Happy New Year

I didn't intend to be take such a long blog break, but with work and the crazy run up to the holidays and then taking time off to be with the kids - I needed some time to recharge my batteries.

Getting ready for the new year, I couldn't resist picking up some new fabrics.

Axel had to get in the shot

These are from Peapod Fabrics, a wonderful little independent fabric store in town.  I also order the  blues pictured below via the 'net about a month ago.

More pretty blues

Lately, I've been really digging indigo blues and yellow-golds.  I decided to make a very good friend a quilt in this color scheme (she has been dropping hints that she wants a quilt).  She also told me she likes blue, but then today she mentioned she wanted to get rid of the blues in her bedroom and go with green and rust!  Now I'm not sure what to do ...

I have been steadily working on the star quilt (see last post) but it's still all in pieces so no new pictures to share.  This has been the year of the "WIP", with only a couple of small completed quilts to brag about.  Mainly, the work I've put into my Farmer's Wife sampler has left little time for other projects.  I miss that sense of completion, but I also need to remind myself to be patient.  It's all about the process;  I could easily have pumped out several "easy" quilts with large piecing and minimal quilting if I  wanted to.  But I've enjoyed learning new techniques and working at a slower pace this year.  

I'm also thinking of moving in a different direction in this new year.  In October, I took a landscape quilting class with Kathy McNeil that made me think differently about the craft of quilting.  I like the idea of using fabric as a tool (like paint) instead of the emphasis on sewing with designer fabric names and reproducing popular quilting designs. 

Wishing everyone health and happiness in the New Year!

My daughter sunbathing in Golden Gate Park
December 28, 2011



Sorry, it's been a while since I've updated my blog.  Life has been good, and busy!  I managed to fit in some sewing over the long weekend.  I ran out of quilting thread for my triangle quilt (see previous post) and had a really hard time locating the exact YLI thread I need to finish up this quilt.  I finally found an online source for both threads (I'm using two different colors) and am waiting for my order to arrive.

Meanwhile, I used the break as excuse to embark on a new quilting project.

The pattern, which is from the first Material Obsession book, calls for 34 Ohio stars.  Each one is made from a different print from my stash. 

Just when I was getting thoroughly sick and tired of making so many stars I moved on to the the next step which involves joining stars to make 8 sets of flower bunches and embellishing them with embroidery stems and hand applique leaves.  I'm enjoying this step as I can work on the couch and the stitching and the leaves are fairly large and not too fussy.

I also made myself a new coaster.

I'm pretty happy with it, but how it holds up, only time will tell.  I find that my home sewn kitchenwares made with quilting-weight cotton tend to be on the flimsy side.  I like my potholders to be thick and sturdy and able to withstand high heat.  I always add a layer thermal treated fabric in with two layers of batting, which I also used here, but this time I used a waffle-weave cotton towel for the backing.

 I'm hoping this will add the "heft" I'm looking for.

I think it looks pretty "snazzy" with my french press.

Here's my daughter on Thanksgiving, snuggling with my sister's newest dog.  He's 4 pounds (full-grown) of cute!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.


Quilting - second go around

Remember this quilt?

I started quilting it months ago but hated my quilting so much, it ended up on the WIP pile.  This weekend, I unfolded the quilt, assessed the situation and started quilting new meandering feathers on the half I hadn't quilted.  I should mention that I first straight lined quilted around the triangles but the quilt still needed something.

Now I have half a quilt with feathers (pictured from the back):

with my trusty paperweight ...

Now I have the enviable task of taking the crappy quilting.  So far, I've managed to remove just a few blocks worth of ugly feathers.  It's super slow going.  I also ran out of thread and an hunting around for a source on the internet.  I'm using two different kinds of YLI variegated 40 wt. quilting thread I had picked up at a quilt show a few years ago.   I found the thread at various websites, but not the two of them together in one place.  ***sigh**

Generally when I start free-motion quilting, I warm up on a small scrap to check my stitches.  Just take a couple of scraps and sandwich it with a scrap of batting - the same kind that you are using in your quilt, and quilt away.  Here are my doodles from the other day:

I had to adjust my tension up quite a bit to get my stitches looking good on the back.  The tension is affected by various factors such as the type thread, needle, fabric, batting, etc., so don't skip this step.   

At the same time, I'm warming up, playing with the designs I'm considering, and auditioning thread colors.  Now I have these fun little scraps floating around the house ... I suppose I could make them into coasters.  The leaf scrap was a little piece I had in my scrap bin from practicing needle-turn applique.


Bloggers' Quilt Festival for Fall

It's time for Fall Bloggers' Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side. I was honored to have been a featured quilter on Amy's website last month. 

The quilt I'm sharing for the Fall Festival is my most recent finished quilt, Lemon Pie.

I used a Piece O' Cake Designs pattern featured in Fon's & Porter's quilt magazine.  The pattern called for fusible web and machine stitching for the applique.  Through experimentation, I settled on a small zigzag stitch to finish off the applique. It was a bit of a struggle but a good learning experience.  I have since learned that The Bottom Line thread by Superior Threads is the perfect thread for machine applique.  How I wish I knew about this thread before this project.

I had a lot of fun with the quilting.


The Bloggers' Quilt Festival is a great opportunity to see lots of inspiring quilts and meet new quilters.  Thanks to all for visiting my blog.


I'm back from PIQF

My husband's Halloween musical show is poised to open next Thursday, so it's been a flurry of activity in my household.  Despite the madness, I managed to fit in the the Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) with my sister for a few days last weekend.

Here's a couple of awe-inspiring quilts:

This one was designed/drafted on paper and quilted on a domestic Bernina.  The back was equally spectacular.

The quilt above is by Gloria Loughman.  My sister and I wanted to take a class by Ms. Loughman, but it filled up right away.  Instead, we enrolled in a half day hand-quilting class taught by
Jean Brown and a full day landscape quilting class with by Kathy McNeil.

We didn't have a huge amount of time to see the show and shop (awesome vendors) but we tried our best!  You can find more pictures from the show on my flick under quilt shows.

Above is the class sample of the quilt we were making in class.  My sister and her friend and I took up a table at the back of the room - we had heaps of fabric which we were freely sharing amongst ourselves and snips of paper and fabric littering the carpet and pretty much what we accomplished by class end were the rock formations/cliffs in the mid and foreground.  Too bad I didn't think to stop and snap a picture of us working, but we were trying to get as much done during class time as we could.  I came away from the class armed with the techniques to finish the quilt and another WIP to add to the pile.

It wasn't all work and no play.

I'm 2nd from the left and my sister is in the middle.

When I have more time, I'll write in more detail about some of the things I learned in my two classes and a few tools I purchased (new quilting hoop, etc.).


While the Babylock is in the shop

Had to switch gears, pulling out the featherweight this weekend to piece some FWS blocks.

I managed to put together 4 blocks.

After debating about it for a while, I decided to not share Block #33 - Farmer's Puzzle here.  It looks way too much like a Swastika for my comfort.  I'm going to take it apart and turn some of the pieces around and will post at a later time.  However, you can see the block photographed with all of the blocks.

Looks like it might not be too early to start thinking about sashing colors.  Any ideas are welcome.

We enjoyed more warm temps and clear days through the weekend but now it's started to rain.  I love working in my quilting room (aka, the bedroom!) on a nice sunny afternoon.  I was able to grab a couple of hours unexpectedly on Saturday while my daughter worked at a fundraiser car wash for the school band.  I had volunteered to help out, but they had more than enough adults to supervise.  I somehow found a few more hours on Sunday after taking my daughter and a friend to the mall (I followed at a discrete distance as they shopped at Hot Topic, etc.)!

Here's my sewing companion ....

And my fabric storing system - I resisted the urge to straighten things up for the picture.


Lemon Pie is finished

A finished quilt is a beautiful thing.

Lemon Pie
Please do not copy without permission
 I'm so glad I've switched my focus from my FWS to finishing up a few things on my WIP pile such as the quilt above.

Here's some texture detail on the back:

quilt back
Please do not copy without permission

I really like how velvety-soft the backing fabric feels - almost like a brushed cotton.  It's a lavender dot print from Lucien.  I used a variegated thread for the top stitching and plain grey (Coats & Clark) in the bobbin.  It blends beautifully with the lavender.

I had just completed the free-motion quilting and was changing feet on my machine to start on the binding and my machine went dead.  Kaput.  Oy.  I took it into the shop on Tuesday and got a royal spanking from the shop owner for horrific negligence.  3 years is WAY too long to go without a service.  I guess the equivalent would be to drive your car for 20k without an oil change!!!  So, I have my fingers crossed that there is nothing major wrong that can't be resolved with a thorough cleaning and adjustment.  I have a quilting class in mid-Oct. for which I need my machine and it's questionable it will be done by then. 

If anyone reading this is thinking this sounds familiar, don't make my mistake; stop what you're doing and take your machine in IMMEDIATELY for servicing!

I still have my Featherweight which came in handy for making the binding strips and finishing up the quilt.  I can still work on piecing my FWS blocks too.

Lemon Pie, Completed!
Please do not copy without permission
Have a GREAT weekend!

Here's my tubby guy Axel - we bought him a battery operated hamster in hopes he'd chase it and get more exercise.  As you can see here, he wasn't too impressed.
Axel vs. Hamster



Oh yes, I do love Fridays.  The end of the work week is in sight, and various "quilt-y" projects beckon.

New Stash
  Before I tell you what I have planned for this delicious stack, I wanted to give a yell out to Amy at Amy's Creative Side for featuring me on her bog today.  I feel totally honored to be featured, and maybe a bit astonished, to be honest.  Amy's next Bloggers' Festival is coming up next month, so mark your calendars.  I can't think of a better way for small bloggers such as myself (under 50 followers) to get our work out there and to encourage us all to support other quilters. 

Back to the fabric featured above.... I had purchased for my FWS project, but now I can't get the idea of making a log cabin mini or table runner out my mind!  I'm not sure if I have enough yardage as these are smallish scraps - somewhere in between fat quarter and fat eighth in size.

Speaking of log cabins, here's a fun idea on quilterscache.


Have a GREAT weekend, everyone!



Yes.... I've been busy quilting.  This is, after all, a quilting blog, and I've been making good progress on quilting Lemon Pie.  You can read about the making of this quilt here, here and here.

Lemon Pie Applique quilt
Please do not copy or link to this photo without my consent

I was able to get this sandwiched fairly quickly due the the small size of the quilt.  I love being able to do this on a table vs. floor -- I'm too old and my back hurts having to stoop over the floor!

I'm loosely following the freemotion quilting pattern recommended in the magazine but changed the background stitching in the 3 lower inner panels to better match the background fabrics.  I'm actually working on the border now, so it's going quickly.  As you can see in my photos, I still need to go back and bury my threads.

Lemon Pie Applique quilt
Please do not copy or link to this photo without my consent
I used embroidery floss to make the birds' eyes and a variegated thread by YLI for quilting.  I just finishing up the quilting in the outer borders and it feels good to see the finish line in sight!

A pic from my Saturday walk at Oyster Pt.  The red leaves made me think of Fall, although it this is some sort of evergreen tree!  One can tell that Fall is nearly here because we're finally getting some super hot weather here in the SF Bay Area!


This and That

First of all, Happy Friday!  I had really good intentions of blogging last Friday about my weekend plans, but it never happened.  The big plan was to do some reading.

Which in fact, I did...but then my daughter spied the pattern on the cover of Quilts & More (right under The Hunger Games).  I hadn't even so much as cracked open the magazine yet.

She just had to make it, so we got out some fabric and I assisted with the measuring and rotary cutting; she did all of the stitching.  We didn't have pre-printed pumpkin printed fabric for the center squares so she's designing some motifs and I'll probably stitch those by hand.  This is my (our) very first time making prairie points and they're super easy.

Some loot from a recent trip to Joann's.  2 half yard cuts of Denyse Schmidt's new fabric line and some embroidery floss.  [The little embroidery pictured in the photo was stitched by my daughter. ]

And these:

I've been meaning to find some self-threading needles for a long time.  They should really come in handy for quickly burying threads when quilting.  I also thought I'd try out titanium sewing machine needles.  I have one on the machine right now and I honestly say I can't tell the difference.  I would be interested in hearing from anyone else who uses these.  Are they better than standard needles?

Have a GREAT weekend, everyone!  I'm looking forward to finishing up the last in The Hunger Games trilogy and probably a little sewing.   I can't wait!


Getting Unstuck

After getting completely “stuck” on the Darting Birds block, and seriously questioning whether it was worth continuing on with the FWS project, I decided to skip over to the next block in the book; Ducks & Ducklings.   I’m happy to say that I am now officially “unstuck”.

The block would be more aptly named Cobwebs & Clover.  I used 2 different Alexander Henry prints, both Halloween themed - the B&W clover is from the Ghastlies line.

I then revisited Darting Birds, and once I settled on the bold wavy print, it came together.

Next up, Economy

Thank goodness for an EASY one!!!!  I've been waiting for a block with some large pieces so I could feature this cool print from my stash.  The way I oriented the fabric, it actually looks much better not "on-point". 

Lastly, #30 End of Day

I literally finished this one at the end of day, yesterday, which is why the photo is so grainy.  Again, I was able to use a wonderful Alexander Henry Print (the dark print) ... the black striped fabric in Economy is also an A. Henry print.

I used templates for this last batch of blocks.  I can say now after 30+ blocks, with the exception of some blocks that only need very simple math calculations, my blocks made with the templates have come out the best. My  paper piecing blocks yielded exacting results but loads of frustration (and swearing) and the finish size blocks were coming out a tad on the small side.  I like to piece with a scant 1/4" seam as it gives me wiggle room to trim down anything too wonky.

I'd like to share with you my work process.  I should probably take some pictures to flesh this out.  

I'm cutting out the templates and pasting them onto plastic template sheets.  I leave the paper template cut a little big and then trim it down once it's secured to the plastic.  I find I can use my rotary cutter and ruler to cut fabric with these.  Occasionally,  I do need to toss a template if I've cut on it too many times, but still, I'm finding myself working faster, and with good results.  Before cutting into my fabric, I measure my templates and cut a fabric strip horizontal to the selvage to fit the template.  This saves a lot of time.  I wasn't having good results with slapping my template down randomly on a fabric piece, and tracing around the template with a pen or pencil.

FWS- Progress Shot

Have a great week!