Tuesday, September 16, 2014

… blog hopping

my dear, lovely, and ever-talented friend jessica tagged me in this around the world blog hop. i'm going to be honest, this is so not my thing. however, i adore jessica, so agreed to be tagged. but i do think these are great questions and i'm happy to have the chance to catch up a little on what i've been up to.

so on with the questions!

1. what quilting/sewing thing am i working on?

mini pineapple quilt

well, quite a bit, which is unlike me. just last week we had a secret sewing swap within the seattle modern quilt guild. i elected to make a mini quilt for my partner, who said they would welcome anything i wanted to sew. she said she liked complementary and split complementary color schemes, among other things, so i latched onto that and pulled some orange/peach and blue/teal lovelies, focusing especially on those cotton and steel basics that i love so much (and hoped she would, too). i've also been a bit obsessed with pineapple blocks lately and i figured working with them in miniature would be fun.

mini pineapple

and it was! i love this little quilt. it's about 17" square. i sashed and bound it with that great xoxo print and then used rashida's terrific tangram print for the back. i quilted it with a grid based on the lines within the piecing.

I was starting to doubt whether this would look good, but then I put these blocks up on the wall and got excited about it again. #dogoodstitches

i also have a bunch of other projects on the design wall, including the blocks from the love circle for my july do. good stitches quilt. i was starting to feel unsure about my choice, but when the blocks started rolling in i got super excited again. as soon as i get the chance i'll actually put this quilt together.

And then there were two.

but the thing i'm most excited about are these blocks that i started making a few months ago. i was inspired by an artist named leslie wilkes whose paintings feature these fascinating interlocking, kaleidoscopic shapes. i wanted to see if i could puzzle something like this out while piecing a quilt. it's a major headache putting these together, but i love them so much i don't want to stop.

2. how does my work differ from others of its genre?

oh my. now that's a question. for one, i'm not big on sewing from patterns. not because i don't love other people's patterns (i do! holy moly there's some great stuff out there!) but because there are, for now, so many things in my head that want to sew. i suppose i enjoy the process of turning ideas into quilts. but i suppose the real answer is that, even if we all sewed from the same pattern, i think we'd all make unique and beautiful quilts that reflect who we are.

here are some quilts that were my own patterns or improv pieced:

harlequin star

high-volume 3/4 log cabin

heart quilt front

here are two i made from patterns (denyse schmidt's flock of triangles and the sometimes crafter's retro flowers [a do. good stitches quilt with blocks contributed by my bee-mates]):

flock of triangles

retro flowers

3. why do i write/create what i do?

i started quilting five years ago. i decided, out of the blue, that i wanted to take a class, so i signed up for a beginning quilting series at my lqs. i am going to be brave and show you my first quilt, made in that class, which is really still just a quilt top as i have no interest in making it into an actual quilt.

first quilt top

i'm sure you can't imagine why i wouldn't want to spend more time on this thing.

anyhow, the point of this is that at that point in my life i needed a creative outlet and quilting felt like it might be the thing. and i'm super happy that so far it has worked out. i love the process of coming up with a quilt design, pulling fabrics, ironing and cutting, piecing and playing with layout, quilting, everything having to do with binding, and then marveling at the magic that is a finished quilt. (you'll notice basting is conspicuously absent from that list. oh my word, do i dislike basting.) i'm an introvert by nature (and a mother of two small girls with very little free time), so i love the time spent alone, in my tiny pink sewing room, with a cup of tea and a good podcast and a compelling sewing project.

4. how does my writing/creating process work?

3/4 log cabin sketch

honestly, i just wait for inspiration to strike. and then i make a mess trying to make it happen. i'm terrible at planning. i draw a rough sketch and then i cut and piece and piece and cut. and then go back to cut some more because i didn't cut enough the first time. and then rip some seams. and then cross my fingers and hope for the best.

i am supposed to tag three people but i am a rule breaker and am tagging two.

one is one of my most favorite quilters from the seattle mqg, anna, who makes the most gorgeous quilts and clothing that feature her insanely amazing english paper pieced designs and hand quilting. i am tagging anna because not only is she one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, but because i am also curious to hear about her creative process and know she'll have a lot to say.

next is laura, who i feel like i've known forever on the interweb, though we've never met in person. i am looking forward to quiltcon 2015 because we will both be there and can remedy that! laura has always been so encouraging of my work and i've always loved seeing hers and being inspired by her amazing sense of color and terrific improv skills (her polar bear quilt is one of my favorites). laura just opened up a sewing studio and i'm all kinds of jealous that i don't live in ottawa because i would kill to take classes in that sweet space.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

… where i sew

well, this has been a long time coming. i meant to share my new sewing space when i moved into it, oh... over two years ago. i made a few improvements recently and realized it was also where i sew month at pink chalk, so i figured it was time to take a few photos and show you all this little space i call my sewing room (the operative word being little).

i used to sew in the sun room off of our dining room (you can find a tour of that room here), which was lovely and i enjoyed being on the main floor of the house, but we realized that it would make a better play room for ingrid as she got more mobile. so i moved upstairs into the tiny bedroom, which i was already using as an office (barely). it really is a tiny room (no bigger than 8x10'), but it fits everything just perfectly and i couldn't be happier with it. i had it painted this delicate pale pink when it was my office, and i still love the color for my sewing room.


the first thing you see when you walk in is the table with my sewing machine (my trusty janome memory craft 6600p). this is the same old dining table i had downstairs. it used to belong to my mom. it's not ergonomically ideal, but i love it. with the extension leaves it holds a lot, including my scrap baskets and my smaller cutting mat, which i keep next to the sewing machine.



above the table are some ikea shelves that i spray painted yellow. they hold scissors, sewing machine accessories, pins, knitting needles, and other notions. the sweet little quilt block painting is by blair. it is one of my favorite things in this room. the triangle print up top is by alyson fox. the calendar is from ilee. c buys me one every year for christmas and every year it delights me.



to the left of the sewing table is the closet the holds all my fabric (hiya solveig!). i recently painted the top panels with chalkboard paint and put up some wallpaper on the lower panels (designed by jessica jones, from chasing paper). right now i'm using the chalkboard for my to-do list and to make quick quilt sketches. you can see that i store most of my batting on top of the closet, and when my ironing board is not in use i tuck it up between the closet and my chair.



inside is my fabric stash. it's organized primarily by type of fabric, yardage, and then color. the very top shelf is batting scraps, below that is yardage of quilting cottons, the next three are smaller cuts of quilting cottons organized by color (so. much. blue.), below that are solids, and the bottom shelf is other substrates (home dec, flannel, wool, etc.) i do admit that i sort of miss having my fabric out on open shelving so i can constantly admire it, but it's much happier in here where it doesn't get faded from the sun. i learned that lesson the hard way with some precious fabric in my old sewing room.


on the other side of the room is my cutting table and a small bookshelf. i think my favorite part of this sewing room is having a dedicated cutting table. space is definitely tight in here but i felt like that was a necessity. my back and shoulders really used to hurt after cutting fabric for long periods of time on my lower sewing table. i used an old desk top that i got at ikea ages ago and bought some new trestle-style legs at ikea that are height-adjustable. i also love that it's high enough for me to store a bunch of stuff under there, like my handy ikea raskog cart, which i use for projects in limbo, and as a place to stash fabric between projects (kind of like a to-be-shelved library cart).


one of my newest improvement was the addition of this pegboard above my cutting table. it holds my rotary cutter and ruler, along with some other accessories, and serves as a place to put up photos and small bits of inspiration. i love love love having this here.


above the cutting table is my pearl bracelet trip around the world quilt top that i still haven't gotten around to quilting. i figured in the meantime i can at least admire it every day. below that are some framed prints that i adore. the one on the left is by my friend, holly. it makes me very happy.


that little bookshelf holds my quilting and knitting books, along with patterns, a bin of saved selvages, and some charm squares. i use the top as a sort of desk for my laptop and place to put my tea and snacks while i sew. the print atop the shelf is for a built to spill show benefiting fantagraphics with artwork by some of my favorite cartoonists (so many of my favorite things in one!) i would hang it elsewhere in the house, but c doesn't like the one panel with the woman with the weird boob, so it stays in here with my things. (when ingrid sees it she always asks why her boob is so funny. ha.)


and lastly, on the wall between the door and the sewing table, is my design wall. it's a little low-rent, as it's just a large piece of frankensteined flannel that's attached to the wall with push pins, but it works great for me. i can keep a bunch of small projects up here as i work on them or lay out a fairly large quilt if i need to.

yay, that's it! i do love this little room and hope you do, too. it's cozy and sweet, and suits me perfectly. any hours i get to spend in here are usually very, very happy.

Pink Chalk Studio

linking up as part of pink chalk's where i sew month!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

... my little huckleberry


oh yeah, so i guess i should mention that i had a baby a couple of months ago, huh?


this is solveig hilda. she was born november 8th after half a day of labor (shorter than my labor with ingrid, but much more intense) and only a few minutes of pushing. it was crazy and scary for a few minutes (cord around her neck, dropping heart rate, fluid not fully cleared from her lungs) but all turned out well and i am still a huge fan of the epidural (for both my girls it seemed to help me relax enough to let labor, that had been slowing down, speed up and progress). she was just over 9 pounds, which i know is huge, but after 9-1/2 pound ingrid seems quite normal to me.

Baby smiles! It feels like everyone grew up a little while I was away. #dailysolveig

she is a delight most of the time, a little dictator the rest of the time. you know, constantly needing attention and food and cuddles, as infants do. but she is sleeping relatively well at the moment and laughs and coos enough to be charming and obviously i love her to pieces.


having two kids is quite different than having one. i look back at my life with just ingrid and think about it much as i did when i looked back on my life without children when i only had ingrid. that is, i wonder, "what did i do with all the precious free time i had? i must have been squandering it and not appreciating it at all!" because i have so little time right now for much of anything, even though both of us are at home and ingrid goes to preschool in the mornings four days a week. i am finally out of that period of the baby-fog enough that i really want to get things done (namely: sewing) but i don't have enough time or free hands to do it. i'm sure things will change soon and i am trying to appreciate these quiet, uncomplicated days, but i really do miss just doing things.


ingrid is doing pretty well and, i think, might actually enjoy having a little sister. things were weird at first (mostly that she wasn't interested in me right after solveig was born) but now she's happy and likes to talk about the things she'll show solveig when she's bigger.

so, for now, you can look at pictures of our little solveig. she's quite the charmer. (that beautiful vintage sheet quilt below was made for solveig by the amazing emily. i am continually flabbergasted by the kindness of internet friends.)

Get out of town @emmmylizzzy! I can't believe you made this for #dailysolveig! What a sweet, generous, beautiful surprise. (And the book for Ingrid is perfect, as is your insanely cute wrapping paper.) Thank you thank you thank you!

(and the next quilt for solveig was made by my seattle mqg friends! seriously, isn't the quilting community the best?) You guys! I love Solveig's quilt so much. Thank you so much to my #seattlemqg peeps @sewkatiedid @seasona @samilou01 and others I'm not sure of in my babybrain state. Who else helped? Please let me know! #dailysolveig

and i am trying to keep up with another weekly photo project (this time with plants rather than fabric), but i'll put those up here later (you can check out the flickr set in the meantime, that is, if you have patience for the new, slower, uglier flickr... ugh).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

... a courthouse steps quilt block tutorial


this is a mini-tutorial for a courthouse steps block for the love circle of do. good stitches. this is a very straightforward traditional block but i wanted to point out a few details for our group.


  • please use any cool color of your choosing for each block (blue, green, purple, or grey) and make two 11-1/2" square blocks. i used blue for my sample block.
  • use a variety of fabrics in shades of that color that are dark and light value (or high volume/low volume, brights/pastels, whatever term you prefer).
  • the center block will always be a dark value fabric.
  • try to use a good number of solids along with prints that read primarily one color.
  • this is a great block to use up scraps, though you can also pull from your stash.
  • all strips are 1-1/2" wide in a variety of lengths.
  • you can cut your fabric strips in advance according to the measurements (below), or you can use strips that are slightly longer than specified and square up when done (this is how i do it to ensure the most accurate piecing).
  • use a scant 1/4" seam allowance to allow room for error.
  • i find it easier to press seams to the side on this block to avoid bulk, but feel free to press however you like.
  • this is a simple log cabin block variation where instead of going around from the center square you sew the pieces across from each other.
  • the most important thing is that the two sides contrast in terms of value. if you're unsure of the value of a fabric, try taking a photograph in black and white and you can see how it compares to other fabrics.


start with a 1.5" square piece in a dark fabric. cut two 1-1/2" square pieces in light fabric and sew on either side of dark square. this piece should now measure 1-1/2 x 3-1/2". always check to make sure your block is the right size and square up after adding each new set of sides.


sew two 3-1/2" strips of dark fabric to the long sides of this unit. when done, it should now measure 3-1/2" square.






continue alternating dark and light strips on either side. after each round of dark and light it will measure 3-1/2", 5-1/2", 7-1/2", 9-1/2" and finally 11-1/2" square.


feel free to add some piecing to your strips. you can see that i added some small bits to the text fabric in the last round of dark fabric. i also pieced two lengths of light fabric together in one round, and another is made up of two horizontal pieces in a middle round. this is optional, but feel free to be creative if you like!

if you want to cut your fabric in advance*, here is what you'll need for one block (all strips are 1-1/2" wide):

for the dark fabrics:

  • 1 1-1/2" square
  • 2 3-1/2" strips
  • 2 5-1/2" strips
  • 2 7-1/2" strips
  • 2 9-1/2" strips
  • 2 11-1/2" strips

for the light fabrics:
  • 2 1-1/2" squares
  • 2 3-1/2" strips
  • 2 5-1/2" strips
  • 2 7-1/2" strips
  • 2 9-1/2" strips

*again, i like to cut my fabric as i go and cut a little longer than i need to allow room for error and then square up as i go. but if you feel like your cutting and piecing is very precise, feel free to cut in advance.