to ring in the new

This year has been a bit of a blur. I have spent the last couple of months just tying up all the loose ends from all the projects and life stuff that's been building up at a frenetic pace. I think we're just about all caught up. Or at least, we are closer to being there than we were in September.

I'll spare you the long stuff and give you the short of it. I made this quilt and even wrote a pattern for it:

The plan is to finally go over the pattern with a fine tooth comb, edit the hell out of it, and make it available for purchase through craftsy, etsy, whathaveyousy.

I worked on stuff for classes and had a blast teaching at gather here:

There was knitting again:

pattern: Cladonia
designer: Kirsten Kapur, Through The Loops
yarn: madelinetosh merino light in Clover and Kelp
needles: Addi Turbos US size #5

Amazing that I still remember how to knit. Heh. This pattern is a breeze. I adore Kirsten's clear and straightforward instructions. And so pretty! I gave it to one of Matt's aunts for Christmas, and she loved it.

Also, besides teaching the class for the third Christmas in a row, I finally made a proper tree skirt for myself - not a prototype, not a class sample. I couldn't be happier with it!

And we adopted this awesome dogger from the Maine Sheltie Rescue:

Welcome to the latest addition to our family, Toby. He's 11 months old, and he is trying to "make fetch happen" in my world and succeeding at it. He loves playing fetch more than anything! I am looking into flyball training for the spring and just general obedience training come January. He is smart as a whip, super-clever, and so focused. I adore him.

Playing fetch a gazillion times a day has not slowed the sewing down (running the kids all over town has - haaaaaaaaaaaa!). I was able to squeeze in two more quilts for the year. The first is something I started years ago, hence I am relieved and overjoyed to have finally quilted and bound it. You may remember this little quiltalong? What?! You don't? Yeah, that's because it was YEARS ago.

The Colorist, by Lizzy House, is such an fabulous design, and it comes together quickly (when you don't set it aside and wait years to quilt it). It is one of my favorite quilts I have made this year.

Another favorite is this one:

I was inspired by the palette of this pretty tea towel by Avril Loreti. Originally, I was going to make a HST quilt replicating that design, but then I started sewing Drunkard Path blocks as the concept started to morph and I imagined a new design. It kinda came together when I was not thinking about it at all. I saw this quilt by Cortney Heimerl and thought it would be interesting to make something similar using both the HSTs and DP blocks. I also wanted to fade the colors out at two corners but in a more exaggerated manner in order to make the patterning shimmer. I'm calling it "sunrise-sunset" because it reminds me of the colors in the sky during both. (I know! You kinda want to hire me as a copywriter for that nugget of brilliance I dropped on you. Titles that bombastically creative don't just write themselves. Unless they do.) It has the honor of hanging in my bedroom as wall art because I love it so much.

And with that, I bid you all a fantastic New Year. Happy New Year, folks! May 2014 be full of all that is wonderful for you.


i got your number


I can't even remember when I first pieced this top. Flickr tells me is was July... of last year. I remember coming up with this idea for a class at gather here. The class did not go so well. I really should have tested the pattern first and made templates instead of relying on measurements alone. It was my first attempt at taking an improv project and turning it into a pattern, and there were a lot of numbers to crunch and still gaps to fill. Suffice it to say I learned many valuable lessons about teaching, pattern writing, and quilt making that weekend.


I will admit, though, that despite these lessons learned, I have no desire to turn this specific design into a pattern. I'm still emotionally connected to the design, which is ironic considering that numbers are fact and math has no place for emotion. But the design, the geometry and proportions of each numeral were not exact figures when I came up with it all, and trying to make it all fit into manageable increments that work well on paper still feels beyond me. I think if I were to re-design it so that each numeral block can be paper-pieced that would probably work best. But then that would be a completely different design.

Anyway, I am happy to share the general layout - a blueprint, if you will. It's nothing fancy, just some basic information and a diagram that spells out how it was pieced. You can download it for free over at my craftsy pattern shop. Then have a ball with it. Make it your own. Improvise. Add or remove design elements. Do your thing. But most of all, have fun with it. And feel free to share your photos of your finished tops with me because I would love to see them.

mmmm, delicious corners


are you ready to reap this freaky harvest?

now on Craftsy

My Candy Corn Mug Rug is now available as a free pattern on Craftsy. Grab it, make it, and indulge in some mad seasonal table accessorizing.


improv curves mini no.2

improv curve mini no.2

Had a great class today at gather here. All three students were super-pumped about their quilts and finished them in class today. All three quilts rocked big time. And the bonus was that they all walked out of class super excited about quilting and looking forward to their next patchwork projects. It really inspires me when folks walk out of class feeling enthusiastic about quilting; that enthusiasm is totally contagious and helps fuel me as I work on stuff for next month's classes.

I think I've come a long way since the first time I taught an improv patchwork class, and I am thrilled about this growth. I now realize how important it is to provide a certain structure within the class to reinforce the idea of starting with some sort of groundwork that you either expand on or join together from existing separate parts. And making a bunch of samples in class to illustrate this was vital.

And from those sample pieces, I was able to put together this little number, which I love love love. At 18 x 29 1/4 inches, it's just the right size for hanging in my little sewing nook.


quick projects, slow finishes, totally worth it

scrappy tripalong quilt

Remember that scrappy tripalong top I banged out in a night? Or was it two nights? I can't even remember, so I certainly don't expect anyone else to do so. Well, heh, I threw that top on a pile of other tops and stacked them on a "to be quilted" shelf and promptly forgot about them - ALL of them. Eh, you know how it goes. Life happens, there are places to go, there are other projects that you are more excited about, other ideas need to be explored, and the wees need to go out and play. Every now and then, I look at the stack (as I throw another top on it) and think, "Oh shit! I better get quilting." Annnnnnnd then I forget all about it all over again. Heh.

Recently, my father-in-law commented on my Halloween-y Kaleidoscope quilt, saying he really likes it and that he'd like a quilt of his own. I intend to make him an awesome one for xmas, but for now, I figured the ST quilt, measuring roughly 45 x 60 inches, would be the perfect size for a lap quilt/throw as he sits in his rocking chair grading papers.

As I mentioned before, I am not crazy about this design in general. It's just not my thing. However, I am really glad I tried this particular strip-piecing technique because I love learning new techniques and this one has given me a million ideas for other designs that can be pieced in a similar fashion. Learning something new and gaining inspiration for other quilts? I'd say this was a win. And I also had a top at the ready to quilt and give to someone I love. Even more win!

more free motion practice

I backed it with a snuggle-worthy flannel in a colorway that matched the top and went to town with some free-motion quilting on it. At first, I debated how to quilt it. Originally I was going to do criss-crossing straight lines on a 45º diagonal. I thought that might be a bit redundant and boring, though, and opted to free-motion quilt echoing petals which would be a contrast to the rectilinear composition of the quilt. Also? Any opportunity to practice free-motion quilting is great. I'm starting to actually see improvements in my skills - more even and consistent stitches, better flow, and I'm finding it easier to move the quilt around while I'm stitching. Slowly, I'm growing more confident in my abilities with this and having fun with it while I'm at it. And isn't that the way to go/grow? There's no better way to learn something than to dive in and do it, to not be afraid of mistakes because we only learn from them, to practice and practice more. Because practice makes us better at it. Every time we go to do it again, we see how it becomes easier and more natural.

Anyhoo, here's the corner shot:


I'm happy to report my father-in-law is thrilled with it. So hooray to awesome people, learning new techniques, and another happy finished quilt!


september class samples - the back to school edition

pencil snack mat

apple-qué pillow (get it? haaaaaaaaa)

Just a couple of the classes I'll be teaching at gather here next month. Super-psyched about these offerings!


wip wednesday - borders

It's funny how most people are under the impression that improv piecing means doing things all loosey-goosey, willy-nilly, not a thought or care in the world. I can see how it's easy to think that because the process is organic it involves no precision, no planning, and no math. On the contrary, it involves so much planning and precision and with that so much math. It is an intuitive process, where the plan develops as you build. With each new development comes the number crunching and the piecing to make things fit properly. There is an order. There are rules. You create the order as you sew. You apply the rules to each part creating a harmonious sum. The plan grows with you; you inform the plan.

My plan here is to create several borders, making my Celestial Guides into a true medallion quilt. I'm thinking of including both this version, whatever it evolves as, and the original version in the final pattern. I mean, as it stands, the pattern for the original is ready to go, but it might be fun to include the crazyballs version. For now, I have attached the first border, and the second is pieced and pressed, I just have to finish the corners stars and I can attach it all. I'm toying with the idea of flying geese as my third and final border. Or maybe I'll do quarter-square triangles. I've got to measure before I figure it out.


tricks not treats?

Halloween kaleidoscope quilt

Finally, I've finished a Halloween quilt before Halloween. I could also simply say, "Finally, I've finished a Halloween quilt," but more on that in a bit. The thing is - yep, there's a thing - that this quilt that I was so in love with while I piecing the blocks, this quilt I couldn't stop thinking about, seems to have fallen just short of the mark for me. I only really saw it while editing the photos. There's not enough contrast, which means there's limited movement. I must have messed up the original arrangement of the blocks because they seem to be in rows of dominant color, which again means limited movement. The funny thing is I always tell my students to use technology to their advantage and shoot quick pics of their quilts in progress with their cell phones so they have a handy visual guide of how they arranged their blocks. And then I go and not do that myself. I took the photos. I just never referred to them in my eagerness to get this pieced and basted in one night.

But you know how it goes. Live and learn or whatever. I got to try a fun new technique - sewing strips to create pieces that would then be cut into kaleidoscope triangles. I was completely inspired by the quilts of Linda Rotz Miller, one of my quilting heroes, most specifically this beauty. And I got to make a kaleidoscope quilt, which is something I have been meaning to do for years. I see what I would have done differently, and I will have the chance to remedy that in my next kaleidoscope quilt. Because there will be a next one.

what I didn't catch in the previous shot

Meanwhile, I know a couple of wee people who seem pretty willing to make it theirs. And I need to get sewing on last year's unfinished Halloween quilt stat.



kitties + coffee forevah!

kitty coffee coaster

You ever do that thing where you compose a blog post about a project only you apparently never clicked on post or even save, for that matter, as the post doesn't seem to exist anywhere but your head? Yeah, well, that.... And I only realized now that this post didn't exist - months after I made this kitty coffee coaster and taught a class on it and made a ton to give to friends. Now. Why did I realize this now? Because I was posting all my available patterns onto Craftsy and went to link up my blog post to the listing. Only there was no blog post to be linked because... derf.

I don't blog about every single project I make because as much as I enjoy blogging, it is not one of my top priorities. I've never been super-diligent about it to begin with, but with the wees it's been a balancing act to make time for everything. I am not as awesome at time management as some folks, and whatever time I make for sewing is strictly for that. So it comes as no surprise that I dropped the ball on that. But still, I'm a little baffled because I was SO excited about this project. I mean, kitties and coffee - true love forevah!

Oh! And hey! I'm now on Craftsy. Woohoo! I'm all posting my patchwork and softie patterns there, and I'll be posting a few more over the next week. So please do check it out!


wip wednesday - in the throes of summer

Sewing along with my class on this quilt, which I'm calling "Celestial Guides."

Working on a potholder pattern for a future class:

Finally planting a succulent garden in the bird bath that has been the subject of much debate here lately.


How is your summer going?