Posted in Quilts

The Meadow Quilt: a year-long journey

I didn’t actually realize it until I typed this post title JUST NOW, but this meadow quilt was a journey of almost exactly one year. (Yes, i do realize ‘almost exactly’ is an oxymoron. I am super clever.)

But looking through my phone, I found these photos that I took at the Meadow Quilt workshop taught by Lizzy House herself with the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild on March 6, 2016.

Aren’t we all so cute? And it was a year ago, so we are all aglow with youth, too.

Then I scrolled forward to the photos of the nearly finished Meadow Quilt, with its adorable intended recipients. The photo says it was taken March 4, 2017, and I’m inclined to believe it. You’ll notice it wasn’t yet bound (I simply surged up the edges on my serger, a practice I have come to love), and I bound it a day or two later, so it was very probably on March 6!


I ended up binding it with Elizabeth Hartman Starlight in gray, from the Paintbox Basics collection (or maybe Pacific?) to complement the Cotton & Steel sprinkle stardust that I used as a background fabric on the top, and the extra wide backing that I used on the back, which is Elizabeth Hartman wide back, like a swollen and darkened version of that binding fabric. I love this wideback fabric so much, I had to stock up on it, in both the gray and the hot pink color. So you’ll be seeing more soon. I just love how quirky and cartoonish it is. It makes every quilt look more modern and fun.

And in between that first photo and that last photo, what happened during the 364 days in between? Well, sewing, obviously. But also, some meditative time on a long-arm quilting machine. I used the giant Bernina Q24 at Cozy Creative Center to stitch the twinkle lights pattern in the background and used my Juki to stitch a variegated pink thread onto the pink sections. The main contributor to all that delicious texture is for sure the wool batting. I used this Quilters Dream Wool Batting (93” x 72”) Twin, and I just can’t recommend it enough. Especially for a kid’s quilt that will be used year-round. It makes for a very functional comforter in addition to being a beautifully draped word of quilted art.

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This quilt journey was my first exposure to curved piecing, which has created great confidence in my piecing abilities, and was a joy from start to finish. That’s 365 days of joy. And counting.

Posted in Uncategorized

Name that Fabric

I am doing some secret sewing for the guild and I fell in love with one of the blocks. I have all the fabrics (or somethings very similar), save for the main charm square. 

So it’s time for another exciting game of NAME! THAT! FABRIC! (Canned applause) please tell me if you know.

I have put “plaid and flowers” into every search engine and every fabric shopping site and have come up empty. 

Help me, Internet! 

Posted in My Small World QAL

My Small World sky

Your goal is to actually complete your My Small World quilt from the pattern by Jen Kingwell. You made your blueprint and maybe some key fabric choices. What’s next? SKY!


Not the whole sky, mind you. Just a nice sizable panel of sky that will sit at the far right, at the top of section 1. Why start here? Because the sky is easy, it’s just squares, and for me (and you, if you’re like me) I need to immediately see some progress. I love reading books on kindle because it quantifies my reading automatically, and seeing that I’ve completed 10% of the book helps motivate me to get 100% of the way done. 

If you’re doing the prescribed low volume neutral sky, well then this part is even easier. 

At the beginning of the booklet, Kingwell notes that before you start you’ll want to cut 527 1.5″ squares from neutral fabrics for the sky and incorporated into some of the blocks. And, of course, if you opt to use some larger squares (like 2.5″) you’ll need fewer. 

In my guild, we did a swap where each of 27 people brought a yard of fabric cut into 5″ charm squares. So we only had to purchase one yard, but we got 54 different charms to add variety to our quilt. I am not using these for my sky, like I said, but my skyline will be neutral instead, so I still needed these.

You definitely want charm squares, rather than mini charms since you will only get a single 1.5″ square from a mini charm, but you’ll be able to cut 9 from a charm square. 

If you can’t organize a swap, fear not, as so many fabric designers have anticipated your needs and released low volume, super neutral collections recently, available in various precut bundles. 

  1. Anna Maria Horner- Skipping Stones
  2. Lizzy House- Whisper Palette
  3. Jen Kingwell- Behind the Scenes
  4. Zen Chic- Modern Background paper/ink
  5. Alison Glass- Abacus
  6. Marsha McCloskey- Essential Lights

Or check out Etsy. Online fabric sellers have put together some great low volume bundles. 

So the next item to handily check off the My Small World QAL is one or two of those panels of sky. The panel 1 sky block is 8 squares high by 12 wide, and the panel 2 block which will fall just left of that is 6 squares high by 8 wide (if you’re using only 1.5″ blocks, obvi). 

I just laid my squares out, incorporating some of those 2.5″ squares as well, snapped a photo on my phone so I could keep the placement right (because my colors needed to be arranged just so) and stitched away while listening to the Dear Sugar podcast. Piece of cake and it feels so good to make progress. 

Posted in My Small World QAL, Quilts

My Small World pre-game

So I’ll begin by saying that it’s not you: the pattern booklet for My Small World is confusing and hard to follow. But to be fair to Jen Kingwell (who is a creative genius for sure), the best things about this quilt are its intricacy and personalization, which are the very things that make it hard to translate into a clear, easy to follow pattern.

So rather than following the book’s list of blocks (which our guild’s schedule loosely followed), I thought of this as being broken down into discrete tasks (many of which could be split further into sub tasks). For me and my particular frustration and impatience thresholds (both very low) this worked much better than, say, making 23 pinwheels, then making 16 flying geese, three of which will be used for arrows and 6 of which will be paired as diamonds and then 4 churn dashes and then hourglasses and on and on and you get the idea. I needed to see progress regularly. This thing needed to take shape from the beginning or I was going to lose focus. And I needed to have the larger project in my mind. Which makes Task #1 so invaluable to successful completion.

Task 1: make a blueprint.

One complaint about the pattern is that only finished block measurements are given, all templates are sans seam allowance, and multiple sizes of similar blocks are used. Use graph paper to map out the entire quilt, using the Assembly pages 28-31 in the booklet, and a one square = one inch ratio. I buy these Five Star Spiral Notebook, Graph Ruled, 1 Subject, 8.5 x 11 Inches, 100 Sheets, Assorted Colors (06190) three or four at a time. They are hard to find in stores. I don’t know why, but I have preferred the gridded paper since jr. high school. They make me feel more organized, even when i’m just freestyle doodling. And they make a ton of sense for quilt planning, of course. (They make great bullet journals, too, if that’s your deal.)

 I would make a printable copy for others to use, but I already colored mine, and besides it is easy and kind of fun and worth making your own so that you can see which bits you might want to customize as you go.

For instance, I have this amazing fabric that I wanted to cut large fussy cuts from and the 4×4″ spaces meant for orange peel blocks would be the perfect spots for them. This works well for me in a couple ways because I am also not so good at appliqué. “But wait,” you might be thinking, “this quilt is a great way to practice so many skills, and you should use it as an opportunity to improve your Appliqué!”

And I say to you: hush. My goal here is to actually finish the project within a year. I know myself. See above re my frustration threshold. There is still some appliqué with the little rounded door blocks and that’s quite enough practice for me.

So I’ve already mapped out which blocks I’m replacing with fussy cuts or special prints. I can see exactly which flying geese are being used in arrow blocks and which panel each pinwheel will be used in, which makes color planning more feasible. And I’m needing to do a lot of color planning because I’m doing a sunset sky and a low volume and neutral toned skyline. This would be very difficult without a blueprint to work from.

A subtask of this first important task is fabric choice. Once you’ve drawn a blueprint, you can color it in like an adult coloring book and make your fabric choices so you can keep all the bits of this long-term project together. I chose to work from mostly scraps, plus Carolyn friedlander’s Doe collection for the skyline and Moda’s Enchanted by Alisse Courter for the sunset sky.

I found it very helpful to:

1) have these specified collections to choose from in order to limit my options to some extent (I get overwhelmed by indecision and with so many tiny pieces, there are a lot of decisions to make here), and

2) use precuts. I had a charm pack of Doe and with so many 1.5″ and 2.5″ pieces required, a 5″ square of each print was convenient and plenty.

Task one done? Hooray! Congrats on your blueprint. Let’s do this thing.

And I’ll just toot my own horn and mention that my blueprint is drawn in my quilting notebook which I totally copied from fabricmutt’s tutorial (here) with strips of Anna Maria Horner’s Folk Song.

Posted in My Small World QAL

How to actually complete the My Small World quilt along

Full disclosure, I haven’t completed the My Small World QAL. Yet. SDMQG chose this quilt (pattern now available as printed booklet from Jen Kingwell) as their yearlong quilt along project for 2016. I only joined the guild in June 2015, and so wasn’t able to join their QAL from last year and I was so psyched to join everything guild had to offer this year, I’m doing this, I’m doing the Bee, I’m doing every swap they can come up with. 

So Sue B. took charge of leading our group in this QAL, even giving us a schedule for what blocks we should complete each month, and making templates for us all to use. I was worried because I missed January’s meeting and so already was a month late on the schedule, which can really mess with my mind on a thing like this. January was the month I was supposed to be completing like 25 pinwheels and a bunch of tiny churn dashes, etc. I figured I’d never catch up and so I didn’t try. 

Fast forward to April and I had an idea in mind for how I very generally wanted my MSW to turn out. So I made some fabric choices for the pinwheels and figured I’d at least get those done. I got about half completed. It took me a solid day. I figured there was no way I’d keep going, but I still had 8 months to think about it. 

At the beginning of June, I attended a weekend long quilt retreat with the Guild and say across from the one member who had already finished (completely by hand) her My Small World. I had brought along my materials and pattern, and although I still didn’t get any further, I renewed my commitment. If Suzanne could complete hers in 6 months, I could too. The second half of the year. 

I am much farther along toward my goal after the last 3 days and it is seeming very possible. So I’ll tell you how I did it over a series of posts because I’m excited for more people to create their own versions of this intricate and personal project. Stay tuned.

Posted in Quilts

Adventures with the Longarm

I finally took a longarm class in order to rent time on a longarm machine at The Quilted Rose, here in San Diego. I would now like to offer up my right kidney to the highest bidder so that I can purchase a longarm machine and use it everyday. The machines at TQR are pretty old and huge, and when I rented time, they actually gave me the clunkiest one. I was not super pleased about that, but it did not deter me from longarm quilting in the slightest. It just made me google my other San Diego county options. 

So my pieced quilt began with the central fairies fabric which is an out of print Alexander Henry print that I had no idea what to do with, but loved intensely and purchased from an etsy seller that specializes in out of print goodies. Then after our guild (SDMQG) did a Lizzy House challenge during Lizzy house’s visit, I was inspired by my fellow runner up (yes! I was totally a runner up!) and her Unicornio quilt. It was a large scale log cabin with a variety of colors and featuring a Lizzy house unicorn right smack dab in the center.

So I have been adding rich log cabin walls around these mysterious fairies slowly slowly slowly. 

   
   Then I spent some time with it at TQR, choosing a very intense teal thread for the quilting, and bound it in deep green Constellations by Lizzy House. 

If you look closely at the quilting, you’ll see that I basically tried everything I had practiced on paper from An Angela Walters book that I have, Shape by Shape. And it’s very beginner, but again, that machine was a rickety pile, so I am not totally to blame. And the prints are so busy, it doesn’t matter at all. I see it as a longarm sampler for me, and my daughter loves it on her bottom bunk (for when friends come to sleep over, she tells me). It couldn’t possibly go on the top bunk because, speaking of Lizzy House, that spot is reserved for the forthcoming Meadow Quilt (top is already complete!)

Posted in Quilts

Postage stamp quilts

postage stamp quilts. Those are the only projects getting finished round these parts as I postpone a slew of other more challenging projects. They are not challenging. Some people might find them mind numbing, but I am not among those people. I love to pick a bunch of fabrics, spend a morning pressing them all with Flatter or Best Press until the inside of my nose smells permanently like figs or yuzu or what have you. Then nothing pleases me more than to follow it up with an afternoon of cutting 2.5″ strips from my chosen lovelies. I save a few strips for strippy fun, then keep cutting cutting cutting everything into a beautiful stack of 2.5″ squares. That’s a whole day gone, if you’re keeping track, and no fabrics have been sewed to any other fabrics. Nothing has been done, but that day ends up feeling so productive to me. I’m a loon.

Then comes the learning and creating and playing. Btw I use a pinking blade on my rotary cutter so all my squares are in it for the long haul. Ain’t no way I’m using a full day’s worth of squares in a single quilt, so I like to know my leftover squares can be stored for an indefinite length without any fraying. So anytime I have a few hours, I can pull out my squares and do some playing. 

   
  I use the method that Elizabeth Hartman shows in this  tutorial (http://www.ohfransson.com/all-projects/stamp-collection-blocks) on her Oh Fransson website, laying out all the squares on a sheet of very lightweight fusible interfacing over a grid drawn on muslin. One, I like how this method makes all my squares line up because when I just sew squares together using the regular method or strip piecing, my fabrics are always going to have some stretching or shape shifting or wormhole travel where they will end up off by what seems like a half inch at least once per row. 

Two, I like this method because I get to lay out all my fabric squares however I want and play with them and rearrange them freely and once they’re exactly how I want them, I don’t have to take them apart again to chain piece them all into oblivion and try to put them back together again. They stay put on the interfacing while I stitch column by column and then row by row. It is so meditative and quick. 

I worried that the interfacing would make the quilt stiff, but after a washing and drying, I honestly cannot feel a difference between an interfaced quilt and a traditionally pieced stamp quilt. I found it so much easier that the other method feels like going commando; obviously a lot of people love it, but it’s a bit too loosey goosey for me. I prefer a little clothing under my squares. 

Being able to play around with the placement helps me learn about the ways colors play with one another and also allows me to prevent adjacent prints. Were the placement of the prints truly random, you’d be likely to have some prints adjacent to themselves. I think they look more random though when they are placed intentionally so that there are no adjacents. Like how my nanny used to tell me that the secret to makeup was to make it look like you weren’t wearing makeup. The secret to making it look random is to very carefully and intentionally arrange placement. Or you could just pull them from a paper bag and sew them together. A more efficient and equally acceptable method. Suit yourself. 

   
  Anyway, I have a million 2.5″ squares and it is incredibly satisfying to produce a quilt top in about 2 days that can put a major dent in a scrap bin to boot. So my total so far for postage stamp quilts in 2016 is 3. But it’s only March, so let’s see if I can hit double digits.

Posted in Quilts

Workin’ It Wednesday

work in progress Wednesday and I thought I’d be much further along with my linen and pinks quilt, but here is the top so far. The center panel has been entirely pieced and pressed, but it still needs a chunky linen border. 

   The pattern is from Rashida Coleman-Hale, of course, because she hearts linen, from the book “I 💙 Patchwork.” It is a lap quilt, that she did in shades of turquoise and yellow, although I’m wondering how weird it would look if I bordered it to be bed sized.  

  

I used bright pink, coral, and yellow fabrics, including some of my faves from Tula Pink’s Eden collection and True Colors, plus a funny little constellation pattern from Spoonflower.

Maybe by Finished Friday, this puppy will be ready to make a reappearance?

Posted in Quilts, Sewing Projects

Flying colors on a cloudy day

i completed this baby playmat slash quilt last week on a rainy day, just in time for it to never be cloudy again. 😢 I love weather; it makes no sense for me to live in Southern California. 

I used a layer cake of Flying Colors by Momo for Moda (love love love Momo), and some cloudy blue linen (Essex cotton linen from Robert Kaufman) to do the back and the appliqués. First time doing appliqué and it was fun. Especially fun quilting around them. It makes them puff up even more after washing and gives the clouds and raindrops a cool texture. That’s important for babies. They can’t read. Interesting textures are all they have for entertainment. 

   
    
  
 

Posted in Quilts

February? 

Oh man, I have so many projects completed that I need to catch up on documenting. 

But first, look at this seam. Look at that corner alignment!! I did that. And I thought it was photo-worthy. That’s where I’m at. 

   I’m also getting very into linen (obviously). Been reading up on zakka-style, etc. can’t wait to finish this current project and show it off.