Saturday, February 27, 2010

The accidental quilter

I went on a little outing midday to get something to wear to an event this evening and made an extra stop to pick up some Amy Butler Sun Spots in olive for a binding.

While there, I saw and picked up some Wild Thyme in green and blue, just because I really like the print and wanted some for my stash.

Then, after I had just this morning decided to wait until next month to purchase any Nicey Jane (which I adore), I saw this and just had to have it.

A funny little fountain of Nicey Janes in blues and greens.  They didn't have any of the ones with pink and red in them, and these fabrics originally seemed a bit lost to me without them, but I thought this would make a nice start.  The FQ roll didn't come with all of the FQs of Nicey Jane that they had on hand so, of course, I had to buy a couple more.

There are actually two non-Nicey Jane fabrics in the roll.

I really like this green leaf fabric a lot and had been looking at it earlier in a pink colorway.

This small scale heart-shaped leaves on vines fabric is not something I think I ordinarily would have chosen, but it is starting to grow on me.

When I got to the cutting table, the clerk and I both noticed how beautiful all the soft blue and green fabrics went together, and she excitedly asked about what special project I was working on.  She was visibly disappointed to learn that they were just random purchases, not chosen to go together.  Then she brightened and said that I had probably just chosen my favorite colors, so naturally they looked great together!  I admitted that while I liked these colors, I couldn't really claim that they were my favorites.  After that she gave up trying to make conversation with her weird and confusing customer.  It's interesting to be such a disappointment to someone you don't even know.  Damn, I'm good!

As I scroll back up over the pictures I've just posted, these colors just seem to get prettier and prettier.  They  have a very calming effect on me.  I just might have to see what else I have in my stash and do something in these colors after all.

The funny thing is, I am about to start a quilt in blues and greens -- just different blues and greens.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I should get my blue and green stacks together and see what happens.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Coming soon -- My adventures in a hands-on Julia Child cooking class.  Failure or success, I promise to tell all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bee Inspired

No.  Not you.  Me.  I want to be inspired.  By you.

After 6 months of blogging and Flickr-ing and watching all the fun of online block parties/quilting bees, I decided to take the plunge and join a bee myself.  Oops!  I ended up joining two.  It has been fun, I've learned a lot, and so far it has stretched me in terms of colors/fabrics/designs, but I'm all over the map about what I want to do when my months come (June and August). And that's where I need your help.  Suggestions -- please.

In my short bee participation this year, I've come to realize at least two things: (1) keep the instructions clear and the block simple so you get what you want and don't frustrate your bee partners and (2) allow some room for creativity on the part of your bee partners.

These January blocks were a great start for me. The blocks were fun and a breeze to make.  Wanda showed pictures of the type of block she was looking for, and only asked that the center fabric feature people.  Any and all colors were permissible.  The biggest challenge for a few of us was that we didn't have any fabrics with people in our stash -- but who complains about a trip to the fabric store?  Not this quilter.  And I loved the freedom of choosing from my stash to match the center fabric.  The colors used by the group varied quite a bit, so it will be very interesting to see how this looks with all the blocks together.  Perhaps because we each did two blocks, the colors will be distributed well for a nice scrappy look.

This is my January block for my other bee.  We were sent the fabrics, but told we could make any block of our choosing.  We could also add fabrics if desired, as long as they matched the colors.  She was going for coffee and cream, but wanted the teal fabric near the center of the block.  You may remember I had some difficulties with first making a block the wrong size, thus wasting fabric, and having to start all over. So my only frustrations were of my own making.  Not my usual colors, but it was fun to step outside the box, and I was so inspired by the beautiful work done by the other bee members.

This is my favorite bee block so far.  Easy, clear instructions.  We could choose any fabrics at all as long as we used the white and Kona Coal fabrics (which were provided).  Oh, Kona Coal!  If I were at all poetic, I would write an ode to you!  I have been busily cutting and saving small strings to make my own string x quilt ever since completing this block! In the meantime, you should probably keep an eye on Sherri's blog, Noah & Lilah, so you can see how it all comes together.

And then there is my nemesis.  The New York Beauty.

Block 4

Have I allowed it to master me?  Well -- yes -- so far.  I made my block and I'm too ashamed to show it.  The curves are not perfectly -- curved.  And it came out to 8-1/4" instead of 8-1/2".  You have no idea how hard I can be on myself. Yes, I could probably fix the size problem by removing the piece at the bottom right of the above picture and resewing a slightly larger piece, but it's still wonky.  And not in a good way.

So, talk to me.  What have you loved about and learned from participating in bees?   I would love to hear about your experiences and would especially love to hear recommendations of blocks that are not overly difficult, but allow for some creativity for the participants.  If I receive a suggestion that I end up choosing and using, I will send you something special.  So, you tell me all about your bee experiences and suggestions and I'll make one more attempt at the New York Beauty block.  Hopefully I'm not beaten yet.  After all, it's almost time for the March blocks!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

P.S.  I'm already aware of these Flickr groups regarding bees and blocks: Block Party Quilt Along and Quilting Bee Blocks, but please let me know if there are any others.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In - February

Recipe & ingredients:

Last night:


How is your weekend going?

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Friday, February 19, 2010


Friday Night Sew-In
Have you heard about Friday Night Sew-in?  Well, I decided to give it a try tonight.  Of course, then I remembered that I was going out for a drink with colleagues after work.  So, now it's almost 8:00 and I haven't even gotten started yet. And it will be later still by the time I finish this post, but I'm still going to do it.  I read about the Sew-In on the blog, Busy, Happy Hands and you can join up and link up at Handmade by Heidi.  I'll probably be working on cutting my way through Kona Cotton heaven....

The pile on the left has been cut; the pile on the right needs to be cut.  I deliberately bought very generous amounts of each fabric so that I would have left over Kona Cotton scraps for other projects.  Come back tomorrow to see if I made it through all 20 Konas.

Happy Blogiversay, Heather!
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Heather's blog, a la mode fabric.  She doesn't look a day over 11 months!  Please stop by, say "hi" and "Happy Blogiversary" and enter her fabulous giveaway.  You could win some wonderful Heather Ross Munki Munki or Mendocino, or oh, so much more! 

More Mod Valentine Love
Thank you for all the kind comments on the Mod Valentine quilt top.  And look who also approves?  I have managed to keep Samantha out of my blog posts lately, but when looking at any of my photos, know that Sammy either walked in front of the camera just before the photo was taken or did so immediately after!  She is a pill!  Within moments of taking a photo of the quilt top on this chair, guess who decided it was time for a nap in the sun?

You have to admit, she looks great on Sis Boom fabrics!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mod Valentine

What could be better than a weekend at the beach with my husband AND a finished quilt top?!?!  And how appropriate that I finished this quilt top with hearts on Valentine's Day.

Do your quilts talk to you?  Well mine certainly do, and this one was quite sassy and opinionated.  After cutting out and preparing 31 hearts in the fabrics used for the nine patch blocks, it simple demanded that I set most of them aside and dig into some other Sis Boom fabrics. And do more fussy cutting.  When a quilt speaks, I listen. (Well, usually.  I can be pretty sassy and opinionated myself).

And the more Sis Boom fabrics I cut into, the more I realized that I just had to do the border I've been waiting months to do.  I was inspired by Kathy Doughty's border on "Erica's Honesty" in Material Obsession 2 and could not believe my luck when I found a bolt of the lovely Patsy fabric in turquoise and purple on sale at Bolt last fall.  I bought FIVE yards!  So, yes -- I had more than enough to do this.  The warm pinks and oranges were threatening to overtake the greens and blues and the quilt just seemed to need the cooler colors of this border.

I wasn't sure what I thought about matching the repeating print, but it wasn't as difficult as I thought, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.

And now to decide on how to quilt it.  Speak to me quilt -- I'm listening.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eye Candy

I am supposed to be packing to go to the beach (shhhh), but I just can't leave town without sharing a little eye candy and other quilting bliss.

This is my block for Sherri (Noah & Lilah) in the Nittany Block Party.  I LOVE it!  If you go to the Nittany Block Party Flickr group you can read about Sherri's sources of inspiration and how she modified the design (pure genius!).  There are also links to a tutorial if you want to give it a try yourself.  The only reason I am willing to let this block go is because right after I finished it last night I took strips from my string baskets and made short strings so that I can make a whole quilt like this for myself!

On Tuesday I drove to the small town of Sweet Home to spend the day with a friend and I stopped in Salem on the way home and bought these fabrics at Greenbaum's Quilted Forest.  Almost all of them were on sale, so I couldn't resist a little stash enhancement.

And today was an informal get-together of several of us in the Portland Modern Quilt Guild.  We haven't even had our first meeting yet, but the 35% off sale at Fabric Depot seemed like as good a reason as any.  I so enjoyed meeting Haritha, Lisa, Violet, Christina, and Paula, and it is pure bliss to get to talk about fabrics, design, and various quilty pleasures with others sharing a passion for creating with fabric.  While lunch and chatting for two hours was the highlight, the shopping was pretty nice too.  Here's my fabric haul:

A quilt for my nineteen-year-old son.  I usually like to reinterpret a design with my own choices of fabrics/colors, but this is just too perfect for me to mess with.  The design is by Cherri House, incorporates my love of blues and greens together, and just seems appropriate for a guy.  On the way home I decided that even if my son didn't like it, I would be more than happy to use it myself, but when I showed it to him he grinned from ear to ear.  Sunshine for me on this rainy day.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Readers' favorite quilting tools

Hey, look at me!  I'm blogging on a weekday morning!  Am I enjoying my week off?  So far I'm having way too much fun, but mostly managing to stay out of trouble. 

Here is a summary of  favorite tools/accessories/gadgets/etc. that enhance our quilting experience from the recent giveaway.  I hope you find at least one new tool to try.

Setting the Mood:
Many of us seem to like some sort of background music or entertainment while we work.  Suggestions included radio, CDs (both music and literature), iPod, television, and DVDs. One reader enjoys The Lucy Show and another likes Bollywood DVDs, even occasionally dancing along. Pandora internet radio and Hulu also received mentions:



My favorite mood setting suggestion is a clean house.  That definitely helps my mood; however, a messy house has not stopped me from sewing yet!

Seeing our work:
Reading glasses and bifocals were mentioned, as well as having good lighting.  One reader uses a fold-up Ottlite and another likes her Ottlite floor lamp.  I love my Ottlite, too, and use it for sewing and handwork.

Measure twice, cut once:  
I actually kind of hate that phrase, because sometimes I measure multiple times and still manage to make cutting errors.  

Rulers -- Rulers received a few mentions, including having the right ruler for the project at hand. One reader recommended the June Tailor Shape Cut Pro Ruler, which looks pretty slick to me.  You can see a video of it in use here.

And several readers love special gadgets that make using their rulers easier, safer, and more efficient.  A few readers mentioned the Gypsy Gripper...

 The Gyspy Gripper ™ - single ended use  (click to enlarge)

and one reader enjoys her Rule Steady.

300mm RuleSteady

Marti Mitchell Perfect Patchwork templates received an endorsement from one reader.

Click to enlarge

Cutting tools -- This proved to be a very popular category as far as tools that make quilting more accurate and enjoyable.  We love our cutting tools (don't anger a quilter)!  The good old rotary cutter is a favorite of many, with a small rotary cutter for curves getting a specific mention.  A good pair of scissors (e.g., Fiskars) is a close second to the rotary cutter.  Other favorite cutting instruments:


The Artist Within:
Design walls received several mentions.  Some people use batting, but a vinyl tablecloth was also mentioned for portability.  The soft, cottony side is used for designing, but because of the vinyl side, it can be rolled up and moved without disturbing the fabric pieces.  

A Stitch in Time:
Quilters love their sewing machines (when working properly).  I think we could start a heated discussion just about sewing machines alone.  A couple of people mentioned their Berninas (and one appreciates her Bernine #10 foot), so I feel that I should give a shout out to my trusty Pfaff Tiptronic 1171.  It's old, but loyal and true and belonged to my mother.  On the cover of the instruction book she wrote June '89 -- oh, the stories this machine could tell.  She has sprinkled notes throughout, but especially in the blank pages at the back.  My heart swells and aches and my breath catches whenever I see her familiar handwriting.  She's been gone 14-1/2 years and I still miss her like crazy!  Breathe.  My two favorite things about this machine (and there are so many) are the dual feed (I even use it for piecing) and my 1/4" piecing foot.  

Someone mentioned Roxanne's needles (handmade in England), which come in a cute little tube with a shell on the top.  

I've always sworn by my John James needles (also made in England), but I'm willing to try something new.

John James Needle Sharp...
A toothpick was mentioned as a great tool for turning appliqué; a vintage spool for binding and long skinny tweezers are handy, and at least one reader likes That Purple Thang:

Big Foot Tool That Purple Thang

And one clever and lucky reader bought a workbench for $15 at at hardware closeout sale.  The perfect height for cutting, ironing, and other prep work!  What a great idea!

Quilting Humor:
I think a good sense of humor and the ability to turn potential (or actual) disaster into a design challenge is very important in a happy and successful quilt maker, and many of you kept me amused with your responses.  Two of the more interesting and amusing "tools" included having a snoring cat in the room and the quilter's own tongue.  You know, for protruding during moments of intense concentration.  

Snack Attack:
I don't eat while making quilts or doing any other kind of needlework.  The natural oils on our hands are bad enough, so I don't want any added oil, salt, sugar, etc. on my fabric!  However, a snack break for fortification seems to be on many a quilter's mind.  Iced tea and coffee were beverage favorites, with microwave popcorn, M & Ms, and chocolate with mint or raspberry flavoring all getting snack mentions.  Are there any quilters who don't like chocolate?

Whew!  I'm looking over my notes and checking them twice.  I think I got everything mentioned during the giveaway reflected in the list above.  My apologies if I've missed any!  There are several tools that I think I'd like to try.  What about you?

With wishes, true and kind, and the right tools for the project -- Joan

Monday, February 8, 2010

Modern Quilt Guild Blog Meme

What does modern quilting mean to me?   That’s the question being discussed all  this week over on the Modern Quilt Guild blog.

It’s not easy to define just  what modern quilting is so everyone is encouraged to join in the conversation!  Check it out over here!  And feel free to leave comments here with your thoughts as well.

Here's a sneak peek at yet another quilt for Miss Molly:

I just picked it up from Karen, my friend and long arm quilter.  She blogged about it here.  I guess I'll be making binding tonight!
With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Meet Kate Conklin

Once upon a time, I was in the right place at the right time (which actually hardly ever happens to me), and I had the privilege of getting to help Kate (Kate Conklin Designs) proofread a pattern.

Kate is from Australia, is a wife and mother of two young children, a speech-language pathologist (like moi) and now a quilt designer.   Kate's patterns are available on her blog

The pattern that I got to test is called Fairy Hearts and features fairy fabric from an Australian fabric designer, Saffron Craig.  

You can purchase a kit for Kate's Fairy Hearts quilt on Saffron's blog.  

 And here are some sneak peeks at my version:

I thought about purchasing some pink fabrics to make a really girly Valentine's Day type of quilt, but then decided to just use from my stash and go for a different look (fabric-wise) from Kate's original quilt.  These are from Jennifer Paganelli's Bell Bottoms line with white Kona Cotton.

This was my first attempt at raw edge appliqué (as I have always done it by hand).  It's quick and easy!

Kate's instructions were quite clear and there are lots of pictures to assist you, which I always find extremely helpful.  The instructions include everything from the materials and cutting to the quilting and binding. The finished quilt size is 50" x 62", and there are also instructions for making a baby quilt.  Plus, there are instructions for making a pieced back.  I've never seen that on a pattern before.

Pieced back of Fairy Hearts quilt.

 I am totally in love with Kate's pattern Charm Bracelets.  I hope you check out Kate's blog!


Thanks, Kate for the great opportunity!  I loved doing it!

The fabrics for my two quilting bees have arrived and both contained Kona coal, but will be very different blocks. Stayed tuned.

One of the fabrics in one of my January bees led to a fun online fabric swap between myself and Kelly (Purple Paisley Patch) after she expressed a liking for the center fabric in this block on flickr:

I sent her 1/4 yard and threw in some purple paisley-like fabric.  She was supposed to send me a Heather Bailey Pop Garden fat quarter, but today I received two Heather Bailey FQs in the mail from her:

I love them!  And isn't that a cute little card?!  I look at those adorable little birds and one word comes to mind: appliqué!  Thanks for the great fabric, Kelly.  I hope you like yours as much as I like mine!

I have next week off, and although my social calendar is rapidly filling up with lunch and coffee dates, I plan on doing some damage on my bee blocks, Sue Ross BOM, and  the quilts I owe for two different pay it forwards. I want to finish my Fairy Hearts quilt top, and  I have a few more baby quilts to make!  And I may start a Charm Bracelets quilt!  I'm also looking forward to fabric shopping and lunch with some hip quilting chicks from the Portland Modern Quilt Guild!  The amount of sewing I get done remains to be seen, but it's going to be a great week off!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Giveaway winner!

The winner of the Amy Butler Love fat quarters is Kat, who left this comment:

I think my favorite would be my design wall. It's a vinyl table cloth turned around backwards. When I travel I can roll it up with my designs still on it and rubberband it closed. It saves me tons of time. Thanks! Kat.

Obviously a better idea than this recent mess:

I will be back later with a new post and a summary of all the tools and ideas shared.  Thanks for playing!

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan