up... something more slow and steady.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Sometimes endings are just as good as beginnings.

working in rows

Today I'm putting the finishing touches on this crazy quilt.  I opted for continuous eight free motion quilting, which I like to work in rows across the width of the quilt.  With only 10 or so inches exposed, I can maneuver with (relative) ease thanks to the generous harp space and adequate quilting table of my Juki TL 2010 machine. Still loving it!

my favorite part

And then comes my favorite part - trimming the quilt edges!  Somehow it always looks better now than it did as a quilt top.  More substantial, mostly, and nice straight edges.  To cut square corners I use my regular quilting ruler, matching horizontal ruler lines with the previous cut edge and also matching them with perpendicular seams in my piecing.

just add binding!

Ok, just add binding!  Finished quilt coming right up...

Happy week-endings, all!

p.s.  Thought you might want to know that Southern Fabrics is running a quick survey.  If you participate, you'll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate, plus you definitely get a 10% off code for your next purchase! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ethereal {a mosaic contest}

Slow down a minute, my friend, and ponder with me in color.

Ethereal {a mosaic contest}
quilt by Red Pepper Quilts, balloons from The Cherry Blossom Girl, paint, flowering tree

Pastels are a whisper, a delicate dream.  Their colors too soft, too pure for this world.  They sing out with hope, with pure beauty and joy, always moving upwards.  Flying high... sometimes farther than we dare go.

Ethereal {a mosaic contest}
crochet by Tabula Rosi, carousel

And yet, something so light and sweet, demands contrast.  In amongst the shadows they shine!  The deep lows of of life's journey carve out the hilltops.  And blossoms are never so sweet in summertime.

Ethereal {a mosaic contest}
edible buttons, butterflies, giclee print, notions from Decor8

Pastels can be bold or demure.  Reckless or orderly.  But always, always ethereal!  So far removed from earth, blood and bone.  Definitely feathered.  Full of light.

Ethereal {a mosaic contest}
shining hearts, flowers, clothing

Can life be ever this lovely?  I wonder.  This fragile, I know.

Today let's curate colors that feel so exquisite, so dreamy as to belong to a perfect world.  Let's pay homage to the way pastel hues raise our hopes and our hearts.

I invite you to join us for a Fabric Mosaic contest sponsored by Lark Cottons.

Carefully craft your mosaic of 12 fabrics from among the offerings at Lark Cottons. Choose fabrics to express your interpretation of Ethereal Pastels.  Your collection of fabrics can be bright, shadowy or shy.  Just make sure to include soft pastels and aim to create a dreamy, otherworldly feel.

Once you have your fabrics, the free Mosaic Maker tool makes it a snap to create a mosaic by copy and pasting image url's from Lark Cottons.  To find url's, right click on the image you want to use, and then choose "copy image URL".  

To enter the contest, add your mosaic image to our collection here.  If it suits you, link to a blog post explaining your choices - that helps us spread the word about our contest.  But no blog post is required (you can put your image url in the url space).  Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world.

Add your mosaic by midnight April 3rd, eastern time.  You can make up to 2 mosaics!  On Friday the 4th, I'll open voting.   We'll have two winners!  The 2 Top Mosaics will earn a complete fat quarter set of their mosaic fabrics!!!  Plus, Lark Cottons will create a bundle like yours available for others to buy (fabrics allowing).  Winners announced April 7th.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

creative chaos

Morning has come, and today I start a brand new quilt.  I pull from the cupboard a collection of pretty pinks and purples, soft spring greens and low volume fabrics.  These had been selected weeks before, intended to become a companion quilt to Waltz of the Flowers.

But, I can't do it.  My heart isn't in these soft, sweet colors.  And when you don't feel a quilt on that first day, well... that's a very bad sign! 

What do I really want to make?  What would make me happy?

I open my drawer of cast offs.  Rummaging around, my hands pass through blocks and stacks of blocks made for quilts past, but rejected for one reason or another.  Things cut, but not sewn.  The ghosts of quilts past. 

And then I know.

ghosts of quilts past

Sometimes chaos is beautiful.  Riotous colors.  Odd angles.  Plenty of black.

creative chaos

From my stash I pull multicolor prints.  Lots by Anna Maria Horner.  They're often hard to use, but not now.

my creative chaos

It's my chaos and it feels so right.

Monday, March 24, 2014


We did it.  We painted!  The "we" here being most certainly NOT my husband (who was kind of a stinker about it), but my friend Heather and I.  On a balmy Saturday with windows wide open, we painted with Olympic Icon no-VOC paint, in "light raffia". 

First, the before...


Our living room and dining room share an open floor plan with natural lighting from some very large windows.  Despite that boon, photographs in this space often come out oh-so-dark.  Partly this is just indoor photography, but it's certainly not helped by the medium brown wall color which doesn't bounce much light.

before... brown

I caught this shot at the very peak of natural lighting in our space.  It's my brown walk of shame.  Sad brown couch, brown piano, blah brown walls, and look... a mostly brown painting.  Are you excited yet?

No?  That's why I didn't hang the painting. .

before... clashy

Actually, I do kind of like that brown color.  It was cozy and contrasted nicely with all my bright decor in the dining room.  But, it was definitely a problem in this corner.  That particular brown certainly did not play well with this brick wall and the golden tones of our bamboo flooring.

Really don't know how that slipped by me all these years.  Well... I hadn't written Color Intensive yet (wink).  Seriously, I do grow so much from my classes.  Haha!

Ready for the After shots?

lighter, brighter

I definitely like this view better.   My new sofa (smooch!) looks even better against this creamy color and the floors/brick wall are happier too.  Good news - I got the "go ahead" to piece something to stretch on custom panels and hang behind the TV to hide those cords.  I think it will be slightly wider than the TV and floor to ceiling.  He's requested something with lots of negative space.  Hmm.

lighter, brighter

Photos going this-a-way are definitely lighter and brighter.  Yay!

and now the piano works

And I don't even want to paint the piano now.  Without the distracting brown walls, I noticed how well the wood tone of the piano blends with the floors.  It works for me.

oh-so-blank wall

But that wall behind the piano needs Major Attention.  Now that it's white/cream, it's just screaming "Help me!"  (Note:  It probably was screaming before, but I wasn't listening.)  I'd like to do something with texture and color and fabric on that wall, but still be able to hang the large painting.  Any ideas?  I considered doing a hoop wall art collection, but since the wall to the left is my frame collection in the dining room, something decidedly different would probably be better.

Oh, and I think I'll also change those living room curtains when the right fabric presents itself.   But, shhhh, don't tell my husband.  A few changes at a time, people.  A few at a time...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ikat Quilt pattern release!

Ikat quilt for Color Intensive

Since its premier as part of Color Intensive, I've received many a sweet email or comment asking for the stand alone release of the Ikat Quilt pattern.  Well... it's here!

Ikat Quilt pattern

With our workshop drawing to a close and folks so happy with their Color Intensive experience, the timing feels right to release this pattern to anyone and everyone.  Get yours now at My Pattern Shop!

Pattern includes instructions for regular piecing OR machine paper piecing.  Don't sweat it if you prefer regular piecing!  Students have made blocks both ways.  It's just a personal preference.

Choose from 4 quilt sizes:  throw, twin, queen and king!

Miss Megan at City Stitches has been working on her own version.  Swoon!

Grecian Waters Ikat

and this "Grecian Water Ikat" mockup, shared on Flickr still makes my heart skip a beat.

Ikat quilt for Color Intensive

Can't wait to see YOUR version of the Ikat Quilt!  And thanks for being such a supportive and encouraging community.  I am often filled to the brim with gratitude for you.

Happy weekend!



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seedlings quilt

Seedlings quilt

all finished!

backed and bound in DS fabrics

Mmmmm.... spring!  The winter clover that covers our old garden space is bursting out in pure gorgeous green.  All over little seedlings are popping up and flowers too!  This checkerboard quilt of green and sweet colors absolutely channels spring - it's hopes and giddy celebrations.  

Seedlings blocks

It feels like this quilt progressed from blocks...

 Seedlings quilt

to finish in record time. But really it was two good weeks.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process, so that could be why it sped by.  Then again, I think my sense of time is a off this month, with moments both lengthening out as endless waiting and shrinking down to one nearly constant thought, namely "I want to be pregnant!"  I have tried to keep stress levels low and enjoy the gift of the present this month; and mostly I have succeeded, at least as well as possible.

But I digress. I'm very happy  to report that I used every. last. bit. of suitable green scrap to churn out enough blocks for a 50" x 60" lap quilt.  I have been cuddling with a quilt of exactly that size this spring.  It's just right for definitely-not-warm, but mostly not-frigid days. 

Seedlings this spring

I've decided to list Seedlings on Etsy, in case she catches someone's eye.  Crossing fingers!

welcome, Spring!

p.s. today is the first day of spring.  Welcome, Spring!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

pretty Perfect

A little reckless abandon, a little luck and lots of pretty fabric...

 a dress for Aria

You know, sewing a girl's dress isn't so hard, really?  Really it's not.  I think each time I've finished one in the last year or so, I'm surprised at the ease with which it comes together, compared to a quilt.  I mean, I actually sewed this all in one day!

Nouveau Dress

I get so psyched out about doing something different.  So silly.  (Note, I still reserve the right to be terrified of sewing for my womanly curves).  I say this in hopes of encouraging other quilter-y types to take up the garment sewing gauntlet.  You can do it too!

Nouveau Dress

Inspired by this dress, I lengthened the Geranium dress bodice and combined it with a full, gathered skirt.  The Comma Period and Nouveau Bouquet fabrics were pieced with French seams before cut as pattern pieces.  No, I did not fussy cut the floral fabric, though that would have been a good idea on the bodice.  Maybe next time.  I still love how it came out!  It hits at her calf, since Aria prefers long dresses.

rescued buttons

On the back I used these old black pearled buttons that my mom cut off of some garment.  They're the cherry on top of a vintage-pretty look.

Last week, when Aria unwrapped the Nouveau Bouquet fabric from Sew Love Fabrics, she gleefully crooned, "Is this for my Easter dress?"  I was a little lost for words because I'm actually planning a few mama-made dresses for her this year, a bounty to which she is decidedly unfamiliar.  I guess I'm a little chicken to tell her my plans in case things don't quite pan out. 

Eventually I said it could be and asked "Does that mean you'll save it to wear on Easter?"

To which she replied, "Oh, NO, I'll wear it on Sunday if it's ready!"  So sweet.

Nouveau Dress

Somehow Aria has learned to love handmade dresses even more as she's grown older.  Because she's Awesome.  Turns out she'll wear this dress for the first time on her baptism Sunday this month.  Unplanned, but just about perfect!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

happy days

Thirteen years ago, on St. Patrick's Day, my husband and I were hitched.  This weekend we celebrated with a long, couples staycation, an even loooooonger (two hour!) paddle on gorgeous Lake Jocasee (whew, I made it back!), finishing up with a joint Irish cooking class last night.  I learned to make an over-the-top-fabulous chocolate mint mousse and Brandon enjoyed corned beef, one of his favorite main dishes.

All around a very good weekend.  But as you know, dear quilter friend you, a surefire way to make any weekend even better is to do a little stitching.  That I did!

 anchoring the work

Except for our day at the lake, the weather has been too gloomy for photographs, but I took some anyway.  I actually have a thing for high contrast shots.  Anytime the setting sun falls across my work, I'm likely to grab that camera!  I thought I'd show you how I started the quilting on this postage stamp style quilt.  First I did straight lines in different directions to anchor it firmly against shifting, before quilting densely.

quilting in a grid

This morning I finished quilting the dense grid.  Since my patchwork squares are 2.5" finished, I didn't even have to mark lines.  I was able to run my Juki with its walking foot pretty darn straight just by eye to quilt lines across each square on each diagonal.  Such fun quilting without marking!  (I think that's one thing I really enjoy about free motion quilting.)  I used a green thread over the green checkerboard and a cream thread over the happy scrappy prints.  Keeping things interesting.

Shelburne falls backing

I had two large cuts of Denyse Schmidt vintage-inspired Dress Floral from her Shelburne Falls collection that seemed to fit the vibe of this classic quilt.  Combined with some Essex linen (pieced to the quilting cottons with 1/2" seams!) it's a sweet quilt back.

stripes for binding!

For the binding, a bit more Denyse Schmidt.  A stripe is always right as binding, isn't it?  Happens to be on sale here.

prepping to zigzag bind this quilt

I always bind by first attaching the binding strip to the quilt top, wrapping it around the edge of the quilt and pinning, then attaching the binding on the back of the quilt with a zigzag stitch, stitched from the front. You can get all the details at my Zigzag Binding tutorial.   I think it's the easiest, most forgiving way to machine bind!

Now I've just got to run that zigzag stitch and this baby will be done.  It was a pleasure all the way through, probably heightened by the fact that I didn't need to make it and my fabrics practically volunteered.  Yay scraps!  If the weather cooperates for some photos, I'll be sharing the finish this week.

Hope you have a happy day!

Monday, March 17, 2014

done Good {Cheer Circle}

do. Good Stitches is a modern online community that quilts for good.  Over the years the bee has grown and grown, so that these days I find myself struggling to keep current with all the beautiful work being done.  I'm taking up the habit of cheering for them from here, in the way of finished object posts.  About once a month, I'll share some "done Good".  Today, Cheer Circle takes the spotlight!

do.Good Stitches Cheer circle Jan 2014

In January, Lindsey of Happier than a Bird Quilts served as lead quilter for the Cheer circle.  Quilter's take turns setting a vision for the monthly bee quilt, usually defining the block style, colors and block size.  Lindsey requested Antique Tile blocks in shades of pink, cream and white, showing this sample block to inspire her team of 9 other members.   

Antique Tile block #1

Bee mates each made a pair of 12.5" blocks.  I love this gem by Party of Eight, aka Gina.  That deer is adorable as are several others, but the music score print is my favorite.

Cheer Circle do.Good Stitches January Quilt

The finished quilt?  Dreamy.  I love the soft, truly antique-looking finish.  Such a simple color scheme and straightforward assembly, but the results are gorgeously classic.  Lindsey used free-form swirly quilting to create a gentle, all-over texture. 

#dogoogstitches #cheercircle September '13 #freewheeling quilt being donated to the charleston chapter of #projectlinus . block design by @tachabr

While I was at it, I couldn't help but notice this spunky work also completed recently by Cheer Circle.   This one was led and quilted by Brandy of Thirteen Quilts.  Such a totally different attitude and artful block style.  Well done!  Congratulations to Harmony host Lindsey and the entire Cheer circle, Flickr names:  HappierThanABirdQuilts, SeeMaryQuilt, FreeRangeKnitter, Bethadeezoo, ThirteenQuilts, MexicanYarns, PartyOfEight, Juliepepperpea, Free2bQuilting, Meg.Sews.

Cheer sends finished quilts to local chapters of Project Linus, who delivers handmade blankets to children in need in hospitals, shelters and more.

**Learn about do. Good Stitches here.  While quilts of all styles are wonderful acts of charity, this bee intends to bring together active Flickr-users who enjoy sewing with modern fabrics.  To join the wait list, please use this form.** 
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