Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Finished : Liberty and Linen Wonky Star

A while back I started a quilt with the whole focus being a way to showcase a beautiful Liberty of London print. I made the quilt top, and then it just sat, languishing in a bin.

I have realized, since I do this a lot, that tends to happen with me on quilts I begin with an idea, not sure if it will work out. And then I work quickly, making the top, and once I complete the idea in my head, I sigh and feel content to have gotten it out, and then fold the quilt top up.

It's kind of funny, really, because despite my not seeing these quilt tops through to fruition, I am ridiculously proud of myself for having at least finished the top.

Well, I promised myself I would complete this one, so I whipped up a backing and then got to quilting, and voila!


The quilting on this near killed my back, but it was worth the hunch in the end.





I like how you can see the stars outlined on the back. 

So there you have it. One top left the basket, while about 8 others still sit. I guess this Liberty quilt was a lucky one. :)




Saturday, April 1, 2017

what I'm wanting & what I'm reading

This year, I have shown some SERIOUS restraint in purchasing fabric. Serious restraint.

We are trying to save what we can for retirement, and also, I have more fabric than I know what to do with. I tell my husband all the time that I want-- no, I NEED is more like it- to be more minimalist and not have sooooo. much. stuff. Because with 5 kids, we sure accumulate stuff. We have been trying to weed stuff out and over the past few months have filled over a dozen bags and boxes with things we do not need. And I am all about continuing with that....except in my sewing room, it is so hard. I did go through it once, and pulled out a few pounds of fabric that I bought several years ago that I no longer want (chevron, mostly.)

The problem is, I clear out space and then feel like I should be *allowed* to fill it. haha!

So, instead, I just send my husband links to bundles of fabric I want and put "A great mother's day present idea" or "Earth day gift idea" in the subject line. Sometimes I just email him with a link to fabric and say only, I should get a reward for keeping the kids alive this week.

So on the latest rounds of emails, this is what I have pointed my husband towards.


The bundle is available at Purl Soho, and it was designed to make the Color Wheel quilt in the book Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts.  I already have the book and have made one quilt from it so far. I bought the book solely with the purpose of making the Color Wheel quilt, so the fact that there is a bundle filled with beautiful Liberty florals designed solely for this purpose-- YES, PLEASE!

And then there is this bundle. Where the Liberty rainbow is soft and soothing, this Heather Bailey bundle is bright and energetic.


This bundle is one of several bundles I have been eyeing (and emailing link to) from Stash Modern Fabrics.

Okay, so now that it's clear I am in need of a fabric rainbow in my life, I wanted to share about some wonderful books I have read in the past couple weeks.

First, was Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It was unlike anything I have read as an adult. There were so many bits of beautiful wisdom speckled throughout, that I think I will read it again because I am sure I missed some things. I am terrible at book reviews, so I will spare you my mediocre attempt to summarize a wonderfully written story. But- it is a fast read, one I could not put down, and despite being something I would not have ordinarily gravitated towards, I am so glad I did.  It's been a week since I finished the book, and it keeps creeping its way into my thoughts. I love a book that stays with you and keeps making you think of deep things in a relatable way.

I really love Goodreads. If you are on there, please let's be friends. Because so many of the books I have LOVED, I only came upon because I saw a friend rate it/review it well. I have a handful of friends that have similar reading tastes, and I love browsing their book lists. 

Another one I just finished was Lilac Girls. A tale of 3 women whose stories were independent and heartbreakingly intertwined during World War II and the years that came after. It was, at times, almost impossible to read. It was hard and beautiful material and  it was a story of the both the very worst and the very best things humans are capable of. And the way it detailed these women's stories, the way they persevered, connected to one another, were brave and strong, it just got right to my core. As the tears gathered on my cheeks, I wanted to put it down, but could not. This book is one everyone should read.

And these are the books next up.


Sarah's Key and The Pearl That Broke It's Shell are going to be hard reads, so I have heard, so I am going to need something rather light in between those two. Back to the library I will go. High fives to my local library, who is constantly supplying me with wonderful things to keep up late into the night!

Do y'all have any books you think I'd like to read? I'd love to hear your thoughts.






Friday, March 31, 2017

on swaps and minis and diamonds and squares

Hi friends! After a week or so of no sewing, I finally got my groove back.

And it all started with the mini I created for the #geeseswap.

Here she is, in all her bold-binded glory.


I wasn't sure about that bottom row of geese, but the instagram consensus was to leave it on. So I did.

And then I made a pillow front for my #makersbirthdaybash girl. Not a style I typically make, so I hope my girl likes it. 


I made this pillow front using the Treehouse Chimney Sweep free pillow pattern found here. I looked at my girl's inspiration mosaic and was so tempted to make the exact design she shared in her mosaic, but I have something about surprises.... I am the same way with my kids and gifts. They tell me what they want, and then I give them a couple of those things and then make the rest surprises, things I think they'd like but had not considered. So hopefully I got this right. I am sort of tempted to make another pillow cover just in case....

 And all of that smaller-sized making pushed me to make something big-- a quilt.

I wasn't sure what pattern to make, so I turned to one of my new favorite quilt books, By The Bundle.


There are quite a few patterns I want to make from this book, but there is pattern I want to make 50 times over!! 


I think it is the Liberty that drew me in, but I love the reverse negative space. It gives me the white space I need, while still filling the quilt with color and pattern.

I altered the sizes a bit-- I made the blocks bigger, and did less blocks. I had just received a Quilters Mystery Box from massdrop, and in it was a cute little mermaid/sea-themed bundle! So I whipped this up from 20 fat quarters and VOILA!


If you are curious about the measurements of the blocks I made and you already have the book, just shoot me a message and I would be happy to share. :)

What's even better-- there are still some fat quarters left for me to piece a backing! That is my plan for tomorrow!!

Happy Friday friends!! Linking up here:


Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts







here we go again

Without sounding like a whiner, I've been dealing with some things that have kind of sucked the wind right out of my sails. (Wait. That still makes me a whiner, doesn't it? Darn it.)

If you know me at all or we are friends on social media, you might know that a few years ago I was diagnosed with PVNS while I was pregnant with my 5th baby, Declan. I had a golf-ball sized tumor removed from my leg shortly after he was born. And then had some complications, so I had to have another surgery. In that 2nd surgery, something happened to my femoral nerve, and severed it. Which basically means I don't have proper nerve function in my right leg, walk with a limp, and my leg often goes out. 

Basically, my leg is super awesome. But, I have had 3 years of getting back to a new normal and was doing really well. I could walk a few miles, I could run in short spurts (but not on cement because I am afraid of face planting when my leg goes out). Mostly, I was doing very well.

Until about a month ago, when I wasn't doing so well. It started with just pain occasionally. And then a lot of swelling and locking up. And then the pain got worse and worse. My chance of recurrence was very very small. But because I am an overachiever, it appears my body likes small chances. 

I am back talking with my orthopedic oncologist, have an MRI coming up, and am in good hands. 

I have spent the last week getting ahead of myself in upset. When these things recur, they are more aggressive, and I don't have much joint tissue left for doctors to remove. So that sucks. But- it is what it is, and getting frustrated doesn't change a darn thing. 

It took me a week or so, but I have finally realized it will all be okay. Even if it isn't. 

While all this was going on, my Dad came to visit (which was so good for all of us because we have not seen him in 4 years), we have battled strep throat and ear infections, my tooth broke, and my pets heads are falling off.  JK. My pets heads are doing alright. 

I am sharing here because this is my deep breath space. So. If any of my friends read this, please just know I love you all bunches and I am sorry that I checked out of life a few weeks ago. I am back in it, now, just with a bigger limp and shooting motrin every 4 hours! haha! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lavender Lemonade

I talked about my quilting style in this post, and if there was a quilt that ever defined my process and style, it is this one!

I started with the idea of wanting to create 4 columns. I wanted it simple, clean, straight-forward, but with a few fun details. So I decided each column would have some element that made it different and became a sort of focal point.



I threw my 3 favorite blocks in the mix-- the plus block, the wonky star, and one big ol' lone goose. And then I felt I needed to dial down the 4th fun block, so I did simple strips.



I kept adding different fabrics as I went. I wasn't sure if I wanted to add a white border, and then decided rather than do it, I could do a simple white binding for the same effect of framing, to not detract from all the color and pattern.

Also, I'd like it noted that I am out on the peripheral of the Purple Objectors club. It's not my favorite color, but I don't have the amount of dislike that many of my friends have for purple.

Lavender, however-- that's a whole different ballgame. I like lavender. (gasp.) And I love how this turned out. Am I allowed to say that without sounding boastful? I only mean that I don't always know if I am going to like something, especially when I am playing with color in a way that is not typical for me. As I was stitching, I had a lot of "eeehhhhhhhhh.....not so sure about this one...." moments, only to be very pleasantly surprised in the end.





I really like lavender when paired with another color. In this case, that rich golden yellow. In fact it might be favorite pairing. I am thinking Amy Butler agrees, because she is the genius behind that beautiful big floral print at the top of the 3rd row. Also, can we just take a minute to appreciate the beauty in the names of Amy Butler's fabric lines? I mean- Eternal Sunshine (YES!! I would like some eternal sunshine, please! Sign me up for some of that!!), Dreamweaver (what a lovely title!), and Bright Heart (I will take a bright heart, also, please!).

I added this one to my shop, and now I am needing to make a quilt just like this, but with different colors I would not normally use.

Linking up here:





My Quilt Infatuation

quilting style

I  am obsessed with quilting books, and quilting magazines, and quilting blogs. I love reading about quilters and where they get inspiration from, how they differentiate their work, and I really enjoy hearing about their tips and tricks and favorite tools of the trade.

When reading these articles and books, quilters are often asked to define their style. That question has led to much self reflection for me. How would I define my own style, which category do I fit into? It's an interesting question, and one that is both worthy of an answer and also impossible to define- at least personally.

Some of the conflicting thoughts in my head:

  • I have an etsy shop. So it is sort of important to loosely categorize myself, if only for the sake of a well-worded "shop description". 
  • how can I use a word or two to sum up how and what I create? what is general enough that it encompasses an evolving style, but specific enough that people know how you approach creativity?
  • even if I settle on something, I inevitably create something that directly contradicts what I just described my style as
  • can you be 5 opposing ideas all at once? I mean, I know you can because I am, but is that a style??
See. Impossible.

What I settled on: my style is modernish (emphasis on the ISH), as I need white/negative space and balance, what I create tends to have a simple and easy feel, with a nod to traditional and vintage design,  whimsical in layout and fabrics, but without being overly fussy or complicated.

Ha!! So where does that leave me? No idea.

My style mirrors my process. Constantly evolving. I start with a relatively small idea, usually color palette or pattern. I gather fabrics and get to sewing. 95% of the time, I add more fabrics as I go. I embellish upon my original idea, making a pattern larger, tailoring it back some, adding a new element, or throwing in a different color. What I end up with usually looks sort of like the idea I started with. I know "improv" seems so cliche and trendy, but honestly, the way I create is improv from beginning until the I stitch that last seam on the binding.

This quilt below illustrates what I mean. It began with an idea I had while laying in bed. I knew I wouldn't sleep until I got it to paper. I got up and drew it out, and then started grabbing fabrics- at midnight, mind you. I started with only lavenders. And then added in pinks as I built it. I love log cabins (a very traditional design) but used it only for construction, and not a complete design. I needed negative space- the white border. Simplicity-- a pretty clean and straight forward design. A little whimsy thrown into the binding, when I used a few random strips of fabric, and in how I quilted it with organic lines, varying the spacing.


So now if anyone asks me how I would describe my style, I can pull this post up and remind myself what I decided! haha!! 

Sew Fresh Quilts





Monday, March 20, 2017

Big ol' Liberty Star

Let me just take a moment to digest the fact that a few weeks ago, I said (out loud) I want to get back to blogging, because it lets me get my thoughts out, documents things I don't want to forget, and just feels good to share and throw my hat into the quilting/raising children/navigating life ring. And I am actually doing it. I mean, I say I want to do a A LOT of things.... haha! So high fives to me for actually doing what I say I want to do. (for now, at least....cough cough).

On to my big ol' Liberty of London star.

The origin of this was wanting to create a very minimalist design to really showcase this beautiful Liberty of London lawn print.


My husband bought me that, without any guidance, on a trip to Seville, Spain last fall. When we visited Spain last summer, we had intended on visiting this amazing fabric shop he had told me about (he goes to Spain often, and loves exploring Spain in between work stuff) that was 3 levels and packed with beautiful fabric. Well, my kidney's had a different plan for me and I ended up spending my birthday in a hospital in Spain, so I missed out on the shop. But every time he has gone since, he ventures out and brings me back different Liberty prints. He is more than I deserve, that's for sure.

Okay, back to the star. I wanted a great big wonky star set in white. Once the star was done, I decided I wanted to go a little further and either 1- frame it in linen, and then echo that frame in a soft shade of pink, or 2- do a few more wonky stars in a smaller size off to the bottom of the big Liberty star.


I shared as much on Instagram, and my quilty peeps weighed in and the verdict was more wonky stars. 

So that is what I did. Starting with 2 linen stars, in a smaller size.


Yall. Liberty and linen = a match made in fabric heaven. I don't believe in arranged marriages, but I believe in this one. 

For the smaller stars, I debated either doing the 2 smaller stars on the top left corner of the big star- this option would have been MUCH easier for me. Or. Removing that white rectangle by the 2 linen stars and putting the 3 smaller stars across sort of staggered on an angle, with the middle of the 3 stars being where the white rectangle was.

I didn't want to do the second option. That would either require Y seams - NO. NO. NO.- or a lot of seam ripping and a lot of math to calculate sizes to get it how I wanted it to look.

This is where I had the epiphany that I have on just about any quilt I am working on that isn't basic patchwork. The epiphany that reminds me -- It would have been much simpler and less stressful and easier on my brain had I just developed a plan and worked out design BEFORE I started. Shannon and the Hard Way, working hand in hand since 1977. Seriously. 

So, since I am DEATHLY ALLERGIC to Y seams, (I have a note from my doctor),  I seam ripped and did the math and then stitched it all, and realized my math was wrong so I seam ripped again and then stitched again. UGH.

But-- I got it! It ended up resembling the idea in my head. The third idea, in case you're keeping track.


Whew. My brain needs a trip to the spa now. That said, there is something very Tom Hanks in Castaway "I HAVE MADE FIRE!!!!!!" about having an idea and figuring it out all on your own. There may have been some chest beating and emphatic gesturing at my quilt top and some "Looookkk what I have created! I HAVE MADE FIRE!!". (p.s. I do this any time I figure anything out, so it's probably lost its luster on my family and I am sure they are soooo over it. oh well.)

I added borders, and voila! A completed top. Just need to figure out how I want to back it, and I am all set. I decided this one needs a linen binding!


If anyone is curious about star measurements or a general idea of construction, let me know and I can try and remember what I did. haha! A quick run down:

Liberty Star -- center block cut to 6.5 inches square; (4) white squares cut to 6.5 inches square and (4) white squares cut to 6.75 inches square, and (4) Liberty squares cut to 6.5 inches square. All of the star points squared up to 6.5 inches square. 

Linen Stars- center block cut to 3.5 inches square; (4) white squares cut to 3.5 inches square and (4) white squares cut to 3.75 inches square, and (4) linen squares cut to 3.5 inches square. All of the star points squared up to 3.5 inches square. 

Blue Star- center block cut to 2.5 inches square; (4) white squares cut to 2.5 inches square and (4) white squares cut to 2.75 inches square, and (4) blue squares cut to 3.5 inches square. All of the star points squared up to 2.5 inches square. 

Pink Stars- center block cut to 2.25 inches square; (4) white squares cut to 2.25 inches square and (4) white squares cut to 2.5 inches square, and (4) pink squares cut to 2.25 inches square. All of the star points squared up to 2.25 inches square. 

I was going to share how I make wonky stars, but a quick google search, and I found a wonderful tutorial already written on that HERE



Sunday, March 19, 2017

improv arrowhead quilt

I think I talked before about my process, and 95% of the time, a quilt begins with either a- a color palette I want to create something out of, or b- a pattern I want to try.

For this quilt I am sharing about, it's origin was in the other 5%-- rather than beginning with a color palette or a pattern in mind, I started with a fat quarter.

So, I am kind of cheating here, because while it was a single piece of fabric that marked the beginning, I think I was drawn to the fat quarter (that I had gotten in a whimsy girl bundle from Whimsy Quilts a long while ago) because of the colors. The combination was pretty, but surprising. It had coraly reds and ocean blues, and kind of a lemony yellow. In the picture below, it is the fabric on the top row, sandwiched between that bright lemony yellow and that soft pale mint. But the print was sketch-like, and was drawn to the big drawings of floral. Which brings me to another thought-- I love it when a fabric can contradict itself. Like with florals-- I love it when they can be modern or fun, and not super soft or girly. Or anything geometric-- when a geometric print's stiffness is lessened because the pattern is softer-- love that! But I could write an entire blog post on that, so suffice to say for this quilt, I was drawn to the big loops and lines in the floral that was pretty without being overly floral, if that makes sense.



I had it in my stash for a long while, and I decided to make something out of it, and pulled other fabrics that played off the colors in it.

Initially I wanted to just create a few rows of rectangular bars, with white sashing in between. But around that same time, I had also made some improv chevron-ish linen pouches.




I loved the sharp wonky angles, and I really enjoyed improv piecing them, so rather than stick with my rectangular bar rows, I decided to do an arrowhead-ish, improvy chevron row instead.

To begin, I used my triangle quilt ruler, placed it on a piece of fabric and cut, without paying attention to straightness or size. From there I just cut strips in varying widths and pieced it log cabin style around the original triangle. The key was really just in pressing, because the angles and varying widths sometimes wanted to stretch, so I had to press those bits into submission. And even with that, there was still a couple spots that had a little bit of ripple (probably not explaining that right, they just didn't sit perfectly flat), but quilting made them sit back down.



Once I had enough of the little chevrons, I trimmed it to become a bar of arrowheads. Then repeated that whole thing a couple more times. I added white sashing in between and outside the rows, and voila!




I think I will be making this again, because everything about it appeals to me. The nature of improv and choosing as I go, how it highlights the beauty in imperfection, and how it allows for a busyness in the pattern, but calms down with the white space.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

my interpretation of Totem

I don't think I shared about this quilt, but out of all the things I ever made, it is one of my absolute favorites.

I finished it back in December, and this quilt might just be the one that got away.

It all started when I saw pictures of quilts made with Carolyn Friedlander's Totem pattern, and I fell in love.

I bought the pattern, and after reading through it, followed her basic design principles in the block building, but ended up using the pattern as a general foundation, rather than following it to the letter. I ended up with not one, but a few columns of totems.

I started building it with some of my most cherished fabrics.

(pardon the picture quality-- I had to screen shot it from instagram because I deleted all of the in progress photos from my phone.)


It was really fun to work on.

 I combined Essex Linen with some hoarded Art Gallery prints and some of my favorite soft pink blenders. Between the gingham, the feel of the linen, the flamingos, and some of the dainty floral, I was smitten.

I listed it in my etsy shop and told myself that if no one needed it in their homes within a week, I would take the listing down and keep it for myself. It sold, though, so no staring at this one. 




I quilted it with what is becoming my favorite way to quilt (my signature style! haha!), using wavy lines interspersed with organic lines, some close together, to really up the crinkle factor. I am all about that crinkle factor. Also, I'd just like to ensure that y'all know, I am on the black-and-white-striped-binding-forever-and-ever team. 


I definitely want to make this pattern again. Or at least, my take on it. It feels raw and modern, but somehow even the edginess can take on a softer feel when paired with certain fabrics. 


Friday, March 17, 2017

hello, bear and a sort of economy block quilt

I think this the 2nd or 3rd quilt I made around Bonnie Christine's Hello, Bear line. I love it. It is whimsical and modern and sort of neutral, with pops of color, and so fun!

I'd had the idea to make a 2/3s economy block quilt for a bit. In the traditional economy block, the center piece is a square, set into a diamond, set into a square. In my version, the center was a diamond, set in a square. There might actually be a name for this type of block, I just don't know of one.

Here is a close up of the blocks.


I added sashing in between the columns to make it a bit wider. The creamy flecked fabric in the background, Firefly,  might be one of my very favorite low volume prints ever. Aside from the softness that the cream adds, there is the actual silky softness that is the staple of Art Gallery fabrics. 

I really like how it turned out.


I decided to back it with another print from the hello, bear line, because it is just so perfect!!


And I decided to quilt it minimally, just around the diamonds. You can see it well on the back above.


I was unsure of binding it in the black cotton + steel sprinkle fabric, but I am so glad I did. I feel like it adds a cool dimension to the quilt. I definitely think I will make another 2/3s economy block quilt again. haha! 

Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

hello, color!

Typically, the colors I gravitate towards are soft. Even if it is colorful, I think I use enough white space that it sort of tames the brightness. But after doing that long enough I crave something saturated, something bright and busy.

That's where the idea for this quilt top came from. I had just finished several quilts in softer shades and felt like I needed a quilt that would quench my need for something completely infused with vibrant color.



I wanted complete improv. I love the look of combining several different blocks, but don't typically love sampler style quilts. I guess I look at like, if you are going to embrace variation, then let's REALLY embrace it. Meaning, no set block sizes, making whatever, as much as I want, and if I want it bigger, freedom to add sashing or a completely different block.

There is probably a design rule that says when you are going for complete wonkiness and mismatchy improvisation, you should have something that unifies your project or gives the eyes some place to rest. Trust me, I am ALL about giving your eyes a place to rest-- white space is my homeboy. But. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes we need to break out of these little boxes we carve out for ourselves and do something completely different. In this case, it wasn't like I was really challenging myself to break outta that box-- it was more like I needed to.

I'm rambling. Anyway, I wanted this quilt to just push back against all the parameters that I typically work within. The only thing that really unifies this quilt is the color palette, and even that, I was considering throwing a wrench into this hot pink, sorta azure-sort of cerulean bright blue, with bits of sunshine yellow color palette. We'll see.

This is the probably the 17th quilt I have started making for myself. I have yet to keep a single quilt just for me. I might need to change that with this one.

And speaking of my need for color, I am really going to try to finish this quilt top today! The colors in this!!! 


Give me all those rich spring and summer colors now, please!

Linking up these fun quilty parties:

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

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