Thursday, December 26, 2019

Best of 2019

It's that time of the year again! This is my 2nd time participating in Cheryl Brickey's Best of Linky Party, something I really enjoy because it gives me an excuse to look back onto my year of blogging and projects, and forces me (in a fun way) to pick my favorites.

As I look back onto 2019, I realize that it was a fairly low-volume year. In fact, I only completed 11 quilts in the entirety of 2019 (plus a few wallets and one handbag). But, here are my top 5:

I'm Most Grateful For: Mod Mountains

Earlier this year I experienced my first burnout. For a few months, I just didn't really want to quilt. I couldn't control the passion for quilting when it arrived, and I couldn't control it leaving me, either. But then something happened. Suzy Quilts started a quilt-along for Mod Mountains in April, and something about that stirred up the fire in me, and I felt a renewed passion for quilting.

Favorite Top: Rock Star

It was a very, very close race between Rock Star and Circuit for my favorite quilt top of the year, but at the end Rock Star won out because I'm just so crazy about the fabrics, and I have a thing for star quilts.

Biggest Save: Bridges

I really hated Bridges when I first finished the quilt top. In fact, I couldn't get over how much I hated it, and that's why it got quilted over so many others I have in the stash ... to get it out of my mind! But as a result, I took more liberties with the quilting, experimented, did things I normally wouldn't, and it turned into one of my favorites, to the point that it's now hanging over my fireplace.

Most Inspired: Seahorse Sanctuary

Seahorse Sanctuary is one of my most inspired quilts, both in the fabric selection and the quilting. The inspiration came in the form of putting the seahorse print inside the houses and quilting a little underseas neighborhood. All the houses are "decorated" with different quilting designs, and I really enjoyed this one.

Favorite Finish: Totality

When I finished Totality back in February, I said it was my favorite quilt ever. That still holds true today! Everything about this quilt speaks to me. The graphic pattern, the special fabric I got from Spoonflower, and of course, I love the quilting.


So that's my 2019. Between months of burnout, fear and loathing in the longarm room, and lots of trips, I didn't get as much done in the sewing room as I would have liked to, but of my finishes, I'm really happy with and proud of each one. Here's to 2020!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Rocking Duo

When I think of rock stars in the quilting world, there are a lot of names that come to mind. But when I think of someone who literally has the aesthetic of a rock star, I think of no one but Libs Elliott. I absolutely adore her fabrics and her designs, full of skulls, glitter, and fun.

So one can imagine just how much I enjoyed making her Double Trouble pattern with her Greatest Hits Vol I collection. (The black / white fabrics are not from that collection, as I didn't have enough.) I love star quilts, and this one is just pulsating with rhythm and beat! (Maybe because I listened to too much pounding bass while making this.)

Well, I'm totally in love with it! However, while cutting the black and white fabric, I misread the instructions and cut out twice as many. I decided it's time to make another Haphazard quilt, this time in just black and white fabrics. I didn't have enough for a throw-sized quilt, but this 36" x 36" quilt makes a good size of a wallhanging.

I just love it! It looks so graphic and striking. This is my 3rd Haphazard, and I think it's my favorite yet! All in all, it's been a happy week in the quilting studio.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Swooning Over Swoon

Possibly the most exciting but simultaneously the most stressful part of making a quilt for me is fabric selection. Out of the quilts I've made, if I messed up somewhere, that was almost always where I messed up. That's why I love to buy kits.

But once in awhile, I get an idea to marry a quilt pattern with a fabric collection in my stash, and I get so excited about it that I drop everything else. That happened to me when I envisioned Camille Roskelley's Swoon quilt in Katarina Roccella's Mediterraneo collection.

Mediterraneo features amazing saturated colors and beautiful prints that evoke the ambience of the Mediterranean coast. But I was terrified at the same time, because this could either become one of my favorite quilt tops, or fail spectacularly. There's not much in between.

The first thing I did was choose 3 fabrics for each of the 9 Swoon blocks:

Next began the piecing for the Swoon blocks, and these are some really fun blocks to piece. And after they started coming out one by one, arranging them on the design wall was very exciting. These are really big blocks and I didn't want to move them around a lot, so I took a picture of each block and arranged it using an app until I found a layout I liked:

These quilt blocks vibrate with life and color, and that's what I love about them. Though I hate adding borders and sashing, having more negative space will allow them to breathe much better. Fingers-crossed that this will turn out well!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Never Say Never

I said I wouldn't do another block of the month next year because I'm still tired from the last one, Stargazer, which did turn out beautiful but was so exhausting.

So what did I do? I've thus far joined 3 block-of-the-months next year for a total of 4 quilts. I should have known I wouldn't be able to resist when they come calling!

The first one I signed up for is Angela Walters's Build-A-Quilt. I fell in love with 2 colorways and 2 of the layouts ... which means I'm making 2 quilts! The fabric will be mailed to me every month so I won't have a lot to work with at a time, which helps keep stress down.

The Stargazer quilt I did this year was run by Rebecca Bryan, who does these beautiful and intricate designs. But it was challenging and a lot of work, so I decided not to do another one next year. Of course, as soon as Rebecca showed off her design, Solstice, for next year, I caved. It is so beautiful and unique looking, and I really need a purple and orange quilt in my life.

And finally, I also signed up for a block of the month from Freshly Pieced called Paper Chain. I plan to audition my own fabric for this one.

And I already got started on Angela's build-a-quilt, since that kicked off a few weeks ago. The first month's blocks came together nice and easy:

I'm so excited about these block of the months! I hope I will find ways to manage the journey and not burn out too quickly.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Bridges is a pattern by Anne Sullivan that appeared in Modern Monthly of the Modern Quilt Guild 2 years ago. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to make it, even though at the time my curve piecing skills were non-existent. Now that I'm a little better at it, I can finally take a crack at this!

I used the fabric collection Diving Board by Alison Glass, which I thought was very fitting given the theme. The pattern is for a wallhanging size, so I expanded it to be a throw sized quilt.

When picking quilting designs, the first thing I look at is what the theme of the quilt is. In this case, the inspiration is clearly suspension bridges, so the quilting followed that.

The part above the arches is the sky, so I quilted swirls and added an extra row of bridges with the quilting. I like to do these types of ghost blocks a lot, because they add visual interest and fill up space, so I don't have to do as much filler quilting.

The printed fabric is quite busy so I just did straight lines and some dot-to-dot quilting in the bridges. The straight lines further emphasize the suspension bridge theme.

The portion below the arches represents water, so I got to practice a design that I really like but still struggle with, which is wavy lines. The main challenge is working this design so that I'm never quilting from right to left for too long a distance. Otherwise my stitch quality deteriorates and eventually the thread shreds.

I could have filled up that whole region with wavy lines, but I decided it would be boring, so I added some elements for more visual interest. And why not a feather? It can represent an underwater plant of some sort. And at the last minute, I decided to throw in a treasure chest. I've never quilted something quite so literal before, but it was fun and adds some whimsy.

To be honest, I didn't like this quilt top a whole lot when I was finished with it, so I took some liberties with the quilting and was more experimental, but the quilting totally saved it for me, and I sort of love it now!


Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Cooking Up Quilts, Powered by Quilting, and Meadow Mist Designs.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Spliced is sort of my "return" to longarm quilting, because prior to working on Spliced, I had not touched my longarm for almost 3 months. Between vacations, lifestyle changes, lots of road trips, I just haven't felt like quilting. I've been piecing a lot, but not quilting.

But I'm back in the longarm room now, and I hope not to take that long of a hiatus again. This quilt top's pattern is called Whiskers by Modern Quilt Studio. I used a kit because I find the colors to be perfection, and I think the usage of the yarn-dyed striped fabric is just brilliant. I named it Spliced because that was what I was doing to add in those yarn-dyed strips ... splicing them in!

I found the piecing of this quilt rather challenging, because although the yarn-dyed striped fabric is gorgeous, it is hard to work with. I knew I'd have trouble getting the pieces to be the right size at the end as it sort of requires perfect piecing, so I cut the pieces bigger to begin with and used a scant scant quarter-inch seam, and trimmed down the excess at the end. It worked out well.

For the quilting design, I took one of my favorite approaches which is creating a foreground / background effect. I wanted to extend all the "whiskers" so they form a woven pattern. This of course requires some extra marking, but it's always worth it. The negative space in between are filled with swirls and pebbles.

I was rather afraid that after nearly 3 months away from the machine, I would forget how to quilt. But as it turns out, it's just like riding a bike! As soon as I got going, it's like I never stopped. Given how many of my quilts have a neutral background, it's always exciting to quilt with a bright teal thread. And I really, really like the striped binding too.


Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Cooking Up Quilts, Powered by Quilting, and Meadow Mist Designs.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Meanwhile in Yarnville

The very very small subtitle of my blog is "A blog about quilting, knitting, and other creative pursuits". When I started this blog, I had started dabbling in sewing and quilting but working with yarn was still a major part of my life. Over the last few years, it clearly fell off the radar completely, and the last post I made about knitting was January 2018, almost 2 years ago!

And it's because I really haven't worked very much with yarn over the past 2 years. But after visiting Stitches Midwest 2 months ago, I decided I wanted to knit and crochet again. Although I forgot some bits, the muscle memories came back quickly. Having done millions of stitches in the past (probably) surely counted for something.

So it's time to make a post, my one yarn-related post of the year. (Otherwise I really will have to change my subtitle.) These are some of the projects I've completed in the past few months. They're all accessories because that's what I enjoy making. And considering that winter is just around the corner, I'm sure they'll come in very handy!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Quilty Road Trip

I had been planning this road trip for a very long time. In June of this year, I decided that I had to get over my fear of my longarm machine (yes, I fear it a lot!) and take the APQS maintenance class that was happening next week. I wanted to learn how to keep it running happily, fix simple issues, and time the machine if I ever needed to.

The June class was full when I inquired, but I managed to get a spot in the October class. Looking at the map, I realized that the APQS showroom was also just 2 hours away from Missouri Star Quilt Company and 3 hours away from Quilting Is My Therapy. I'd always wanted to visit those shops, so my quilty road trip plan quickly came together.

I arrived at the APQS showroom in Des Moines, Iowa full of apprehension. I'm not particularly mechanical, and I wondered if I would be able to absorb all this information. As it turns out, the class was limited to 6 students, which was a good thing.

Out of all of the classes I've taken in recent memory, this was by far the most educational. I walked in knowing nothing and walked out with my head about to explode. It was so much information. I can't say I absorbed everything, but ... I did time a machine! I won't look forward to having to do it, but I could now if I needed to. That's worth the price of this class alone, but I also learned lots of other things, so I would say this was an excellent class.

After class was over, I drove over to Hamilton, Missouri, to begin the shopping leg of my trip. Hamilton has a real small-town America feel, and it was very nice and different from where I live. Missouri Star Quilt Company took up a good part of 2 buildings, and I really like how the shops were all divided into themes.

After Missouri Star, the last shop of my trip is Angela Walters's Quilting Is My Therapy. As everybody who reads my blog regularly knows, I am one of the biggest fangirls of Angela Walters, so visiting her shop is quite a special experience. I didn't get to see Angela because she's hosting a retreat several blocks away, but her shop is just such a beautiful little haven of color and fun!

After that, it was time to stop for the evening at my sister-in-law's place before heading back to Chicago. I ate too much and spent too much, but I had a great time and feel more confident about keeping my longarm happy. And last but not least, at the end of a shopping trip is the part where I take all the stuff out of the bags and see how much damage I did, right?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Stargazer: Final Assembly

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Such was the thought going through my head as I took out all the pieces from the 9 months worth of blocks and started to assemble them.

I followed the instructions and slowly by slowly the blocks came together. I would say that the toughest part of this is organizing all the pieces and making sure everything is in the right place. The actual sewing, though tedious, was not difficult. What really helped is that I used foundation paper piecing instead of freezer paper piecing, so while I was piecing the triangles together into blocks the paper provided extra stability.

Once the individual blocks were all done and trimmed, I sewed the individual sections in 9 parts. This was a very trying process as almost all the blocks had bias edges, and I'm afraid to even breathe near bias edges. Also, there are some seriously thick seams here. Even with the help of a mallet and a heavy hand on the iron, the seams are still thick enough that I hope I don't break a needle while I'm quilting this!

And finally, after a few months of work, this quilt top has come together. It is quite pretty, but being an all-solids quilt, it lacks a bit of soul. I hope the quilting can put the soul back in.

I'm thrilled to have finished this block of the month quilt. It was my first ever BOM where I had to wait for instructions month by month and do a little at a time, and I'm unsure if I will want to follow such a format in the future. There's a lot of mental and physical setup and teardown every month that can be avoided if I did it in one fell swoop. But I'm glad I tried it this once.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Minikins: Turnpike Convertible Wallet

The Turnpike Convertible Wallet is my 4th wallet of the year, and one I can close out my "year of wallets" with. When the year began, I wanted to make a few wallets and I had 4 patterns in my collection. Now I'm done with all 4!

This wallet is from Sew Sweetness's Minikins Season Two collection. I used a black and gold fabric that was probably a Harry Potter print, and the cool thing about this wallet is that there's a removable shoulder strap that is fastened on by snaps. I didn't think I would like or use the strap, but it's actually quite adorable when being carried as a mini purse! The inside of it features a cell phone pocket, card slots as well as a zippered pocket.

Now that I'm finally done with my wallets, I can say that my favorite of the lot is actually #3, the Charm School Wallet. In daily use, it is the most practical and easy to use, and it was also the most enjoyable to make. (This one probably ranks at second place, though.)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Circuit ~ Ready to Quilt

In February of this year I went to Nashville for QuiltCon, but unlike the previous year I didn't take any classes and I only was able to spend a few hours at the show because I wanted to get out of Nashville before the traffic got really bad. But one of my favorite finds in the vendor hall was undeniably the Circuit quilt by Sylvia Schaefer.

Circuit drew me in immediately because black and neon green is such a cyberpunk look, and being an ex-engineer myself, naturally I'm attracted to anything "techy" looking. The kit makes a smaller quilt, but I was easily able to find black and green fabrics in my stash to complement the kit and now I have a beautiful 75 x 75 quilt top that I'm in love with.

The blocks are a mixture of traditional and foundation paper piecing (which I love), and the scrappy blacks and greens have such a great look. I used a lot of metallic fabrics, and it adds so much interest and shine to this quilt.

I don't quite know how to quilt this, but I also think it doesn't matter how I quilt this, just that I do. The most important thing about this quilt is the pattern and the fabric, which is busy enough that the quilting won't show. I just want to get this one finished soon(ish), because I really want to use it!

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