Sunday, December 31, 2023

Tokyo Underground

Once upon a time when I was a fairly new quilter, I saw the pattern Tokyo Subway Map by Elizabeth Hartman, and I was immediately attracted to it: scrappy fabrics, and the entire quilt was made of 2.5" squares, so easy to piece. My first Tokyo Subway Map was the largest project I've ever quilted on my no-longer-with-me sitdown longarm, and I was (still am) very happy with it.

That was a long time ago, and I've wanted to make another Tokyo Subway Map for some time, but I didn't want to make it scrappy. Then when I saw a neon collection of solids called Phosphor by Libs Elliott, I suddenly had the idea: make a grittier version of Tokyo Subway Map on a dark gray background, and call it Tokyo Underground.

One thing I wanted to do differently, since I wasn't using scraps this time, was try to minimize the seams on the subway lines. To accomplish this, I had to use partial seams, but it was much easier than I originally thought it would be. I had a really good time piecing this.

I knew how I wanted to quilt this while I was still piecing it. I decided to add some ghost elements in the background, because of course I had to. I don't always manage, but I try to introduce an element of interest into each quilt, and the ghost subway lines are it for this quilt.

And the background space was filled with one of my favorite designs that I rarely get to use because it's usually not right for the quilt, but is perfect for this quilt: steampunk gears! I had written a tutorial earlier on how to quilt gears here.

This was definitely one of the most challenging quilts I've completed recently. The steampunk gears were quite tough to fit in all these little spaces, and there were tons and tons of starts and stops. I had to make a lot of decisions about which section to go to next, which added to a mental tax. Some quilts are easy and relaxing because the quilt path is clearly defined, but that's definitely not the case for this one!

A lot of the time I will go for months just piecing and not machine quilt anything. For the last few months though, I've not felt like piecing at all and just wanted to quilt. (I'm not sure I've experienced this before in my entire quilting life.) I don't know how long this phase will last, but I figured while I'm in this mode, I might as well try to get as many quilt tops done as possible before they start piling up again.

And whew, looks like I finished it in time, this last quilt of the year. Happy New Year to all, and I wish you all a great 2024!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Rapid City

After I finished the lovely More Fishes for Cheryl's blog hop, I loaded up the next quilt, and then, my summer vacation started. I had such a nice time with lots of traveling around the country and memories made with my family as well as some solo trips for myself, but after I got back home, it was really hard to get back into the longarm room.

After a hiatus of about 4 months, I finally started machine quilting again. All this time I didn't really know what to do with the quilt, and I kept hoping an idea would come to me. But it didn't. It wasn't until I actually started quilting that I forced myself to come up with something.

Rapid City is designed by Elizabeth Hartman, and the fabric collection I used is leftover from my Cat's Eye quilt, First of Infinity by Kumiko Fujita. This whole quilt had such a graphic and urban vibe that I knew I wanted a very simple design mostly of straight lines. I allowed one curvy design: the ribbon candy, because I just really like the way it looks across long strips.

Elizabeth's designs are always intricate looking and the cutting instructions have brought me to tears at times due to their complexity. But once the dreaded cutting is over, I always have such a good time piecing her quilts. This one was no exception!

I love the texture of the straight lines running across the white fabric, as it always looks and feels scrumptious. For the border I did a simple piano keys design. It's not something I do very often, but for this quilt, it seemed fitting.

Since I love this pattern, and I love the fabric collection, I knew I was going to love the end result as well. And I absolutely do. Hopefully with me breaking through the post-summer slump quilt hiatus, the next one won't take quite so long to finish. In fact, I think I already know what quilt I want to quilt next and exactly how to quilt it. It's another Elizabeth Hartman!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

More Fishies ~ Just Two Charm Pack Quilts Blog Hop

I've been a lot less active in the quilting community over the last few years, choosing to let quilting become just a hobby for myself, and instead focusing most of my attention and efforts on other endeavors. However, when Cheryl Brickey asked me to participate in a blog hop to promote her latest book, Just Two Charm Pack Quilts, I was excited to do it.

I've made a lot of Cheryl's patterns over the years so I knew it was going to be a good time. Her patterns are always clear, well-written, and the end results are always great.

I fell in love with More Fishies as soon as I saw it because it was so adorable. Even though it was assembled on the bias and I'm not generally a fan of that, I really wanted to make it. The only "new" fabric I used is a single charm pack, True Blue from Zen Chic, and the rest of the fabric is from my scraps. I had a lot of Kona turqoise due to frequently using it as a backing fabric, so that was the perfect background for the ocean for my fishies.

I knew I wanted a wavy design for the background, but I didn't want to do it over the entire background as it would be boring and my machine would hate me. (It really doesn't like this design.) So I sort of gave the fishies their own little swirl bubbles, and filled the rest of the background space with the wavy design.

The fishies themselves asked for minimal quilting, so I did just a simple geometric design to nail the fabric down, but I didn't want to make it too literal by quilting fish features or anything.

The wavy design is one of my favorites, but I had trouble with it for a long time because I just didn't really know what to do. After this quilt though, I can finally say I'm quite comfortable with this design! Unfortunately my machine still doesn't like it, so in the future when I use it I will still have to be judicious about it.

I really love everything about this quilt, from the fabric, to the quilting design, and even the binding was exciting. This one is definitely a keeper.


The rest of the quilts in Cheryl's book are gorgeous also, so be sure to check out the other stops on the blog hop!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


Shimmer is a very old quilt top, so old that I don't know when I made it nor the name of the fabric collection I used. I found the pattern in the book Striped Quilts Made Modern by Lauren Palmer, but I really wanted to use my Hex N More ruler so I did my own version, but the idea is definitely based on the book.

I hadn't seen this quilt top in years, so I was rather surprised when I pulled it out because it was a lot bigger than I thought. The hexagons were also huge compared to how I remembered them! However, I decided to treat this quilt as a sampler of hexagon quilting, and try out a lot of different designs.

I sat down and just kept drawing and drawing until I came up with over 2 dozen designs. However, when I actually started quilting, I found myself making adjustments as some things that sound great on paper just don't work on quilting. I also came up with several spur-of-the-moment designs in the midst of quilting, and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out!

To keep this quilt from taking forever to finish, I mostly picked simpler geometric designs, and occasionally sprinkled in a block where I quilted it a bit more densely.

I really like how this quilt turned out, and it was such a fun exercise to try out all these different designs in solid colors.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Yoyogi Park Squared

I came across the fabric bundle Yoyogi Park by Skinny Laminx a few years ago and was immediately enchanted by how adorable it was. I had already made one quilt, Yoyogi Park from it, but still had quite a bit left over. When I saw the pattern Plus Squared by Quilty Love, I knew it was just perfect for it.

This was a very easy and pleasant piecing job, as all of Quilty Love's patterns tend to be. I had a good and relaxing time during the piecing process while enjoying the adorable fabric.

When it came to quilting it, I was excited by all the negative spaces which were perfect canvases for some fun motifs. I knew just what I wanted to use though: a square spiral design, which is always mesmerizing to look at.

I did a very simple dot-to-dot quilting for the blocks, as that was all they needed.

I'm really happy with this quilt, rather more than the original Yoyogi Park which was made 6 years ago. It's hard to believe it's been so long!

Thursday, February 23, 2023


I rate every quilt top I piece from 1 to 5, where 1 = What was I thinking, and 5 = OMG I'll keep it forever. Well, very few quilts ever become a 5, and even if they do, I very rarely finish them because I find it tough to finish my favorites! But I decided to pull out a 5 for my first quilt of the year, and Peaks is it.

In fact, Peaks is not only a 5-star quilt for me, but it's also one of my absolute favorites that I've ever made. It's a combination of the pattern, the fabric (both designed by Natalie Barnes) and of course, some wonderful memories I have attached to the piecing of this quilt that makes it such a special quilt to me.

I bought the kit for this quilt on a whim because I loved it so much, but I didn't make it for awhile because I was intimidated by its seeming complexity. I then ran into Natalie at a quilt show, and after chatting with her, she assured me I could do it. And after I got home, I did! It turned out a lot easier than I expected, and the whole piecing experience was so fun too.

After I got Peaks on the frames, I stared at it for a long time, unsure of what to do. I haven't experienced drawing a complete blank on what to quilt for a very long time, but I think the stakes for this quilt is oh-so-high because I love it oh-so-much.

I ended up deciding that each type of block will get a certain quilting design, and there are only a few different types of blocks: small squares, medium squares, large squares, and spike blocks, and I picked a different design for each type of block.

I had no idea what the final quilt will look like when I started it, but trusted that if I just applied this quilting design consistently across the quilt, it will turn out alright. And it did turn out beautiful! I absolutely love it.

I'm so happy I finished this quilt, and I'll call it now, this is probably already my favorite finish of the year. It's hard to imagine topping it!

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Harpa ~ A Knitting Finish, Finally

I haven't posted about knitting in a few years, despite my initial intention to make this blog about all my creative pursuits, but it's mostly because I haven't done much knitting for a few years. However, lately I've finally started knitting again, and I'm finding one of my favorite ways to relax is actually putting on a record and knitting. (Yes, record. I had no idea that vinyls are hot amongst millennials right now until recently, I guess I'm just following a trend I wasn't aware of.)

Nowadays, I mostly knit scarves exclusively because I don't have to worry about the size so much. Harpa by Cirilia Rose is a project I started more than 3 and a half years ago, though I finished about 80% of it in the last 6 months. It was a looong project because I could only do a few rows at a time.

I really started to get excited about this project once the pattern started coming out, but I was still filled with a lot of doubts and concerns as I went on, several times being tempted to give up. But I'm glad I didn't, because I love the end result! Like quilting, most of the concerns we have while working on a project disappear when it's done.

This scarf is probably my warmest ever, because it has 4 layers of fabric! I suppose it's a good thing there are a few more weeks of winter left here in Chicagoland, so I might have a chance to use it.
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