Technical Difficulties

July 8th, 2015

My bare-bones site is to be updated… stay tuned

Take A Chance on Improv: the Retreat

June 16th, 2015

Has life become a mad rush of family constraints, work commitments, house construction and social engagements?
Time to rejuvenate yourself with a creative get-away!

There’s a certain freedom that comes to mind when I think of 3-4 days of simply creating art in the midst of like-minded individuals. My only focus is on fabric, sketchbook ideas and a design wall, with someone else providing tasty meals, bonus points for contemplative surroundings and a puzzle-solving hike or two. Such was a recent Quilty retreat experience.2015BAMRetreatAAlthough I brought several ‘projects in progress’ (PIPs) so I wouldn’t get stuck, I spent a bit of time on ‘philly’ sewing (for charity/philanthropy) and the 4 planned Improv exercises. Sometimes that happens when you ‘take a chance on Improv.’ 😉

The four Improv blocks in question are updated versions of traditional blocks from contemporary designers and use six fabrics with the roll of dice to decide which one and how much. Unlike others, I didn’t stick to the 12” block and my finished sizes ranged from 14” to 15-1/2”. I took a chance that it would all come out okay and I wasn’t disappointed. I LOVE them!

Ah, but I really only wanted to work on my most recent Orange Improv PIP. And I did finally assemble my ‘I wasn’t certain I’d end up using, but it looks just fine to me’ 5th B Block. Heh. Then, late Saturday night, I whipped up the sixth B Block and redeemed myself.2015BAMRetreatB

Thus, my design wall below includes:
‘Take a Chance’ Improv Blocks at the top, sewn in 30’s fabric, no less
One lone red/white block for my friend’s red/white quilt
All 10 of my finished ‘Orange…’ Quilt blocks, with just 6 more to finish!2015BAMRetreatC

The philly sewing was simple 3-brick blocks that came together quite easily with everyone in attendance sewing together 3 or more, and then myself and a few other ladies assembling the two tops (in cell-block Q, no less!). Here’s the design I helped with on Sunday morning:2015BAMCharityStrip2015BAMCharitySewn

Since I needed to leave after lunch on Sunday, this weekend seemed a little short, but I did get quite a bit done.

And yes, that song was running through my mind all weekend… ‘If you change your mind…’

Tina’s Fabulous Improv Workshop

May 30th, 2015

With much excitement, I signed up for Tina’s Fabulous Improv Workshop two months ago.
Now, after my sweet kitty lost his battle with intestinal lymphoma just a few short days ago, I feel lost myself. I’m certainly in no shape to face the world, even full of dear Quilty friends.

But as Miss Molly would say, “I paid my money and I’m gonna finish this race!”

Okay then. I need to do something.
First, I must choose something to sew! I pulled out my fabric in hopes of finding some comfort in the cotton I’d overlooked previously.
This is what found me: 2015TsFabImprovAA few Hawaiian fat quarters and a rainbow jelly roll of 2-12” strips that I’d bought simply because it was pretty. Kinda looks like a unicorn went on a bender… but better him than me.

After a rocky start, I pulled out the jellyroll and started sewing colors together. And just as I began to loosen up and have fun, my Husqi had a hissy-fit and seized up on me.

Okay then. I need to do something else.
As it turned out, this little J and I became fast friends.
From there, I simply sewed strips to blocks of fabric and cut things apart and made a bunch of ‘seeds’ as Tina put it. There was no plan for size yet. There were no complicated layouts. It was just, enjoy the freedom of watching fabric happen.
2015TsFabImprovCAt some point, I added my primary orange fabric and the blocks whispered ‘queen-sized’ in my ear. Now, I was cooking with fire! They also let me know my quilt’s name. Let me introduce you to the first 3 (plus the lower left unfinished & soon to be amended) blocks of my “Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say” Quilt.



May 28th, 2015

Found crawling across the sidewalk of a Denny’s in King City when he was days old, this little ‘bitey-scratchy-bouncy-off-walls kitty’ so endeared himself to us over the years while driving us crazy!

Grateful for the time he spent as part of our family eating blueberries & peas, spinning on chairs & opening sliding glass doors, grooming & keeping Shiitake company, being my shoulder cat & quilt weight…2015OrionApril

I’ve embarked on Improv Quilting projects and he was right there for me as I moved my Husqi outside for some ‘plein aire’ sewing last weekend.2015OrionImprovA2015OrionImprovB Although he was pretty tired.

He is dearly missed… His memory is etched in our hearts and his spirit yet lingers. Love ❤️ him always!

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 was 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. 2015OrionMay

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, any flower of my choice, over the summer. I assembled the flower, 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 house block that kinda looks like my home!

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I finished my third block, a 2-color Carpenter’s Wheel, in November. Even though we chose which & how many block(s) to make, this one was pretty straight forward. 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, a pieced basket of appliqued flowers, has been fairly tricky since I didn’t follow the templates and designed my own bouquet. Everything came out lovely!

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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!