Improv Spoken Here

May 16th, 2015

At the beginning of the year, I had the awesome privilege to expand my Modern Quilt-making chops through an Improv workshop series on CreativeLive with Cheryl Arkison. Working creatively with value/volume choices, improv piecing techniques and design intention, the four of us in the workshop feverishly sewed through two days and four intense and fun sessions.

In all honesty, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, however, my friend, N and I jumped at the chance to shake things up. And we were not disappointed!

There were one session that really had me working diligently to assemble something presentable centered around Pinwheels. Choose your fabric, cut-n-sew HST’s (half-square triangles) and show your work. Much like my Thousand Crane project, I made a few 6″ versions and decided that I needed a few blocks half that size for interest. I also spent some time trimming, so the blocks would come together easily, which they did. I finished just enough to show 16 blocks, though I didn’t quite like the layout.

When the workshops wrapped up, I put it away.

Today, I revisited my Pinwheel Party to finish a Modern guild challenge in the eleventh hour. Truly, I’ve had two months to create a piece in an Alternative Grid style. I’ve thought of several designs and nothing felt right, but these mini pinwheels were waiting patiently. I zipped the mini blocks together, divined the best layout and had something to show for all my thinking.

2015ImprovSpokenHerePinwheelPartyNext up, choosing a backing fabric and quilting. Yay! Pinwheel Party!

Anyone find my Mojo?

April 30th, 2015

I’ve been running from fire to fire, getting lots of things done (albeit last minute) this month and just realized that April is over!
Excuse me? Say that again…

Oh, and today the temps raced up to 90!
Did I blink and miss Spring, too? Sigh.

My fabric is sitting there waiting, my current Quilty projects are calling to be sewn, and I’m just so tired today that I took a nap! Ah well, I’ll just have to make some decisions and get an early start tomorrow. 😉

Fore for Four

April 4th, 2015


GG Quilty block party

To call this block project challenging is an understatement.

We started last spring and I worked diligently on my first block, an flower of your choice, but did not finish it until just this month!

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I finished my second block, a house block in October. A sweet little home block!

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I finished my third block, a 2-color Carpenter’s Wheel, in November. This one has been revealed for E’s Red & White Quilt.


I even made another block, a Churn Dash, last month because I found this awesome blender fabric!


My fourth block, pieced basket of appliqued flowers, has been fairly tricky since I designed my own bouquet.

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Once revealed, I’ll post them all here.

Piecing a Folded Marsala Rainbow

March 24th, 2015

March is always a good month to learn new techniques.

That said, I jumped into an intriguing workshop today: Paperless paper-piecing with Cristy Fincher. (more about Cristy here) We used her Folded block template.

There are some super fun ways to piece fabric and Cristy’s glue-basting technique is quite ingenious. I don’t tend to like pins, so this was especially perfect for me. (Look: no-pin sewing!)

Choosing fabrics was a little tricky if you wanted the finished block to resemble 3-D paper. 2015PaperlessE
There was a bit of prep-work, labeling (extremely important!) and cutting out the pieces, pressing them to a prepared template, starching one seam and sewed them up (removing the template first). Easy Peasy!

It was also fun to multiply the block with a simple Frames App and watch how the repeat changed based on the direction.


[Update 4/24/2015]

Made the decision to enter the 2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge and I think the Mulberry shot cotton would look nifty switched with the Brick, so I’ve made a second version:
Here are the two pieced blocks on the left, a freshly cut block in the upper right and one ironed to the templates, ready for glue-basting in the lower right.
Designing an appropriate border is a bit daunting, so I go ‘old school’ and pull out my color pencils.
Cristy created an intricate border for her piece with multi-pieced HST’s. This works to add a sliver of lime green in my border, but I decide to stick to simpler HST’s for the rest.
Done, and the finished top measures 33″
Yay! Now it’s time to finish the back!

In like a Lion

March 8th, 2015

Over the past few weeks, I have attempted to finish a few WIPs and make room for new projects. I got sidetracked with a design decision on one and waiting for backing fabric for another. However, three’s a charm!

Worked in ferocious bursts of productivity, my Happiness Rocks quilt is finished and ready for the biennial show next weekend. Yay!

When I decided that the top seemed a little small for a bed quilt, I knew I’d add a border after all. Sigh. Luckily, the purple-violet Kona solid is a great balance for all that minty green.

Once the borders were set, it was time to piece the backing. Four larger purple quadrants, separated with more 6″ blocks created with the rest of the backing and few remaining scraps, marched across the entire width. (My favorite stripey block below has inspired ideas for yet another quilt!)
Then it was time to mark my quilting design and hope for the best! 2015MarchHappyBacking

My decision to machine-quilt was a battle at every turn and I couldn’t seem to set the tension correctly. My ‘mesmerizing’ design required straight-line quilting and an even stitch length, so quilting from the purple side worked well once that was straightened out.2015MarchHappyQuilting

It took me a day to hand-stitch the stripey binding and make my integrated border correctly.2015MarchHappyBinding

And in the end, I really like how it came together. Perhaps, I’ll paint the guest room a lovely shade of purple this spring! Roar!2015MarchHappyDone

‘Finish it’ February

February 24th, 2015

After years of focusing on the same quilt, I’m happy to say that there are already 8 projects on my WIP list for 2015, including a sampler. Hmm… It’s a good thing that the annual Spring retreat is this month. I could use some time to focus on sewing.
Saturday morning, N and I made progress on our Improv Charity Blocks from Cheryl Arkison’s workshops. 2015FinishImprovCharityPiecing

There are now twelve 15″ blocks total: her 3, my 3, Cheryl’s 3 and the 3 we just made. I sewed the top together and next we will look for red backing fabrics.
2015FinishImprovCharityTopTop finished. Check!

Next, I make progress on my Orchid Birdie Wheels.
This is the quilt I hoped to finish for the 2014 Pantone Color-of-the-year, Radiant Orchid. Two 24″ blocks were assembled last year and I planned for least nine total. However, I got derailed by this stunning green I snagged from the destash table and started to play.2015OrchidMintWheelPiecing


Hmm… I’m not really sure I like this in my Orchid Quilt.  It’s more like that ‘one of these things is not like the other’ game. I guess  I’ll set it aside unfinished for now.2015OrchidMintWheelSetof4

Finally: Happiness Rocks!
I’ve managed to piece this using almost ALL the fabric! 2015FinishHappySewCat2015FinishHappyPiecingAnd there are only a few scraps left to integrate into the backing!
Thus, the top is finished!

Happiness Rocks

February 13th, 2015

My weekends have been a blur this year and I’ve spent much of my time being wonderfully creative: One retreat spent figuring out whether digital photo album design is my direction, another, helping friends bottle a barrel of wine. 2015HappyBottling
However, last weekend, I created stuff!

My client requested colorful cards for her annual birthday set. I designed them with a thoughtful stamp and silk flowers. My process was to cut the paper and stamp, then coordinate flowers and assemble, finishing with a blingy brad for sparkle. By the time I’d finished 50, I had a vibrant garden on my desk!
2015HappyBdayCard 2015HappyBdayCards

Next up: sewing!
At a workshop with Joe the quilter last year, learned a fun technique for assembling 6″ blocks. I zipped together a bunch of them, but didn’t make the second cut and promptly set them aside. Fast forward…

When I pulled it out again, I realized that there really wasn’t much fabric left and I should just make as many blocks as I could. Below, I have the 5″, 4″, 2″ and 1″ strips waiting along the left side while chain piecing the 3″ pairs. 2015HappinessBlocksI totally forgot about making another round of ‘block strips’ and cutting again. Oh well, I’ll blame that on hot-from-the-oven brownies! 😉2015HappinessSetup
Once I began assembling this quilt, I liked the fact that only the corners had to match up. It took me a little time to double check, but I think it looks fun. Like minty, purple ice cream!2015HappinessLayout

Haven’t been getting much done lately…

February 4th, 2015

“A moment of your time, fair lady. Would you happen to have a lap you might share? Yes? Oh fabulous! And so comfy! And are you very busy? I could use a good rub… oh, brilliant!” purrrrrrrrrrrr…DistractionFeb42015

He doesn’t make requests very often and I can always sew a little later…

Color me a rainbow

January 20th, 2015

I’ve been playing with paint recently.
2015ColorBook6Nothing specific yet. Just building color washes with fluid acrylics.

Also, I need to find a different purple. While I liked the single wash, after 3-4 layers, Quinacridone Violet came out more like, hmm… well, a touch redder than the 2015 Pantone color of the year!

2015ColorBookQVwash 2015ColorBookQVfull

One Thousands Blessings

January 8th, 2015

Some of my favorite gifts have been ‘action’ gifts. You know, the kind where you are invited to experience as opposed to simply get some thing. This year, that gift was in the form of a mega pad of Origami papers from my friend, F, who is also making 1K cranes. Our plan is to make 3 each day, finishing around Thanksgiving. Welcome to the year of One Thousand Cranes!2015CranesJan1

“The crane is a powerful symbol for loyalty, nobility, and beauty. According to Japanese tradition, anyone with the patience and commitment to fold 1,000 paper cranes will be granted their most desired wish, because they have exhibited the cranes’ loyalty and recreated their beauty.”2015CranesJan2

My most desired wish is under wraps until the end of this journey. However, one of the fun additions we are implementing as each crane is folded: think of a person and all the blessings they have brought into our life. Heavens! Do I even know a thousand people?!?2015CranesJan3

Ah, well… Crossing that bridge when I come to it. For now, this is a physical reminder of how blessed my life truly is because of those I’ve met over the years.

UPDATE: 1/26
After a few weeks of folding cranes from the pre-cut 6″ papers, it occurred to me that I should try my hand at making the 3″ version. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could make the folds, but here is my first one, perching on my keyboard for scale.2015CranesJan4

Over the weekend I made a few more and think I like this size better. :-)2015CranesJan5