New Project – Ode to Taupe

16 08 2012

Yes, that’s right – ANOTHER project.

Because the Farmer’s Wife and the Double Wedding Ring aren’t enough to be working on.

The trouble is, my brain isn’t content unless it’s spewing forth a design, so it did. And, coincidentally, Connecting Threads had a sale on their solids.

New Project

I ordered five yards of taupe, two yards of wine, and thread in Claret, Fawn,and Taupe. I also ordered one yard of the stripey taupe print on the bottom right of the image above. Everything else was pulled from stash. The two prints at the top right of the photo, I’m thinking will go into the backing.

Ode to Taupe Start

I start piecing last night, because I was suffering from Farmer’s Wife anxieties. I keep looking at the gray I’ve started sashing the blocks in, and worried that the dye lots won’t match, but I’m forcing myself to ignore it for the moment. It’s not that big a deal, in the long run, if there’s slight variance, because I won’t see it when I step back  from the quilt as a whole. I just need to take some time to step back and accept, and then everything will be good.

So I got a start on this top last night. I wasn’t really paying attention and added that top taupe strip. That will end up coming off, and having a piece inserted. My intention is to have the design flow off the edges of the top.

I’m not entirely sure where this is heading yet. I started the design in EQ7, and haven’t had a chance to complete it. It’s a little hard to wrap my head around – I’m working bigger than I’m used to. Both of those blocks here finish to about 17.5″ X 17.5″.

*grins* My ruler is only so big, you know!

So far, I’m liking it, but am questioning the inclusion of the smaller black and white prints. I have a feeling that when I step back from the quilt, they’ll start looking like the dots in 80s pop art and ‘muddy’ the clarity of the minimalist design. I need to purchase a couple of yards of orange for a charm swap, so I’ll probably go ahead and order some more black and white prints at that time to get my order to the free shipping limit at

I’m going to keep the white on black stripe, and the large black on white damask, and probably the Spirograph-esque print. The other two are destined to return to  the stash and await another project, no matter how much I love them. I might yet change my mind on the Spirograph-esque print, as my brain is looking for a certain level of elegance in the prints, and I’m not sure that it will fit the bill.

And, yes, this is destined to fall into the group of simply pieced quilts that have the hell quilted out of them. I’m figuring on echoing the shapes of the wine colored portions of the quilt, and I will probably return to having them spaced only 1/2″ apart.


The Taming of the Scraps

30 07 2012

Working on Fun with Free Piecing (which should really be called Cheating on the Farmer’s Wife, Part Deux) illustrated to me that I really, really need to get my scraps under control. I have a lot of them. I could probably fill a kitchen garbage sack with them.

And, silly me, I started browsing the internet. Enter the pins and bobbins Made in Cherry Quilt Along. I looked at the requirements for the project, and mentally said, “That’s easy!”

But first, I drew the project up in EQ7, because I do that:

Made in Cherry
The original, Sarah Fielke pattern didn’t have any borders, but I think I much prefer adding the two borders to this. I just really like scrappy borders, and any reason to use them, I swear.

So I started cutting charms. I’ve decided to try and do a similar quilt, but one in which each charm is unique.

Made in Cherry Charms

1. Made in Cherry Charms 1, 2. Made in Cherry Charms 2, 3. Made in Cherry Charms 3

So far, I’m 77 charms into prepping for this. Okay, so not just for this. I’ve spent several hours cutting scraps into four manageable sizes:

Trimmed Scraps

So  now I have a lot of pre-cut squares. I suppose it’ll be nice. I’m a little terrified that I actually went and cut 1.5 X 1.5″ squares. I see a postage stamp quilt in my future if this keeps up. Or a couple of Made in Cherry pillow shams.

Darn it! I need to stop planning projects!!

A Start

24 07 2012

I’ve started quilting Fun with Free Piecing. I just couldn’t resist! I know I have a older projects that need to be quilted up, but it’s what I want to do right this very minute. Which is just silly, because I have the backing picked out for my Basket BOM top. I have a Flying Geese top that needs some unpicking, and then the quilting can be started again. I have a string pieced table runner that should really be done next, with the scraps of batting I have…

The list could probably go on, but I honestly haven’t looked through my finished tops in a while. I want to drag them all out and photograph them for the blog, but that involves waiting until I can spend a chunk of time at the park, since I want to borrow the fencing out there.

Anyhoot… Enough castigating myself for setting stuff aside. At least they’re in the completed tops pile!

Quilting Started

I started quilting two nights ago. It’s going fairly quickly… I have half of two rows done. So far, I’m liking it. My lines aren’t perfectly straight, but I refuse to stress myself over it. I know that once I’m done, I won’t even see the slight wave to some of these quilted lines. I’m alternating my top thread between a dozen or so colors, and am resisting the urge to buy more from Connecting Threads. I love their threads and the way they finish.

After getting through a few of these, I took a look at the quilted portions of the top, and decided that I need to stitch in the ditch around the scrappy blocks. They needed just a touch more definition. To keep things from being less messy, I’m stopping every so often and burying my threads. Zeb’s been wanting to be involved, so I’m letting him help trim the threads.

With luck, I’ll have this quilted up by the end of the week, and I can spend my vacation doing the binding and putting my Farmer’s Wife blocks into a top. Of course, that’s around all the cleaning and organizing I want to do…

Baby Got Back!

22 07 2012

I have a backing for Fun with Free Piecing!

Fun With Free Piecing, Backing

Pieced over about three hours – most of that time measuring and debating those measurements.

I started with two yards each of the solid red and berry prints, stolen from fabrics purchased for the germ of an idea that will never see fruition. It wasn’t quite enough to complete the backing, so I dug through my secret stash of large scale prints that I love but fear cutting into.

I came across a 2009 fabric from Alexander Henry, ‘dagmar’. That’s the floral in the photo and I love it. LOVE. IT. However, I only had one yard of it, so I’d never planned a quilt with it. I should have purchased more…


Ah, well. Done is done.

I originally thought I’d do four panels of dagmar in different sizes, but I didn’t want to do that much quilty math and piecing. So I simplified the plan down, and started cutting and sewing straight seams, based on how much fabric I had. I framed the central panel on two sides with a Jay McCarroll Habitat print – JY34 Peach, which is a baby-soft polka dot totally at odds with the rest of that line. The other side is a smokey blue solid from my stash that matches perfectly. I recovered almost a yard of a mustard calico from the scrap buckets and decided to fill out the central panel with that, because I love mustard.

Once the central panel was done, and the two red panels were done, I made the  decision to not center the strips running down the middle. It would have been extremely fiddly, and I wasn’t feeling fiddly. Plus, this backing probably won’t end up perfectly centered anyway. I also like the personality it gives.

I’m extremely happy with how this turned out. This might be another case in which I end up liking the backing far more than the front… We’ll see how I feel when this is all quilted.

Process Post: Quilting Decisions

16 07 2012

As Fun with Free Piecing comes closer to a completed quilt top (far faster than I would have thought possible!), I found myself considering how to quilt it. My original idea, was to do off-set straight line quilting:

FwFP Quilting Plan 3

This particular idea was scrapped very early in the drawing stage, as you can see, though I saved it for reference. I didn’t like the idea of quilting through all of the seams in the free-pieced sections. Early on in the process, I decided, though that I wanted to use multiple colors of thread, to stand out against the gray.

FwFP Quilting Plan 2

Here, I forgot to change the thickness of the lines I was drawing, which might have had something to do with my dismissal of this particular quilting plan. I initially thought that the  random straight lines could be fun, especially if done in multiple colors of thread. I rather liked the idea of echoing the free-piecing in the quilting. Then I drew it out, rather than test it on the sandwich itself. No love here.

FwFP Quilting Plan 1

Finally, I thought to try echoing the rectangle shape, creating a brick and mortar illusion, thanks to a co-worker’s suggestion. Again, I went with multiple colors of thread, because I was still loving that idea. This, I think is a winner!

I love the depth this gives the design. Having said this, I think I’m going to change the quilting in the outer gray border and in the two long horizontal segments that currently show straight line quilting. I might do those in shorter quilting lines that are perpendicular to their alignment, or the idea of an echoed zig-zag in those areas appeals too.

I’m going to add a page to this blog, dedicated to contrasting the digital design to the physical quilt that comes out of the process. It’ll be picture heavy, but I think it’ll be a lot of fun. Plus, it’ll be a more condensed way of showing some of my process, when my process actually involves planning to this degree. Of course, this page won’t go up until such time as I actually COMPLETE a quilt, down to the binding, from a digital design.

EDIT: Anyone want a tutorial for this quilt? I’m debating writing one up.

Goodies and Fun with Free Piecing

7 07 2012

Back in April, I donated to the Generation Q Kickstarter project to issue a print magazine. Yesterday, I got my ‘thank you’ package. Included were:
Generation Q Kickstarter Package

A signed copy of Jake Finch’s book, and a copy  of the first issue of the magazine.

Generation Q Kickstarter Package

I also received a fat quarter bundle of Dear Stella fabrics. The prints are very girly, but I like the colors. I’m going to have to set these to the side and let them percolate. I’m not sure what I want to do with them, especially since I’ve started yet another project.

And that project would be ‘Fun with Free Piecing’. At least, that’s  what I’m calling it for now…

I wanted to make signature blocks for the Scrappy? Sew Bee It! Swap, but I fail utterly at making simple things. I seriously could not write a few words on plain white fabric and be happy with its appearance. My hand-writing, normally neat and upright, Frankensteined into jagged half-shapes that bore  a passing resemblance to letters. I gave up. I’m cross-stitching my info.

However, I started playing with how to actually make the blocks. I started with the idea that I’d just make some scrappy string blocks:
Fun with Free Piecing, 1

Fun with Free Piecing, 2

These all measure 2.5″ X 6.5″. I figured these would be the top and bottom thirds of each signature block. And that’s still what I want to do with these. But others became these:
Fun with Free Piecing, 3
Fun with Free Piecing, 4
Fun with Free Piecing, 5
Fun with Free Piecing, 6

I think I like the effect so far. We’ll see how long this goes.  I bought two yards of Kona Charcoal Gray, and when it’s gone, this project is done. Bonus – I’m burning through some scraps.

BOM Quilt Design

30 05 2012

I’m an overachiever.

I’m an overachiever, and I like to take the less-beaten path.


Yes, I am insane.


Insanity, this time, led me to being determined to come up with a unique setting for the Botanical BOM blocks I’m making with the Stitch ‘N’ Bitch group.

Much easier said than done, obviously, as my mind regarded the blocks with a kind of blank pseudo-interest that said, “I’ll make you. You’re pretty,” and left the blocks in pile in the corner of my mind, nary a quilt top design to be seen. In fact, my mind then went skipping off into making scrappy blocks, no matter how much I tried to rein it in.

And then a light shone in the darkness!

The mail carrier brought me latest Hancock’s of Paducah fabric catalog! For a few days, my mental self crouched in a corner clutching the catalog, stroking each page, muttering, “My preciouses…”

I’m pretty sure had I looked into a mirror, I would have been balding and grey, with saucer discs for eyes better suited to a cave-dwelling lemur.

As I stared at the pages, an image advertising a quilt top/kit caught my (saucer) eye. The Women of Courage BOM quilt top made me stop and think.

And then I reached for my laptop.

Botanical BOM Complete Quilt Ver 2

I still need to find two more botanical themed blocks for the lower corners. I also am playing around with the idea of changing out the blocks that comprised that central ‘plus sign’. However, I’m sticking with that pop of aqua. The quilt definitely needs it.

We’ll see how much this design evolves as I stare at it!

Thoughts on Fabric

25 10 2011

I regularly browse other blogs, because I love to read about what people are doing with their quilting and to see what they are getting inspired over… I also love to read about hot topics, and the things that make us stand up and take notice.

A little bit ago, a visit over to completely cauchy and reading her post about the striking tea towel quilt she made just struck a chord with me…

Okay, so it wasn’t just about the tea towel quilt, which is totally worth taking a gander at (and she makes yummy knitted items too!).

cauchy09 wrote:

Here’s a radical notion: I don’t want to buy quilting fabric anymore.

I know. Right? We’re still looking for signs of alien abduction over here.

I find myself continuously angry at the industry. We’ll save those issues for later. More than that, though, I am continuously angry at myself because I can’t bring myself to use the contemporary quilting fabric yardage that I own. It’s not hoarding. I just know that I don’t design naturally with these prints in amounts more than a small scrap each. Yes, they are beautiful fabrics and I covet them all, but they are not me.”

You all know that I buy a lot of tone-on-tones… I posted an in depth look into my buying habits for the Skill Builders Series Part 2A – Buying for the Stash. And, by the end of writing it, I’d started to realize just how much I am starting to dislike even looking at designer print and lines…

It’s not that they’re not pretty. They’re very pretty, and sing to the wannabe graphic designer in my heart.

They’re just not usable as is if you’re not making big blocks that follow the modern aesthetic.

Unfortunately, the modern aesthetic isn’t exactly me. I love to play with design and color. However, I do my playing on a smaller scale. Very rarely do I make a block large than 12″ square, and even then it’s likely to be a traditional block. When I do make bigger blocks, they have quite a bit of piecing to go along with them. The best way to describe me is that I’m a traditionalist who’s not afraid of color (at all – have you seen my DWR-WIP?).

And really, when one works with pieces that typically don’t go over 4″ square, what’s the point of buying a big, bold modern print? Case in point, Anna Maria Horner’s Innocent Crush line, which I lovelovelovelove. I got two fat quarters of it from a swap partner, and I swooned over it. The two that I received were Woodcut in Passion and Slow Dance in Vintage.

Beautiful, right? Problem is, the repeat on Woodcut is almost eight inches in width. But I love the rich red! Slow Dance is almost twenty inches. And I’m enchanted by the movement of the lines… I’d been sitting on these two fat quarters for months, feeling trapped by their size. And what was I supposed to do with them?

#005 Bat Wing
Farmer’s Wife Block #005 – Bat Wing

In the end, I fussy cut the snot out of Slow Dance and completely lost the repeat in Woodcut. That block finishes at 6″. And let me tell you, there is no way that I would repeat this process to make multiples of this block. Fussy-cutting makes the miser in me shriek in pain at the waste of good cotton.

Throw in that fabric lines are so color coordinated and perfectly matched… I find that while I can love individual prints in a line, I often am turned off by seeing the line in its entirety. Why? Because I can’t help but feel that if I limit my fabric selection to a single line, I’m not expressing my own creative vision. Every time I sit down with the one fabric line I purchased nearly every print of, I feel trapped. I don’t see my own design emerging. I see myself catering to the fabric designer’s vision. Not exactly a great starting point. Quite frankly, I’ve given up on using those fabrics together, and they’re being parceled out into other tops.

And that’s me and most modern fabrics, over and over and over. I’ve learned to just look and drool, because otherwise I’ll be disappointed that I spent my limited fun money on fabric that’s just going to sit there. I support a family on my income, so that $50 or so that I eke out every few months to spend on me!me!me! is something that I want to be able to enjoy long-term. (Especially if that money ends up going toward supplies like batting, thread and new rotary blades instead of fabric every now and then.)

As I stated in my comment on cauchy09’s post, I want my skills as a piecer and quilter to be what shine – not my ability to buy attractive fabrics. I feel that the fabrics in my quilts should work together to create a total image, to tell a story together. I want to step back, and see my quilt.

Not the pretty designer fabric that dominates the design.

Because, you know what? That’s all I’m going to focus on ten years from now. When that quilt has been used and loved to death, I just know that I’m going to regret having made the focal point of that quilt the fabric, not my skills with needle and thread, color and design. Of course, there’s the whole problem of will I even use and love that quilt to death if I have any regrets about it after completion… 

The pretty designer fabric lines out there represent what manufacturers have decided should be in fashion as far as color, shape and line. On top of that, there’s new fabric lines constantly releasing. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve already pointed out that my fabric budget is pretty limited. I just can’t afford to keep up with whatever is new and bright and trendy. I can’t do it with my clothing, so why am I going to do it with fabric?

Now, I’m not out to bash designer fabrics in the modern aesthetic, or the quilters who use them. They’re beautiful fabrics, and while I don’t always like the quilts that are made from them, the quilter-maker was following his/her muse. And I appreciate that. Quilting is my chosen form of artistic expression, and I love the community of individuals who share in this passion.

With all of that said, I’d like to leave you all with a comment that Sherri Lynn Wood left on the blog post that sparked this post. I think it encapsulates perfectly the whole point of this post:

The fabrics we use in our quilts are the narrative, plot, place, and the characters of the story. Each fabric has the potential of carrying so much meaning or NOT – especially if it’s the most recent color coordinated fabric line out by the latest crafty pop designer.”

TYSS Fabrics Selected

1 10 2011

My Kona Lake arrived on Thursday of this past week. Yes, in fact, I had ordered it two weeks ago. mistakenly sent me a truly hideous six yards of some slate blue print that had different pairs of ice skates all over it. Actually, there really aren’t words for me to describe this stuff, so a photo will have to suffice:

Needless to say, I was pretty well horrified. Any person that I’ve sewn with or has seen my stash knows that I’m just not a novelty fabric person. Thankfully, switched out the fabrics with no fuss, but I was delayed in picking out my fabrics as a result.

Now, I was going to work on my Kona Solids Challenge today. Upon sitting down to actually sew some of it, I realized that I just didn’t feel like I had enough different fabrics to produce the right number of gradients.

So, yes, I did go and order two more Kona Cotton Charm packs, and the Kona Color Card, thank you very much. Yes, I know that my self-control sucks. What do you expect? I’m a quilter, which means that I and a serious fabric addiction go hand in hand. Needless to say, that particular challenge project is being put on the back burner until my goodies arrive.

Moving on…

Using the highly scientific method of draping fabric over the back of my couch, I first auditioned the blocks I’d made for the Skill Builder Series tutorials. I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked how the majority of them worked. The fabric on the far right is my binding fabric.

I converted the photo to black and white, so that I could judge values. I was surprised to find that I liked having the yellow fabric. My eyes had deceived me, and it’s actually lighter in value than the Kona Lake. Not by a lot, but enough to make a difference. This made me decide against the fabrics in the far left block. That salmon color just gets lost against the Kona Lake.

I played a little more, a process which I did not document in photos, but should have… I ended up discarding the yellow floral entirely, and switching in another yellow. With the exception of the brown background dots fabric, all of my selections are tone on tone, or nearly so. (Gee, what a surprise, right?)

I knew right away that I wanted to keep the three fabrics on the left. Despite the similarity in color to the background, I opted for the teal on the far right. I needed something other than that spruce green to bring some balance to the otherwise very warm tones I’m using. The yellow floral got switched, as I’d mentioned before, but mainly because I like the idea of having three prints that have a circular motif to them. I played with a couple of different shades of wine red (I have a lot to pick from), but ultimately went with the print shown above because of the lack of gray in the color. I needed something fairly pure in tone to foil against the very vibrant orange.

It’s serendipitous that the fabric that I picked for the binding coordinates so well, especially considering that I didn’t have any of my blocks with me at the WI Quilt Expo. And I totally winged picking the color of my background, just praying that the Kona Lake was close enough to the very pale aqua in the striped fabric that I wouldn’t notice a difference. I got really lucky.

And now, maybe I can actually go sew something!