Friday, January 26, 2018

Wonky Stars Swap

Late last year, I saw that my friend Rachel was organizing a wonky star swap. Having never participated in a swap before, I was curious so I wanted to try it. The theme of the swap is wonky stars, which is sawtooth star blocks with wonky points.

For the fabric, I dove into my scraps. I pulled up a lot of Alison Glass and Anna Maria Horner, but there are also a lot of other designers represented. I really wanted to experiment with different color combinations and try some things I normally wouldn't, since these stars are each going to go to a different person, they don't have to match at all!

I made some that are monochromatic, and some that are crazy rainbows. Some of the swap members had color preferences, so I tried to keep that in mind.

Well, I think these are quite cute. Now I just have to address the envelopes and hope I don't mix them up. I can't wait for stars that people have made for me to show up in the mail!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Critical Sunshine

I love naming my quilts, it somehow makes them each more personal and special to me. Sometimes it's the name of the pattern, very frequently it's the name of the fabric collection showcased in the quilt since that so often determines the mood of the quilt, and sometimes it's just how the quilt makes me feel when I look at it.

When I first saw Brigitte Heitland's Plus It's Simple quilt made from Fragile, the gorgeous shades of yellow, white, and a little bit of grey just evoke in me a feeling of immense optimism and happiness. Thus, the name Critical Sunshine was born.

I loved piecing this quilt, and I'm sure the fabric had a lot to do with it! I was so excited about Fragile when it was first announced, and when it finally arrived 7 months later, it exceeded my expectations. I also really, really love Brigitte's patterns. They're rarely difficult (although some of them are!) but they're always interesting and always modern.

Quilting this was pretty fun because I got to use a golden yellow thread. I quilted the background with my favorite fillers, and did some geometric designs in the plus signs. After the absolutely exhausting quilting I did on Refraction, this quilt provides a nice breather. The biggest challenge was that I couldn't see where I was going a lot of the time because the thread blended into the fabric a little too well.

Fragile is such an amazing collection, that it is easily my favorite fabric collection from 2017. Needless to say, this is just the first of quite a few quilts I plan to make that will use this fabric line. This quilt makes me really happy to look at it, but what can I say, I just love a golden yellow!


Linking up to: Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Busy Hands Quilts, Powered by Quilting, My Quilt Infatuation, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Retreat Organizer

It's about 6 weeks until QuiltCon, and my Retreat Organizer is done! It was not easy. It was only fun most of the time. But the end result is pretty great, and I'm so proud of myself for actually getting through this!

I wrote a blog post when I had finished getting the materials together for this bag, and I considered it the biggest sewing challenge I've faced yet. I bought this class more than 3 years ago, before I knew what a quilt was, and when I was barely sure how to thread my machine. I didn't take it back then, and I'm glad, because it would have been way, way too much. But now that I've had a lot of quilting experience and some experience in simple bag making, it was a great time to take this class.

I feel like I achieved a major milestone with this bag, which is far more complicated than any bag I've done before. I used a lot of techniques I've never, ever tried before, like velcro, mesh, vinyl, bias binding, and zippers by the yard. I only broke one needle too, so it didn't go too badly! The result looks so good and professional, I can hardly believe I made it.

This little organizer is just perfectly sized to carry all the essential quilting supplies, including the Omnigrid foldable cutting mat / pressing board. (It might have been sized specifically to carry that!)

I'm so happy I accomplished this. I got a great looking organizer, and now I feel empowered to make more of Annie's projects ... with video instruction, of course. (I don't think I would want to do this without video instruction still.) But I've purchased more of Annie's classes, and hopefully, with this one under my belt, the rest will feel less intimidating too!


Link parties joined: Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Inferno Loop

Mohair. I love the way it looks, the way it feels, and I absolutely adore the ethereal, flyaway nature of it.

But I hate working with it. I hate it. That same ethereal, flyaway nature that makes it such a delight to look at and wear makes it a nightmare to knit. I feel like I'm working with air, I'm constantly snagging on it, and it sticks to the needle. That probably explains why this project, which should have taken less than a month, took a year.

But it's finally done! And it's absolutely gorgeous. I've actually made this project once before, and swore never to do it again. But then I saw this amazing skein of yarn at a yarn convention, and I got the mad idea to do it again.

The colors of this yarn is stunning, which is why I couldn't resist it even though it's mohair. It's got shades of red, orange, and some purple, mixed together in a gorgeous explosive blend. Knit using large needles, the tiny fibers look really open and airy, and it truly looks and feels magical.

I'm thrilled with how it turned out. But also, I'm thrilled to be done with it! Never again. (Until I fall in love with another mohair project.)

Friday, January 5, 2018


Refraction is my first quilt finish of 2018. I discovered Quilt Theory one innocent day while I was browsing aimlessly for patterns instead of actually quilting, and Cheryl Brickey's Arrow Point Path drew me in. It looked complex at first, but really was a single block. The way the blocks were laid out had almost a kaleidoscope effect, and I loved that!

The quilt top was completed quite awhile ago, and then it just sat there. While other quilt tops got made and then subsequently quilted, I was stuck in some serious quilter's paralysis with this one. But finally, I decided to load it onto the frame and just wing it. I experienced good results the last time I loaded a quilt with no plan, so I decided to try my luck again.

Something funny happens when a quilt is finally on the frame. Since nothing else can be quilted while it's there, that gives me the push to just come up with something. I knew I really wanted to emphasize the geometric nature of the piecing, and also play with contrast.

In each diamond, I also divided up the space and used a starburst motif along with some fillers. In alternate rows, I used a lotus feather instead of the starburst because, well, variety is the spice of quilting.

Well, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I think I went a little overboard with the quilting though ... this took way too long to do. Sometimes I think of the quilting design before I even start cutting, and other times, like this quilt, I have to force myself to get it on the frame and then come up with something. But that winging it strategy seems to work. So the conclusion of the day is ... If you load it, they will come. (And by they, I mean the ideas!)

And that's my favorite photo of this quilt. This quilt was ridiculously hard to get pictures of. I blame the cloudy grays and moody purples!


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

Monday, January 1, 2018

Best of 2017 Linky Party

I just posted my Year in Review a few hours ago. But when I saw that Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs was hosting a Best of 2017 linky party, I couldn't pass up the chance to join!

I had a lot of fun sharing my quilting journey on this blog last year, some of it sad, some of it disappointing, but most of it very, very good. When I tried to come up with posts to highlight, I started thinking about the "best" awards they passed out in high school. (And for the record, I was most "multi-faceted" in high school.) So here are the quilts / posts representing my best and worst of 2017!


Most Viewed: Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park was a quilt whose pattern is from the first season of the Midnight Quilt Show. The pattern is cute and I love the fabric, but my most exciting moment regarding this quilt? Angela Walters repinned this quilt on one of her Midnight Quilt Show Pinterest boards. I had a total ohmigosh moment when I saw that!

Most Time-Consuming: Think Pink

I was initially attracted to Think Pink because of the prospect of quilting those beautiful and mesmerizing spirals inside all the irregular spaces. But that's also why the quilt took forever to quilt. It did finally help me get comfortable with rulers though, I must say! (And with starts and stops. Lots of them.) But it was definitely worth it!

Most Buzzed About: Lakeshore

I adore Lakeshore, but I had no idea when I made it that it would be my most commented / linked to quilt of the year. But it is! I gave it to my son, and while he seems to like it, I don't think it's for the same reason as everybody else. (He's only 2, though.)

Biggest Disappointment: Take Shape

Well, they can't all have a happy ending. Take Shape is a quilt that combines a beautiful fabric line, good piecing job, and nicely executed quilting for a truly disappointing finish. The reason? The fabric just didn't go with the pattern. It actually looks good when it's folded up, and also when viewed closely, but when I step back, my eyes hurt.

Saddest Moment: Aviatrix Medallion

If I had to name a time last year that I came the closest to crying about a quilt, it was when I decided I needed to abandon my Aviatrix Medallion quilt. It was a beautiful kit that took me months and months to piece, so needless to say, deciding to rip it apart was a heart-wrenching decision. I still get upset when I see it. Now, everybody who sees the pictures say it's a beautiful quilt and they wonder why it makes me so sad. Well, let's just say that the photographs were strategic. In reality, I don't know if this quilt can be salvaged, and even if it can, I don't know if I have the patience. There are simply too many new projects I want to do!

Proudest Creation: Haphazard

Haphazard is a lovely quilt (and I'm sure it's happy in its home in Shanghai right now), but what made me the proudest is my proof of concept, a generated quilt pattern. I wrote the code that generated this quilt pattern using Processing, and then what made me even more excited is that I figured out a way to put it on my blog so other people can use it to generate their own unique quilt patterns. (And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my Patterns!)

Personal Favorite: Flux

I love Flux. I really, really love Flux. The fabric is from Avant Garde which is my favorite collection of 2016, and the pattern shows it off perfectly. I had lots of fun quilting it to death with all my craziness, so while it's not the cuddliest quilt out there ... I absolutely love the way it looks!


It was super fun going through my blog posts of 2017 to find ones to highlight, whether they are posts that made me happy or ones that made me sad. I don't think I'd be nearly as motivated to quilt if I wasn't able to blog about it. But all in all, 2017 was a fabulous year for quilting, learning, sharing, and I hope 2018 is great as well!

Year in Review: 2017

Happy New Year!

2017 was a big year for me. It was my first full year quilting, and it was completely amazing. I learned new techniques, improved my machine quilting game, learned what my limitations are, and the biggest of all ... I joined the longarm quilting club! (That, in turn, is one of my best decisions ever, next to taking up quilting to begin with.)

I made New Year's Resolutions at the beginning of last year, so how did I do?

1) Love it, Use it: I'm not sure whether I succeeded or failed on this one. On one hand, I did use up many fabrics I love. On the other hand ... I started a questionable habit of buying doubles of my favorite lines, one to use and one to look at.

2) Stash Judiciously: I think I did pretty well here. For the most part, I only brought home stuff I really loved. I didn't bring home something I was only feeling meh about, like I had a tendency to do last year. But I did buy a few more jelly rolls than I intended to.

3) Go 3D: Check. I made a few zipper pouches, then made a tote bag and even a canvas crossbody bag. I'm quite enjoying bag making, and it provides a nice little interlude between quilts. The great part about bags, besides their practicality, is that even with sloppy sewing, it tends to look pretty good!

4) Learn EQ7: I did learn some aspects of EQ7. Do I know tons about it? Nope. But I know enough to design simple patterns or audition fabrics, and for now, that's enough.

5) Attend a Guild Meeting: One. I attended one meeting. That counts, right? I joined the Prairie Star Quilt Guild toward the end of the year, and next year I should be able to go to more meetings.

All in all, not too shabby! And now for the fun part ... I get to look at and tally my quilts!

Lap quilts: 16
Bed quilts: 2
Wallhangings: 2
Charity quilts: 8
Abandoned quilts: Just 1!

Here are my favorite projects of last year. Believe me, it was really hard to make up my mind!

#3: Tokyo Subway Map

Tokyo Subway map was the last quilt I quilted on my midarm Chloe, my Sweet Sixteen. I love that it was entirely made out of scraps, and looking at the quilt brings up memories of where I got all the various fabrics. The quilting was improv, random, and I enjoy looking at it even if I don't think there's enough contrast.

#2: Think Pink

Think Pink is easily the most modern quilt I've ever made. With the improv blocks and the asymmetrical borders, I had no idea it would be so challenging to piece. Quilting it took longer than anything else I've ever done, because there was so much ruler work. But it was worth it! Ironically, everybody loves the filler quilting in the gray border the most, even though that was so much easier than the rulerwork. Some things are just more bang for the buck, I guess!

#1: Flux

Flux is my favorite quilt of the year, which is surprising because it's not one where the quilting is the main star of the show. The fabric is. But the fabric is so amazing and the design so striking that I don't even mind that the quilting isn't as visible!

One strange thing happened last year. Before I got a longarm machine, I always had at most 1-2 quilts on standby waiting to be quilted. But after I got a longarm machine, this is what I ended up with at the end of the year:

I'm not sure how that happened! (Maybe it has to do with the fact that I spend 3-4 times as long quilting something as I do piecing it ...)

I won't write up resolutions for this year, though. I have a ton of projects to quilt (obviously), and I have many, many more projects on my todo list. But my only real goal for myself is to enjoy the journey and not burn out. There are nights I'd rather play video games than quilt, so that's exactly what I do!

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