Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Greatest Challenge

I'm taking on the biggest sewing challenge I've ever done in this next project, the Everything in Its Place Bag by Annie Unrein. However, I'm going to call it the Retreat Organizer.

I bought this class 3 years ago, long before I knew what a quilt even was. But I never watched it, because I was so intimidated, and the finishing kit and supplies are too pricey for me to make one for "practice".

But as I was reading my QuiltCon supply lists, I was quite surprised to see that the piecing classes asked that you bring your own rotary cutter, ruler, mat, etc. And here I thought I just had to show up! So I immediately thought of this organizer pattern, which would be perfect to hold a rotary cutter, some thread, my wonder clips, and even a traveling folding cutting mat. Sure, I could buy one ready made ... but I wanted to pick my own fabric. It was finally time to take on this challenge!

I picked out an amazing piece from the Diving Board collection by Alison Glass for the outside of the bag, and some matching fabric from the same line for the lining and the piping. I'm so excited to make this! Terrified ... but excited. But at least I don't have to work from just a paper pattern, and will have the great Annie Unrein to hold my hand throughout the process ... through Craftsy, naturally. What would I be doing if Craftsy never came into my life?

Unlike everything else I've made, for this project I actually need to quilt the fabric before I do anything else. I loaded a yard onto my longarm and quilted some big swirls and paisleys to complement the fabric. It is really interesting quilting on Soft & Stable, as it's much much thicker than any batting I've ever used, and the texture really stands out.

But quilting it was the easy part. Now the real challenge begins! There are so many things in this project I've never tried before, like mesh, velcro, vinyl, bias binding, piping, and who knows what else. I'm nervous, but I hope it'll turn out well!


Linked up with: Quilting & Learning.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sweet Pea Pods

Happy Black Friday! This week I finished a set of Sweet Pea pods, from the Craftsy class Zippered Bags With A Twist with Joan Hawley. I previously took her Zip-It Up class, and enjoyed it enough that I'm taking this one.

The twist in these bags is that the zipper is actually a one-way zipper. Instead of the traditional zipper, we disassemble a zipper and only use one side of it. I've never seen it before this class, and I must say it's quite an intriguing technique! (I'll also say it isn't very fun to put the zipper pull back onto the zipper.)

When I first saw the pattern for the Sweet Pea bag, I immediately thought of the triangle fabrics I had left from the Bendy bag. As it turns out, Joan specifically designed the Sweet Pea pod so she could use leftover triangles from her many Bendy bags. Each Bendy leaves enough fabric for 2 Sweet Pea pods. I love it when fabric (and batting) doesn't go to waste!

The pods took almost no time at all to assemble. I love how I was able to use the leftover fabrics from another project, and the zipper technique was interesting. There are 2 more projects in this class, and I look forward to making them!

But before that ... I'm going to take advantage of the best fabric deals of the year!


Link parties joined: Crazy Mom Quilts.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Well ... I'm a happy quilter. I got to play with Katarina Roccella's Avant Garde collection again recently when I picked up a kit to make the fabulous Flux quilt! (It also means that my precious fat quarter bundle of Avant Garde can remain uncut. I hope it stays that way.)

Flux is a very simple quilt, with a single frame surrounding a center square. The graphic effect comes from the arrangement of the blocks and the way the frames thicken toward the center of the quilt.

I treated the quilting of this quilt much like Phases of the Moon, where the frames and sashings are all treated as background space, and the squares are highlighted individually. I really love the way it makes the black sashing strips look like they're made of a patterned fabric, and this way I don't have to change threads.

I treated the quilting of the squares as a medallion, with the center being a special design, and each ring around it having a different geometric design. They contrast nicely with all the curvy, swirly background, and really pop.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think I like the outer ring the best! It's a square spiral that is super easy to quilt and draws the eye in, every time.

I used a solid blue fabric for the back, which really shows off the quilting!

I'm very happy with it! Avant Garde is such a beautiful collection, that it's pretty much guaranteed I would love this quilt!


Link parties joined: Busy Hands Quilts, Powered By Quilting, My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Crazy Mom Quilts, Sew Can She, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Controlled Chaos

Originally, I planned to work on a scrappy single Irish Chain after hearing Melissa Corry speak at a quilt guild meeting. But as I was pulling out fabric, an even stronger urge seized me ... what I really wanted was to make the End of the Rainbow quilt on the cover of Melissa's book!

The cover quilt is easily my favorite quilt in the entire book. It is beautiful, interesting, and distinctively modern. I had the vague idea it must be improv somehow, but I didn't quite know what was involved. That is, until I read the instructions and realized that it's crazy piecing!

I've never done crazy piecing before, but I've watched a few videos. Since it's crazy piecing, there's really no wrong way to do it, but I knew that some ways will yield results that make me happier than others. I decided to go with a method that I call controlled chaos crazy piecing, taught by Elizabeth Hartman in Inspired Modern Quilts. (She didn't call it that, but it's my term for it.) Crazy piecing is a lot of work, and at the end of the day, I'm essentially creating my own unique fabric. But it is beyond beautiful! I can hardly believe I made these.

I'm so in love with these blocks that I don't want to cut them up! I have half a mind to frame them instead. But now that I know the technique, and how easy it is, it's no problem for me to make more, later! So I will cut these up and make End of the Rainbow, after all.

But I just got an idea. How good would crazy blocks look in a Mondrian style quilt? Now I must add that to my queue! If only there were more hours in the day ...

Friday, November 10, 2017


I've been quilting for about a year and 9 months, and in that time I made a ton of lap quilts, and one queen-sized bed quilt for my guest bed. However, my own bed still doesn't have a quilt ... that is, until now!

The reason I waited so long is because it took me 6 months to find the perfect fabric for it, 6 months to find the perfect pattern, and 6 more months of procrastination because I loved the fabric so much I didn't want to cut into it. (And of course, actually making and quilting this took several more months.) The fabric used here is one of my favorite fabric lines ever. It's Lagom by Art Gallery Studio! The pattern I finally decided on is New Waves by Natalia Bonner.

New Waves is a simple log cabin quilt, but I love the color placement that makes the gray travel in bands across the quilt. I absolutely love piecing log cabins! I used to have trouble making the block come out a square (it looked slightly rounded) but then I realized the reason was because I used to cut a long strip, line it up with the cabin, and sew it and then trim the excess. Nowadays, I cut the strips to the right size and then sew it on, and it has made such a difference. (I have no idea why, though!)

For the quilting, I did a variety of linear designs, like ribbon candies, wishbones, feathers, ferns, and square chains. I'm never bored because there's always something different to work on! My favorite design, however, is the dot-to-dot design I did in the outer most band of each block. The way the block is laid out, it creates a fun secondary diamond design! I didn't intend for that when I planned the quilting, so it was a nice surprise.

And if I ever get tired of the front of the quilt, the back seems perfectly functional as a "wholecloth" quilt!

I finally have a quilt for my bed! I love it so much, and Lagom was really the perfect fabric for this project. This is the biggest quilt I've ever completed, at 96" x 96", and I'm really happy with it!


Linking up with: Crazy Mom Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, Powered by Quilting, Sew Can She, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Solo Quilter Seeking Guild

Although I've never been big on groups, I really wanted to join a local quilt guild. It is awesome blogging on the internet, but there's nothing like seeing quilts (and merchandise) and feeling the enthusiasm of quilters in person.

In my New Year's Resolutions, one of my goals was to attend a quilt guild meeting. I have a few local guilds, but none of them worked for me. One of them always met on Sunday mornings, so that interferes with church. Two of them met on Thursdays, which interferes with family commitments. One of them required driving to Chicago, and I have a phobia about that. All in all, things seemed bleak.

Then one of my local quilting friends mentioned her guild to me. I was hesitant because it was still a bit of a drive (albeit a super easy one) and it was very large. But then one day something happened that propelled me out of inertia. The guild had scheduled Karen McTavish as a teacher next year ... and I needed to be at a meeting to sign up!

I have admired Karen McTavish's work since I first saw her McTavishing technique. Seriously, how many people have their name attached to a quilting technique like that? The chance to take a few classes with her in person was not to be missed, so I apologized to my husband, left my 2-year-old son with him to look after, and took off on a dreary, rainy Chicagoland Tuesday morning to attend the guild meeting. (Was that dramatic enough?)

I did get into 2 classes with Karen next May, and I'm super excited about that. Furthermore, the guild had a guest speaker that day ... Melissa Corry! I didn't know her by name, but I definitely recognized the book she had there: Irish Chain Quilts: Contemporary Twists on a Classic Design. I made a Irish chain inspired quilt last year, and to this day it remains one of my favorite quilts, and I've wanted to make another one.

Melissa talked at a mile a minute, and I loved that. She was funny, charming, and I could feel the passion and enthusiasm vibing off her. Her Irish Chain quilts were so beautiful and lively, and I knew I was ready for my next scrappy Irish Chain. So afterwards, I went to my scrap bins (which are hid in opaque bins ... purposefully) and discovered:

Yowza! I have a lot of scraps! (What you're seeing is just a part of it. I couldn't capture the whole pile on camera in one shot.) I'll have enough to make several of those Irish Chain quilts and then outfit my children in patchwork. But ... I'm just going to make one. Time to start cutting! This will be so much fun.

Oh, and I bought the Irish Chain book from Melissa and she signed it. I love autographed copies!

It's going to take some courage to participate in the Show 'n Tell, that's for sure, because I'm not sure how the guild will respond to my more modern aesthetic. But for now, I've found my guild!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Take Shape

Well, I really hated this quilt when I first finished the quilt top. It was a beautiful fabric line (Take Shape by Art Gallery Studio) and a beautiful pattern (Jagged Edges from Rock Solid), but somehow, they don't work together!

I had my qualms while I was cutting and piecing it, but I ignored them. When I finished the quilt top, I realized something ... it was just not working! Unlike the last quilt top that I hated, I really do love the fabric this time. But with this pattern, it's just not a good marriage, and I realized that too late.

I was so unhappy with it that I almost put it in my quilting graveyard. But as I was getting ready to do that, I realized that I need to finish this quilt, because I had in my hand a great piece to practice on. After all, I get quilter's paralysis sometimes because I'm afraid of choosing the wrong design and messing up a beautiful top ... but I cannot possibly mess this top up any further!

And quilting did improve it. I knew I had to introduce as much contrast as possible to save this quilt, so I used a lot of dot-to-dot designs with feathers.

In the negative space, I quilted big, showy feathers, and surrounded it with my favorite fillers. At that point, I no longer cared what was appropriate for this quilt, I just wanted to have fun ... and I did!

Well, after quilting it, not only do I feel so much better, but I actually find that I rather like this quilt. The fabric is gorgeous, and though this really isn't the best pattern for it, it's a hard lesson learned. Contrasting quilting motifs I used help to pull them apart a bit, at least, and I just love touching all those feathers!

So ... it's not such a bad quilt, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.


Linking up with: Crazy Mom Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, and Powered by Quilting.

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