Work-in-Progress Girl

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Pushme Pullme Florence Baby Quilt

This newest finish is not one I’d really had on my horizon to get finished, but rather out of nowhere I got a bug up my ass about finishing it, and so I did.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

The last time I wrote about this quilt was in January of 2013. (Yikes! I need to finish more and start less if little, easy to finish quilts like this are sitting around for nearly 3 years!) You should go check out that post – in it I talk a lot more about the pattern, which is the Pushme Pullme block, designed by Michelle Wilkie of Factotum of Arts. I was one of Michelle’s pattern testers for this block and I think the only one who didn’t actually finish what I’d created with it. I’m really glad to have it done now, though – it’s one more thing off my list and better: it’s going to be donated to a Linus blanket charity and is a part of the 100 Quilts for Kids campaign.

100 Quilts for Kids

I really don’t know why I took so long to finish this – with a very simple pattern (a loopy meander), it took just a couple hours to get the quilting completely finished. I think I spent more time trying to decide what binding to use than it took just to get it all finished. I was helped out by it being a fairly small quilt: just a teeny-tin itty-bitty 30.5 inches square.

Both the best and worst places to see the quilting on this is on those dark blue bits of fabric. I will quilt with white thread over pretty much anything and it pretty much always sinks into the background even when you use it on colour, but it sure does look awful on that deep blue! From a distance you could almost imagine that’s a print on the fabric, rather than free motion quilting!

I spent a lot of time contemplating a more complex straight-line quilting pattern that would emphasize the arrows in the blocks, but decided that after 3 years of inaction, I needed to do the fast thing instead of the intricate thing.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

Every print in this quilt is a Denyse Schmidt print, front, back, and binding. All of the prints (except the two binding prints) come from Schmidt’s Florence line – I’d bought a 12 print bundle of blues and greens, and all 12 prints made their way into this quilt. The solid fabrics are all Kona cottons and I pulled most of them out of a jelly roll, so I’m not actually sure what colours they are! The dark blue is Nightfall, which is a really beautiful deep colour (and I wish I had yards and yards of it instead of scraps after having used it in a couple quilts). Its hard to tell in most photos, but there are two different light blues and two different greens – since I only had jelly roll strips, I think there wasn’t enough to stretch out each colour over two blocks.

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt

The binding fabrics come from Chicopee and (I think) Shelburne Falls. Schmidt creates magnificent plaids (and I’m sort of having a plaid moment right now!) so there are four different plaids in just this one quilt. Too much?

PushMe PullMe Florence Baby Quilt
Obligatory windblown shot!

Anyway, I suppose that’s all there is to say about this little quilt! I really like it and am really pleased to see it finished and ready to find a home with a child in need.

Some quilt stats
Name: PushMe PullMe Florence Quilt
Pattern: Pushme Pulle by Michelle Wilkie
Size: 30.5″ x 30.5″
Fabric: 12 FQs from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence line, plus assorted Kona cottons (featuring Nightfall on the back and in the corners of the front)
Batting: Some weird all cotton no name from Michaels
Thread: White Guttermann (piecing), White Aurifil (quilting)
Backing: Assorted Florence prints, plus Kona Nightfall
Binding: Plaids from Denyse Schmidt’s lines Chicopee and Shelburne Falls.


Text Me Mini

So first up is my winner for my giveaway last week:


And number 20 was Cindy Dahlgren to whom, some 30 minutes before hitting the button on, I’d just sent this message back:


Serendipity? Anyway, congrats to Cindy!

Anyway, I guess it’s time to show off that finished mini, isn’t it? Unfortunately I didn’t get any particularly good shots of it – the sun had set too far by the time I finished stitching down the binding and I had to get it to the post office and mailed off, so I wasn’t able to wait an extra day to get better photos at a better time of day.

Text Me Mini Quilt Swap - sent

I so wish I had better pictures because I really liked this mini and it may be the only rainbow order quilt I ever make! (I like rainbows and I like rainbow coloured quilts, but generally I like it better when all the colours are all over the place, rather than in strict ROYGBIV order.)

The brief for this swap was to use at least 2 text prints in our mini and all the participants posted mosaics to offer some inspiration. I had a bit of a tough time with my partner’s inspiration mosaic and couldn’t seem to settle into any particular pattern – I rotated through a lot of different ones in my head before I decided on this pattern, which is Glam Garlands by Elizabeth Hartman. My partner is in A LOT of swaps on Instagram and that meant she had a lot of mosaics posted, so I snapped pictures of all of them and looking at them side by side, I decided that rainbows and bright colours were her favourite thing and then to tie it in with the original mosaic a little, I went for the only pattern I knew of with a little bit of party atmosphere.

Text Me Mini Quilt Swap - sent

This shot doesn’t really show the quilting as well as I’d hoped it would, but I wound up using a yellow variegated thread to make something like crepe paper ribbons in my quilting – long wavy lines that criss-cross down the length of the garlands. I kept these quilting lines fairly dense, since I think mini quilts in particular benefit from dense quilting (it helps add some stiffness that lets them hang nice and flat without looking too billowy on the wall). After that I added about 5 or 6 lines in red that are just kind of wavy with a few added loops. Some of my loops came out a little flat (I couldn’t find my quilting gloves and was having some unpleasantness getting a smooth line), but generally I like that addition.

Text Me Mini Quilt Swap - sent

For the back, I used this large piece of measuring tape fabric that I had. The binding was this perfect print with all the rainbow colours and interspersed with bits of text.

I didn’t have time to make anything extra to go along with the mini, but I sent my partner a pile of texty scraps in all sort of colours and some local fabric license plates from the Row Along quilt shop hop thing – she’d been collecting them from her area, so I thought it’d be fun to send some from mine. I didn’t photograph any of those things, though, so no more pictures!

Except there are more pictures, because I recently received my mini from this swap!

Text Mini Mini Swap received

My partner (@jastravers on Instagram) made and sent me this really incredible “Create” mini! When she’d been posting progress shots of it, I’d kind of wished it were for me, but I didn’t really think it would be, but then it was!

Text Mini Mini Swap received

Without counting to be certain, I’d guess that Jasmine used about a dozen different text prints in this mini. She backed it in this fun bird print and if you scroll up and look at the full-on shot again, you’ll see that she used a few bird prints in the background as well. I’m not sure if that was intentional, but I kind of like it anyway! That green bird in the centre at the top is one of my favourite recent prints that I didn’t buy despite liking it so much, so it’s nice to have a little piece of it in something that’s going to live on my wall for a very long time!

Text Mini Mini Swap received

She also sent me this awesome pincushion and some gorgeous Tula Pink fabric…

Text Mini Mini Swap received

and this giant pile of fabric scraps!

I LOVE getting fabric scraps in swaps – it’s always amazing that no matter how much fabric I’ve got, there are always so many other prints I’ve never seen or picked up. I have a very (very!) long-running goal of someday making myself a scrappy log cabin and all these fabrics get horded up for when that idea finally comes to fruition. (I’ve talked about this many times before, I’m sure, but my favourite quilt ever was a log cabin my mom made in the 70s when she was in university. It was mostly made of clothing scraps and a lot of those fabrics rotted right out of the quilt, but I took it with me to university anyway. Every time I washed it, it came out just a little more ragged with that much more exposed batting. My mom finally made me throw it away, but I still miss it because it was hers and then it was mine and it was warm and cozy as anything.)

Anyway, that was my experience with the Text Me Mini Quilt Swap on Instagram! I’m pretty happy with how it all played out. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I can get around to showing you the other minis I made and received this summer. Time to catch up on all the things I skipped over while I was away!


Strawberry Dumpling Pouch Swap

My goodness I’ve been bad about blogging. What I’m going to show you today was in the mail more than a week ago and has already arrived with its new recipient! I participated in another dumpling pouch swap on Flickr/IG, this one with a berry theme. (I’ve previously done a strawberry themed one, which I seem not to have posted about, and also a Christmas one, which you can see near the bottom of this post.)

I was torn for a really long time about what to make for my partner, but I decided to try to make something that kind of… looked like a strawberry. Leaves on the bottom, red all through the top. Here’s the bottom:


Not one of my smoother moves. I forgot how much of the green would get swallowed up by seam allowance, and so not too much is peeking through!

Even if I’d shot the photo head on, at dumpling pouch height rather than from above, you still only see about 1/4-inch of the tallest green bit! Oops.

I’m not too upset about it though because I love red (and so did the lady I sent it to) and I love the fabrics I used. I set out mostly to use solids, but I wanted a little extra bit of prints in there too, so my rule with those was that they couldn’t be white on red, but had to be kind of red-on-red prints in some way. I used a Liberty of London print for the lining – it’s not berry related, but the colour was just perfect and it’s one of the very few Liberty prints that I really love.

I wanted to send along something else, so I also made her this potholder, using this gorgeous strawberry girl print that I’d bought a year or so ago on Etsy. I just used some of the extra strips and bits of red that I’d already had cut for the dumpling and kind of cut off the excess bits of linen from around the print. It’s pretty clear I went into it with no plan at all and I quilted it at the same time as I sewed on each strip, so there’s no visible quilting on the front. The binding was actually leftover binding from sometime else I’d made once upon a time (I can’t remember what.. I’m at a loss as to what I might have bound in red!), which was pretty convenient!

Here’s the back. I was all about using scrap fabric with this, so I fished this gorgeous Laura Gunn print out of my scrap bins. The colours all seemed to work, although in the long run it doesn’t match the binding terribly well. I’m not quite sure why I decided to make this into a pot holder (with insulated batting and everything) rather than making a mini quilt to hang, but it made sense at the time.. Pretty much as soon as I was finished though I’d wished I hadn’t put in the insulating stuff because it’s too pretty to put a pot of spaghetti sauce (or whatever, really) on!


And then finally, on the day I was sending this away, I happened to pick up a magazine that came with the materials to make a cross-stitch pendant necklace and a cross-stitch… brooch (I think…). I decided to bang out one last little thing to tuck in, chopped the chain for the pendant down to a little keyring size and stitched that up. I was aiming for something slightly berryish, but I thought it was too plain and added in the blue crosses, which turn it all into something much more abstract. I thought it was kind of cute (if maybe probably definitely useless) so in it went.

I also sent some other bits and pieces, but I didn’t photograph them first. Here’s a photo which I stole from Jan, who received this package:

Dumpling swap from Kristel

So I sent a couple roles of baker’s twine in red and green, a strawberry flavoured lipgloss, raspberry balsamic ganache chocolates, fufu berry Jones Soda candies, and a bit of strawberry related fabric. The fabrics aren’t especially visible because of the way I wrapped them up, but there is about a Fat Eighth each of that jam jar print, a print with tiny little blue strawberries, and a Heather Ross strawberry print, which was the one with the white background and kind of orange berries. I had just a single strip of the pink background version, so I wrapped it around the little stack and pinned it closed to keep them in a nice little bundle.

I really hope Jan loves everything I’ve sent her – it was a fun package to put together. (And I got to taste test some delicious chocolates while in pursuit of a berry flavoured chocolate to include… There’s never any complaints from me about chocolate.)


Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt

Well, it’s been a lot longer than I meant to be! But I’ve got a finish to share:

Pink and Orange Quilt

I’ve finished my pink and coral and orange and black quilt made using fabrics from Fabric Spark‘s January blogger bundle, which was put together by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches. Back in January when I first got the fabrics, I talked a bit about how I found it sort of mystifying collection of colours.


I expect it was a bit mystifying to me because I’m not generally a very big fan of pink and I don’t really like pink and orange as a combination and I don’t generally like florals and even though I think a splash of black is a good addition to almost any colour palette I sort of found it hard, mentally, to slot this much black in with such sweet colours and prints. But I decided to do something with it straight away and decided on a pattern from McCall’s America Loves Scrap Quilts Winter 2014/2015 magazine, Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman. I didn’t follow the pattern except to see what width to cut my strips; it was designed for scraps to create a larger quilt and I didn’t want to use more than my original 12 fat quarters, so my fabric strips weren’t going to match up with the pattern in any way (other than width).


Twelve Fat Quarters turned out 36 blocks (with very, very little fabric waste) and then I had to figure out how to make it all a little bigger and also not square. I didn’t want a square quilt or a baby quilt, but I didn’t want to add too much fabric either, so I figured out that if I used a centre block with 5×6 blocks, then I could put my remaining 6 blocks around the edges to squeeze another 16″ in width/length out. And I could do it using only 1 yard extra fabric.

Pink and Orange Quilt

It took a little creative piecing of the borders, but I did it! Originally I was going to put five blocks up in the top corner and just one in the bottom left (well, this picture is sideways, because I hung it sideways on the fence, but if you turned it clockwise to stand it on end, then this explanation would make sense…), but I would have had to piece the border fabric in chunks and this way let me use 4 panels cut to 8.5″ x 40.5″ – no extra seams necessary! (Other than adding on the blocks, of course…)

I had wanted to use one of the 12 original prints as the border fabric, but I wasn’t able to get enough from Fabric Spark of any of the prints I was leaning towards, so I wound up choosing this Honeycomb in Marmalade from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey line. This was probably the better choice in the long run, since it’s uses the colours from the bundle, but also didn’t blend in with any of the blocks that might have butted up against it around the edges. And it had a lot of white, which I thought might help tone down some of the PINK ORANGE FLORAL-ness of it. I’m not sure that it worked in that way, but I can live with that anyway.

Pink and Orange Quilt

I constructed the back using yardage of one of the prints from the front, split up with pieced together scraps left over from making the blocks. I’m not sure why, but somehow I convinced myself that the scraps strips were going to be enough seperation that it wouldn’t matter if I lined up the back when I pieced it. Hahaha no. It looks terrible! But I’m reminding myself that it’s on the back of the quilt and most of the time it’s going to be hidden. What does it matter really, in the grand scheme of it all if the back side is a bit ugly?

Pink and Orange Quilt

I tried to think of this project as a practise piece for free motion quilting, since that’s something I’m always wanting to get better at but rarely willing to really practise. I wouldn’t say I did a great job – there’s lot of little jigs and jogs and I’m not very good at regulating my speed and stitch length or the scale of my quilting.

Pink and Orange Quilt

But I tried to have fun with it. I like spirals, but it took me a while to figure out how to deal with the weird awkward bits where one spiral didn’t fill in to the next space. I’ve still got a long way to go in perfecting them, but I like how it looks finished and I’m just not going to worry too much about the bits that didn’t turn out “perfectly” (because done is better than perfect).

Pink and Orange Quilt

I bound this quilt using a black and white dot from my stash (and a little scrap of honey comb in the corner).

I still haven’t washed it, so it might shrink up a little bit yet, but I think it’s going to look good finished (even if I am a bit iffy about pink and orange still!) And I’m just glad to have it done – it wasn’t a project that should have lasted 3 months, but I guess I’m pretty good sat distracting myself!

Some quilt stats
Name: Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt
Pattern: Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman
Size: About 56.5″ x 64.5″
Fabric: A fat quarter bundle chosen by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches, including fabrics from Cotton + Steel, Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics, and… others. The border is Bonnie Christine’s Honeycomb in Marmalade from her Sweet as Honey line.
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
Thread: White Aurifil (piecing and quilting)
Backing: Amy Butler’s Pressed Flowers in Carmine from her Cameo line.
Binding: A black and white dot.

This was my March goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, so I’ll be linking up there and with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.


Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I finished a thing! And this thing was both my A Lovely Year of Finishes January goal AND my first project on my Finish Along Quarter One list!

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

This photo was just for my sister who, when I was lamenting the lack of clean outdoor places to photograph this quilt, suggested that I use her fresh-from-the-car-wash car as a backdrop. There was too much sun, but the car was nice and clean… The quilt, too, was sort of for my sister. She commissioned it for a friend of hers who was having her first baby. The new parents didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl, so they were doing their nursery in browns and lime greens, and so that was my only requirements for the quilt. I gave my sister a few options of things I wouldn’t mind to try making, and she choose the one I was rooting for all along, a pattern published in the Spring 2014 edition of Fons and Porter’s Scrap Quilts magazine called 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken of Squares and Triangles.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

The original version was made with 42 charm squares plus a little over 1.5 yards of white fabric – I made mine with 2 yards of some random brown in my stash (I think it was a Kona cotton, but I’m not sure) and 42 self-cut charms. I pulled all my fabrics except one out of my scrap drawer, leaning as much as possible on lime and grellow sorts of colours, but with a little bit of sky blue, darker greens, and some yellow mixed in as well.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Fourteen of the blocks are made with a solid background rather than a print, which I think gives that hashtag centre of the quilt a bit of a twinkliness, as silly as that sounds. It just changes the way your eye moves around, somehow.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Even though it’s a baby quilt, I didn’t want to have too many children’s prints involved. There are a few novelty-type prints to give a nod to the fact that it is a baby quilt, but otherwise it’s just dots and stripes and other mostly geometric prints. These few animals and the airplane are all I’ve got in that line of things! (And aren’t those sheep from Laurie Wisbrun just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?)

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I quilted this very simply so that it would remain soft and drapey, creating two sort of ribboned lines horizontally through each row of hashtags, plus through the borders. If I’d had enough time, I’d have done the same thing vertically, but I was a little short, so I did the vertical borders as well, so that it created a row of hashtags down the sides of the quilt. After that, I went back into the centre of the quilt and added vertical quilting lines to each of the blocks with the brown background, so that they have a completed ribbon hashtag, while the rest of the quilt just has the horizontal quilting. I used a green variegated thread, so that I didn’t have to try to colour match the variety of colours in the hashtags. I kind of like the green quilting on the brown – it gives it a little lift where otherwise it’d be a too big, too brown expanse of fabric.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I backed the quilt in a flannel with elephants to tie in with the elephant block on the front of the quilt. Colourwise, it doesn’t match my binding very well, which was largely done with that awesome plaid of Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line, but to be honest I don’t really care. I love how the binding looks on the front and the flannel feels nice on the back. That’s good enough! It’s not visible in this particular photo, but one corner of the binding was done in the same solid brown as the majority of the front.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I really love this quilt and it was the tiniest bit hard to give up. I may have to make another, larger one some day. Love.

Some quilt stats
Name: I mostly call it the Brown and Lime Hashtag quilt, but that’s because I’m never creative with names.
Pattern: 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken
Size: About 39″ x 43.5″
Fabric: Assorted green, yellow, and blue prints, with a Kona cotton background, which I think is Espresso, but I can’t find my colour card to doublecheck.
Backing: Cheapie green and white elephant flannel
Binding: Denyse Schmidt’s Simple Plaid in Lime from Chicopee

Posting a #fridayfinish on my blog today about my green and brown hashtag quilt... Love these fabrics I put into it!

So if you made it all the way to the bottom of this ridiculously long post,.. you can be entered to win 42 charms in lime, grellow, green, yellow, and blue fabrics, all cut straight from my stash! They’re not an exact match to the 42 from my quilt, because some of them I didn’t have enough fabric to make two charms, but there are 42, which is enough to make this quilt (or something like it!) for yourself. If you’d like to be entered to win, just leave a comment telling me what you might do with these charms if you won them. (I’m perfectly okay with you saying, “I have no idea!” or that you’d filter them into your own scrap stash to be used as you find the perfect place for them.) [Edited to add: please don’t add this to any sites that compile lists of giveaways. I don’t care who enters my giveaways – they’re open to anyone – but I prefer they go to someone who is reading this because of a link-up I’ve joined or because they just read my blog, rather than because they’ve hit on a site that links them all up.]

Also, edited to add: I forgot to say when I’d do the drawing! All entries need to be in by Thursday, February 5 – I’ll do the drawing when I get home from work on Friday morning.


Jelly Roll Jam II

So I started the draft post of this on Thursday… two Thursdays ago. Apparently I haven’t been very talky lately! Anyway, I hardly had anything written in that original draft (and it referenced Friday Finish, which I’ve now missed twice because I keep on not finishing this entry).

You might have already seen it because I put pictures on Instagram and in one of my Talk to Me Tuesday videos, but I finished a baby quilt using Fat Quarter Shop‘s Jelly Roll Jam II pattern:

Jelly Roll Jam II

This pattern requires just 20 strips of fabric from a jelly roll for the top. I used 15 strips from a Kona cotton design roll – I think it was either the Rainbow palette or the New Colours (but the old new colours, not the current new colours, I’ve had that design roll sitting around for a while) – and added 5 strips of assorted prints. Three of the prints are polka dots, I think from Riley Blake, one is a Denyse Schmidt plaid (the orange one), and the navy chain link one… I don’t really know who that is. But I liked it enough to use it for the binding! I don’t have too much of it left now and no selvedge, so I don’t guess I’m going to figure it out! I forgot to photograph the back, but it’s backed in a navy blue flannel with while polka dots. Just a bit of random fabric I had in my stash. Actually, everything in this quilt came out of the stash – I didn’t have to buy thread or batting or anything for it! Go me! (It’s rare I don’t take the excuse to buy new things…)

This was the first project I sewed – beginning to end (minus hand-sewing the binding) – on my new-to-me Juki TL98E when it came back to me from the repair shop.

Juki TL 98E

By and large it’s been really wonderful to sew on. It sews really smoothly and has really beautiful stitches and it goes SO FAST. I keep saying that switching to this from my old Kenmore machine is like going from a moped to a Ferrari and it really kind of is – just basically no comparison between the machines, except that they both eventually get you where you were going. I love the needle down function (so love it!) and it’s smoother sounding and it makes nicer stitches. (Though I did take my old machine in to get serviced too … first time ever and it’s ten years old! Maybe it’ll make nicer stitches again now too.)

But I ran into problems almost immediately with the 1/4″ foot, which actually makes a slightly larger than 1/4″ seam, leaving me with an entire quilt worth of too small units! The thing is, I actually measured that first seam to see if it was the right size and it really did seem to be, but I think they were all just one or two threads too big and with five seams across a block, it was enough to eat up some width.

Jelly Roll Jam II

Because of the way the quilt is constructed (the blocks are not squares but rectangles), it didn’t actually matter so I just made the quilt slightly smaller in the width than it was meant to be. I didn’t want to pick out all those seams and start over again! So those strips are all supposed to be 2″ finished width, but are slightly closer to 1.75″ when they’re placed vertically. The horizontal strips are actually 2″ because I hadn’t sewn them yet when I discovered the error and I was able to stitch them up properly.

I did a lot (a lot!) of practise stitching with some different ideas for quilting, but I wound up defaulting to a basic all-over stipple. This was the first time I ever did stippling on a non-practise piece. On the old machine I’d always wind up with super tight and tiny little stipples because there was no room for my hands – I had to hold the quilt underneath in the harp space because there wasn’t room for my hand to sit flat atop the quilt and on the left because otherwise it would hang off the edge of the machine – but this Juki has a table and a lot more harp space, so there’s room for two flat hands, which meant I was able to get nice big curves without much difficulty.

Yikes! (some other quilting issues)

Not that it was perfect. I’m having a lot of difficulty keeping a steady speed on this machine. It’s just go so much power and then I wind up going too fast, start to panic, pull my foot off the peddle and then drop down to no speed. Which means there’s a whole lot of variation in my stitch length. But even the largest stitches here are less than a quarter inch in length, so I didn’t pick out any of my stitching. I decided to just let it go because eventually I will sort out the speed issue and as long as my quilts are usable, there’s no point in wasting time and getting really frustrated picking out things that aren’t perfect, but also aren’t that bad.

Yikes! (more quilting issues)

My other issue was the occasional bit of jerking around and making corners where there should have been curves (or little jumped stitches, where I suddenly veered an eighth of an inch to the left or right before continuing the original line – I do have photos of that, but I’m NOT going to fill this entire post with pictures of my little mistakes…). I did the quilt in kind of two passes – half of it on a Thursday and half of it on a Friday – and in the middle of that, I fell down a (short) flight of stairs and strained my back pretty badly in a couple places. Which I tell you because my second half of quilting was a fair bit worse than the first! I was so stiff that I would try to make a motion for a curve, twinge something in my back and wind up jerking around in pain and leaving evidence of it on the quilt top. So there are quite a few of those, and that’s maybe even what happened here. Sometimes, though, it was because I’d forget to stop before moving my hands or I’d try to keep quilting even though I was running out of hand space at all.

In any case, I really enjoyed working on this. I’ve always defaulted to straight line quilting in the past because I’ve been so intimidated by free motion quilting (I did do rows of loopy lines on one previous quilt), but getting this one thing under my belt makes the rest of it seem a little more possible. I just need to keep practising (and get that whole speed control issue figured out).

So this was my A Lovely Year of Finishes goal for the month (I was #93 in the linky!), and I’m so happy to check it off the list! I chose a pretty simple goal, but sometimes it helps to have the extra motivation anyway. And next month I think I’m going to aim just a little bigger… Maybe I should try to get it basted in September so that there’ll be one less thing to deal with…

My Button


Citrus Swap

So I was waiting until I heard back from my prize winners before announcing them here, but I haven’t heard back yet from the winner of my first prize, the $50 gift certificate which was provided by Pam at Mad About Patchwork. Hopefully she’ll get back to me soon – I want to be sure I had the right email address before sending her information along to Pam – no sense in emailing a gift certificate to a dead email address, right? (So Anne Simonot, if you’re seeing this, check your email!)


In any case, the winner of the second prize, the collection of Fat Eighths in greens, was Sabrina of Sabie Sews:


Belated birthday wishes to Sabrina too!

In other news, I recently finished up another Open Wide Zippered Pouch from the Noodlehead tutorial, this one with a citrus theme for an Instagram swap I participated in. I only just got it sent out yesterday (a day late, oops!), so it hasn’t arrived with its recipient just yet, but here’s what I made and sent:


The one thing I knew I wanted to do was to stitch the little Lime Slice Girl, who I’ve been calling Lulu Lemon-Lime (she started out as Liesl Lime Slice in my head, which I think is a better name, but I couldn’t remember how to spell Liesl – I had to look it up, but at the time I was posting on Instagram and didn’t want to leave the app to look up the spelling). This pattern by Cate Anevski was a free stitch-along pattern from August 2012 at Feeling Stitchy. I’ve had it saved for the last two years, just waiting for a reason to stitch it, and finally this swap came up with the perfect opportunity. The pattern leaves you with a lot of room for stitching interpretation and if you check out the August Stitch-along tag on Flickr, you’ll see some really cool variations, including a passionfruit version, from which I took inspiration for the laid stitches in the skirt.

I wish I’d taken more close-up photos of the stitching, but it was starting to rain when I was photographing this zipper pouch and I didn’t want to hold up my sending it off any longer than I had to.

Lulu Lemon-Lime

As always, I’m obsessed by doing the split stitch (my back stitch just never looks as nice!), so there’s a lot of that in there. I filled in the dark green layers of the skirt with three or four tightly packed rows of chain stitch, and then I loosened it up quite a bit and did the same thing to fill in the white pith on the skirt. Her mouth and nose is done with back stitch (and it doesn’t look very good) and then the eyes… well, I’m not sure what I’d call that stitch. It’s basically just three straight stitches worked in (almost) the same hole, with another straight stitch in yellow to represent the eyelashes. I was having issues doing proper eyelashes, so this was my solution because I was afraid of damaging the Essex fabric by stitching and picking out and stitching and picking out the eyelashes over and over again. The laid stitches in the skirt are pretty crappy looking – I kept changing my mind about how I wanted it to look, so I’d done it in all green to begin with, but then I added (and removed and added and removed) yellow in various different configurations. Eventually I picked out all the yellow I’d added and then just put an extra layer on top of the existing green laid stitches. If I’d planned it out a little better, I’d have stitched them both at the same time, with a strand or two of each colour in the same needle, so that the yellow wouldn’t float on top of the green quite so much. On the other hand, I really like my winging it version of a stitched braid in the hair. I did the yellow first, just taking criss-crossing stitches in varying lengths trying to create the shape of the braid. I stitched right on top of it with the orange, filling in the shape wherever it looked a bit empty; I think it turned out pretty well.


I didn’t want the whole front of the pouch just to be that oatmeal coloured Essex linen blend, so I added the grey on either side (it was an accidental find – I was going to just patchwork some lemon-lime panels with squares of various fabrics, but then I stumbled over the grey, which I thought would be great for the lining, until I realized it was too small a piece of fabric. It turned out great for either side of the stitched panel (except it made me wish I’d stitched on grey linen rather than oatmeal!) and then I added the green Anna Maria Horner print for something like grass under Lulu’s feet, with the ric-rack just for extra interest. The lining was the perfect print to go with the colour scheme.


I only have this one bad photo of the back (rain!), which is pretty plain. The stitching was just me trying to use up some of the leftover bits of cut thread from the stitching on the front (hence the different colours in the top and bottom rows). It’s very… rustic. The background fabric is more of the same Essex linen. I just machine stitched the hexies onto the linen (and did a slightly appalling job of it – I’m still getting used to the new Juki machine and don’t have great control over where things are lining up with the needle). I made the bag an inch taller than recommended because the stitch was a little tall and I wanted to be sure there’d be some visible “grass” under her feet, but you really notice in this photo how off the proportions are – I really should have widened it out by an inch to compensate.


We always fill up the pouches a bit with various different things. I was hoping to get something else made, but my plans fell apart, so instead I loaded it up with a little extra candy (originally I was only going to include the orange marzipan bar and some grapefruit TicTacs, which nobody in my house will admit to opening, but nevertheless were partially eaten… perhaps by the world’s most clever, invisible mouse?): some orange gummy candies, lemonade gummies, the aforementioned orange marzipan, and (because I’m ever so clever) Moda Candy.


Lemon, lime, orange…


And then the rest of the crafty goodies. Some fabric – I’ll post another photo of all the scraps in the bundle on the left – including a bunch of citrus-coloured dot and gingham charm squares, three rolls of citrus-coloured washi tape (the orange one is a different brand from the other two, hence the size difference), a roll of grapefruit coloured baker’s twine, and to appease my sister who is annoyed with me for buying more floss instead of just finding a way to use what we’ve got… I included all the remnants of the floss I used on the Lulu Lemon-Lime stitch.


This is the bundle of fabric scraps. Some of them are just off-cuts from the fabrics I used in the construction of the pouch. The others are all just scraps straight from my scrap bin that I thought were in appropriate colours. They’re not terribly visible, but Mari-Ann/RockIslander who hosted this swap sent me the little chicken fabric just so that I could turn around and send it to my swap partner. Sweetest person ever :D And finally, the yellow on top of the centre column of fabric is a print from Leah Duncan’s Maya line, which my partner once upon a time was looking for. That was a long time ago, so she’s probably found all she needs by now, but I included it specifically because I knew she liked it. My partner seemed to be pretty quiet in the various places I knew to find her online, so I’m really hoping that what I made for her will appeal.

In any case, in spite of my ability to find flaws in pretty much everything I do, I really do love how his pouch turned out.


The 221B bag

So I’ve been on a bit of a blog holiday. I didn’t really mean to be – I’ve got four draft posts of things to show – but I’ve been drowning in things to do lately and haven’t been managing my time very well, so blogging was the bit that went by the wayside. (Even that Sunday Stash post the other day? That was written ages ago and then scheduled. It wouldn’t have been posted at all if not for that.)

This is probably the least important thing I’ve got to talk about right now, which means it is the easiest to talk about and therefore the one that will get talked about. Today (Yesterday, at this point – I fell asleep before I finished writing this entry!) I went to Calgary Comic-Con. I’ve never been to any kind of comic-con before, I’m not really into costuming or comics particularly and I think paying for photos/autographs is kind of lame (sorry if you’re into it, but I’ve never put too much stock in celebrity, which means I find it kind of appalling to think of paying for an experience that several hundred other people are also paying for – what’s the experience really?) and while I enjoy some fannish pursuits, they’re largely of the Easy Entry variety. Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Sherlock… there were so many more cosplayers for things I didn’t recognize even remotely, but who were probably among their people, so to speak.


Anyway, there’s me in a terrible Instagram photo, dressed sort of… costume adjacent, if not in a costume exactly. In theory, you could say that I dressed up as 221b Baker Street from Sherlock, but since I don’t really do costumes I wanted the sort of costume that could be not a costume without much effort – take off the earrings and hide the bit on the scarf and it’s not a costume at all!

Comic-con was interesting, but I was super tired, so I’m sure that affected my response to it. I spent most of Thursday sewing my 221b bag, then slept for about three hours, got up and worked a night shift, came home by 8:15 AM, got ready, and left for the convention at 9 AM. So tired! I’m surprised I was still walking by the time we left because by that point I’d been on my feet for most of 15 hours. I’m surprised I didn’t crash into anything while I was walking because my eyes were trying to close too by the end.

Anyway, the bag. Even though I bought my ticket in January, naturally I didn’t actually do much by way of costume creation until the dead last minute. On Tuesday this week I washed and pressed my fabrics, then on Wednesday I cut out and started adding interfacing/fusible fleece to my pieces, but I only got so far:

Birdie Sling bag

At this point, there were still 4 pieces without interfacing and I hadn’t actually started any of the sewing. Patterns for things other than quilt tops always give me a bit of a fright – they often don’t make all kinds of sense to me and Amy Butler patterns in particular really set my brain into knots, but I got from there (the photo above) to here (the photo below) on Thursday:

221b Birdie Sling bag

Okay, Amy Butler patterns scare me, but this one – the Birdie Sling – wasn’t scary at all. It was easy, even for someone like me who can find a way to mess up any sort of non-quilt sewing pattern that gets put in front of me. It all came together perfectly and I couldn’t be happier with the finished bag. (Actually, yes I could be happier. The print on the fabric faded when I washed it so that my black straps/band around the top became way more intense than the black in the print. If I’d had a charcoal twill, it would have worked out perfectly, but I did not.) I suspect I’ll even make this pattern again, if I find a fabric I want to use for it. It’s easy to make, it looks fantastic finished, and it holds a TON of stuff.

The reason I call this the 221B bag is because that fabric on the base is the same print as the wallpaper in the lounge in 221b in BBC’s Sherlock. I bought it from Spoonflower in a cotton-linen blend, which was nice to sew with (and large enough that I could probably cut a second bag out of the leftovers), though the print seemed to fade unevenly in the wash. The proper wallpaper from the show, if you’re a fan, has blue stripes that fade into cream, but I thought it would be a bit more versatile without the blue (you can buy it with the blue stripe though). I had planned to stitch a yellow smiley face into the black band, but to be honest I couldn’t bring myself to ruin it that way — it looks good enough to use every day without it and if it had the smiley face, I wouldn’t. I think what I need is to get a badge/pin with the yellow smiley that I could just pin on if I were going somewhere like Comic-con again.

Birdie Sling Bag Interior

Please forgive these terrible photos – it was getting dark when I took them (yesterday) and then it snowed all day today and was kind of dreary out. (Yes. It’s almost May and we had a day long snow. It’s all been melting as it hits the pavement, but I bet there’ll be a dusting of it at least when I go to work in the morning.)

On the interior, I used an Amy Butler print, largely because it was one of a few fabrics I had enough of, but also because I just really love that print and it gives me a way to use it. The print is Sketchbook Roses from her Alchemy line. It’s not terribly visible, but on the left I added a kind of lobster claw clasp – this is an enormous bag and I don’t want my keys getting lost in there!

221b Scarf

As for the rest of the “costume”, I also wore my 221B scarf, which I bought from Geekiana on Etsy and a pair of earrings I made out of the Sherlock and John charms I bought from Red Bow Tie (also on Etsy, but currently on vacation). I put the IOU apple onto a bracelet chain, but I didn’t have any other charms to go with it (I’d have put on a Union Jack and… I don’t know, other things that apply) so I didn’t wear it.

Sherlock and Watson charms

I’m pretty sure Sherlock isn’t nerdy enough for Comic-con, but it was still a fun way to get at least a little bit into the spirit of things, since I’m not quite ready to go full on Batgirl or Lego Fig or Disney princess like so many people did.


30/30 Sewing Challenge: Month End

You know, I keep thinking I should have more to show because I’ve spent SO MUCH time crafting this month, but so much of it was absorbed in the beginning of the month with the Radiant Orchid challenge mini-quilt, that once I was finished with that, nearly all my time went into making things I had to make – bee blocks and swap projects. Which, hey, nothing wrong with that, but I still have so much more I wanted to finish this month!

It’s the last day of March, for example, [or the first day of April, even… I fell asleep before I could finished editing this post yesterday] and I didn’t even touch my Gypsy Wife booklet! Not a single Gypsy Wife block sewn in March! But if I get them done by the weekend, I’m still linking up with Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day.

Beginnings of two #quilts -- lowish volume and loud for the #gypsywifequiltalong

This (rather dreadful Instagram photo in a too-dark room) is where both my Gypsy Wife quilts are at. I’m really, really wanting to get working on these, but that Pershing block is really kind of scaring me – I’ve been having issues with details lately and none of my blocks lately have been working out quite like I hope. Pershing is not a good one for when you’re feeling wibbly about your sewing skills.

I’m also six blocks behind on the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong! Six blocks!

Layer Cake Sampler QAL... so far...

This is where I’m at though! Loving how this is coming together, although I do feel a little bit like it’s too pink. I’ll have to wait till I have more blocks together, but maybe I’ll need to sash it in a dark purple or burgundy or something. I think I have a bunch of yardage from this line (Eva by Basic Grey), which was meant to be used as backing for a different Eva quilt-in-progress, but depending what the fabrics are, maybe I’ll be able to use it for finishing the quilt.

So what have I gotten done since finishing my Orchid quilt? Well… a couple bee blocks:

Stash Bee Hive #12 March Block Stash Bee Hive #12 March Block

Neither one of them turned out exactly as I’d hoped – I don’t know… the first one came together pretty well, but that second one is a mess of bad points and it’s a little too small and I was really not happy with it. But I kind of love the colours – that domino dot was a great match for that centre print, although I think it’s a lot more green than the recipient was looking for. In any case, I had changed the needle (and thread) in between sewing the first block and the second and it was just a fight to get anything to work properly. I’m not sure what’s the culprit – maybe the bobbin is wound crookedly, maybe the needle has a bad point or it’s slightly misshapen or the wrong size or maybe I’m a poor craftsman who is blaming her tools. In any case, I’m going to start swapping things out and see if something helps.

I also finished a few things for the 4S swap on Flickr… I don’t want to write a full post about those yet, but here is a shot of the drawstring bag I created and the pincushion I tucked in along with some other treats (fabric and candy and chocolate…):


I feel like there must be more, but I’m drawing a blank on it, so I guess that’s what I’ve been up to with all my 30 minutes (and more) of crafting every day for the last while! Truly, the majority of the month was taken up with this guy, time hog that it was:

Radiant Orchid mini quilt

Linking up with Sarah at Berry Barn Designs for the 30/30 Sewing Challenge. In general I was pretty successful with the 30 minutes a day thing, I think I only missed once on a weekend when I was unexpectedly working nights (but had expected to have time off). It feels like not very much stuff, considering the time I put into it, but crafting really can be a huge time suck. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, but it is not a speedy thing, even when something moves along quickly.

Berry Barn Designs

Linking up also to WIP Wednesday at Needle and Thread Network and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced Sew Fresh Quilts


Radiant Orchid Mini-Quilt

It took me a long time to warm up to making a project for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge – I didn’t have many purples in my stash, even fewer of them in that sort of reddish-pinky-purple that Radiant Orchid seems to be, and I just didn’t have any ideas. But then I read a blog post at Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘N Thread that introduced me to the hand over-dyed threads produced by Colour Complements. Mary was running a giveaway for threads from their Etsy shop and I got sucked into thread heaven, a place filled with pretty, pretty cotton and rayon, and I forgot the giveaway entirely: I just had to buy some thread immediately.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge...

I paired up my sampler pack of threads (three sizes of perle cotton, a rayon chainette, and another very fine rayon thread) with three shades of Kaffee Fassett shot-cotton – Grape, Granite, and Lilac. I choose very quiet fabrics because I wanted to try out something called Kantha quilting and I wanted the stitching to pop, rather than blend into a busy print background. Kantha is a type of embroidery used in parts of India and Bangladesh to give new life to old saris – women would stack up several layers of old, worn saris and stitch them together using a running stitch which could be done in long straight lines or could used to create patterns or pictures. Most of the newer kantha quilts I’ve seen are done exclusively with the running stitches running across the quilts with little extra decoration, but if you do a Google image search or even go to Wikipedia, you can see pictures of some of the more decorative patterns that can be made with Kantha quilting.

Radiant Orchid mini-quilt

I did a little bit of both types, I suppose, since I did largely just straight lines, but also interrupted myself to include a very literal interpretation of the Radiant Orchid challenge. (So literal that I also brought an orchid home so that I could do a triple orchid take – plant, representation of the plant, colour named after the plant.) Because I was working with a sampler pack of threads, I had a little of a lot of varieties of thread, but not a lot of any of them, so I did five repeating rows of (six) different threads, which I also hoped would give it a nice texture and maybe kind of draw the eye around with the different shades of purple and pink (and little splashes of gold) .

Straight Stitching

I stitched the whole thing without a hoop or pins or anything – it was small enough it didn’t feel like it needed much support to keep it together, though I did start with the rayon thread and stitch it every 1-inch or so to help stabilize it enough that I really really didn’t have to worry. I was surprised by how much (overall) I enjoyed the process of stitching – it felt like it should have been tedious, but I didn’t get tired of it until I was near the end and using the worst of the threads – a 100% polyester (which feels scratchy and horrible) and the very thick perle cottons, which my needle was resistant to threading and which then didn’t want to take more than a single stitch at a time. The sparkle chainette (the one with gold flecks) was also a bit difficult because it was incredibly stretchy: I started with a piece of thread the width of the cloth and somehow managed to stitch TWO full lines without starting another length of the stuff.


I free-hand stitched the orchids following a tutorial from Drago Art. For the flowers, I used another variegated perle cotton, this one in a blue-green-purple blend, but I found it sunk back into the background too much, so I outlined a lot of it with a very pale lavender DMC floss. Unlike the rest of the stitches in the piece, that back stitch does NOT travel to the back of the quilt – it’s all on the surface. A third thread was used to stitch the stem – it’s maybe a little too bright, but I like it anyway, so we’ll pretend I didn’t say that.


Anyway, this project absorbed a lot of my time throughout the first couple weeks in March, so much so that I feel like I should be sick of it now, but I’m pretty proud of how it all came out. It kind of dresses up that weird little nook in the strairwell/kitchen along with that print of one of Rodin’s Cambodian dancers and the actual orchids. My sister will likely hate the purple, so it won’t last there too long, I don’t imagine, but eventually it’ll go dress up my Mum’s house for spring.

This was finished on 17 March 2014 and stitched entirely by hand, by me. The binding was sewn to the front and hand-stitched to the back. The fabrics are all Kaffee Fassett shot cottons: the binding is “Grape,” the front is “Granite” and the back is “Lilac.” The threads are all from Colour Complements, except for one shiny purple one (directly above the gold flecked rayon) and the orchid outline, which are both DMC, though one is cotton and the other a horrible, scratchy Polyester. (Seriously, I don’t recommend it.) The quilt measures 15.5″ x 19″ and it is nameless, as are most of my quilts.

This was also my Lovely Year of Finishes Goal for March (goal post here), so success on all fronts!

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge My Button


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