Tuesday, February 27, 2018

EEK! Meet Mr. Squeak

I am not a fan of rodents.  Of any kind.  Never was and I never will be!  Then again, there are exceptions.  This time the exception being Mr. Squeak.  I couldn't resist him, he's paper pieced, adorable and it was another 'palate cleanser' at the retreat.

Mr. Squeak
7 3/4" x 12"
As far as paper piecing goes, this one is pretty easy and quick.  Just what I needed!


I came home with a 5" x 9" block and didn't waste much time in finishing it up.  After all, he needed a little sprucing up.  If I'm going to have a mouse in the house he will have to be a cute one!

The first thing I did was add a dark grey 1/4" border.  It picked up where the tail ended.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to see a mouse with a tail that long...but its all about the the flow!

Finishing it off with a bright pink 1 3/4" border was where I decided to stop.  I easily could add border after border after border!  There comes a time when less is more!

Since I was going less with borders, I went more with free motion quilting.  Stippling (again) for the body, which I think gives great texture as fur, and pebbles in the background.  Again, more texture!

It was at the very last moment that I thought what's a mouse with out cheese?  Stereo typical mouse scenario!  I grabbed a small piece of 'cheddar' and pieced a wedge of cheese into the binding.  I wish I had made it a tad bit smaller so that the entire wedge was on the front, but I think the message comes through loud and clear!

Another scrap from the pile for the backing and viola!  Done!  I really enjoy small quick finishes and if it's paper pieced...all the better!

Like I said, I'm not a rodent fan except for this mini quilt!  But I'm sure there are plenty of fans out there...are you a mouse lover?!

Mr. Squeak is another free pattern by Unicorn Harts.  Click here for the pattern link:  Mr. Squeak


Saturday, February 24, 2018

It's The Little Things :: Mini Quilts

It might be a while until I finish the two big quilts I started at the Retreat, instead I'll reveal one of the mini quilts I started there and finished at home.  In some ways I wish I had started the easier quilt first.  That way I could have easily had a large quilt top finished and felt like I accomplished more than I did.  But I didn't.  Just one more tip for next year!

After getting home and settling in, I pulled out my Mr. Fox block and assessed the situation.  He couldn't be much cuter...or could he?!

I came home with a small, but adorable 6" X 6" unfinished block.  I could have stopped there, or I could see if I could up the ante with it.  I'm upping the ante!  I've gotta give it a try.

Borders are one way to take it up a notch.  There are a million and one options, which made me actually have to think before I act!

I was sure I didn't want to make a cute border, more of a classy Foxy Fox kind of border.  And I wanted to stay with the colors I've already used.

I added a 1/2" border using the leg color and then another 1/2" border with white.  It still needed something more and so I threw in the 1/4" border.  Liking the direction this was going, I decided that the last round would be a 1 1/2" in grey.  

In some ways it looked anemic to me.  You know, lacking color...or lacking something.  I contemplated, scrutinized and stared until I had the perfect idea!  Light bulb moment!  

11" x 11"
Maybe there were two light bulb moments!  The first, by adding the black binding it really pulled it all together.  In my opinion, it took the ordinary to a sophisticated and classy quilt.  It might be the first time I've ever used sophisticated to describe one of my quilts!

The second light bulb moment came while I was deciding how to keep the classy vibe with my quilting.   I did some tiny stippling around the fox, but didn't do anything other than outlining to the fox.

The real classy moment came when I quilted a nice geometric diamond around the last border.  Almost argyle-ish!  I never would have thought going simple would have been so effective!  It was a triumphant moment for me!  

Lets not forget about the little pieced binding section.  Seriously...I did that only because my one strip of black wasn't enough!  I figured adding a piece would be perfect...maybe you might think I planned it all along!

Making mini quilts is also a time to use scraps or undesirable fabrics as the backing.  When I saw this fabric in my stash...it was like angels singing!  Pure perfection!!!  The colors worked, and I had a piece that was just wide enough!  

Mr. Fox will be heading to New York for his final destination.  I've decided I will make this again...because now I want one for myself!!

You can have one too!  Mr. Fox is a free pattern by Stars & Sunshine.  Click here:  Mr. Fox for the link to the pattern.

I'm thinking I might also like to make a small quilt with cute animal blocks.  Like Mr. Fox, 'lil Hedgehog, Mr. Squeak (watch for the post on him!)....if you have any little animals, let me know!


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Back From Retreat :: Refreshed and Replenished

What a wonderful couple days full of nonstop quilting and a lot of fun!  You wouldn't believe just how exhausting it is to spend an entire weekend quilting!  I left on Friday and came home on Sunday.  We sewed, we ate, we laughed and we had fun.  What more could you ask for?  Okay, well fabric shopping and we did that too!

I did make progress on the two quilts I brought, but didn't get close to finishing either of them.  One has four different sizes of Churn Dash blocks and it it so time consuming.  The other I didn't start until late Saturday.  In between a stack of blocks I would do a paper pieced block as a way of 'cleansing'.  It helped!  I hope to share all of these projects in various stages as I work through them.  For now, I'll share my fabric haul and a few tidbits from the retreat!

It looks pretty empty in this picture!  It was early in the day on Friday, many people had yet to arrive.  The room was huge as you can see.  Plenty of space for everyone and a fully functional kitchen it the back.  

The lighting was pretty awful though!  I highly, highly recommend bringing a small lamp just in case.  It didn't help that there wasn't a ray of sun until the last day either.  We ended up binging in lamps from our cabins and rooms!

There was enough food to feed an army...we did not go hungry!  Fridays was our 'Social'.  Food, wine and wild, wild women...maybe not the wild women part!  I think everyone had fun.  I know I did.  I enjoyed the laughter, the projects, the fabric and the company.  I hope we do it again next year!


Each attendee received this little pin cushion jar filled with treats and tricks!  The thread donated by Aurifil fit perfectly inside the jar!

Clips, thread, pins, chocolate and band-aids!  All the essentials for a quilting retreat!

We were so, so lucky to have Elizabeth bring fabric to us from Craft South!  It was so much fun to touch and feel, and drool a little bit!

There was the newest Anna Maria Horner Collection 'Sweet Dreams', Carolyn Friedlander 'Gleaned' and some Cotton + Steal to round it out.  Also, solid bundles and even some yarn!

Emily took time away from her sewing machine to be the designated cutter...and she cut a lot of fabric that day!

My haul is pretty amazing!  I have to say if you haven't seen 'Sweet Dreams' in person, you can't appreciate how amazing the colors are.  It's a beautiful collection!

You can't tell much from this picture!  I am not quite ready to bust it open!  One day, right?!


I did buy yardage of these two prints.  The first will eventually be used for a backing.  Mmmm...just delicious!

I picked up a few pieces of 'Gleaned' for my stash.  The second and third cuts are pretty amazing in person.  They appear to shimmer, yet they are not metallic.  Very, very pretty!

Lastly, some solids.  The bundles were too pretty to pass up!  Plus, there is some purple/violet shades that may work for the Pantone Color of the Year Challenge:  Ultra Violet.  Thinking ahead!

That's about it!  There is nothing better than getting home after time away.  I was sad the retreat was over, but happy to get back to my space!  Sewing, bathroom and bed!  As with any trip, getting a good nights sleep the first night is nearly impossible!  I tossed, turned and actually had a nightmare!  My scream actually woke me up!  So strange...sorry roommates!

Worth it?  Oh, hell yeah!  There is something about being in a room with so many like minded people.  I learned, listened, laughed and lounged!  What more could you ask for!

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.  Doable...it 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 again...it 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!