Category Archives: Crafts

Discover

DiscoverImage courtesy of Faber-Castell Design

A few years ago I noticed some of my favorite quilting blogs were choosing a word for the year. I like that idea. It is not a resolution, but an intent. A focus. A promise.

My word for 2016 is “discover.”

We are never really complete or finished. There is so much “new” out there. Life flies by and I don’t want any regrets. I want to explore and discover new things – new places, new talents, new crafts. The list is endless.

I invite you on the journey!

Hello Darling – A Frivols Quilt

Frivols1.HelloDarling.Front0001What are Frivols? They’re a series of collectible tins from Moda. Each tin measures 4.5” x 7.5” and includes 42 7” squares, a new Moda quilt pattern, a new block pattern and a Frivol surprise.

Hello-Darling-TinThis is Frivol #1 and features the Hello Darling collection by Bonnie and Camille. I love their fabrics, and this is a cute pattern. I enlarged it somewhat by using the left over fabric in the tin to make a scrappy border and then bordering the entire thing in white. It ended up being a nice lap size!

Frivols1.HelloDarling.DrapedOutside0001I pieced a very simple back with a solid turquoise and white (Bella solids) and quilted it with a meandering, tight stipple design.

Frivols1.HelloDarling.Back0001

Frivol1.HelloDarling.BackReveal0001The binding is from Bonnie and Camille’s Daysail collection – who doesn’t love a striped binding?

Frivol1.HelloDarling.Binding0001I decided to put the label on the front of this one because it was so pretty – I used some of the special “Handmade” ribbon that came with the Frivol.

Frivol1.HelloDarling.Folded0001This quilt was gifted to my sister, Donna, for Christmas…and so I added three free-hand quilted hearts right next to the label in the border. Can you see them?

Frivol1.HelloDarling.QuiltedHeartDetail0001Everyone needs a cheerful lap quilt to wrap up in for those cold winter days and nights!

Frivol1.HelloDarling.DrapedInside0001And my sister loves this one! Love to you, Donna!!! xo

Improv Therapy

Improv.HeartBeat.Front00012015 is gradually coming to a close. It has, perhaps, been the most difficult year of my life. Earlier this year I lost my sister, Paula, and her death rocked my world. Everything changed. The world looked completely different to me.

Grief has many faces – anger, profound sadness, loneliness, confusion. It is complicated. It does not have a linear path. Through this difficult journey I have been turning toward my creative side, playing with color and fabric. Relaxing in the “zen” which is quilting.

I have often longed to make an improvisational quilt, but I think I was always a little scared to start. There are no rules, no patterns, no right or wrong choices. There is imperfection and indecision. It felt like stepping off a cliff.

And then I discovered Sherri Lynn Wood’s fabulous book: The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, A Guide to Creating, Quilting & Living Courageously. Exactly what I needed – a little push towards courage! You will not find patterns in Wood’s book – instead you will find “scores” – a framework for flexible patterning that supports “improvisatory exploration.” Because I can’t quite get rid of the organizational self which sits on my shoulder, I decided to start with Score #1 in the book: Floating Squares. Wood suggests setting limitations such as amount of fabrics and sizes of squares. She also encourages the sewist to put aside rulers and cut freehand. Scary indeed!

The palette was an easy one for me to choose – I love orange and I thought that might best express my story. I also was thinking of Paula and knew I would include pink (her favorite quilting color). I have quite a collection of peppered cottons and other textural solids that I thought would be perfect. I decided on a “background” of low volumes as well. Here was the initial fabric I pulled:

Improv.MyHeart.Selectingfabric0001You notice that green and purple at the top? Initially I thought I would use it, but as my piece came together, I pushed it aside. I also decided to throw in a little yellow – the light that has to be inside oneself when traveling a difficult road. The low volumes included a text which was like a story, and also one that had sewing words on it. I decided that the orange pieces would be larger than the pink because they represented ME, and I wanted this to be an exploration of myself. Things got messy very quickly…

Improv.MyHeart.scrappymess0001And then it started to take shape…

Improv.MyHeart.StartingOut0001As I worked, I decided I wanted to add some red and charcoal to the piece. I didn’t consciously know why, I just decided to follow my gut…

Improv.MyHeart.heartevolution0001I was surprised when I realized I was making an improv heart! I had no intention to do this, but I think I unconsciously knew that the center of my quilt should be my heart.

As this quilt came together, I began to see and feel some of the themes that were being created. The quilt was bright and bold, colors that represent the external me that everyone sees, and then I decided to bring in some quiet colors, and some low volumes that represented trees and nature…that felt like the internal part of myself that needs alone time to contemplate. It felt right to have those lighter fabrics wrapping around the more bold colors.

Improv.HeartBeat.Label0001The pink is everywhere in this quilt – small pops of it that connect the yellows and oranges, and even some in the center of the heart. Paula is a big part of who I am today, and she will always walk beside me.

I decided to quilt this one with one giant spiral circle which is best seen on the back as I used a wonderful silver gray Minky (we all need comfort and softness sometimes).

Improv.HeartBeat.BackReveal0001Life is circular (at least it is to me). As I began the quilting, I discovered my circle was less than perfect, it wove around a bit, it got wonky in places. All okay because isn’t that the nature of life?

Improv.HeartBeat.BackQuiltDetail0001I’ve named this one “Heart Beat…”

Improv.HeartBeat.Label.CloseUp0001Because I am listening to my heart these days, flying by the seat of my pants, letting go of the “small” things and finding new meaning in a life that is changed.

Improv.HeartBeat.HeartDetail020001

***********************************

Self-Evaluation

Sherri Lynn Wood encourages readers to evaluate their process when working on improvisational pieces. She asks some basic questions to think about…and here are my responses:

What Surprised Me?

I did not start out to make this a “story,” but unconsciously, I did just that. Many of my choices throughout were impulsive or instinctual…and it wasn’t until later that I began to see how they all worked together. This is perhaps the most personal quilt I have ever made.

What Did I Discover or Learn?

Don’t be afraid. And perfection is not all it is cracked up to be. Let go of fear and perfection and allow yourself to be led by the process.

What Was Satisfying about the Process or Outcome?

There was a lot of freedom and joy in creating this piece. I loved the surprises that evolved as the piece came together. I found that I really enjoyed cutting without a ruler! I loved using a variety of solids, some quite textural, as it gave the piece a different feel. This turned out to be a really warm, drapey quilt that I can’t wait to wrap up in.

What was Dissatisfying?

I chose to make “sections” of the quilt and then connected them together – but I didn’t like how there were two long lines of low volume across the quilt – it felt too obvious and not enough improv. I wanted it to be unclear where things were joined, but I ended up being too methodical and the quilt captured that…

What Can I do Next Time to be more Satisfied?

I think if I worked with different size sections, or if I pieced sections as I went (instead of waiting until the end to join them) that the connections would be less abrupt.

Where Do I want To Go From Here?

I want to keep doing some improvisational work and see where it takes me.

Bee Blocks

I thought it was about time I updated you on my progress in the Bee Groups. I am a member of two bees: Thread Divas (a group of friends from Threadbias) and the charity bee Do Good Stitches – Cheer Circle.

So let’s start with the Thread Divas…

February:
Carol requested a Susannah block (tutorial is here) using teal and olive green with Kona white. I was happy to find some fabric in my scrap bin which seemed to fit the bill!

ThreadDivas2015.February0001March:
Margaret chose a paper pieced block (tutorial is here) and wanted bright colors. The name of this one is Miss Molly’s Garden Block.

ThreadDivas2015.March0001April:
Karen wanted wonky stars using crayon box colors! This one was so fun to do (tutorial is here).

ThreadDivas2015.April0001May:
Audrey chose the Weather Vane block which  used tone on tone black/gray and Kona white…along with some bright colorways to make it pop. I had so much fun making this one that I made two.

ThreadDivas2015.May.Orange0001

ThreadDivas2015.May.Fushia0001June:
June was my month…and I selected some fun flying geese blocks – I’m showing you the ones I made (with a possible layout) – but I got some AWESOME blocks. Can’t wait to get this top pieced.

ThreadDivas2015.June30001July:
Belinda requested a wonky house – she provided us with some links for patterns and I chose this one for my house.

ThreadDivas2015.Belinda0001August:
Marsha requested geese flying northeast with graduated tones of gray and a main color. I decided on Orange as my scraps and stash have a lot of choices in that color.

Divas2015.August0001DoGoodStitchesblogbuttonThe Do Good Stitches group is a charity bee – our blocks are made into quilts which are then donated to children in need.  Each month I make 2 blocks and donate them to the group to make a quilt.

January:
Brandy was our quilter for January and she requested three blocks of “rugby stripes” using this tutorial. She wanted bright fabrics…and I thought Kaffe Fassett fit the bill. I used some strips from one of my hand made Jelly Rolls to create my blocks which measure 7.5 X 14.5.

DoGoodStitches.Jan20150001February:
Mary asked for Stashbuster blocks. They used very tiny squares…but they were pretty fun to make!

DoGoodStitches2015.FebruaryMarch:
In March I was in New Hampshire taking care of my sister…and my bee group offered to make my blocks for me. Thank you!!!

April:
Amber asked for some modern style log cabin blocks – one using cool colors, the other using warm colors.

DoGoodStitches2015.April0001May:
Sarah is planning to make a postage stamp quilt and asked for low volume and jewel prints (these blocks use 2.5″ squares and finish at 12.5″ square.

DoGoodStitches.May20150001June:
We had this month off 🙂

July:
Brandy requested low volume geese in a circle using a white background. She wanted us to piece the four quadrants for one block and leave the quadrants for the second block unpieced.

DoGoodStitches.July20150001DoGoodStitches.July2015.020001Both of these groups continue through to the end of the year…so I’ll update you again then!

The Sweet Life in PB&J

 

*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger viewSweetLifeinPBJ.Front010001

I finished the top for this quilt nearly 2 years ago when I was sewing along from the Simply Retro book by Camille Roskelley (awesome book by the way). And then it sat waiting for me to quilt it. At 92″ x 92″ it is a good size bed quilt and perhaps this is why it took so long for me to gear up for the quilting part.

SweetLifeinPBJ.DrapedOnSwing0001I used a fat quarter bundle of PB&J by Basic Grey for Moda which I won in a giveaway at the Fat Quarter Shop. The blocks came together really fast because they are large (18″ X 18″). I especially like the little pieced cornerstones in this quilt as it gives it a little bit of an old fashioned feel even though the fabrics are modern.

SweetLifeinPBJ.FrontCloseup010001I used a continuous stipple-like pattern of quilting which I kept fairly tight. I found the perfect gray-green color of Aurifil which picked up the sashing tones really well and blended nicely on the back.

SweetLifeinPBJ.QuiltingDetail0001Speaking of the back, because the blocks in this quilt were so large, my leftover scraps from the flip and stitch portions of each block were big enough to piece a bunch of pinwheels for the top of the back (I like to do something special on the top backs of my bed quilts so when the quilt is folded down you see a design). I used a bit of Bella Bleached white and some Bella Teal for the rest of the back to keep it simple and let the pinwheels take center stage.

SweetLifeinPBJ.BackDetail0001

SweetLifeinPBJ.Back010001

SweetLifeinPBJ.OverRailBackReveal0001I used a pre-printed label from Sweetwater – again, keeping it simple.

SweetLifeinPBJ.Label0001And added a little scrappiness to the binding.

SweetLifeinPBJ.Binding0001I am so happy to have this one done. I can’t wait to get it on my bed.

SweetLifeinPBJ.BackReveal.010001SweetLifeinPBJ.DrapedOnSwing020001SweetLifeinPBJ.Folded0001

Little Quilts Round-Up: May and June

LittleQuilts.LTWe are hosting a sew along over on Threadbias in 2015! Members of the group will be sewing from the Little Quilts book by Sarah Fielke and Amy Lobsinger. Feel free to join us any time – if you are not a member of Threadbias yet, go ahead and sign up (it’s free!) and then find the Little Quilts group and click the “join” button. That’s it! Hope to see you there!

To get more detail on each project in this post, click on either the image or the link to go to the maker’s project page.

May’s little quilt was Fans Of May – an adorable mini quilt with a simple pieced center surrounded by dimensional fans.

FansOfMay.KarenKaren used plenty of red in her mini, a color that makes her happy!

FansOfMay.ValerieValerie chose bold, fun colors to make her little quilt sparkle.

FansOfMay.WendyI decided to go with a girly, vintage feel and used a bit of lace around my fans.

June’s little quilt was Candy is Dandy – a mini which celebrates the wrapped, hard candies of childhood.

CandyIsDandy.CathieCathie’s mini keeps it simple with clean lines and solids.CandyIsDandy.MargaretMargaret made her quilt modern with fabrics from the popular Cotton and Steel collection…and added great quilting to enhance the texture

CandyIsDandy.WendyI decided to use some cross weave solids to my quilt to give it a little depth.

July’s mini quilt is Pretty Little Half Hex – it is a challenging little quilt but I am looking forward to seeing how others will interpret this pattern.

An Improv Mini Quilt for a Friend

*Click on any image in this post to enjoy a larger view

ImprovMini.Conni20001Recently I attended a small quilt retreat. We were tasked with making a mini quilt for one of the people attending…and my person also happened to be a good friend -Conni!

We affectionately call Conni the “canary” because she breaks into song with the least little prompt (she makes up her own tunes and words and gets us all laughing)…so it was obvious I needed to include a bird or two in her mini. I found this amazing tutorial over at Pie Lady Quilts for improv birds…so much fun to just slice and stitch (I used my scissors and no ruler for much of the construction). The center bird had to be yellow to represent a canary…and I made a tiny label and hand embroidered the word “canary” on it – attached it to the mini with an orange button. I also created some labels with notes so it would appear that the bird was singing (I used buttons and hand embroidered to give some texture to these labels).

ImprovMini.Conni10001
I included some improv flying geese (which ended up looking like a tree to me!) and fabric that had special meaning – some text of wines (Conni and I love to share a glass from time to time!), a print that says “You and me” and some text with definitions for sewing. I used really bright colors because Conni loves brights…and crafted two more (smaller) birds for each corner.

ImprovMini.ConniLabel0001
I made a special label for the back (you can find pre-printed personalized labels at Sweetwater).

This entire quilt was pieced with improvisational techniques. I planned it as I went, adding pieces as the mood struck.

I was so happy that Conni loved this!

Mt.Shasta.ConniNameQuiltbyMe020001I think there may be more of those improv birds in my future!

A Zippered Pouch for my Handwork

*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger view

ZipperedPouch.MSQC.010001Sometimes you just feel inspired by what another quilty friend does…and that was the case for this project. After looking at Mary’s awesome zippered pouches, I clicked over to the Missouri Quilt Company’s wonderful tutorial.

You can make these pouches any size and they stitch up quickly. I made mine 7″ X 9.5″ – big enough to store my handwork projects when I go on the road!

ZipperedPouch.MSQC.020001I used some Moon Bunnies (Mochi, Fall 2014, Rashida Coleman) and some Basics fabric from the Cotton and Steel collection. Their collections are so fun and I am excited to buy some of their Spring 2015 fabrics…check out the video below:

https://vimeo.com/127677533

So back to my pouch!

ZipperedPouch.MSQC.030001I used navy and white fabric from Carolyn Friedlander’s Doe collection to line the bag. I thought the bag needed that pop of pink from the zipper! I also decided to box the bottom to give it a little stability.

ZipperedPouch.MSQC.040001So much fun!

A Mini Adventure

*Click on any image in this post to enjoy a larger view

I am a co-host for a mini quilt sew-a-long in 2015 over on Threadbias. We are making quilts from the Little Quilts book by Sarah Fielke and Amy Lobsiger (you might have noticed that I am posting round ups for each month…and they are really fun to see how other quilters are interpreting these projects).

I’ve made the mini for each month now and thought I would share my interpretations of each quilt.

January’s project was Drawn Together – a lovely paper pieced mini that really called to me.

DrawnTogether.WendyMy favorite part of this project was the fabric selection. I have been challenging myself to use my stash first (rather than buy new fabric), and to also go to fabric in my stash that has been there for some time. The print for the large points (as well as the back) is Hullabaloo by Urban Chiks for Moda. I honestly do not remember when I bought this, but it was a long time ago and when I rediscovered it I decided it had to be my inspiration print for this little quilt. Other fabrics used are: Spot on by Robert Kaufman (gray dots), a basic print in coral from the 2014 collection of Cotton and Steel, a green dot from the Happy Go Lucky collection by Bonnie and Camille, and the charcoal Stof Quilters Basic (text print) in the center of the star. Additionally, I used Bella Bleached white for the background. The text print on the borders is a dark gray and white…unfortunately the selvedge was cut off and I don’t remember the name or designer of the fabric. I used more of the Stof dark gray for the binding.

drawntogether.backrevealI decided not to hand quilt this mini, but used an elongated stitch and echoed the star with some machine quilting.

drawntogether.onwallThis quilt has found a happy place on my wall above my quilt rack and next to my grandmother’s china cabinet filled with quilts.

February’s project was My Heart. I actually made this quilt in December and gave it to my sister, Paula. She loved it and it cheered her up and let her know I was thinking of her. Paula lost her battle with colon cancer in March and I decided to keep this little quilt for myself – something that will always remind me of Paula and our shared love.

MyHeart.WendyI stayed true to the scrappy version in the book, but decided to substitute a gray for the brown fabric. I picked out fabrics I knew Paula would love (see that little bird in the bottom row? Paula LOVED birds!), including some fun text prints.

MyHeart.Mini.FrontDetail0001 The back is a print from Lotta Jonsdotter’s collection Bella. And I added a sweet label from Sweetwater to remind Paula of the Christmas it arrived.

MyHeart.Mini.BackReveal0001This was a fun quilt to make…there is some needle turn reverse applique to sew up the tiny hearts…but it goes fast! I decided to machine quilt this piece rather than hand quilt as I was running short on time!

March’s quilt was Paper Dolls.

PaperDolls.WendyThe tiny scraps of fabric which make up the back mosaic came from my scrap bins. I had some fun stylizing the little girls’ dresses. This was the first time I used wool felt and also the first time I did a curved binding. I decided this one needed to find a home with my sister, Donna! She has it hanging in her craft room.

In April, the project selected was Polka Dot Baskets. I really love this little quilt and decided it needed a spring version.

PolkaDotBaskets.front10001I chose different colors of polka dots for each basket and coordinated low volume backgrounds. Although I did use black for the handles, I decided that black thread for quilting would be too harsh…so instead I used a gray thread and machine quilted around some of the blocks; I also used white thread for some of the other quilting.

PolkaDotBaskets.close up0001The little label patch was one I bought from Sweetwater…they have the cutest labels and I decided that it should be on the front since this is most likely going to be hung on the wall.

PolkaDotBaskets.label0001I went with a scrappy binding to emphasis the different polka dot prints used…and chose a yellow dot from the Sweetwater Hometown collection for the back.

PolkaDotBaskets.backreveal0001Finally, May’s project! Fans of May is a darling mini quilt. I wanted a vintage look for my version.

FansofMay.SunShot0001I chose sweet prints in blue, pink and yellow…and used a lot of polka dots. Instead of rick rack, I chose an antique lace for the edges of my fans (you can see that well in the photo above because of the sun shadow).

FansofMay.Close UP0001I used a yellow dot for the outer border to make this piece a little sunnier than the one in the book. I quilted some diagonal straight lines through the middle section, and then echoed the shape of the fans along the outer border. I chose a solid blue binding and a blue dot fabric for the back.

FansofMay.BackReveal0001Despite the itty bitty scraps of fabric and careful piecing, I rather enjoyed making this little quilt. I could imagine this mini on top of a little girl’s dresser!

Some might ask – what do you do with a mini quilt? Well, you can hang them on the wall, use them as a dresser or table topper, gift them to a friend or celebrate a special occasion. Either way, you will have fun making them!

Stay tuned for more mini quilts in my future.

Little Quilts SAL Round-Up: February, March and April

LittleQuilts.LTWe are hosting a sew along over on Threadbias in 2015! Members of the group will be sewing from the Little Quilts book by Sarah Fielke and Amy Lobsinger. Feel free to join us any time – if you are not a member of Threadbias yet, go ahead and sign up (it’s free!) and then find the Little Quilts group and click the “join” button. That’s it! Hope to see you there!

To get more detail on each project in this post, click on either the image or the link to go to the maker’s project page.

Because I was in New Hampshire for nearly 10 weeks, I did not have a chance to do the round-ups beginning in February…so this post will cover three months of round ups!

February’s choice for the sew-along was My Heart – an adorable mini quilt that pairs sweet hearts with windmills. The quilt uses reverse applique. It is the perfect project for those cute little novelty prints which can be fussy cut for the center of the hearts.

MyHeart.AudreyAudrey chose a bold color palette and customized her piece with buttons.

MyHeart.MargaretMargaret used a softer color scheme for a soothing look.

MyHeart.MaryMary paired lavender and turquoise for a stunning version.

MyHeart.Kady

Katie’s mini has a decidedly country feel.

MyHeart.LuvStitchingLuv Stitching used traditional prints in blue and red to make her mini pop.

MyHeart.MimuMimuscraft decided to mix things up and created her own, more simplified version of this mini.

MyHeart.WendyI decided to keep things lively with bright colors and some modern text fabrics.

MyHeart.CathieCathie used subtle colors to create a serene project.

March’s project was Paper Dolls – an adorable mini that uses  a little woolen fabric, hand applique and the opportunity to customize the dollies.

PaperDolls.MargaretMargaret’s dollies look adorable in their calico-style dresses.

PaperDolls.CathieCathie customized her dolls’ dresses with lace and hand embroidered their eyes.

PaperDolls.MimuMimuscraft’s version is a great example of how easy it is to customize this project – she added faces, special hair, different outfits, and created a boy and girl!

PaperDolls.WendyI had some fun adding a bit of ribbon to one of the dresses.

PaperDolls.GardencrafterGardencrafter used small scale prints to create traditional dresses for her dolls.

April’s project was Polka-Dot-Baskets – a fun way to use up favorite prints, it uses raw-edge applique to create a more improvisational look.

PolkaDotBaskets.MargaretMargaret was the only brave soul to finish this project by the end of April. She chose gorgeous Liberty fabrics and some linen to create a lovely mini that reminds us Spring is here!

I hope you’ll come back in a month to see the beautiful finishes for May – we have chose Fans of May (appropriate, yes?) and this is a gorgeous project that is sure to inspire!