22 December 2011

Return to the bee blocks

November and December ended up being a kind of break for me from the online bees. And I have to admit, a rather welcome one... and I'm sure I'm not alone in that opinion! But, that break is over and I'm ready to get back to it! Thankfully the new bee I'm going to be doing with a great selection of women, with Jennifer at the helm again, got started a little early.

Jennifer directed us to this tutorial from Aneela Hoey, which she calls "Crazy Scrappy Block." She's planning to do this color box style, so we each got to choose a color for our blocks.

I chose to go with black - a great way to use up some of these B/W prints I've collected over the years (mostly several years ago, to be honest!) and a fun challenge.

Happy January (almost)!

21 December 2011

Post-holiday deadline post

It feels as though I have hardly been in the sewing room at all in the last month, since returning home from my Thanksgiving travels, but I know that is not the case. However, my projects have been on short term, short turn-around time tables. Those projects are all now done.

The last week or so was dedicated to some presents, which are on their way to the recipients (if not already arrived). I'll post photos after Christmas ;-) But NOW I get to concentrate on new things! Yahoo! (of course there will always be UFOs hanging around, ready to be completed, but the new stuff is always more fun to think about!)

I've been eyeing this Alexander Henry fabric for months now... I finally succumbed today.

In 2012 I'll be participating in 2 new bees, continuing with one, plus I'm planning on taking part in Round 2 of the For the Love of Solids sewing swap on Flickr, hosted by my do.Good Stitches Bliss hive mates Megan and Elizabeth. With all of these great new adventures on the horizon, I've begun thinking about my inspirations for these various groups, and seem to have fallen in love with the color palette within that fabric. I've also started noticing other people's projects with those deep, wintery, somewhat earthy jewel tones (how's THAT for a contradiction in terms??). A couple of my favorites, found on Flickr are this quilt by Shelley Brooks and this one by rainyday*knitter.

I'm not sure yet how I hope to use this fabric, but while at work today (at the stellar Cool Cottons, of course!) I've been playing around with possible combinations...

Matched with Shot Cottons

Matched with Kona Solids

I decided to start out with a combination of the two, plus a couple of prints thrown in for good measure:

Oh, the possibilities!

The blue placemats are mine no more!!

remember these?

Well, it took me the better part of a year, but I managed to finally finish these guys up and send them off to the recipients. I don't think I could have moved forward into the next year if I had this project hanging over me, and I KNOW that my friend Erica is glad that I finally finished them.

So here are some of the final photos that I took of the whole set before sending them off.

12 December 2011

Spiderweb blocks received!

So, in mid-November I finally received all of the spiderweb blocks for my Seams Perfect Scrap Bee quilt (originally posted about here)! I actually ended up with a few more blocks than I had expected, due to some remakes for size issues as well as Jenn, our awesome fearless leader, stepping in and making angel blocks for a couple of the members.

So, yesterday I played around and arranged them on my design wall:

and I have about 3 or 4 orphans which will end up pieced into the back... but for now, I'm happy to have the top ready to put together. Yay!

And in addition, I FINALLY have a "new" quilt finished! The quotation marks indicate that the quilt top itself has been hanging around for, oh, I don't know, 2 years or so... but I just quilted it last week before heading up to the holiday bazaar so that I had some binding to work on while hanging out there last Saturday.

backtracking... getting ready for Auburn

Coming home from my Thanksgiving travels I went directly into making last-chance preparations for my first (what I thought would be a) craft bazaar as a vendor. My friend Saskia, who makes handmade soaps and lip balms under the name Base Natural, has been doing craft fairs and farmers markets for a few years now, but recently moved up to the Pacific Northwest from the Bay Area, so the possibility of attending one together is a newfound treat! Thanks to her diligent searches, we found a holiday bazaar at a HS in Auburn, WA where she works, scheduled for December 3rd.

I took at least 3 different place mat sets with me to St. Louis and Ft. Lauderdale to finish off bindings over the nearly 2 weeks away. So, the last additions to my inventory made it in just under the wire.

I also made sure to print up cards and labels for everything, of course:

and had heard that it is very important to test your table set-up before actually getting there. Not entirely sure of the table size I would have to work with, I did the best I could at my studio.

Now, I really should have taken a good look at these photos (and more I have not included) to realise that my set up was maybe a mite too busy. But these are lessons we learn one way or another. Too bad I had to travel 150 miles for one day of work to figure it out.

So I packed all these goodies in a suitcase and a couple of large totes and loaded my car for the ride up to Tacoma. The bazaar was not quite what I had expected, but still worthwhile for a first time experience. And great to do it with a good friend at the next table. Too bad I was mucho forgetful that weekend - first I left my camera in my overnight bag at Saskia's house, so couldn't take pictures of the table. I did eventually get to take a couple of photos later in the day using her boyfriends' camera, and I'll try to upload those when I get them. My sales were a little less than impressive - only a set of coasters to a walk-by customer (though Saskia's mom did purchase one of the place mat sets, and Saskia bought a couple pairs of pot holders)... I think less going on on the table will be better in the future - pick and choose which types of inventory I'll be showing at any one time. I'll play around.

SO, a first try is always a good step, and one I'm glad I've taken. By the time spring rolls around and more markets are looking for vendors, hopefully I'll have ironed out some of the newby issues and be ready to present myself the best I know I can.

06 December 2011


This will be a quick post.

I hope everyone is having a good beginning to the holiday season craziness. I've been hopping around, visiting with family across the country, gearing up for my first craft bazaar (which was last weekend) as a vendor, and finishing up some old commitments. I have some fun and exciting photos to put up, as well as perhaps a couple of anecdotes relating to the last month that has gone unrecorded, but I won't be able to add those until next week when I get my primary computer back home (with all those lovely photos on it!)

I'm also in the process of building a website (or rather, my brother is in the process of building a website on my behalf!), so there might be blog address changes coming in the new year. On that I will most certainly keep y'all posted as the site develops.

Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things!

10 November 2011

First of many

Lately I have been so concentrated on trying to bust out these smaller items that it has actually been ages since I have completed a quilt. When I moved into the studio space, it gave me an opportunity to reorganize, and pull focus to some of my UFOs, including finished quilt tops that have been hanging around for years waiting to be quilted. Some of them are so simple, and ones that I hope to be able to show at craft fairs, or at least to be samples of patterns/formulas that I work with.

Yesterday I basted my first quilt in many months.

An alternate color way to another that I have up on my etsy page

Today, another will get basted. The backing and batting are already spread out on the floor just a-waitin' for me to return...

Pot holder and place mats

There is nothing like having a specific goal (read "deadline") to compel me to get s*** done.

I quilted and bound that pot holder for our PMQG / KCMQG swap...

(like those little martini glasses??)

And really, the theme of the week has been binding. I have 3 sets of place mats on which I have sewn bindings, one of which is the long-overdue commission, the other two are new additions to hopefully have a decent inventory when Saskia and I have our tables at a holiday bazaar next month. (more info to come soon...)

My thimble finger is about to get quite the workout!

02 November 2011

a little log cabin love

One of the very many talented fellow Portland Modern Quilt Guild members is Susan Beal, author of the inspiring new book, Modern Log Cabin Quilting. A couple of months ago she was getting ready to head to Kansas City, and would be attending the KCMQG meeting while there. Susan approached our guild about doing a log cabin pot holder swap with the other guild over the next couple of months, and from what I gather got an enthusiastic response.

For reasons I am really not sure of, my focus has been anywhere but on getting things done in the sewing studio for the last month. However, I am making a concerted effort to change that, and part of the effort is attacking specific commitments, including this pot holder. So, yesterday, once I finished my Seams Perfect blocks, it was log cabin time! I only did two blocks, one for this swap and one for my little shadow box outside my studio door (all of the studios have one!), but it was fun for me, and reminded me of what I enjoy in patchwork. I think I had gotten off track for a while, honestly.

So, now I have a fun block to be quilted with some Insul Bright and cotton batting before the November meeting of PMQG:

And a simple piece of patchwork to introduce the visitors of 1121 N. Loring St. Studios to Surrounded by Scraps:

completing October Bee blocks

A week (or two?!?) ago I started a little post about some Karen Griska blocks that one of my online bee-mates chose for her October blocks. I FINALLY got around to finishing the last 4 blocks yesterday.

I am not quite sure how this happened, but for some reason my first set seemed to come together with straighter seams than the second grouping I did. Harumph! On the first group I went from using the 1/2" seam to a 1/4" seam, while yesterday's group went from 1/4" to 1/2" - and for some reason my machine was not wanting to keep straight.
(the newer blocks are on top, the one's from the other week are on the bottom)

Hopefully, once mixed in with the dozens of other blocks Becky will be receiving, the flaws in mine won't be so noticeable. In the future, though, I prefer my strip piecing to be a little less regulated. Just sayin'.

22 October 2011

Limited Palette I-Spy

It's been several years since I have made an I-Spy quilt. The fact that my stash of novelty fabrics doesn't seem to have diminished at all recently confirms this. Over the years I've enjoyed putting these guys together, keeping the parents of the recipients in mind as best I can. Here's a little evolution of some of the I-Spys I've done:
(original design by Ami Simms, in her book Picture Play Quilts)

(please excuse the picture quality.... these were done long before I took much care in documenting)

and then a couple of years after that one:

and most recently (for a little tike who is about to turn 2 in just a couple of weeks!):
(another design from the Ami Simms Picture Play Quilts book)

Now, I'm about to start a new quilt, and I've decided I really want to do another log-cabin style I-Spy, but instead of using the whole spectrum of brights out there, I am leaning toward a limited (and rather subdued) palette for this family. I started pulling some focus patches the other day and decided to just get started on a few of the blocks to see if I like where it's going. This is all I have so far, but I think it will work...

I'll be posting more as it develops. Happy Saturday!

21 October 2011

Nubees blocks from Sept.

For a few weeks now I have had all 6 of my blocks from the September round of Nubees block swap, but realized that I hadn't taken a photo of all of them to post.

I have some ideas on how I want to set the blocks (maybe adding 1-3 more), but not sure what colors I am going to choose for the background of the quilt. I keep leaning toward grey, but am afraid that that's almost overdone at this point. Maybe the soft blue? I'm open to suggestions...

Step by step...

I got to spend my Thursday working in the sewing studio, but again feel like I was less productive than I'd have hoped. However, I did manage to finish 4 out of 8 of my 6.5" blocks for October's Seams Perfect Bee.
which when things get pieced together, will look more like this:

Becky pointed us toward a quilt from Karen Griska, highlighted on her blog, Selvage Blog. Without a doubt it is an extremely effective and eye-catching quilt, but I have to admit I did not have fun trimming all of the strips down to 1.25" and fussying the seam allowances (though, I wasn't really TOO fussy, honestly). However, I am sure that some folks didn't love the technique that I chose for my month, so I was happy to do this for Becky!!

I managed to get the strips cut for the next 4 blocks (hopefully enough of them), but have put off the piecing until another day. Unfortunately that's not all that I put off as of yesterday. I had been planning to go to the guild meeting for the Portland Modern Quilt Guild (PMQG), but by 5:30 I was going through my new box of tissue at a rapid rate, and my energy plummeted, so the idea of hanging around an hour just to go downtown for a 2 hour meeting didn't jibe with me. Which is really too bad since I missed last month's meeting, and I'll be out of town next month. This also means I won't be participating in the holiday swap, but that's how life is sometimes, no?

20 October 2011

November BLISS block

At some point over the summer Michelle - a.k.a I Like Orange, Too, the host for the Bliss circle of do.Good Stitches, put out an entreaty for someone in our circle to step in as quilter for the month of November. For those of you not familiar with how this Flickr group operates, each of the circles in this charity bee has a combination of "quilters" and "stitchers." The quilters are each responsible for choosing the design for the group's quilt 2-3 months during the year, communicating during that month with the rest of their circle, and piecing together the blocks he/she receives, then quilting and binding the piece before sending it to that circle's designated charity. Stitchers, on the other hand, are simply responsible for putting together (generally) 2 blocks each month and sending them off to that month's quilter. I joined the group as a stitcher, knowing my dislike for actually quilting things! However, after several weeks passed and no one else had expressed an ability to step in for November, I decided to challenge myself and commit a little bit more to this group. And that is how I have come to be next month's quilter for the Bliss circle.

I've decided to go with a relatively easy block to piece, leaving size and details flexible, but with specific colors and general style.

I'm looking for the equivalent of two 12" blocks (in the photo above I have one 12" block, one 8" block and two 4" blocks... or, say, four 6" blocks = one 12" block, but no need to be too precise). Please use a solid in any shade of orange, blue or aqua as the background, and prints in the opposite color PLUS black and white prints for the pieced strip going through your block.

Here's a quick little tute on how I did these guys:

I started by selecting a group of background color options, and scraps in blues, oranges and B/W.

Cut your backgrounds into squares or rectangles that are approximately the desired size of your finished block

Selecting from your scraps, start piecing a strip using a single color story mixed with your B/W. Your strip can be anywhere from 1" to about 3" wide, depending on the finished size of the block. Don't worry about being exact as you'll be trimming the edges once you have the strip to the appropriate length.

(I find it easiest to chain piece, so I was working on all 4 strips at the same time, but you can see that each one stays with being EITHER orange OR blue.)
Continue piecing your scrappy strip until it reaches about 1/2" to 1" longer than your background piece. If you are going to piece it in at an angle, make sure you allow for the extra length for that.
As I was approaching the lengths of my background pieces, I simply held the strips up against them to "measure." Oh, and I don't think I have yet mentioned - please pair the pieced strip with a background of its complimentary color (blue with orange and vice-versa). When you have that complete, press your seams in one direction. Trim up the edges of the strip so they are even.

Next, make a slice through your background, where you plan to add the strip.

Piece them together, press seam allowances toward the background and trim.

And if the finished product ends up a little bit off from the dimensions you were aiming for, no worries. I'm figuring that I'll be putting some filler in to make up for gaps in irregular sizes - I only ask that you trim to square or rectangular, with 90-degree corners, not wonky.

I hope everyone has fun with these guys! If you have any questions at all, or need clarification, just let me know. And thanks to the ladies of the Bliss circle for bearing with me on my first venture as a quilter (in this context!). I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!