Calling All Winos

I’m a wino – and I’m OK with that. Some of my friends are also winos, which led to my most recent pattern, The Scraptabulous Wine Tote.

 

I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. I was in a hurry to make a gift bag for a bottle of wine, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I drafted my own pattern. Because I am me, I had to make it scrappy, right!

I think it came out fairly fabulous. It was a speedy quick, super-easy project. I’ve already made six or so. I am writing the pattern now and plan to upload it within the week, so if you are also a wino, you can make your own Scraptabulous Wine Tote soon. And, you probably won’t even need to go shopping because this project can be made with scraps. Yay!

Quilting Wild and Free

I finally have my first finish of 2021 and it’s a big one. Literally. As in king-sized. It’s 96 inches square and a very heavy foundation-pieced string quilt. I call it Blue Jean Dreamin’.

If you want to know who I am as a quilter, you need only look at this quilt. It is SO me. It’s the me-est quilt I’ve ever made. It contains all of my favorite elements:

  • Something vintage
  • Something modern
  • Something gifted
  • And something Tula Pink

Let’s talk specifics. I love scrappy, of course… The Scrappy Camper!! Duh. However… I love scrappy best when it’s a mixture of vintage and modern textiles. I mean, you can be assured of getting a 100 percent unique creation when you mix it up a bit, right? And I’m always amazed at how well the two play together. Vintage is nice. Modern is pretty. But combine them and you get chills, it’s so good. At least I do.

Something vintage – Is it not beautiful!!!
Something modern – PLEASE ignore all that cat hair. Ugh!

I said, “something gifted,” by which I mostly mean fabric scraps given to you by a friend. This category imparts a little magic to your quilt. When a friend gives you their scraps it does two things for you. A) It reminds you of that person every time you use the quilt, so I really hope you like them, and B) It adds some variety to your scrap bucket. Most people, including me, tend to buy similar prints. There’s a certain sameness to them. Infusing a little spice from a friend livens up your quilt and keeps it from being boring. I like to buy scrap bags from some of my favorite online retailers for the same reason.

Something Gifted – one of my all-time favorite scraps

Finally, Tula Pink needs no explanation. She’s the bomb. If I can work even a small piece of her fabric into my quilt, I consider it a success. I have other favorites too. Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Alison Glass spring to mind but there are many more. Who’s your fave designer?

Something Tula Pink

My final thought on why I love scrap quilts so much is that they are so wild and free. They are the cottage gardens of the quilt world. Other, more regimented gardens are beautiful, but they just don’t resonate with my gypsy soul I suppose.

 

 

Why I Am Lazy & Stingy

It’s December 11th as I write this and I need a Christmas gift by December 14th. I happen to have a quilt loaded on my Q’Nique midarm. I thought it would be done with it by now, but who wants to bet I’ll be sewing the binding late into the night on December 13th. Because that’s how I roll, but that’s not how I WANT to roll.

Last weekend I attended a surprise birthday party for a dear friend. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it, and it was out of town so there was travel involved, but I had a quilt sitting on the shelf, ready to go, for a birthday gift. Lawd’s sake, that almost never happens for me but that’s the quilter I want to be. I would like to have a closet full of quilts ready for baby showers, weddings, birthday presents, etc.

There are two huge obstacles in my path…

One, I hate giving away quilts. I feel awful admitting that, but I do. I spend SO much time creating them, it’s almost like giving away a child. I mean, some of them took longer to make than my kids did. I started my current work-in-progress in January 2016 so that’s a five-year project. A toddler, if you will. And who wants to give away their toddler? Not me!

The second hurdle is that I’m a procrastinator. Given a hard date and a quilt to make as a gift, I almost never make my deadline. I usually find one excuse after another. My kid needs an emergency appendectomy, I HAVE to clean under the refrigerator, there’s a hurricane on the way. Something!

So there you have it…I’m a lazy grinch. I’ve given away about nine quilts to my favorite family members and close, close friends. That’s it. Not a great record considering I’ve been making about 12 quilts a year for the last few years. I have friends who give away loads of quilts and I feel so small next to them.

I would like to do better. That’s why my goal for 2021 is to make a few extra quilts to put in my gift closet. Wish me luck in my noble quest.

How about you? Are you a quilting Santa or Grinch?

Finishing binding in the car.
Random photo of a cat on the finished quilt.

The Art of Piddling

I recently attended a quilt retreat. It was super-fun and while there I completed a few projects, including one long-term quilt. I was exhausted when I got home and could not possibly commit to another project right away so for the last few days I’ve been piddling.

I don’t know or care how Webster defines “piddling” but here’s how I define it: moving freely between several projects with no defined goal in mind. 

Ok, I just lied to you. I did look it up in the dictionary and it says “an act of urinating” (GROSS – that is NOT what I’m doing) or “to spend time in trifling activities; to putter.” So, yes, I’ve been piddling. My puppy has also but that’s a different story and I digress.

Your quilting muse is rather fickle. You mustn’t over work it nor can you under work it or it will abandon you like a leaf abandons its tree in a stiff autumn breeze. Piddling is your middle ground. You can use it after an intense project or following a hiatus to get your mojo churning again. 

How does one piddle, you may ask. I like to throw at least three projects up on my design wall and move back and forth amongst them. I allow my hands to follow my mind. When I’m not piddling but trying to meet a goal, my mind is always three or four projects ahead of the rest of me. I may be working on project A, but I’m thinking about projects B, C and D. I get some pretty great ideas while I’m plugging along but I don’t usually stop what I’m doing to write them down, so sometimes I forget them. Not so while I’m piddling. If I get a great idea I either pause to notate it, or, more likely, I stop what I’m doing and immediately begin work on it. I just go with the flow, Man. I just go with the flow. For example, I’ll be sewing along on one of the projects and think, “Oh, that orphan block from last year would look great in my quilt coat.” I stop what I’m doing, find that block and put it on the wall.  

This week I have on my design wall these three piddles:

  • A quilt coat – Quilted coats are all the rage at the moment and I MUST have one. I don’t have any antique quilts I want to cut up, so I’m using my orphan blocks to make it. I got some of these from the aforementioned quilt retreat swap table. How fun is that!
  • A patriotic heart quilt – Another freebie from the swap table, the blocks are so cute and they are sparking all kinds of creativity for me right now. About 35 of them were found treasures (as I like to call unfinished quilt tops or blocks I find in various places) and I’ve added almost that many from my scraps and stash.
  • My Christmas Baubles quilt – I DO want to finish this quilt before Christmas. I put it into the rotation so I can make at least some progress on it. I’ll have to amp it up soon to get it completed before Christmas but I can’t think about that right now. It would defeat the purpose of my piddle-sesh.

If you don’t have a design wall, don’t despair. You can lay your UFOs* and WIPs* out on a table, a bed or the floor – just somewhere you can gaze upon them and allow your muse to work its magic. I think you’ll find that the creative part of your mind wants to come out and play when you allow yourself the freedom to piddle every now and again.

*UFO = unfinished object | *WIP = work in progress

Random Cat Photo: This is Dexter. He doesn’t piddle around. He is responsible for the damage to my design wall, but he’s mega-cute so I’ll probably keep him.

 

Earth Song – A Finished Quilt

Or, in other words, A Quilt I Didn’t Quit, or in still other words, a UFO No Mo’.

I just read through my first post on this little quilt.   As you might have guessed, I did procure a long-arm between the writing of that post and this one – a Q’Nique 15Pro from The Grace Company. She and I have had our disagreements but I think maybe we’ve finally come to an understanding. She’ll do whatever the hell she wants and I’ll try my best to deal with it. (Maybe she’s actually a He.) Haha. Seriously though, I love that machine when she’s behaving herself. I did manage to finish this quilt with the help of Angela Walters. Isn’t she amazing!! I have her book, Free Motion Meandering, which is what I used to do this quilting. No offense to Angela. She explained everything perfectly well. I just need more practice. 

Anywho… 

Oh, check out my big-stitch binding. I’ve been doing almost all of my bindings this way lately, and I love it. It’s so much easier, it holds well, and it gives an extra little detail to the back of the quilt. I freely admit I stole the idea from Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting. She has a great tutorial if you’re interested.

The only other item of interest is the improv-pieced backing I did.

I hope you like Earth Song. Thanks for stopping by…

__Amy

The House That Scrappy Built

I’ve always been enamored of house quilts. Houses and quilts seem such a natural pairing, both speaking to the utmost in coziness and comfort. I’ve made a couple of them before now and those, I cherish. After my latest one though, I began to consider how I would go about designing my own house quilt.  

It’s such a popular motif I didn’t want to offer a pattern if I couldn’t bring something distinctly my own to the table. I wanted it to be fun and modern, but also quick and easy, and that starts with the cutting.

  • This pattern can be cut 100% with one of the *Accuquilt systems.
  • Alternatively, and almost as quickly, it can be cut with the *Stripology XL ruler by Creative Grids.
  • Even if you don’t own one of the above, it’s really quick to cut with an old-school rotary cutter/ruler.

Second, the blocks are enormous. You only need 20 for a very generous-sized throw. You can make a twin/throw from start to finish in a weekend – with time to spare.

Finally, the striped effect gives it a cute, modern look. AND, it’s fun to create whether you’ve made one quilt or 50. There’s something about the design that lends itself well to holiday quilts as well as school-themed ones. Christmas Cabins, anyone? Haunted Houses? Love Shacks? Frat Houses? Honestly, I can think of at least a dozen I want to make right now, including, of course, a scrap-happy version.

I hope you’ll give it a try. You can purchase the pattern at my Etsy shop. Do let me know how it goes.

* I’m not compensated by Accuquilt or Creative Grids. I am just passionate about these products. Full disclosure, I DO have an affiliate account with Accuquilt, so if you click that link to the right and buy something, I might make a few pennies but I haven’t done so yet.

 

Another Quilt Is Born – The Full-On Scrappy One

In a recent post, A Quilt Is Born, I talked about one of my bucket-list quilts, the giant gingham. I mentioned the one I made is moderately scrappy and I quite like it, but I decided to make a full-on scrappy version and a totally non-scrappy one to compare and contrast.

Today, I started my super-scrappy one. It’s going to be black/gray/white. It’s hard to form an opinion based on such a small sample but, as you know, I’m pre-disposed to love super-scrappy quilts so I predict I will be happy with it.

As I was sewing this section, I was thinking,”how would this look with improv-pieced blocks?” so I might have to give that a try next. I think it would be fabulous. 

Here’s the one that began this obsession…

Looks like I might be sewing gingham quilts for a while. Have you made one yet? I would love to see it. 

Here are my take-aways for the giant gingham quilt…

  • Super-easy, quick quilt
  • Can be completed in as few as 3 hours (non-scrappy, baby size)
  • Great for beginners
  • A lovely way to study color values

 

A Quilt Is Born

For months now, I’ve been working on a couple of projects that seem never-ending. This weekend, I wanted the satisfaction of a finish, so instead of doing what I know I should have done, which is to continue with my WIPs, I started something new. I did end the week with a finished quilt top, which was enough to make me happy and give me the impetus to go back to my older quilts next weekend. I hope.

The design stage is my favorite part of quilt-making so I’m always interested in the genesis of a quilt. How did it get started? For me, it begins with the fabric usually, but that’s not what happened this time. As I mentioned, I wanted a quick finish, and I remembered something that’s been on my quilting bucket list for a while – the giant gingham quilt, sometimes called the buffalo plaid. You probably know the one. It lit up Pinterest a couple of years back and everybody made one. Except I didn’t. But I wanted to, so I put it on my “Someday” list. 

I also remembered The Fat Quarter Shop has a video tutorial that claims it can be done start to finish in three hours. Challenge accepted. With my pattern chosen, it was time to pick the fabrics. Most of the online pictures show these quilts with solid fabrics as opposed to prints, but I don’t have many solids in my stash so I needed prints that kind of read as solids, i.e. small scale with limited colors.

The first thing to catch my eye was this gorgeous, vintage blue print. (top and bottom)

It has such a painterly quality, it reminds me of a Monet. I knew I wanted it for my mid-tone and it has a touch of white and Navy blue so that dictated my light and dark tones as well.

Here’s the thing with vintage fabrics – they’re not always the same width as modern ones. This piece was about ten inches shy so things got scrappy real fast. I pieced together as much of the vintage as I could, but I ran out of scraps before I ran out of rows so I had to substitute a couple of solids and some leftovers from another quilt, Birdie in My Cabin.

It’s definitely noticeable in the finished top but I don’t make perfect quilts, and I’m ok with that. It would probably drive some of you crazy, so just make sure you start with a whole yard of your light and dark tones and two yards of your medium tone.

I didn’t have a whole yard of anything I liked for the darks, so I used two different pieces. The batik was leftover from Rock N Roll All Night. The other came in a purchased scrap pack. I’m very satisfied with how they look.

All of my lights are leftovers from various quilts I’ve made. I used these pieces in particular because they all contained a touch of a very similar blue to my mid-tone fabric.

I would call this quilt moderately scrappy. It’s not quite as gingham-y as if I had limited myself to three fabrics. The pattern is a bit more subtle, but it’s definitely there. I’m curious to know how it would look if I were to go full-on scrappy. I think I’ll try that one day so I can compare and contrast. I suppose I need to make a totally NON-scrappy one too, in the interest of science, ya know. Damn, that means I need to go fabric-shopping. The horror! For my husband, not for me. Haha.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, that video I mentioned… they used 5.5” squares in an 8 x 10 setting. That gave them a 40” x 50” finished product. I wanted a bigger quilt so I used 6.5” squares. I made 12 rows of 10 squares each for a finished quilt size of 60” x 72”. You can make your squares any size you want, of course. I mean, who’s going to stop you?

By the way, it took me a little longer than three hours to finish this, but that’s mostly because I scrapped it up a bit. I feel confident I could do it in three hours if I stuck with the three fabrics.

 

Another UFO Bites the Dust – A Story about Long-Arm Machines

Y’all, I did something… I bought a thing, and I’m not sure exactly what it is. I’ve seen it called a mid-arm machine but I’ve also been told it’s a tiny long-arm. At any rate, it’s Uber-fun to drive. (Yah, it’s called “driving.” I didn’t make that up.)

Meet Quita. (Because anything that costs this much $$ should have a name.) She’s a Q’nique 15 Pro from the Grace Company and she sits on my 5-foot Brother Dream Fabric Frame, also made by the Grace Company.

I bought the frame as a package deal with my Brother Innovis VQ2400 but I really liked sewing on that machine so I took it off the frame, which I’ve been using for fabric storage for a couple of years. Meanwhile, my finished tops are stacking up faster than I can quilt them using only my VQ2400.

Enter Quita. Already, I finished my orphan block quilt started in 2017 and just yesterday, I finished quilting another long-time UFO – my Stripey Hawaiian baby quilt. I’ve gotta come up with a better name for that quilt. Maybe while I’m binding it, I’ll think of something.

This quilt already has quite the story to tell. My cat ravaged it, I fixed that problem, then started quilting it on my Brother machine using some echo quilting. See below. But that wasn’t going well, so I folded it up and threw it in a corner until Quita came along. Now, voila, it’s done except for the binding. 

I know… it’s pretty terrible, but I have a few more small quilts to practice on, so hopefully I’ll get better soon. Until then, I’ll probably still send out my best and biggest quilts to my favorite long-armer, but one day… one day, I too, shall be a great long-armer. Maybe. I hope!

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Asian…

… and also something blue.

I am so super-stoked to have finished this quilt top today. It’s a UFO from waaaayyyyy back – about 2013 to be more specific. I started it when I lived in Peyton, Colorado.

“Something Old” is most of it. The red/brown/cream daisy fabric was my original inspiration. I loved it then and I love it now.

“Something New” is the backing fabric, which I adore! It’s Pastiche in flame orange from In the Beginning Fabrics. It’s a perfect match to the fabrics I used on the front. With it’s rich, vibrant colors I’m tempted to call it the quilt top. 

“Something Borrowed” is this little bit of cherry blossom fabric donated to my quilt guild’s freebie table by a friend. With it’s Asian vibe and coloring, it fits right in and adds to the quilt’s story in such an impactful way, I’ll never look at it without thinking of my guild and my friend.

And check out that creamy kanji fabric (above). I bought it when I visited my soldier hubby while he was stationed in Korea. (What a trip that was. If you ever get a chance, you must go. The fabric district is A-mazing!!!) I don’t have a clue what the kanji means. Hopefully nothing awful. Haha.

As I mentioned, the project has a great oriental vibe, hence the “Something Asian.” It reminds me, not only of the aforementioned trip, but also of the six years I lived in Japan. Of course, the “Something Blue” is self-evident. I just need to finalize the placement and iron those buggers down.

I have a strong love/hate relationship with this project.

I hate that it’s so imperfect. I never make perfect quilts but this one is quite, quite flawed. My skills were definitely less impressive in 2013, which you can see clearly in some of my pinwheel points. My aesthetic has also changed and I’m not as enamored of the pattern as I once was. I wouldn’t say I hate it, but… I don’t love it. In fact, I almost chucked the whole thing, but I had completed more than half of the blocks so it would have been a terrible waste.

So, what do I love about it? I mostly love that it’s nearly finished. 🙂 I love the colors and the fabrics and the story. Ugly though it may be, it’s a keeper. I can’t wait to snuggle beneath it, thinking about my quilting buddies and reliving my adventures in the Orient.

Mahalo, Y’all, for stopping by.