Tuesday, November 24

Ad Hoc Improv - Exploring Fabric Possibilities

This week with I'm doing something I've never done before: writing a new post before I've finished reciprocating and replying to the previous one.  That makes me feel a bit guilty, but Tuesday is the monthly Ad Hoc Improv Quilt Group link up at Sew Slowly and Fret Not Yourself and I don't want to miss it.  I will still catch up with everyone who commented last time, I promise. 

If you have been doing any improvisational sewing this month, be sure to head over to Ann & Kaja's blogs and join their Ad Hoc Improv linky party.  Even just for the reading pleasure, it's worth a look. People's posts are always so thought provoking and inspiring.  This is a really fun group!

I haven't made much progress on my Improv quilt, except that I did a preliminary fabric pull and have been exploring the possibilities, by pinning fabrics to the wall.  I'm playing around with the idea of creating two quaking aspens on the left side of the quilt.  I'm pretending that they are lit up because of the glow from a campfire, and standing out against a starry night sky.  I have a few more ideas of where to go after that, but will take one step at a time.  This is what was up on my design wall:

Frankly, I'm a bit stalled here.  I thought maybe I'd do the leaves and bushes in improv triangles.  Or maybe random squares and rectangles.  Some of those gold fabrics seem too bright, so I was thinking about over-dyeing them.  That's Carrie Bloomston's Indigo Stars fabric in the background.  The stars are represented by little bits of paper, like they were torn from the pages of a book.  Less of it will show by the time I do the bushes in the foreground and the leaves.  I'm concerned about making things too chaotic, because I really want this quilt to communicate a sense of peace.  But it will also look a bit like altered art when I'm done... I plan to add an excerpt from an Edmund Spencer poem.  All these elements and still a sense of peace... maybe that's too tall of an order. 

What do you think? Is the starry background too much?  And would randomly shaped triangles look better for the leaves and bushes, or rectangles and squares?  This is a learning process for me and I welcome your thoughts.   

Thanksgiving and all the preparation seems to take a very large chunk of time out of this week.  We also had a baby shower for our daughter Kaitie, which Alina & Gonzo drove in for, and our son Sam is home with us all week. It has been wonderful though.  I'm sure many of you are just as busy, but I would love to know what your plans are for the holiday (or the week, if you are not celebrating the holiday in the U.S.)  Also, I decided to wait to share Ruth's Mug Rug Swap with you next week, when hopefully we'll all have a little more free time.  

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Also linking this post to Cath's Design Board Monday at Bits 'n Bobs - which is open 'til Sunday!

Friday, November 20

On Pins and Needles with Sandra, Part 2

In my last post, I shared about the pincushion swap Sandra and I did together and showed you the beautiful pincushion she made for me.  Today, I'd like to show you the starfish pincushion I made.  When I was searching for ideas, Sandra had just returned from a trip to the seashore and she mentioned that she loves the sea.  So I chose a seaside theme for her gift.  I forgot to photograph the beachy batik jelly roll and the crabby card I sent along with the pincushion to Ireland, but you can see them on her blog, Studio Sew of Course, if you pop over there for a visit.  

Here is the starfish pincushion: 

Starfish Pincushion - top view

The top looks like it is beaded, but it isn't.  Those are little glass headed applique pins, in light and dark blue, which I thought would be much more useful.  I like to stuff my pincushions with cured sawdust.  It makes them very firm, gives them a nice heft, and holds the pins in very well.  If you've ever used an old red tomato pincushion, that's what they are stuffed with.   

Starfish Pincushion - belly up

The starfish sits a little bit off the surface of the table and its arms are curved.  It has a really deep, chubby shape, which I liked a lot for holding pins.  I used a very well done Starfish Plushie - pattern and tutorial, which I bought from Metroidhat on Etsy.  The pattern is for a plush toy, but I just resized it to make a smaller starfish.

Have any of you tried doing a private swap with other quilters and crafters?  I know some of you have, because I've seen some wonderful posts about it!  Swaps are a great way to get to know your blogging friends better. "Stalking" them, to fine tune your gift to them (it sounds sinister, but isn't) is a lot of fun.  Personally, I much prefer the private swaps and think that they are Head and Shoulders over the big public ones... No flakes!    (Ha ha)    


Sarah, who blogs at Cedar Fork Stitches, created another beautiful quilt for Moda Bake Shop, called "Prairie Rose Garden".  It's such a pretty design - perfect for both modern and traditional fabrics. Her tutorial is excellent and she uses a really neat construction technique when she chains stitches, called the web method, which was something very new to me.  Definitely worth checking out!    

When I mentioned that her enthusiasm made me want to give the Moda Crossweave fabrics a try, she sent me some in the mail, along with some pretty orange gingham.  Such a sweet and thoughtful thing to do... Thank you Sarah!  :)  And that Moda crossweave fabric is everything you said it would be!  LOL

Sarah's Sweet Surprise

That's all for today.  Next time I'll show you a mug rug swap I did with Ruth of Charly and Ben's Crafty Corner, which was also a great lot of fun!   

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Tuesday, November 17

On Pins and Needles with Sandra, Part 1

Not long ago, Sandra from Studio Sew of Course and I did a pincushion swap with each other.  

Want to know what the best part of it was?  We were friendly before deciding on a swap but during the process we became friends.  This is one of the things I love most about quilt blogging: the connections you make with so many wonderful people.  We live far apart (she, in Ireland and I, in the United States) and we would never have gotten to meet otherwise.   

This is the pincushion Sandra made for me:
Mini Dresden Pincushion, made by Sandra Jansen

Pretty amazing, isn't it?  Isn't that the sweetest, tiniest Dresden applique' you've ever laid eyes on?  The whole pincushion fits easily in the palm of your hand.  You can't even see Sandra's applique stitches without the camera blowing them up all macro, and even then, only barely. I love the cotton lawn against the dark grey fabric. (Shot cotton. I think.)  Then there are the lovely Sashiko like embroidery stitches she did along the side...  Ah, can you tell that I fell in love with it? 

Here are some more shots, as well as pictures of the other wonderful goodies Sandra sent along in her package.     

Top view of Mini Dresden Pincushion, made by Sandra Jansen

Sandra sewed a sweet cotton lawn hexie on the back

Oodles of fun in her gift box!

I felt very blessed indeed! Thank you for being such a fun swap partner Sandra!

Next post, I'll share the pincushion that I sent to Sandra. :)


As a farewell to my favorite season, I'll leave you today with some photos I took while on autumn walks.  Things change so much in a few short weeks.  Now the branches are mostly bare, there is a nip in the air, and it gets dark before Jim gets off work. 

Adventures Ahead for Penny!
A Peaceful Place
Milkweed fulfilled
Wild Rose Hips
Golden Days

My Pumpkin with her Pumpkin... and Penny

This year I am actually looking forward to winter, because our first grandchild is due to be born in January.  Kaitie is a glowing mom-to-be, although she feels more like it's a nuclear glow. LOL... but the excitement over finally meeting baby Eden James is building! 

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Tuesday, November 10

An Online Trunk Show - Party & Prizes!

Soma, of Whims and Fancies, has something really fun going on this week for all of us:  "Trunk Full of Quilts" is a linky party for sharing finished quilted projects in an online quilt trunk show.  What a fun idea!  

Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

The party starts today, November 10th and runs until November 18th.  Soma has put a lot of work into making this an extra special event and has lined up a whole bunch of wonderful sponsors.  You have a chance to win prizes from some of your favorite bloggers and shops, just for participating!  So make sure to go check it out, write up a post, and come and join in the fun over at Whims and Fancies!

Soma is an amazing pattern designer in her own right.  She is especially gifted at creating paper piecing patterns and figuring out how best to draw the lines for ease of sewing, yet still capturing all the wonderful details for her designs.   She's also an incredibly sweet, funny, and interesting person.  Getting to know her and becoming friends has been one of the highlights of my blogging adventure! 


Have you always been good about documenting your quilts and quilted projects?  I know a lot of you use your blogs to do just that, but also that many of you kept albums and journals before becoming bloggers.   

Although I have sewn almost all my life, especially since the days of 4H Club, it wasn't until 2011 that I made my first real quilt.  Pre-blog, I didn't do a very good job of documenting the quilts I made.  Usually, I didn't even take photos!  I have a tendency to give quilts away as fast as I make them too. So, when it comes to a trunk show of my own quilts, I am at a bit of a loss.   

We do still have one of my quilts in our home.  It's my very first quilt - a One Block Wonder.  I had no idea what I was doing and only knew that I loved Maxine Rosenthal's book and thought I'd take a stack and whack at making a quilt like hers. 

Here is a photo of the fabric I started with:

Ralph Lauren Lakota Paisley in Eucalyptus

And here is the quilt with its kaleidoscoped blocks:

So there it is, in all its wonky wonder: The quilt that started it all for me.  
It is made from a heavy, suede-like Ralph Lauren home decor fabric.  I didn't know any better.  It's so thick wherever seams meet up that I still haven't quilted it.  It does have batting. Ha! - Fusible batting that I accidently squashed flat and stiff while ironing.  Also, you might get a chuckle out of this, I thought bindings were supposed to be like blanket bindings, so the binding on this quilt is 2 1/2" wide.  I did put a 1/4" border on the top first though.  

Despite all that, there is something to be said for diving in and giving things a try, even if you don't know what you are doing.  This quilt has hung in our living room ever since the day it was given up on finished.  I would like to pull it off the fusible batting and get it properly quilted and bound someday. (Ohhhh Cyndy... Hahahah.  I'm just teasing Cynthia because she has quilted so many One Block Wonders that she dreads it every time she sees another one come in the door.)  

Oh! I also have photos of one more early quilt - a Wavy Log Cabin that I made for our neighbor Rita, after she lost her beloved husband Alan.  They were married for a little more than 70 years and still so in love.  He made her laugh, always.      

I really love Log Cabin quilts.  To me, they epitomize everything about the warmth and comfort you associate with quilts.  Someday I need to write a blog post about this one and share the foundation paper piecing patterns I made.  I made it with Rita's favorite indigo blue colors and she was thrilled with it. 

Rita's Indigo Log Cabin Quilt

That is just about all the old photos I have for my trunk show.  It's a very wee trunk.  More like a shaving kit.  I'm short on time right now, so am going to refer you to another page:  If you'd like to see some of what I've made since I started Buzzinbumbling around, please check out my Good and Done page.

In the meantime, I hope to see you over at Soma's Whims and Fancies!    

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Friday, October 2

Little Totoro Baby Quilt

Little Totoro Baby Quilt for Addie, all folded up and ready to mail

I have a confession to make.  I finished this quilt some time ago, but only recently mailed it to Addie.  At this point I should call it a toddler quilt, because she just turned two years old.  While I'm fessing up, I might as well also tell you that my daughter Alina and her husband Gonzo have been married for two and half years and I still have not made their wedding quilt.  Tsk, tsk.  

Last winter, when Connie, of Free Motion By the River, asked me to pattern test for her, she sent me a wonderful pattern she designed, called Blue Sapphire.  I had just purchased the fabrics to make a quilt for my cousin's granddaughter Adelaide, and decided that they would be perfect to use in making a baby sized Blue Sapphire.  Addie's parents had decided on a gray and purple nursery, so I chose the main prints from the Lewis and Irene collection called "Make a Wish". 

Blue Sapphire was a complete delight to make!  Connie writes wonderful instructions, even going so far as to give various alternatives if you prefer different piecing techniques.  She's amazing!  As many of you know, Connie is an ambassador for Island Batik.  All of her designs work beautifully with batiks, but perhaps because batiks are almost a blender fabric, you can use her patterns for any type of fabric.            

After piecing the quilt top, I felt that my smaller version, with fewer blocks, needed to be brought into better balance.  So I decided to sew an applique' in the center.  When considering cute little grey critters, Totoro won me over immediately.  

Little Totoro applique' for Addie's quilt

My son Sam got me hooked on Japanese Anime movies.  All he had to do was get me to watch Howl's Moving Castle and I became a fan.  These movies are so very different than what I was used to seeing in cartoons.  They have a depth of meaning and an innocence that really draws you in.  Although it is hard to choose, I particularly love "My Neighbor Totoro".  Do you have a favorite Japanese Anime movie?  Perhaps "Spirited Away"?  Or "Castle in the Sky"?  Those are two more of my favorites.  I told you it was hard to choose.    

I looked at dozens of Totoro pictures, but have to say that my Totoro applique was mostly inspired by a drawing by Mira Vegas.  I liked how she made hers so small and chubby and tried to recreate that.  Perfect for a baby quilt.  My favorite scene in the movie is when Satsuki gives Totoro an umbrella, so of course an umbrella had to be added.  I think the quilt, with Connie's Sapphire blocks, now looks a bit like the beginning of a dream sequence.

Little Totoro - Blue Sapphire quilt

Closer view - you can see that I did simple wavy line quilting.  I am afraid of trying anything more difficult with Minky on the back.   

A view of the soft violet Minky backing - so very cuddly

I used satin blanket binding again.  It's a real pain in the patootie, and I never get it quite right, but persist because children love it.

Okay, time for a third confession.  I recently sent another very late gift - a baby quilt delivered to another two year old cousin.  But that is for another post.  

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PS - Don't forget, Zenia's brand new linky party "Whoomp, there it is!" starts this Saturday.  
I'll also be joining some other wonderful linky parties, which you can find on my left sidebar.
Hope to see you there!