Tuesday, October 22, 2013

… a 3/4 log cabin quilt

high-volume 3/4 log cabin

before i finally pack this up and send it off to wrap them in love (i know, i know, i'm a little pokey with these things lately) i thought perhaps i should write a little about this quilt, my new all-time favorite for the love circle of do. good stitches. you may remember the quickie tutorial i wrote up a few months ago for my bee members to make these simple, bright blocks in a pattern i'm still calling 3/4 log cabins for lack of a better term. well, here they are, in all their amazing, bright, saturated, in-your-face glory.

i'm seriously quite tickled with how it turned out.

high-volume 3/4 log cabin back

the backing fabric is from anna maria horner's hand drawn garden collection. i picked this up at fabric depot when i was down in portland for the pnw modern quilt guild meet-up in august. in retrospect maybe i should have taken the extra few minutes to try and line up the pattern where i had to create a seam, but i'm generally so terrible at cutting and sewing large pieces of fabric (seriously, does anyone else have this problem?) and i worried that even if i tried it would still not meet up completely and that would frustrate the heck out of me. oh well. i still love the print and how it complements the boldness of the front.

high-volume 3/4 log cabin

i also quilted this one on my friend sandie's longarm. she suggested this terrific baptist fan pattern board. the shape reminds me of a rainbow, which i like because it softens up the hardness of the squares, but the rainbow shape keeps with the rainbow theme of the colors (hey, it's a stretch, but it works!). she also suggested the orange thread, which i never would have thought of myself, but looks great on all the bright solids. if i did this myself i totally would have used white thread, which would have been too jarring for the quilt. that sandie is so smart.

high-volume 3/4 log cabin

this is the 7th quilt i've made for do. good stitches after being in the bee since its humble beginnings. it's fun to look back and see how many quilts our little bee has made and think about how much good it is doing for others. and, to be honest, it's so fun for me to be a part of this group, that there is definitely a bit of selfishness involved here. i've met so many wonderful women through this group and had the chance to learn while sewing out of my comfort zone that it rarely feels like work. so thank you to everyone who helped make this quilt happen!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

… october


O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;


When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;


When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;


When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;


When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;


When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;


When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.


O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

October's Bright Blue Weather
by Helen Hunt Jackson

Monday, October 14, 2013

… a quilt i never wanted to make

heart quilt front

it's hard to find the words to talk about this quilt, but i wanted to share it because it's special to me. a few weeks ago, one of our dear friends died of a heart attack, just a couple of weeks shy of his 42nd birthday. he was so young, so healthy (a former professional dancer turned dance teacher), so happy, so vibrant, so sincere. so it was, and still is, a shock. and while my heart is breaking for the loss of him from the world, and selfishly for the loss of him from my own life, my heart is breaking even more so over the fact that his wife, also our dear friend, and his 4-year-old son have been left behind to figure out how to go on living life without him.

what makes this extra hard for me is that they now live in the netherlands, and while my initial instinct was to jump on the next plane to be with them, being in the last few weeks of pregnancy makes this an impossibility for me. the day after he died, i was sitting around cycling through a rollercoaster of emotions, and landed on the thought, "what can i do for them?" and, being a quilter, it suddenly seemed obvious that though i can't be there to physically wrap my arms around them to show my love and grief, i might be able to send a quilt that they can wrap around themselves. while i know a quilt is no substitute for a husband and a friend and father, it comforts me to think that our friend and her son can snuggle under it together and possibly feel my love from the other side of the world.

i'm not even sure how to explain how the design came about as i normally might. i guess a heart might seem cheesy, but it felt like i was sending them a huge expression of my love for them, for their lost family member, for my lost friend. and it also represents the impact our friend left on the world. i know when people talk people who have died it's easy to overlook shortcomings and focus only on the good, but i can't even begin to say how essentially good our friend was. always smiling, always interested in everyone around him, always showing nothing but love for his family, always the best sport in our weekly summer croquet games, always emanating a kind of light and warmth and love that you could almost feel and see when you were around him. so i quickly sketched out this heart, that to me glows with warmth, and made it so big as to be the entirety of the quilt. i also wanted it to be simple enough that i could finish it quickly and use what i had on hand. it's constructed of 3-1/2" squares and half-square triangles. the final size is about 67 x 70, a generous lap quilt.

heart quilt back

the back is one of the happiest prints i could find, anna maria horner's sketchbook in ivory from the hand drawn garden collection. in fact, it's so happy i think i want to use it on everything now.


it's bound in a martha negley print called holly light snow in red from her holiday collection, poinsettia and holly. i found it at drygoods design after realizing that, once again, nothing in my stash was at all right.

i quilted it with sandie on her long arm with my favorite spiral pattern. sandie was so sweet to let me come over and do this one relatively quickly. and i just love how the combination of the patchwork heart and the swirly quilting look together.

while i'm not sure i necessarily feel better having finished this to send to our friend, i do feel like i've at least tried to show her our love and support. i'll be honest, making this quilt has made me really sad and it a little hard to look at objectively (i'm sorry to anyone who has asked me in person about the quilt and gotten a vague answer... it's just been too hard to talk about this out loud), i'm happy that at least i was able to do something tangible. and i'm sure that's not something i need to explain to any other quilter out there who has ever made a quilt out of love.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

… so much sewing

i really have been quite busy lately. i'm now 32 weeks pregnant and the part of my body that needs me to be ready for this baby is seriously screaming at me to BE READY FOR THIS BABY. i'm making lists, crossing things off, and trying to prioritize projects. i'm not going to lie, i'm also super overwhelmed. i'm starting to realize that not everything is going to get done. i'm half panicky about that and half totally at peace with it.

so, here's an onslaught of what i've been working on for the past few months, starting with a backlog of do. good stitches love circle blocks i never shared here.

HST/log cabin blocks for do. good stitches

march blocks for natalie. she wrote a nifty tutorial for these half-square triangle log cabin blocks on her blog, and you can also see the finished quilt here. such a great quilt.

two log cabin quilt-as-you-go blocks for rachel for the April do. good stitches quilt.

april blocks for rachel, who also created a tutorial for quilt-as-you-go log cabin blocks that she turned into this lovely quilt.

do.good stitches wonky stars

and some wonky stars in purple and yellow for the lovely miss jacey's may quilt. that one on the left turned out enormous and is maybe is a little bonkers, but oh well.

goose creek blocks for deborah

june goose creek blocks for deborah. her color palette was inspired by the class board game sorry, which is just so cool.


july was my turn to quilt and i had everyone send high-volume blocks using my 3/4 log cabin tutorial. believe it or not, i finished that quilt a couple of weeks ago, and i'll show some more pictures of it on the blog soon. woot!

house blocks

house blocks for natalie's august quilt. she asked for any size and any kind of house and tree blocks so i sent her one paper-pieced greenhouse using a pattern i bought from during quiet time on etsy and one improv-pieced block, that, to be honest, now that i look at it probably has a little too much white going on, since the block is so huge. again, oh well. but i do love that greenhouse!

go anywhere stripe block

and today i just finished my september block for rachel. she created an amazing tutorial for foundation piecing these go anywhere stripe blocks that got me so excited i made my block super early (for me). i seriously love this block so much i was thinking about turning a couple into pillows. wouldn't that be lovely? i'm really looking forward to seeing how this quilt turns out.

but wait, there's more!

Finished tote bag and @noodlehead531 open-wide zipper pouch for the #mqgmeetuppdx swap this weekend. Dang, that railroad denim is hard to photograph-- those small stripes just look like op art. But it's a seriously lovely fabric in real life. For the stra

i made this tote bag and zipper pouch for a swap for the pacific northwest modern quilt guild meetup in portland last month. we all got a half yard of robert kaufman fabric to incorporate into our bags, and i used a railroad denim that was super lovely. this swap was so fun (as was the meetup itself) and i should totally show you the amazing bag i got in return.


and this month we did a pot holder swap within the seattle modern quilt guild. i used the pattern in zakka style and a bit of improv patchwork i initially created in a color workshop i took with bill kerr recently to make this pair. despite these colors not being totally my thing, i really like how they turned out.

bassinet pad

bassinet pad

and, lastly, i finally got around to making a new basinet pad for our moses basket, since this is where the huckleberry will be sleeping at first. it looks much like the one i made for ingrid two years ago, but that one felt really thin and shrunk after i washed it (even though i used prewashed fabric) so i felt a new one was in order. i used some more of my precious anna maria horner folksy flannels again, but this time used five layers (five layers!) of batting to make it extra cushy and put some binding around the edges. i'm not going to lie, trying to quilt through five layers of batting plus flannel was a huge bummer and my thread kept breaking, so the quilting isn't terrific. but you get the idea. at least it's soft and reversible, and i like that one side is calm and serene and the other is a bit crazy. we'll see which one the baby prefers.

i'm so glad i got that out of the way since, as of today, this new baby has no room, no crib, no dresser for her clothes, no nothin'. please don't come early, little huckleberry, okay? i still have way too much to do!

wish me luck.

Monday, August 12, 2013

… a flock of flying geese

flying geese front

last february* [ahem] was my last turn to quilt for the love circle of do. good stitches. i picked a flying geese-themed quilt in the colors navy blue, dusty pink, and teal/aqua, all set on a background of low volume grey/white/black fabrics. the ladies in my circle did a wonderful job of sending me a variety of geese, and i had the job of piecing the puzzle together.

flying geese back

the funny thing is, i wasn't so good at following my own directions, and i cut out the fabric for all my blocks before i realized that i accidentally cut the darker fabric for the background and the low volume fabric for the geese (i blame my first trimester and that pesky baby brain). ugh. but rather than recut it all, i decided to use my own geese on the back, which turned out to be a good thing. those rows of geese are nestled in a lovely aqua flannel that makes this quilt extra cozy and sweet.

flying geese quilting detail

for the quilting i picked one goose (from one of natalie's fabulous blocks), quilted around the border of the triangle, and spiraled out from there to make concentric triangles radiating out to the edges. the quilting is about 1/2" apart, and i simply used the edge of my walking foot as the guide, rather than draw out the quilting beforehand. unfortunately, the quilting kind of got away from me, as you can start to see at the edges of this photo. in retrospect, what happened was i was turning corners too soon so my straight lines started to become curved, and that became even more exaggerated the further out i got. and once i discovered my error, i was too lazy to go back and fix it. if there's one thing i hate, it's unpicking my quilting. and i honestly don't think it looks terrible. so there.

flying geese front

in the end, i really like the overall effect of the quilt. i think the soft colors play very well together, and even though i was "mocking" the low-volume trend in my last post, i think it's a great way to add dimension to a quilt background/sashing. i hope this quilt finds a happy home with a deserving child via wrap them in love.

*i just want it noted that i actually managed to finish this quilt on june 30th, the night before i assigned my next quilt for the circle in july. so though it may have taken me a while to finish it, photograph it, and blog about it, i was not as egregiously late as it seems.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

… 3/4 log cabins


actually, i'm not sure what this block is called, so i decided to call it a 3/4 log cabin. or a 3-sided log cabin. whatever the name, it is the block i'm asking the love circle of do. good stitches to make this month. i'm also calling this a "high volume" quilt. because i'm a little contrary and i'm tired of so much low volume right now (says the girl whose last do. good stitches quilt was all about low volume fabric). but today give me bright bright bright!

i'm asking for two 12.5" square blocks that contain one or many 3/4 log cabins. it's totally up to you. i made one large one and one with a tall skinny and two small squares. but you could make one with four little ones, two tall skinnies, two short and longs, whatever. the only parameters are that the fabrics are all solids and that the overall look is bright, colorful, and saturated. of course, you can use some neutral or light fabrics but do so in moderation and just make sure that the look remains bright and "high volume".

and i'm sure everyone is smart and can figure out how to make these on their own, but i've made a little mini tutorial and given a few tips to help out.


first pick your fabrics. use at least three for each 3/4 log cabin and up to as many as you want. 3 to 4 seems to be a good number.


you can start by cutting a bunch of strips in various sizes or you can cut as you go. i found that when i cut first i still had to go back to cut a few different widths because i didn't have enough.


start with a "center" block in one color (can be square or rectangular) and begin sewing the sides in another color as you would a regular log cabin. for this quilt i'd like the sides to be generally square, as opposed to wonky, but each side can be a different width.


but instead of sewing a fourth side, stop there!


sew another round as you did before in your third color.


and another in your fourth color if you're doing more than three rounds. keep an eye on the size and make sure the width of the sides you are adding will be enough to bring your block to size, especially on the last round. you'll notice that the top strip (the roof) needs to be wider because there's only one, as opposed to two sides (the walls).


then just trim your block to 12.5" square and you're done! if you're making a block made up of smaller cabins, then put them all together and trim to size.

easy peasy lemon squeezy. seriously, these blocks are very easy to make and go quickly.

3/4 log cabin sketch

this is the general look in quick sketch form that i'm going for. in my own biased opinion, i think this quilt will be very pretty! let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

quilting on the go

Quilting on the Go

i'm a lucky ducky and was asked by jessica to be part of a blog tour for the release of her new book quilting on the go. i got to know jessica through instagram and bonded with her over our shared seven sisters education and the fact that we have a mutual friend who now lives in seattle. and strangely it was that same friend, a fellow member of the seattle modern quilt guild, who originally inspired in me a love of engligh paper piecing (epp). i saw her working on hand-piecing hexagons at one of our first meetings of the seattle mqg and though i'd seen it online before, watching her work made me realize how wonderful it was that you could take a quilting project with you wherever you went. i immediately went online after that and, after reading through some tutorials and printing out some paper templates, got started with my first hexagon project.


i just cut squares from my scraps and basted a bunch of hexagons without any real plan. i think i originally thought this would end up as a quilt, but as time went on i thought i might scale back my plan and turn it into a sewing machine cover or a pillow. i've been adding to it slowly (emphasis on slowly) over the past few years, and while it's still hanging out in much this same state, i do enjoy having a project i can take with me whenever and wherever.


in fact, i had it with me this weekend to take to our seattle mqg sew-in at island quilter on vashon island. it made a great project for the ferry ride. (and, wouldn't you know that same day, june 15th, was also international quilt in public day! just doing my duty to spread the joy of quilting to the rest of the world, be they seafarers or landlubbers.)


unfortunately, as luck would have it, i had a long wait for the ferry ride on the return home, and with a dying iphone and no book with me, i was again happy to have some epp to keep me busy. huzzah, quilting saves the day again!

i've tried my hand at some other, smaller epp projects over the years, and really enjoy the satisfaction of finishing something quickly but knowing i put a lot of love and hand-sewing into it.


for our seattle mqg nametag challenge i made my nametag with some precious pink liberty hexagons and hand embroidery. i bound it with black essex yarn-dyed linen.

may blocks for do. good stitches

for our do. good stitches charity bee a while back i had free rein to make any block i wanted in the color pink. for one of my blocks i chose to hand piece some pink hexagons (hmmm... seems i have a thing for pink hexagons) and frame them with more pink. this is one of my favorite bee blocks i've made.

6 point stars

and recently our do. good stitches circle made a quilt out of these epp stars. i love that, while making an entire epp quilt on your own can be daunting, making one as part of a group effort is totally doable. you can see the finished quilt (by rachel of stitched in color) over here. if you're stumped for a project for an online quilting bee or group quilt, i highly recommend doing an epp block for sure.

anyhow, enough about me, what about the book? well, it's is a lovely book and, as any good quilting book should be, is full of pictures pictures pictures! a lots of diagrams. oh boy, do i love me some good diagrams. the book covers everything from basics such as choosing fabrics and what to put in a travel toolkit, to epp essentials such as basting, stitching pieces together, and how to finish projects. even though some tips are targeted at the very beginner, there are more advanced tips for those who have some experience with epp but might have more to learn. there are 10 projects included, ranging from very small (a travel sewing kit or a pincushion) to very large (some seriously showstopping quilts).

some favorite parts of the book:

  • the page on preparing a travel took kit. it's helpful, but it also appeals to my desire for neatness and having everything in place. how satisfying is it to have your own little kit that you can grab and take with you on the spur of the moment?
  • the tip about using plain old paperclips to help keep fabric in place over your templates while basting. this had never occurred to me before, and yet seems so obvious now.
  • the handy chart that shows you what size to cut fabric for some basic epp shapes. i love things like this, as it means i don't have to do the math myself.
  • the pincushion project. so cute, and it looks so satisfyingly quick. i will definitely be making this one.
  • the pattern chapter which shows you all the different kinds of patterns you can make with a few, basic epp shapes.
  • the graph paper templates at the back of the book that let you design your own epp patterns, plus templates for all the epp shapes shown in the book so you can copy and print your own.

seriously, this book is just plain cool, and it makes me happy that it was written by such a lovely and devoted english paper piecer like jessica.

we're at the tail end of the blog tour, but there is still time for you to win your own copy of the book! lucy at charm about you is giving away a copy of the book. and do stop by her blog because you have to see her stunning epp liberty print star. it literally took my breath away. her giveaway is open until june 21st and the winner will be chosen and announced on the 22nd.

June 11 Lesly at Stitch Literate
June 12 Clare at Selfsewn
June 13 Christina at A Few Scraps
June 14 Victoria at Bumblebeans
June 15 Amanda Jean at Crazymomquilts
June 16 Laura at Quokka Quilts
June 17 Lucy at Charm About You
June 18 Katy at I'm A Ginger Monkey
June 19 Ara Jane at What Ara Jane Loves
June 20 Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio Blog
June 21 Jessica at Life Under Quilts

Paper Pieces Logo 2012

and during the blog tour, paperpieces.com is offering a 20% discount on your entire shopping cart if you use the promocode UNDER20.

hopefully you can find quilting on the go at your local independent bookseller or quilt shop, or it's available now from any of these fine retailers: