Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How would you quilt this?

Maybe you can help me out?   The quilt top that's been hanging around the longest in my sewing room is a very special quilt. 

Tangential, a cumulative queen-sized quilt

Tangential queen-sized quilt for Angled

Tangential is a queen-sized work created for Angled class, an online course I offered in 2014.  I'm rather fond of how it turned out, so I feel a bit intimidated about choosing a quilt pattern, let alone actually doing the quilting.  I think the solution is to have it long arm quilted!  Last night I started looking at edge-to-edge quilting patterns, but I just couldn't imagine any of them being a good fit.  I think it's the irregular block pattern that confuses me.  Maybe I'm being too cautious?  So, help me out.  How would you have this one quilted?  Ideally, an edge-to-edge design would be more affordable, but if you have some specific custom quilting ideas to share, please do.

Thanks for your advice!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Zephyr {Improv Handbook Score #1}

Zephyr quilt top

Gosh this quilt top came together all in a whirl, once I had a clear sense of direction.  On Saturday morning I decided loosely where I would put each color mash-up, placing cuttings of solid fabric in each area to map out the quilt on my design wall.  Then it was too easy to just keep piecing, section by section, filling in a nice throw-sized quilt.  I used up every bit of my Zephyr feature print - one full yard.  The quilt top is about 55" x 68", I think.  I'll trim the edges after I quilt her up! 

I thoroughly enjoyed composing Score #1 from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.  It was liberating to cut without a ruler, to just cut and cut and then sit down and sew a bunch of pieces together, discovering along the way what would be. 

Today fabric wasn't the only pretty thing taking over my sewing table.

Zephyr quilt top

I'll share some of my own tips for improv piecing after I gather a few more.  But I did learn from this piece!  Improv quilting is truly a learn-as-you-go kind of experience, so don't let anything stop you from Getting Started if this is where you want to go.  You can't help but learn by trying.  Try it!  You'll see.

Zephyr quilt top

Oh, and I completely embraced a "wonky" style of improv piecing here, cutting without a ruler and sewing without concern for straight seems.  If this drives you bananas, no need to throw out the ruler.  You can still improv and keep things square!

But I'm with Sherri.  Today these whimsical, tilting seams read like a signature, designating the work as uniquely, unequivocally, genuinely all mine.  I enjoyed going along for the ride.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

and this too

 and this too

Blocks have been arriving from my friends in Love circle.  Yes, it's yet another quilt brewing called Love on Bourbon Street.  Of course I can't resist lining them up for a little snap shot, a preview of things to come. 

and this too

Oh my, what does that make it?  Four quilts, FOUR, currently in progress?  That's got to be a record for me.  I have Pink Latte waiting on a backing for its finish, that scrappy Pickle Dish variation I started to bring along to Chicago, Improv Score #1 making some exciting progress this weekend and now Bourbon Street blocks too.

and this too

And... secretly... I also have two abandoned quilt tops hanging in my sewing room.  Well, not so secret to those who live here and pass by, but not so present either.  If you leave something out long enough, there's a magic that makes it disappear.  Am I right? 

That's mysterious.  But truly, I should like to see those finished soon.  Maybe if I add them to my list...

Friday, September 25, 2015

direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

I was tickled to hear that many of you already own or were keen to buy Sherri Lynn Wood's The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters!  Yes, we will have a loose score-along with some link parties, and who knows what else.  Let's just allow this to unfold organically... which, come to think of it, is rather fitting!

Maybe you've received your books about now.  Have you started into that first score?  What about it is hard for you?  Limiting your fabrics?  Cutting without a plan, without rulers?  Do you feel like you're sewing blind?

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

Here's were I started (and sometimes getting started is the hardest step).  That first yellow and jade segment was so enjoyable that I launched right into a second segment using a toasty brown and white with my feature fabric, Zephyr Puff in Mustard.

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

On the second segment, I intentionally cut larger squares and tried to need less "filler" fabric.  The resulting piece is more like the look of this score in the book, but not particularly more pleasing to my eye.  In fact, I prefer the yellow segment with its tiny, floatier squares. And did you notice that in the yellow piece I incorporated a few variations of the yellow?  Those were pulled from scraps.  Using a bit of variation for depth is just "me", particularly when the fabrics come from my scrap drawers.  I'm going to give myself that freedom in future segments.

After that second segment I began floundering.  While familiar with the open nature of improv, I like to have a sense of direction.  That direction may be a feeling I'm channeling, a color scheme or a vague sense of line.  Since this work is emerging from a book, rather than from a specific bolt of inspiration, "direction" is harder to pinpoint.  At first I thought I would use a limited, but sunny color scheme, like this:

 Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

But I'm finding that hard to maintain.  Perhaps it's because Sherri Lynn's example quilt in the book is so colorful. 

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

So...  I started pulling other solid colors, just grabbing ones that felt good at the time.

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

And then Direction came into clear focus when I next found myself hovering over this crib, reaching for babe.

Direction {Improv Handbook Score #1}

The colors I'd pulled were all there in Anna Maria Horner's Folk Song floral.  I had only to add the coral red to completely replicate her color scheme.  Probably I had been subconsciously following this fabric all along, as I do so enjoy its colors and have been looking at it a lot lately.  Funny!

Now I'm confident to pursue this happy gathering of colors for Score #1 and even considering putting snippets of the floral in my quilt top for fun.  If not there, then at least it'll make an appearance on the back!  Feels good to have a sense of direction.  Onwards we go.

What about you?

p.s.  Kona Cotton colors selected:  White, Curry, Kale, Caramel, Coral, Gumdrop, Delft.

p.p.s. I have not been as good as I'd like to be about responding to your kind comments lately.  Although I know you understand my preoccupation during these stressful times, I still yearn to say "thank you" for your well wishes for Eleni and your encouragement for me.  I appreciate each one!  Thanks for your friendship and grace.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

eating Scraps

so many triangle scraps!

Whew, what a weekend!  I can't believe it's Tuesday afternoon already.  We are waiting to board a plane back home from therapy in Chicago.  I'll be sharing about this trip in Eleni's 7 month update at the end of September.  Meanwhile, let's just say we got to know one of the best children's hospitals in the country... during our stay in Chicago.  Not exactly what we had in mind.

Because we get to stay with a sewing friend in Chicago, I like to prep an easy-to-transport sewing project to sweeten the evening hours.  Before leaving, I pulled out my triangle scraps for the first stage of sewing with Red Pepper Quilt's Pickle Dish Variation.

so many triangle scraps!

Using her paper piecing templates for the spiky triangle portion of the pattern makes this stage very scrap friendly.  And not just any scraps - Triangle Scraps.  Mmmmm, my true scrappy nemesis.  Unlike many patterns that use triangles, this one doesn't create more triangles in the cutting phase.  Score.  I loosely cut around the finished triangle size to prep my scraps, printed out all the papers I'd need for a throw quilt and hoped for the best.

so many triangle scraps!

Here in Chicago, I had the pleasure of using Stephanie's Juki, which happens to be the same machine I use at home.  The automatic thread cutter, which can be activated with the foot petal, is absolutely ideal for paper piecing.  Saves time and thread!  Things actually went along so swimmingly that I had to bum scraps off of Stephanie to keep on sewing.

so many triangle scraps!

Yep, if we hadn't ended up derailed and hospital bound around midnight on Saturday I may have pushed through the entire triangle stage.  On the upside, now I'll have the chance to go home and cut up even more of my triangle scraps.

Scrap eating is good stuff.  Looking forward to working on this more when we arrive home!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hello Darling {giveaway]

It's Friday!  Let's celebrate with a little giveaway.

My friend, Pam, of Mad About Patchwork is on her way to a fun sewing retreat.  She's spreading the quilty, fabricy goodness with a giveaway of her shop's latest arrival - Hello Darling by Bonnie and Camille.

Mad About Patchwork is a Canadian-based shop with excellent customer service.  Pam has been sponsoring this space for a very long time, and she's always a pleasure to work with.  You can often find my favorite fabrics by Anna Maria Horner, Denyse Schmidt, Carolyn Friedlander and Cotton & Steel in her shop.  Good stuff.

One lucky reader will receive a fat quarter bundle of the 9 fabrics from Hello Darling that Mad About Patchwork is stocking.  (Though she has the complete collection in charm squares and jelly rolls, for those of you who love your precuts.)

To enter the giveaway add your comment sharing what new sewing project or technique you would you most like to learn.  Comment now through midnight on Monday, September 21st.  Be sure to include your email address, if it's set to private in your Google account.  Giveaway open internationally!

Good luck!

Comments closed.  Congrats to #395, Jessica who would like to learn English paper piecing.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

done Good {Comfort 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.  Every month or so, I'll share some "done Good".  Today, Comfort Circle takes the spotlight!

In March, Eva-Marie of Zusje B served as lead quilter for the Comfort circle.  Quilter's take turns setting a vision for the monthly bee quilt, usually defining the block style, colors and block size.  Eva-Marie was inspired by a Broken Dishes quilt from Rita of Red Pepper Quilts shared way back in 2011.   In her project prompt to the Comfort Circle team, Eva-Marie said, "I have never made an all solids quilt and I don't own enough solids to make it. That is why I would love to make it with you."  And, indeed, that is some of the fun of being a quilter in a bee like do. Good Stitches.  You get help making some of your quilty dreams come to life, and all for a truly good cause!

I made 3 blocks for the #comfortcircle #dogoodstitches March round. I hope that's ok.

Eva-Marie requested any colored solid fabric paired with white.  Her bee mates chimed in to say which colors they were making so as to work towards a well-rounded rainbow.  Soon finished blocks were popping up in the Comfort circle Flickr group.  Some member, like Quiltification, even sent more than the minimum 2.  Comfort circle is a very chummy group.  I'm thinking it's the little gestures, like sending extra blocks or communicating when you're going to be late, that create that sense of real community.

So the finished quilt?  Such a beauty!  I admit, I'm partial to all solids quilts.  They're so crisp, colorful and bold.  You really can't go wrong with pure color.  This happy quilt is sure to cheer someone's day again and again.

And Eva-Marie's choice of playful backing and classic stripe binding are perfectly delightful.  Thank-you, Eva-Marie, for your many years serving generously in do. Good Stitches!  Comfort Circle is based out of Western Europe (mostly the Netherlands) and benefits charities local to the quilters.  This quilt was donated to some young children in need.

Well done!  Congratulations to Comfort host Nicolette (Dutch Comfort) and the entire Comfort circle, Flickr names:  DutchComfort, Muriel (doucepoints), Lotje M,, Silly Banana, molsig, Alphenquilts, Asarlieve1, quiltification and Coser Tejer Crear.

p.s. 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.  We're always in need of new quilters!

Monday, September 14, 2015

aaaaand.... Done!

patchwork Placemats

So I finished those placemats.  And although they were not actually made for my home, they really do fit in quite well, don't you think?  That must be a good sign!

patchwork Placemats

The colors and textures are right up my ally.  I love the bright, saturated tones combined with earthy, warm neutral.  All of these bitty block pieces were pulled from my scrap bins.  I work with so many one-color prints that my fabric scraps tend to be easy to recombine in new ways.

patchwork Placemats

Three out of four placemats are bound in Lightning from Doe by Carolyn Friedlander.  In fact, I used several of her fabrics in this project.  It's a reminder to me to keep investing in Friedlander fabrics.  I find they work with just about everything I want to make!  I used several from Anna Maria Horner and Denyse Schmidt too.  Yep, it's the good stuff.

The other placemat is mostly bound in Serape Dream by Rhodes.  I used that print to back the placemats as well.  Oops, meant to photograph that!

patchwork Placemats

Well, that was nice.  These were just the perfect manageable size for a little patchwork and quilting play without a long term commitment.  And best of all, it's done just in time for a special trip!  We're off to Chicago this week for miss Eleni.

Now, before I go, I hope to prep some fabrics for another quilt.  I wouldn't normally start something new right now, but my other works in progress don't travel well.  Isn't that a shame?  (wink)  Hmmm, what shall I do...

Friday, September 11, 2015

fresh starts {Improv Handbook Score #1}

Improv Score #1

For months now, Sherri Lynn Wood's fantastic book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, has been lounging about on my desk dropping not-so-subtle hints:  relax... let go... be free... be bold... dive in to a new experience!  I've carved out today to get started.

This book is absolutely worth owning if you are interested in improv piecing.  It has an amazing techniques section, lots of inspiring images and 20 quilting "scores" rather than patterns to help tease out your own improv quilts.  I love the subtitle's reference to "Living Courageously."  Um, I'll take a bit more of that, thank you very much!  And, truly, that's how sewing improv makes me feel.  So I've really enjoyed today, in my quiet house, all alone.  Thank you, Friday!  Thank you, grandmas (who have the children)!  Thank you, Sherri Lynn Wood!

Improv Score #1

I've decided to start with Score 1 and plan to work my way through All. Ten. Scores.  I'm stretching myself to follow Lynn's lead, even when it's uncomfortable.  Because that tends to be where the growth hides.  Maybe you'd like to join me?  I won't be kicking through these too fast.  Perhaps in a year and a half or so, we'll find ourselves on the other side with a stack of artistic wonders to use and share.

Improv Score #1

Cutting without a ruler.  Wheee!  It's faster.

Improv Score #1

Limiting myself to only 3 fabrics.  Oh, gosh, that's hard.  I managed to make the white wait it's turn.  But, just barely.

Improv Score #1

Cutting squares without a ruler, without a plan.  Starting to let go.

Improv Score #1

Piecing and trimming off bits as Lynn suggests. Letting my own "line" and my own eye be the judge of what's well.

Improv Score #1

A pause for lunch and for sharing my progress with you.  I do hope you might join me.  For me, improv is the most therapeutic type of quilting.  That's not so for everyone, of course.  We're all different.  But, if you've been hoping to stretch your improv wings, don't hesitateGet the book.  Let's go!

p.s.  I bought myself this book with my Amazon affiliate credits.  The book links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a tiny commission on sales made after you click through those links.  Just want to keep you informed, as per my legal duties.  Hope you don't mind!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

the one about quilting

Because, you know, I don't normally write about quilting...  Ok, I guess I do, but it seems like I'm thinking and writing about a whole lot else lately.  With how much I'm gone out of town for therapy and the new homeschool year, I'm really having to push to find time to sew.  I create "systems" or rhythms in my life to keep me organized and moving forward on the things that count.  Having Eleni has required a constant flux and tweaking of those systems, with times of overwhelm where everything functions but the living seems to get squeezed out.  Still I refuse to let sewing and my time here at Stitched in Color to fall through the cracks.  This feeds me. 

Today I'm talking about quilting.

quilting tips

This morning I added Essex linen/cotton blend in leather to either side of the 6" wide patchwork pieces I created for that set of placemats.  Together with this pretty Wanderer backing, it's all the ingredients I need for a successful finish.. if only I can get the quilting right.

Quilting still intimidates me.  Today I formulated a plan, threaded my sewing machine and paused, poised on the brink of stitching.  I wonder, just as you do, how that quilting plan will look once implemented.  Will it detract from and ruin my patchwork?  Will I end up picking out stitches, painstakingly erasing my mistakes? 

quilting tips

This is my first piece.  I worked organic straight line quilting over the solid Essex portions and some geometric straight lines on the patchwork.  I love how the thick Aurifil 12wt thread stands out over the Essex section.  It creates a fantastic dimension with these dense and free-form quilting lines.  I hope that the same thread doesn't stand out too much over the patchwork portion?  But over all, I'm pleased.  It worked!  Phew.  That would be a lot of thread to take out!

Want to do something similar?  Organic straight lines are a therapeutic way to quilt.  Mistakes aren't mistakes.  How nice!  Plus, you don't have to do any marking.  Here are some tips.

quilting tips

First I used curved basting pins to baste the placemat tops with one layer of batting and fabric backing.  Then I quilted straight-ish lines, about 2" apart.  As I quilted these lines, I ran the work through the machine traveling in opposite directions.  These lines are anchoring the work so that it doesn't keep dragging to one side from the force of dense quilting.  Most of the lines I tried to make straight (just eyeballing it), but a few I deliberately allowed to curve.

quilting tips

Once those anchoring lines are in, just go to town filling in lines in between.  You won't be sure how close together you want to make those lines until you try.  My advice is to begin filling them in a little sparser than you think and then go back to add more lines if you like.  That way you don't over commit yourself to uber-dense quilting from the get go.

For straight, geometric quilting (as I did over the patchwork) I use a hera marker to mark creases in the patchwork.  Then I follow the creases with thread as tidily as possible.  I wouldn't want to take the time to mark up a whole quilt with a hera marker, but the increased accuracy is definitely worth it on a small piece like this.

quilting tips

And speaking of small pieces... I really dig using up batting scraps on small projects.  Here I used some Heat Press tape to fuse two small pieces of batting together into a large enough rectangle for one placemat.  If you don't have fusing tape, try zigzaging batting together by simply butting up the straight edges of batting and stitching so that the zigzag stitches fall alternately on each batting piece.  Because you will quilt the work, you can be assured that the batting "crack" will be reinforced rather than drifting apart or bunching up.

And that's where I stop.  We're off today to a rather important neurology follow up.  Cringe.  But let's not part that way.  Let's part with this:

from Marmalade Fabrics!

A pretty stack of Cotton & Steel arrived yesterday from Marmalade Fabric's clearance sale.   Yum.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Labor Day Fabric Sales!

In the United States we'll be enjoying a long weekend in honor of Labor Day.  This weekend I mean to buy a backing for my Pink Latte quilt top.  Luckily there are some great sales on designer fabric now through Monday.  Now's the time to buy those backings, indulge in that bundle you can't get off your mind or stock your stash with some helpful fabrics!


At Fabricworm enjoy 20% off all orders over $50 with coupon code laborday, as well as 30-50% off select sale collections starting Saturday at 7am until Monday at midnight.


Shabby Fabrics offers 20% off of anything and everything in the store with code SFLDW20 now through Monday at midnight!


Those of you in Canada can save every week at Mad About Patchwork through their weekly special.  This week it's 10% off children's fabricsDetails here.


At Sew Modern enjoy 20% off all regularly priced fabric yardage today through Monday with code SEWMOD20.

Intrepid Thread has 20% off in stock items, including clearance with code WORKIT20.  Sale runs midnight Saturday through midnight Monday.  Over 300 new items just marked down!

At Lark Cottons save 15% store wide through September 10th with code laborday entered on the shopping cart page.  And, save an additional 20% (for 35% total!!) on fabric by Denyse Schmidt, Joel Dewberry, and Heather Bailey.


Brand new Stella by Lotta Jansdotter is on sale at 15% off at Gotham Quilts through September 11th.  Also shop the sale section for fabrics up to 30% off.  No coupons necessary.


Save 30% off Batiks over at Connecting Threads now through Sunday.  No coupon necessary.


At Canton Village Quilt Works all pre-cuts are marked down by 25% beginning on Saturday, September 4 through September 6, 2016.  No coupon necessary. 

Happy Weekend to all!

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