Friday, February 16, 2018

Retreat :: Packing :: Swag Bag

I'm so excited to be heading to our Guild Retreat!  Today didn't come soon enough for me.  Our last Retreat was two years ago, which means we're all ready for another one.  This one promises to be even bigger and better than the last!  

There are a few things I learned from the last one.  Bring your own pillow!!  By far the greatest piece of advice I can give!  You will thank me for this, your neck will thank me for this.  

We all know how long it takes to cut out pieces for a quilt.  I highly suggest you pre-cut your pieces before leaving home.  One reason is, it's easier to cut where you are comfortable.  Another is you don't have to spend all your time cutting and very little sewing.  

That being said...I have been cutting and cutting all weekend through this week!  If I hadn't I'd would easily have spent my entire time at the retreat cutting!  Honestly!

I'll show you!

I have a quilt on my bed that I made eight years ago.  Recently I've wanted to make it again and figured there is no better time than now.  The quilt requires 4 different sizes of a Churn Dash block.  The first time I made it it was under the guidance of my daughter Britt.  (she taught me to quilt BTW)  Back then she cut all the pieces for me.  Today...I had no idea how much work that was!!

I decided it was high time I use as much of my Anna Maria Horner stash as I could for this quilt.  Which is exactly what happened.

The original quilt was designed with a tone on tone background for each block.  This time I decided I'd go straight solids.  I might be taking a risk, but what the hell!  It's only fabric!  YIKES!

Side note:  We will have a Pop Up Shop on Saturday featuring fabric from Craft South:  AKA Anna Maria Horner.  My source says her new line will be available...good thing I cleared out my stash!

I hope I'm not making a big mistake!  Time will tell!

Another quilt I cut was my latest design that is chock full of Flying Geese!  My goal here was to use my fat quarter bundle of Alison Glass Handcrafted that I've had for years!  

I spent far too much time searching for just the right pattern that incorporates a variety of sizes of Flying Geese.  Frustrated that the search wasn't yielding what I was after, I gave in and decided I'd design my own!  Let's hope it works since I've already cut everything!

But if it turns out...I could be a genius!

Another tip for a retreat:  bring a small project that will break up the tedium of a quilt.  A quick change, a quick project and chance of pace.

For me, I pick little blocks that I've wanted or want to make, but haven't taken the time to do so.

This paper pieced 'Fishy Bones' by Unicorn Hearts recently popped up on Instagram.  I cannot wait to make it!  And then she came up with 'Mr. Squeak'...there is no end to the cuteness!  Best part is they both are free patterns!

Mr. Fox is also a free pattern by Stars & Sunshine.  My son's girlfriend loves a good fox, so I thought I'd surprise her with this 5" mini. 

Yes, another paper pieced project!  This one isn't a free pattern, but I thought it would be really simple to throw down!  I'm going to make a 'J' using Quiet Plays Geometric Alphabet.  She has some of the best paper pieced patterns! 

Have I overwhelmed you yet?!  

Lastly, is the swag of all swags!  Aurifil thread!!  Some of you may know that I'm an Aurifil Artisan.  I'm among a very talented group of people who love to quilt and are supported by Aurifil thread.  It's a wonderful honor and Aurifil has been amazingly generous is my personal ventures and now with our Retreat!

I reached out to Hilary Jordan (Aurifil's Social Media Coordinator) and asked if Aurifil could sponsor something for a swag bag or just a giveaway item.  Imagine my surprise when this arrived at my front door!  Big, beautiful spools of thread!  I imagined small spools...this blew me away.  I'm sure everyone attending the Retreat will be just as surprised as I was!  I cannot thank Hilary and Aurifil for their generosity!

The past week I have been trying not to quilt a darn thing!  What would it be like to go to a Retreat and be burnt out from quilting?  Doesn't make sense to me either!  I know I'm getting super excited to have two uninterrupted, action packed and being around people who have the same passion as I do!

Which brings me to another very important tip:  Take time to chill out!  By that I mean, don't put your nose to the grindstone and try to get as much quilting done as you can.  Take the time to talk and interact with others.  My first retreat, I admittedly spent too much time trying to knock out as many projects and being as productive as I possibly could be, but I didn't take enough time to have FUN!  

Fun, connecting, enjoying each others company is where I want to take this retreat for myself personally.   

What are you best tips when you go on Quilting Retreats?    

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

'Point Made :: The Saga of a Table Runner

There might not be a lot of people who use table runners these days, but it won't stop me from making them!  

I have many reasons why I like making them.  I even have a top three as to why I enjoy tossing a table runner in the quilt rotation!
1:  they are quick.  2:   I can use scraps.  And 3:   the size makes quilting fun!

Also, it's a good way to try new ideas and use orphan blocks.  But that's just the beginning!  How about it's a good way to add color and texture to a room?  It can certainly add a big pop of color and deliver a bold statement!  That right there is reason enough!
14" x 50 1/2"

Here I was with this idea.  The kind of ideas that you can't get out of your head until you do something about it.  While I was designing it in my head, I knew it would make a much better table runner than a quilt.  At least at this time.  

The one thing I wanted to have was two colors and crisp points.  What better way to achieve that than paper piecing?!   

Simple!  Not quite so simple. would just take a little more time than I thought.  I launched EQ7 and came up with a couple pointy blocks.  This is where the simple came into play.  I designed two blocks that were slightly different from each other.  One worked one was a total fail!  That's all fine.  The next step was a layout.  The possibilities are pretty endless.  I got the block, I figured out the design, now I just needed the right sizes.  If you look at the runner you'll see that they all vary.  Width, height...I like a variety and it soon came together.  

With the plan solidifying, it was printing time.  A few of the blocks were larger than a piece of letter size paper so taping was required.  That's what happens when you want variations!  

When it all comes down to it, most of my time was spent designing, taping and picking color combinations for the shapes.  The shapes are among the easiest to paper piece.  Which made the process quick and fun!  

I picked grey, aqua, green and blue thread for the quilting.  The center of the triangles were quilted using a coordinating thread (aqua or blue or green), and the background was grey thread all the way.  Geometric straight lines were a breeze!  That's why this size is always so much fun!

My last quilting project was free motion stippling and I loved it.  It was fast!  But my heart belongs to lines, geometric, straight or otherwise!  As much as I wish I would be more of an 'all around' quilter...we each like what we like!

Now that I've 'sold' you on why you should make table runners, what's your experience or thoughts on the subject?  

Are you thoroughly opposed to the idea, make them and love it, don't care one way or the other ...or have you just been coaxed into giving it a try?!


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Juicy Baby :: Quilt

Juicy.  Ombre.  Lemonade.  Sunset.  This quilt has conjured up all kinds of visions from the colors sprinkled throughout.  It all started with one quilt:  Regatta.  My version of Block M Quilts pattern (this is my version:  Regatta) has been done for a while, but there was some extra 'scraps' that needed my attention.

The scraps left from my quilt were cut from stripes to squares.  I didn't have enough, but it was easy enough to make more for this quilt.  It helped a lot that Jelly Roll strips were used!

34" x 35"
I pieced together a fun binding to flow with the gradient shades of color.  Its never a bad thing!

I fiddled and adjusted until I had the right amount of 'ombre' happening.  I think that was the easy part really.  It wasn't until it was time to quilt that I wondered what to do. 


But then was the perfect opportunity to practice with stippling.  Stippling!  I figured this was as good a quilt as any to try Free Motion Quilting.  It is a pretty busy quilt that would lend itself to the all over Stipple effect.  Could I go wrong?!  Would I remember how to do it?  

That is debatable!  I'm not gonna lie...I did not practice before I threw this quilt on the machine.  What could go wrong?!  

It felt quite awkward, yet somehow familiar.  I tried to be fluid with my motion.  Smooth.  Perhaps a glass or two of wine would have helped.  It certainly wouldn't have hurt!

I only crossed over lines a few times!  Hallelujah!  I didn't care, no one was going to notice when it was all said and done.  Fluidity of the lines proved to be much harder than I thought though.  I maybe should have practiced!  There were some not so curvy curves, more like pointy curves!  But, I expected as much!

I knew that it wouldn't much matter after the 'crinkle' effect happened with the wash.  The effect was exactly what I was after and exactly what I got.  I'm not in the least disappointed with my quilting on this.  

What amazed me was just how fast a quilt this size got quilted using Stippling!  Damn!  Seriously!  I would say an hour.  One hour!  I may have to use this more often!

Are you a Stippler?  If you have any tips, I'd love to hear them...just don't say practice!  

This isn't a mind blowing, out of this world quilt to share.  But I did want to share the quilting.  I know just how hard it is to come up with quilting ideas.  I know just how hard it is to Free Motion quilt.  What I mainly want to share is regardless of your abilities, if you don't try you can't learn.  And, sometimes it's okay when things are not perfect.  It doesn't take away from the quilt or your creativity.  

You don't have to be perfect to be amazing!  


Friday, February 9, 2018


I've got a stack of quilts that are waiting to be quilted, but I put this one at the very top so it would be the first to be finished!  I was a little excited to see this one to the end, even though I really didn't know how I was going to quilt it!  On the fly quilting.  Figure it out as I go designing.  It'll all come together mindset.

21" x 21"

Besides having difficulty coming up with quilting ideas, I also have a very hard time naming my quilts.  I don't think all quilts need to be named.  Do you name your quilts?  I think there are quilts that deserve a proper name.  Which is not my strong suit.  So I was thrilled when Rebecca Grace @Cheeky Cognoscenti  suggested the perfect name for this quilt.  

The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
'a fortunate stroke of serendipity'.
synonyms: happy chance, happy accident, fluke

In a previous post (HERE), I talked about how this quilt came about.  How it started, how it kept growing and how it took on a life of its own.  I followed the 'quilts' lead and when it was time to stop, this quilt told me that too!  It was a happy accident this quilt!

You might think that's crazy talk!  Maybe it is.  Haven't your quilts talked to you?!  Please say yes so I don't sound crazy!

Quilting began with some of my favorite thread colors:  Aurifil #1231 Spring Green, #1148 Light Jade and #2730 Delft Blue.  I started in the middle section with dense straight lines and before I knew it I saw a beautiful plaid design emerging.  Another happy accident!

I was enjoying the process and figured if it wants to be plaid, than so be it...lets keep going.  The Light Jade and Spring Green stand out just the right amount and fit so well with the colors of this quilt.  

The back is Kona Celestial and is fast becoming one of my favorite colors.  It won't replace my all time favorite grey shades, but it's a good diversion!

This was the perfect opportunity to add some spice to the binding!  By adding a small pieced section, I was able to tie it together with the piano key border in the middle.  Its a nice touch and a nice change for a binding idea.  Something different.

Now to get back to that pile of quilts!  I think I have the two biggest ones left!  


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Easy 'Breezy' Beautiful...Elephant!

I gotta say I've always loved elephants!  A few years ago I fell in love with baby elephant featured on National Geographic named Breezy.  Ever since then I have longed for my very own Breezy.  The cute factor is off the charts watching those little pachyderms romping and trotting around!  My family knows how much I want one of my own, but for some reason they have ignored my one and only wish.  I don't know why!!  Instead I watch cute You Tube videos and look at images on line...longingly! 

Just look!  Who wouldn't want one?!  Back to reality...I knew I had to take matters into my own hands and I did just that!

9 1/4" x 9 1/4"
I was on Pinterest searching for inspiration and I came across a paper pieced elephant image.  Full disclosure, I tried to find out where the image originated, who it belonged to, but I couldn't track that info down.  Plus, I was hoping to find piecing instructions to make it easier on myself if I ever decided to make it. 

I know enough about paper piecing that I thought I could figure it out with out directions.  I studied the image and marked what I thought were the sections that would eventually be puzzled back together...seamlessly.    

It was not fun.  It was tedious, frustrating and more than once I wanted to quit.  But I'm not a quitter!  It may look like a mess right now, but I would make the final decision on tossing it or not after I attempted piecing it together.


So far, so good.  It is a cute little booty butt!  I worked on it over the course a few days, finishing it right before the Super Bowl!

The sections went together.  It was not easy, it was not pretty and it is so far from perfect.  I didn't really care!  As long as it looked like an elephant, that was good enough for me!  

You may have noticed this elephant has tusks.  Which means of course, this is not a baby Breezy!  I'm looking past that one little detail.  This is Breezy!

After pressing the life out of the center, I added a pieced border.  It wasn't going to quilt itself and with the Super Bowl kickoff looming ahead, I had to get it finished.  Grab the Aurifil thread and get a move on it!

I won't pretend I know how to contour with thread!  I had my baby elephant pictures on my laptop for inspiration and reference, fingers crossed it looks like an elephant by the time I get finished!  After a little bit I threw caution to the wind, after all elephants are suppose to be crinkly, wrinkly!

The dry tundra grass, a light breeze in the cloudless sky...if I had a watering hole it would be the perfect habitat!

I really like getting in the weeds!  Or maybe it's getting out of the weeds that makes this kind of project appealing to me.  Either way, I know have my baby elephant and no, I'll never make another one!!  

If you could have one animal as a pet, what would it be?  Forget that many animals could never be a real house pet...this is pure fantasy!  

On another subject, I'm trying to plan a couple projects for our Guild retreat.  I'm looking for a Flying Geese quilt pattern, modern, simple and one that uses 2-3 different geese block sizes.  If you have any suggestions, I am all ears!


Friday, February 2, 2018

It's Happening Again :: I can't Leave Well Enough Alone

I tell ya!  I get tunnel vision when it comes to quilting and scraps!  This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last...that I'm sure of!

Here's the deal.  I was working on a quilt made of Half Square Triangles.  I pieced that top together, but had a good stack of extra blocks left over.  Of course those were going to be used.  I went from a big quilt to a baby quilt in one seamless transition.  For the smaller one I had to trim the HST's an inch smaller, which left me with a pile of scraps.  At first I threw them in the trash...and then I didn't.  Yes, I did go through the trash and pull them out.  So much for vowing not to hold on to tiny pieces!  It's a sickness!


I saw these corner pieces while I was trimming and for some reason I thought why not stitch them together and make a mini mini quilt.  It was a bit stupid and I wanted to do it for no other reason than...they were there.

And so I did.  Cute, scrappy and oh so not perfect!  But I did it and had to finish it...because that's what we do as quilters.  I opted for just over 1/8" seams because it isn't like this is going to be draped over someones lap!  The HST's finished at about 1/2" in the end.

I grabbed the trimmed strips from the baby quilt and figured if I just 'log cabin' it around the center for a few rows it could be done.  My addiction would be fed, my scrap happy heart would be satisfied.  

...or so I thought...

The more rows I added, the more excited I became.  Where a few rounds was my goal, it eventually changed to 'once it's big enough where my scrap strips can't make it around the sides' ... I'll stop.  

It continued to grow by adding seven rounds of 1/4" (finished) strips.  So, let's add a border and call it good!! 

Which led to the tiny piano border...

...which led to 1/2" Logs, which led to another border...which led to 3/4" logs.  You get the idea!

It just got away from me!  I did not intend for this to happen.  And secretly...I was loving it though!

As much as I wanted to keep going round and round, I had to put an end to the madness.  If I took it further what would be the point of the center?  It would be lost and mean nothing.  

I stopped.  My 'crazy' was fed and I was full.   

It ended up being a just over 22" x 22".  Much bigger than that little center square and way bigger than I ever intended it to be!

Next up is quilting.  I grabbed a few thread options and decided I'll use all three!  Aurifil #1231 Spring Green, #1148 Light Jade and #2730 Delft Blue.  How I'll quilt it is up for debate, but I've fit it in with my stack of 'to be quilted' quilts and hope to share it soon!

Scraps.  I was so sure I could resist...