December 08, 2011

Zombie Mama

A lot of you asked what I was going to do with my selvages. This is what!

I totally intended to enter this bag in the Bernina fall bag contest. The pattern is from PMQG's own super-kind super-talented superstar, Monica of Happy Zombie. Monica's advice was to shoot yummy shots of the bags with something in them. I dutifully did that.

I love this colorful little bag. I made a practice bag originally before diving in with the selvages. My daughter calls it her bag.

We glamour shot that one too. And then I forgot to enter the contest.

So that's about right, the best laid plans! Getting ready for Christmas, waiting impatiently for my husband to get back in town, hoping to sew with the quilt guild this Saturday... Thanks for all the sweet comments on my posts lately!

December 02, 2011

Pots will be held

These potholders will live in Kansas City soon, thanks to the Portland/Kansas City MQG potholder swap. I made one for my partner and got to make some angel potholders too. I wanted my potholders to be thickish and also to have some FMQ. So I made two separate quilt sandwiches for each potholder and bound them together. The tops are foundation pieced log cabins (with batting as the foundation). And the backs are plain to show some free motion quilting.

Any guesses how I got such lovely geometric patterns? Oh, I can't keep a secret: print tracing!

These are the backsides of two of the quilted pieces.

Below is how I used the Ty Pennington print to make the circles. Wavy line around the circles one way, then a wavy line back the other. Whenever I wanted to add a flower I just went inside the circle off the wavy line I was on, and went back to the wavy line after tracing all the "petals".

Looking at my fabrics for print tracing potential is kind of fun. It's a new way of perceiving them. Here are some I pulled out that I think would be great for this technique.

I've read that some people do entire quilts this way but for me the technique is perfectly suited for smaller items. What do you think, is it something you'd try?

November 25, 2011

Modular Cathedral: Flora block

Oh thank heavens I'm sewing again. Just a little modular cathedral block. You may be thinking what I was: Would it be easier to just piece this? Maybe. I'm certainly not afraid of curves. But I did want to try it this way, I like that there were no templates needed. And there's no denying that the rolled bias edge is delightful.

This block was made with:
four 5'' color squares
eight 3'' white squares
and the optional 1.5'' border strips (Finished block size with the strips is 11'', without is 9'')

Press all the white squares in half along the diagonal. Lay them in the corners of the colored squares and use a dab of glue at each corner to keep them in place.

Construct the block using a scant 1/4" seam allowance.

Then pin back the curves and topstitch.

A really straightforward, lovely block. Of all that I've made, this is my new favorite and I could actually see doing a whole quilt of this one. I'd love to hear if you try it!

Hope you all have been having a beautiful fall, and for my US pals, a great Thanksgiving weekend! I cooked my turkey upside down and burned it and we all still had a great time. It's possible that my years as a vegetarian left me with some crucial gaps in knowledge. Maybe I'll just stick to sewing.

November 16, 2011

Time warp new hobby is napping. And that's how mid-November just sprung up on me out of nowhere.

Occasionally something happens between naps. Taught a fun free motion quilting class with a bunch of great ladies. Problems were solved. Beautiful quilting emerged. Utter delight!

Drove to see my sister play her first playoff game in NCAA women's soccer. Wish I could see the next one on Friday but that's in Memphis. I will be all over the live audio though.

Two of my quilts are hanging on the wall at the Art Institute of Portland. The show is called "Pattern Recognition" and it's curated by an artist friend. So exciting being included in this unique show! I told my friend it made me feel "like a real artist". What a telling choice of words. And how is this for humbling? He called them afghans. Twice.

 Finally, beyond thrilling is seeing my first published pattern in the newly released "Colour" issue of Fat Quarterly. I have to admit that because I am's the first Fat Quarterly issue I've actually seen and I am happy to report I really enjoyed it! I feel like I got both knowledge and inspiration out of the issue, what a nice combination. Guess it's time to subscribe!

My contribution is the pattern for my Gradient Quilt. The pattern is written to be useful whether you want to make a similarly patterned quilt or to design your own unique layout. I will be so tickled to see quilts inspired by this pattern. Thanks to The FQ team for the chance to contribute to such a pretty project! I'm honored.

So, those are my headlines. I'll be back soon with actual patchwork and stuff. Right... after...zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

November 03, 2011

You know what?

I am just as crazy as the rest of you.

October 28, 2011


This kid loves/is terrified of spiders and spiderwebs. She can always spot even the tiniest spiderweb. Lately she's taken to drawing families of spiders. The mama spider is always the smallest. What does that mean?

Pyschoanalysis aside, today I put the binding on a little Halloween tabletopper, just in the nick of time.

I thought it would be cool not to stitch a spider on it, and instead place a little toy spider on top of it. But the little miss was ever-so-distressed at the thought of a spider-less spiderweb. So, with her on my lap, we added one together.

I hope you are having some Halloween fun too!

October 21, 2011

Remember Remember

Remember, remember the fifth of November
A free motion quilting class taught
With a foot and machine
And a small bit of green
You'll be stitching a heck of a lot!

I could not resist that.

It's true. I'm teaching a free motion quilting class in SE Portland in a couple of weeks, on November 5 from 9:30-1. It's going to be fun. It started as a way to get together my friends who wanted to learn free motion quilting. And we have room for a few more!

So if you want to join the party, you'll bring your machine and a free motion/darning foot. The cost is $40, but if you're in Portland hopefully you're also a PMQG member and you can have the discount rate of $30. Email me at to reserve a spot and get the details!

October 18, 2011

That day in the sun

Guess what? I received a few photos from some fellow Burning Man participants.

Ariel and her boyfriend found the Black Rock Stitchery on the playa and stopped to sew.

Sorry I had to draw that shirt on ya, Ariel. Don't want Google mad at me for adult content!

I love that they got a picture of the official Black Rock Stitchery transportation...

and that they brought a gnome.  There always seems to be a gnome around at Burning Man.

I got a sunburn in the pattern of those awesome tights.

Thanks for the photos of that beautiful day, Ariel!

October 16, 2011

Modular Cathedral: Big spinner block

The modular cathedrals experimentation is still going. I got slowed down by summer vacation but I'm back in action.

This is constructed just like the "little spinner" block but the color layout creates a different effect. I'm calling it big spinner!

Eight squares - two squares of each color. Press one square in each color in half along the diagonal.
Lay them out to look like this and use a dot of glue in each corner of the folded squares to secure it to the background squares.

Construct the block (with or without a border) and pin back the folded edges.

Am I crazy enough to switch thread colors three times? No. Once? yes.

I really wish the curve was more pronounced, but what I've learned through this project is that there is only so far you can fold the edge back before the block puckers. Proportionally, small blocks will fold back farther than large blocks. I have been starting with 5 inch blocks and it's just a little too big. I think 4" might be ideal. But I started at this size and I'll be seeing it through just so I can have an actual finished project at the end instead of a bunch of random straggler blocks.

Now how about this beautiful project being made with modular cathedrals? Lovely!

October 12, 2011

Firey Meander Quilting

Here's a sketch of the firey quilting pattern I used on the Gradient quilt, as requested!

This pattern is mostly vertical wavy lines. When the lines change direction they do so at a point or with a little flame lick. I quilted the pattern in vertical columns 8-10" wide, starting with the middle. Starting quilting in the middle is so great, because it's all downhill after that. Less and less quilt under the machine as you go along.

It took sketching about three or four big sheets of paper with this pattern before I was ready to stitch it. Stitching went smoothly and I rarely felt "stuck". It's a very forgiving pattern! Keep in mind as you go to vary the placement of your direction changes. Don't let them all line up with each other horizontally or you will get this weird little row of points coming together.

You could definitely make this pattern "hotter" if you wanted to, by adding more flame licks.

October 10, 2011

Pumpkin time

I'm not thrilled about fall's arrival. But I'm doing my best.

I made some little pumpkin coasters this weekend, and some photos are below to show how. If you have a bit of batting and some scraps of fabric and trim, this is easy! What if you made faces on them? Jack-o-lantern coasters!

Make up a quilt sandwich about 10 x 20''. The backing of the sandwich won't be seen in the final coaster so use whatever you want to get rid of. First draw some pumpkin shapes. I drew my shapes around a glass to make sure they'd be big enough, and gave a 1/4-1/2'' clearance around each edge. Pumpkins aren't perfect, so make them different sizes and shapes.

Use free motion quilting to give your pumpkins ridges, then cut them out along the lines you drew.

Place the pumpkins face down on the backing fabric. For the stems, use a 2'' piece of trim folded in half, tucked under the pumpkin. Align the raw edges of the trim with the top raw edge of the pumpkin. Pin in place and sew around them with a 1/4'' seam, leaving a 1.5''-2'' hole at the bottom.

Cut away the excess backing fabric and turn the pumpkin right side out through the hole you left.

Fold down the seam allowance in the hole and then topstitch around the whole thing to secure it.

I like the way they look all in a row! The toddler likes them too. Lots of counting to five happening around here!

October 03, 2011

(Another!) Gradient Quilt

I'm knee deep in the "This is the coolest thing I've ever made!" rush that you get when you finish a quilt. You understand.

Blammo. Like my last quilt but in color! I got it finished by letting my kid watch too much Blue's Clues. Yep. I also let her basically encase her bed in packing tape while I was putting the binding on. That's right. Mother of the Year.

I pushed extra hard to get this done for Project Modern Challenge 4. It probably sounds silly, but I enjoyed the thought of Denyse Schmidt seeing one of my quilts. Sure it'll be online and maybe just for ten seconds but it still makes me feel all warm inside.

The quilting is a pointy meander with a little flame flair thrown in here and there. I wanted an all over design that was up-and-down in direction and in theme with the warm-cool dynamic going on in this quilt. Love it love it love it. I also love that when you're six inches away from your quilting you can see every little wobble and inconsistency, and you get kind of frustrated with yourself and swear to never ever quilt after midnight again, but then once you get it out from under the machine and take in the whole thing all you see is lovely lovely texture. Magic.

It's twin sized. Backed with flannel, which is my new compulsion. I want my quilts to be extra inviting and I am happy to report the flannel hasn't been causing any difficulties with quilting. The quilt has been thoroughly stomped and snuggled. My husband asked "You're not going to give this one away, are you?". What a compliment. Ah....I feel happy.