Monday, December 28, 2020

Best of 2020

2020 ... what a year! I debated whether I should even do a year-end summary post, but looking back at my projects this year, I realized that I do want to write one. Regardless of what's happening in the outside world (and in my home world ... my oldest is still not allowed to go to school), the quilting room will always provide a refuge. Picking out my top 5 of the year helps remind me that 2020 isn't all bad.

Like in previous years, I'm joining Cheryl Brickey's Best of 2020 Linky Party. Thanks to Cheryl for hosting this great linky party!

Most Challenging: Moon Dance

I knew before heading into Moon Dance that it would be hard. And it was. Fabric selection was incredibly stressful, and I wasn't sure until the very end that it would work out well. Also, this was my first time dealing with a double curve (to get the almond shaped block), which Moon Dance had tons of. However, although stressful and difficult, I never once thought I wouldn't be able to do it, mostly because of the wonderful pattern writing of Sew Kind of Wonderful and their amazing Quick Curves Ruler.

Most Inspired: Rainbow Road

I had a story planned for Rainbow Road while I was piecing it, which was probably several years ago. I envisioned a Matrix-style steampunk city that's kind of grim, but has a strip of Rainbow Road at the very top that represents a kind of holy grail. That was my plan all along, but it wasn't until I came up with the idea of criss-crossing roads beneath the rainbow road and a filler that resembles gears that I felt ready to quilt this. I really like how it came out, and felt my vision came to life, making this my most inspired quilt of the year.

Most Fun: Bone & Chains

When I came up with the category of "Most Fun", I had to define it for myself. What does fun mean? Fun to piece? Fun to quilt? Or fun to look at? Turns out, all 3. Now, Bone & Chain was definitely a major pain to cut, but once that was done, I had a blast piecing it, and watching the blocks slowly come out was very rewarding. It was also fun to quilt once I decided what to do with the skulls. But the best part ... is that this quilt is so fun to look at! I love how the eyes are sometimes wandering, sometimes cross-eyed, and sometimes dead. All in all, I had a lot of fun with this one!

Favorite Top: Solstice

Solstice was one of the block-of-the-months I did this year, and it was with Rebecca Bryan, who designs spectacular (and complex) quilts. I was really excited every month to work on this, and though it was challenging, it was also easier than it looked. I love the color palette, the fact that it has a burgundy background, and the final layout is so unique and definitely not like any other quilts I have made before. All this easily makes Solstice my favorite top of the year!

Favorite Quilt: Velodrome

This probably comes as a surprise to most. It certainly came as a surprise to me! When I set out to pick my favorite quilt of the year, I did not expect to pick Velodrome. First of all, when I first finished the top, I felt neutral about it. I neither liked it nor disliked it. It wasn't until I was done quilting it that I realized that I really liked it. And it wasn't until I had snuggled under it for months that I realized that I really really loved it. I find myself running my hands over the texture, admiring the fabric (and the quilting design), and thinking about how this quilt went from meh to oh-so-special!


In conclusion, in these confusing times, I'm so grateful that I found quilting. When the world is grey, I can play with pretty fabrics, I can escape from my worries just for a bit and concentrate on the simple joy of sewing a block, and I can put on some good music and quilt my anxieties away.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Paper Chain ~ Final Assembly

I've finally completed my last block-of-the-month of the year! Paper Chain is a paper-pieced block-of-the-month designed by Freshly Pieced. Out of the 4 block-of-the-months I've done this year, this one is perhaps the most traditional: 12 blocks, one block a month.

For me, fabric selection is always going to be the most challenging part of a quilt. This is why I like kits so much, but I decided not to do a kit for Paper Chain and instead curate my own fabric. I decided to use Breeze by Zen Chic.

Paper piecing requires a lot more prep work than other types of quilting, and I admit I really ran out of steam for this quilt about halfway through the year. But then I got some energy back and finished the last few months all in one fell swoop. I definitely got more and more excited as I approached the end!

I wasn't sure how I wanted to lay it out, so I browsed through a few books until I found one that seemed perfect: a modern traditional layout by Amy Gibson from her book The Quilt Block Cookbook. It had sashings and cornerstones like a traditional sampler, but also was off-center and had negative space like a modern quilt. I changed the math a bit because her layout is for a 16-block sampler and I only had 12 blocks, but the general idea is the same.

I feel like when I choose my own color palette, I'm basically holding my breath until it all comes together, because only then do I know whether the fabrics worked or not. In this case, I held my breath for a whole year. At the end though, I'd have to say ... I love it! The colorway evokes feelings of Japan and cherry blossoms, and this quilt feels much more special to me as a result.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Ghost Blossoms

It's been an absolutely crazy year, hasn't it? I knew that this quilt would be my last finish of the year, and I thought ... what should I pick? I have a wide variety of choices, from more muted palettes to explosions of rainbows. But I think a bright rainbow is what hits the spot for this time of the year.

Ghost Blossoms is designed by Tula Pink from the book Quilt with Tula and Angela, and for the fabrics I chose 16 prints from my Alison Glass stash. They don't all belong to the same line so there's a level of scrappiness, but it's still all Alison Glass so the color has a coherence. I don't know what is it about Alison Glass rainbows, but they have such a glow to them!

I don't like to obscure prints with a lot of heavy quilting, so I quilted dot-to-dot geometric designs in the blossoms.

The white background, however, is calling for a lot of elegant swirls!

But I didn't want to do that for every space, so every other row, I quilted a slightly different design in the background ghost blossom.

I think this quilt top is quite old. I'm not even sure when I made it, but it was at least 3 years ago. I'm sure glad I pulled it out for the final finish of the year. I'm totally in love with this quilt, and this is a great quilt to close out this insane year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Stargazer, designed by Rebecca Bryan, is a block-of-the-month I did last year. It was a big challenge, and after I was done with it, I felt so physically and mentally exhausted that I didn't want to look at it for quite awhile. So I put it away for a whole year ... but I finally decided it's time to quilt this.

Although I usually choose to quilt my quilts to death, I decided to try something different here for a change. I wanted to emphasize the beautiful geometric nature of this quilt, so I did a lot of dot-to-dot geometric quilting. This is the most sparse quilting I've ever done, and honestly it's kind of scary.

However, I didn't want the whole quilt to be composed of straight lines, so I slipped some swirls and continuous curves into what I consider the focal point of the quilt: the center.

I also reflected these designs on the directional points of the quilt.

The color palette of this quilt is so striking with the purples and teals. It was what initially drew me to this pattern, but it presented a dilemma during quilting. If I quilted this very densely, I would likely have to keep changing threads, and I really didn't want to do that. But by quilting sparsely, I managed to get away with just using one color: purple.

Quilting this quilt was nowhere near as challenging as piecing it, but the super bumpy corners did present a little bit of hardship. Miraculously, I didn't break a needle, and I now feel a bit more confident about thick seams in general ... because if my machine can handle this quilt, it can probably handle anything I throw at it!

When the quilt top was first completed, I remembered thinking it was beautiful but lacked a little bit of soul. Solid quilts tend to have that problem for me. But now, I'm really, really happy with it, and I think it has soul now.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Handiwork ~ Build-A-Quilt #2

Handiwork is the 2nd colorway from the Build-A-Quilt program by Angela Walters, and unlike Urban Grid which felt a bit like a risk, I knew I loved this color palette the minute I saw it.

I mean, it's Alison Glass, how could I not love it? What did scare me a bit more than Urban Grid is that I chose a layout I've never tried before: a braid quilt.

This was definitely more challenging than the flying geese layout of Urban Grid, but I'm glad I chose it because it is definitely an interesting and beautiful design!

I was quite apprehensive about this layout, and it was definitely not easy, but I'm very pleased with the way it turned out! Unfortunately I couldn't get a full picture as it's so huge, but I can't wait to quilt this!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Urban Grid ~ Build-A-Quilt #1

Late last year I decided to join the Build-A-Quilt program by Angela Walters. I had trouble deciding between 2 colorways, so I decided to just do both of them. The first one I've completed is Urban Grid.

What drew me to Urban Grid immediately is the really funky fabric. This is not a palette I would usually pick for myself, but something about it was intriguing to me, so I decided to give it a shot.

I enjoyed receiving fabric in the mail every month and making the blocks a lot. I followed the pattern except for one curved block that I substituted.

The best thing about this Build-A-Quilt is that the layout is so interesting! I really enjoyed the look of all those giant flying geese framing the blocks.

At first I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this quilt, and to be honest I'm still slightly on the fence, but one thing's for sure ... the more I look at it, the more it's growing on me.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Bone & Chain

Since it's late October, I thought Bone & Chain would be a good quilt to finish and blog about! The pattern of Bone & Chain is by BasicGrey, and I used fabrics from Guicy Guice's Declassified line. I love the funky and fun colors in this quilt!

Without a doubt, this is the most intense and complicated cutting I've ever done. There are thousands of little pieces, and they come in all these different sizes. It was amazing I managed to keep track of them and not make a mistake, but I think the well-written pattern has a lot to do with it. The whole quilt is made of straight seams or snowball corners, but I would say the main challenge is keeping everything organized.

After all that piecing, the quilting is actually the easier part. The space is already pretty well divided, so I added in some straight lines for contrast and filled the rest of the background with a swirl.

The skulls themselves, however, were tough. I never quite know what to do with these "face" type quilts, to be honest, so I did some geometric dot-to-dot designs. I did have fun with the eyes though ... some of the skulls are totally dead, others have eyeballs.

This quilt was tough but enjoyable, and I'm so glad I finally finished it! I adore skull quilts and though this is my first one, it will not be my last.

For the back of the quilt, I used more of my Tula Pink backing fabric. It literally pains me to use such nice and expensive backing fabric like this (I'm cheap) but it does make the quilt feel even more special!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Facets ~ Adventure in Improv

Earlier this year I made the Scrappy Market Tote, an improv bag by Christina Cameli. I really loved the finished result, but I couldn't get enough of the palette of blue / green / yellows I picked, and I wanted to make a full-sized quilt with the same palette.

The pattern I decided on is Facets by Christa Watson. I love how the improv patchwork is juxtaposed with white fabrics for some breathing room, and the solid column of colors is perfect for a bit of balance.

In order to gather fabric however and for a truly scrappy look, I had to dive into my scrap bins. I have quite a few of them, and they're all incredibly heavy. I usually don't look inside them because I'm scared of facing my scraps, but I also don't have the heart to toss them. After pulling a ton of fabrics and ironing them and cutting them into random-sized strips, I had a good selection to work with.

The first step is to make large rectangular panels from where I could cut the shapes I need. This part was fun but also very exhausting. I realized that my brain is consistently on and I'm constantly making decisions when I'm doing improv, and it's not something I can help. The result is that I'm completely mentally drained at the end of an improv session!

After I had enough panels (it took a lot) I cut them into triangles for this quilt. I decided to use foundation paper piecing to make these blocks so they'll be perfect and so I don't have to buy any specialized rulers.

Final assembly took awhile as there are a lot of blocks, but it was exciting to watch this quilt come together.

Well, I'm really, really happy with it!

Thursday, October 8, 2020


It's been 3 years since Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic released her Fragile collection, and to this day it remains one of my favorite collections ever. I have made quite a few quilts with it, including Critical Sunshine and Paradox. And, it was because of Paradox that I have this new quilt.

Paradox was a quilt full of large flying geese made in the traditional way, and that meant I had a lot of leftover half-square triangles. I couldn't throw them away, so I decided to try to arrange them to see if I could come up with anything interesting. Happily, I did manage to arrange them in a manner that I found very pleasing, and after tacking on a wide border to fill it out a bit, I had in my hands a very nice throw-sized quilt.

I held onto this quilt top for about 2 years because I was just too in love with it to quilt it. (That statement made a lot of sense in my head.) But, I decided it's finally time. After some sketching, I decided on a design that both emphasizes the geometric lines of Fragile, as well as the theme of the fabric ... beauty in nature.

I always have a bit of trouble deciding what to do with borders, because I don't really like to treat borders like traditional borders. Instead, I prefer to think of it as a negative space. So I extended some of the quilting designs from the blocks out to the borders. I further divided the space and then filled the rest in with a mix of designs that reflect nature, such as leaves, feathery swirls, and pebbles.

The blocks had quite a bit of print on them, so I kept the quilting more minimal with dot-to-dot designs and straight lines.

After all this time, I'm finally done with Fragile, and I couldn't be happier with it. It really is everything I wanted it to be, and the best part is I didn't use up any of my precious hoard of Fragile fabrics to make this quilt, since it's made from leftovers!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pick-Up Sticks

Pick-Up Sticks is such a fun and unusual quilt for me. The original pattern is called On the Ball by Brigitte Heitland (of Zen Chic). I really liked the pattern, but it was made with the splice and insert technique which will be incredibly difficult on this scale. So instead, I made it with the applique technique. Details on how I made this top is here.

When it comes to quilting it, I decided to keep this one simple in concept. I extended each "stick" into the background space, and I love the way it divides up the background.

I filled all the areas in between with my favorite filler: elongated elegant swirls.

I filled the center areas with pebbles, and left all the sticks unquilted so they would rise to the top of the quilt.

This quilt was easy even if it was time consuming. I absolutely love it, but I also cannot use this as a lap quilt because between the applique and the pounds of thread I added on, it's just too heavy! But I think it'd make a fabulous wall hanging ...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Solstice ~ Ready to Quilt

Late last year after I finished the Stargazer Block-of-the-Month run by Rebecca Bryan, I said I wasn't going to do another one. Stargazer was a lot of work, and I was still feeling tired from it.

A few months later, when Rebecca revealed the 2020 Block-of-the-Month, Solstice, I decided that yes, I was going to do another one. Rebecca's quilts are never easy, but they're super interesting and unique. I certainly don't have another quilt like Solstice in my collection.

After 8 months of block making, I finally got ready to assemble Solstice.

Solstice wasn't too difficult to put together as it consists mostly of 60 degree triangles assembled in rows. There are no bias edges on the outside which is good news for me. However, some of the seams are very, very thick and I found that the most challenging part. The end result definitely has a wow factor! I would never have thought to use these colors, but they work so beautifully together.

Solstice is the first block-of-the-month I finished this year, and I couldn't be more pleased with it. One down, 3 more to go!
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