Happy Holidays!

This just about says it all.  We were still deep into wallpaper removal and painting of our living room right up till Christmas.  I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.  It's been hectic - we've also finished celebrating some family birthdays - but now that Santa's closed up her workshop for the year, I plan on enjoying this next week off with the kids.

My family does a secret Santa gift exchange and I made my SIL a tablerunner, napkins and a pot holder using French General Maison de Garance fabric.  After searching the internet and my stash of quilting magazines for a pattern, I decided I went with something very simple to feature the center floral print.

The binding is cut on the bias, and there is a slight ripple at the edges because I cut the fabric lenthwise, but otherwise, I think it came out quite nicely.  Blue woven is on the back.

At the last minute (of an already last minute project) I decided to whip up a pot holder.  The Lemoyne Star block pattern is very fiddly (set in seams) but some free motion quilting minimized the flaws. 


Here's wishing all my readers a happy and wonderful holiday season!


Triangle Top

 I've been trying all week to find time to show you my triangle quilt top.  Well.... here it is!  The triangles are all pieced and now I'm considering adding borders to make it a bit larger.  Current size is 59 1/2" X 70".

Happy Friday, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Home improvement and a little sewing

I started on a huge home improvement project over the weekend ... removing the wallpaper in our living room.  We've been living with vinyl grasspaper for 10 years and it looks dreadful.  We live in a rental, so we've been pretty cautious about launching into these types of projects.  But, after successfully removing the paper in the kitchenette and revamping it into a much needed bedroom for my daughter, it was time to move on to another part of the house.
Wallpaper circa late 1950's with vintage light fixture.
This is what is under the vinyl.  The pink and gold coordinates with our pink and gold formica kitchen countertops!  The lady of the house obviously liked pink.  This is just one layer down.  There are several more layers going back to the 1920's.  I have my work cut out for me.

Consequently, I didn't get any work done on my Triangle quilt over the weekend, but I finished up an embroidery I started on last year. 

Christmas Tree on Acid
The pattern is a freebie from Badbird Designs.  I cut out the finished design and made it into a stuffie.  I think it looks rather ridiculous and garish, but my daughter loves it so it's hanging out in her room.  I still need to add a loop of floss to the top so she can hang it up if she wishes.

I also sewed a couple of blocks for my Farmer's Wife Sampler. 

Calico Puzzle & Bat wing

Instructions & completed block
This photo gives you an idea of the general layout from the book, The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt.  That's the extent of the instructions provided.  Numbered templates are provided on a CD.  This book is a HUGE disappointment, as no measurements for the individual pieces are given.  I will probably stick with the easy blocks - the ones that can be drafted out because the pieces are divisible by 6.  I don't feel the need to slavishly reproduce an historical looking quilt anyway.



I cut into my Betty Dear fat quarters using my super-duper Tri Tool triangle template.  The template makes quick work of the cutting process.  Simply cut the fabric into strips, in this case 6 1/2" strips to yield 6 1/2" triangles.

The prints alternate with solids from my stash.  I have about one half of my strips pieced so far.  This will be a "smallish" lap quilt.  If I've done my math right (which is doubtful!), finished size will be approximately 60" x 72".

My design process
You might ask what happened to my earlier idea to using my Betty Dear to make wagon wheel blocks?  Well, I opened up a drawer in my sewing cabinet and my eye fell on the triangle template.  I've always wanted to make a triangle quilt, and I quickly envisioned a riot of diamonds, a la Kaffe Fassett.  After cutting out some of the fabric and playing around with the triangles, I decided I didn't like the diamonds nor did I care for the "busyness" of the prints, so I gathered up some solids.  I used some depression-era FQ I had picked up several years ago at a quilt show, supplementing with some Kona solids, and voila, a quilt pattern was born!

Now, if only Axel would STAY OFF ...


Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Mini Quilt

My favorite Giant's Fan


Fall Quilt Festival

It's time for the Fall Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side.  I've decided to feature my Snowball quilt completed this summer (June 2010).

Pattern: snowball with diamond border (squares set on point)
Fabrics:  various designer prints, batiks in border and corners of snowballs, Amy Butler print on back
Inspiration:  Kaffe Fassett, although I didn't follow a specifc pattern

It started out like this:

Eventually, a quilt emerged.  It took almost a year to complete the piecing and quilting.

I free-motion quilted in a swirling pattern.

Thanks for stopping by! 


Autumn Leaves

This is as much fall color as you're going to find out my way in California.  I brought my camera and leaf blocks with me to work and while on my midday walk, I snapped these at the park.  Fortunately, there weren't too many folks out to question what the heck this strange woman was doing arranging fabric amongst the greenery.

As I walk by these manzanita bushes several times a week I often think its sinuous shapes would make a great start off point for a quilt design.
Farmer's Wife blocks
Sometime last year, my husband gave me The Farmer's Wife Sampler by Laurie Aaron Hird.  In a quest to use up some stash fabrics, I pulled out the book a few days ago and made these blocks.  Block size is 6" which makes for some pretty hairy piecing, but so far, I've stayed away from the more complicated designs.  Mostly likely, I won't be making all 111 blocks in the book - but just enough to make a modest-sized sampler.
Some more pictures from my photo shoot the other day:



Betty Dear

Let me explain.  I've been trying REALLY hard to be frugal and use up my sizable fabric stash.  But I've been drooling over Darlene Zimmerman's new fabric line "Betty Dear" and could resist no longer.  I bought the entire line in fat quarter cuts from Thecalicogirl on Etsy today.
Betty Dear
It's a huge splurge for me - I don't think I've ever bought an entire line of anything.  I already have a pattern in mind.   I think these fabrics would look great in a "wagon wheel" quilt block.  Some fabulous examples are saved in my Favorites on Flickr.

After searching through various online sources, and realizing this is a pretty straightforward pattern, I will most likely draft my own pattern.  I just need to figure out how big I want my blocks and how many spokes I want to radiate out from the center. 

Would would you do if a bundle of Betty Dear landed on your doorstep? 


Part II - Quilting Class

After some 6-7 years of quilting, I finally took a quilting class.  I'm so proud of myself.    My sister and I enrolled in a class on free-motion quilting techniques.  Our teacher was Lori Smith, who is a well-known quilting teacher.
Instruction sheet and practice doodles
Some things I learned, not directly related to quilting:

#1  Come prepared.   There was quite a bit of fabric and supplies prep for this class.  I was in my typical rush-rush mode, and had to throw everything together early on the morning of the class.

#2  Come really prepared.  At the last minute, I threw in some of my extra quilting feet and boy, oh boy, am I glad I did (will explain this later!).

#3  Never go anywhere your machine without a 2 wheeler cart.  Oy.  My machine weighs a TON and the class was located in the hotel next to the convention center parking.  It was a schlep and I ended up busting off the pin that holds a secondary spool of thread on the top of my machine.

Amazingly, I arrived at class with everything I needed.  However, my trusty old free-motion foot would not work!  No matter what I did .... I changed my needle, re-threaded my machine, turned the power on and off, etc.  I actually began to lose my cool as I envisioned having to leave the class before making a single stitch because I was dead in the water.  Then, I had a stroke of genius.  Why not try the extra foot I had thrown in my bag as an afterthought?.  I was pretty sure it was an open-toe free-motion foot .  It was much "clunkier" looking than the other foot, and I had never tried it, but at that point, I didn't have anything to lose.  And it worked.  And worked like a charm.  Phew!!

Here's my first piece.  We were instructed to stitch the straight lines first, then fill in the pattern with a meander.  This was very straightforward for me, but a good warm up.  I learned a couple of useful things. 

First, if you tend to get puckers when you straight line quilt, it may be that the top, batting and back fabric grain lines aren't oriented in all the same direction.  We were directed to stitch with the crosswise grain first (which has more stretch), before the lengthwise grain.  Little did I know, even the batting has more stretch in a given orientation (just give it a little tug to determine this before creating your quilt sandwich).

Secondly, I very lazily have never brought up the bottom thread to the top of my piece at the beginning of free motion stitching.  New to this technique, it went agonizingly slow, and as I was already behind with my work due to the snafu with my darning foot, so I ...ahem...cheated a bit, and left some of my threads on the back.  However, this is something I will be working on at home, from now on.

Photographed from back-side. 
Next, we free-motion quilted a feathered wreath from a template and our last block was more improvisational.  We were supposed to practice stitching with a double-needle, but true to form, my machine wouldn't cooperate, so I experimented with one of my decorative stitches instead.

Unfinished block
I didn't have time to finish my piece - we were to sew the three blocks together to create a panel.  Our teacher taught us a fun "quilt as you go" technique which I'll demonstrate at a later time.

All in all, the class was both a great learning experience and an opportunity to spend time with my sister.  I left the class reenergized and can't wait to tackle some of my WIP tops!


A Quilting Weekend - Part I - Pacific International Quilt Festival

This weekend was all about quilting!  My sister and I signed up for an all day quilt class at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara on Saturday and since we knew we'd be tied up in the class all day, we decided to take the day off work to see the show on Friday.  And I'm so glad we did!

Quilt by Gloria Loughman
Isn't this the most fantastic quilt?  Although it was almost impossible to chose a favorite, this was definitely one of mine.  It was part of a small exhibit of quilts by Ms. Loughman called "A Slice of Oz".  We saw so many quilts - it made my head swim. Toward the end of our allotted time (10-4) with a short break for lunch, we realized we hadn't seen the quilts at the back of the convention center and were literally running down the last few aisles.

Although we did a pretty good job staying away from the vendor stalls, I couldn't resist these gorgeous hand-dyes from Cherrywood fabrics.
 I have been admiring  Cherrywood fabric for ages, but it's the sort of thing I like to see and touch in person before buying.  I was so glad to see they had a booth at the Festival.  I purchased two fat quarter packs and a pattern with the intention of making a small wall quilt for my sister's sun room.

Here's my entire (quilt-related, that is...ha ha) haul:

My sister was very drawn to this pixelated-looking quilt.
My sister
 I have a few more pictures from the show on flickr under the quilt show set (see display in the right-hand column of my blog).

As much as I could have lingered for several more hours I had to drive back to the City thru rush hour traffic, pick up my daughter from school, grab takeout for a quick dinner before going to a play with my family.  The play (Scarpin at ACT), was fabulous (the two glasses of champagne helped).   I felt I had way too much going on this weekend to be able to devote two days to myself, but I won't bore you with the details.  Fortunately my husband was managing all of the kids' activities.  I had to figure out when in the heck I was going to find the time to prep my fabric and supplies for my quilt class the next morning.  I set my alarm clock for 6 am.....

Coming up next:
Part II:  Quilting Class 


Still Destashing - Maple Leaf Blocks

The idea was to make Maple Leaves for my month of the Shrinking Quilters' Bee but they turned out to be a bit fiddly so I put aside my mangled test blocks to work on getting my Bee packages together and out the door before returning to these leaves. Still intent on using up some fabrics from my stash I've thrown in some oldies including some wonderful Lonni Rossi prints I picked up in Iowa several years ago.

The block pattern is from quilterscache and is called Border Maple.   The suggested layout calls for setting blocks on point and adding corners (setting triangles) and then adding scrappy sashing. 

And as I mentioned earlier, this is my month to lead the Incredible Shrinking Quilters' Bee.  I chose the classic Ohio Star block. 

Bee info can be found here and here.


Uncluttering the stash

Quilters like to joke about their fabric obsessions and stashing tendencies.  But at what point does the Having Too Much impede the creative process?  Increasingly, I'm finding myself on overload (quilters' ADD) and not seeing projects through to the end because I can't seem to focus on where the project is and moving it on to the next stage. 

I've decided it's time to make some changes.  I'm going to try to use up most of my old repros stash I've been saving for years, "just in case" I ever make that large and spectacular repro quilt, and to find creative ways to use up odd fabrics I was compelled to buy but can't seem to find a use for. 

Ultimately, some fabrics may need to go (in the charity bag).  ***gasp*** 

Too this end, I've started on two projects.  One is a 9-patch quilt made with stash repros and some uglies.  The houses were extra blocks I had floating about.  This will probably be a small-ish quilt and may end up as an auction item for my daughter's school.

9-patch with houses
  My daughter likes to go through my scrap can and the day we were working on the 9-patches, she put together a random assortment of scraps which I helped her sew together.  It's freeing working with her because she doesn't have my sensibility about what colors and patterns work well together.  It will be fashioned into a simple pillowcase made with some leftover doll stuffing.

Pillowcase back & front (left to right)

It's officially Fall, which is absolutely the best time of year in San Francisco, when our fog magically disappears and we get a taste of summer.  I don't have much of  garden of my own (I live on essentially a sand dune) but I enjoy the gardens in Golden Gate Park.

Dalia Garden in Golden Gate Park


Getting Ready

It's almost my month for the Incredible Shrinking Quilters' Bee and I'm trying to get ahead of the game.  I have a business trip to Boston planned for the beginning of October and need to have everything mailed before then.

Sneak Peek
I've never done a "Bee" before, and was a little apprehensive about the process of deciding on a design (I'll admit, that part was agonizing), selecting  fabrics and calculating yardages.  The block I finally settled on is pretty straightforward and once I started cutting the fabric, it was no big deal.   I guess this was a case of over-thinking things.

I'm curious, do others find it hard choosing a project for a bee?  I'm using fabrics from my stash instead of purchasing something new - that was the other issue, I was concerned that my fabrics may not be well-received by everyone.  I'm interested in a wide range of fabrics styles including batiks and repros and don't always use the most trendy prints/designers.


Pseudo-Cathedral windows

Here's a little something I'm working on:

The block design is actually a "folded" Flying Geese block.  I found an excellent tutorial online (Ricky Timms & Alex Anderson video) and another tut that shows how to turn down and top-stitch the edges to create a curved-triangle shape (curved goose sounds too weird!).  I had to play around with it quite a bit to get the look I wanted.

I've completed my blocks but will add sashing to make an 18" pillow cover.  Check back here soon for further details.  I will be posting links and hints on this technique.