Geese on the brain

I'm finally working on my flying geese quilt again. Most of these blocks came from my month in the Sew Buzzy bee(Here is another process post about this quilt.)

 I asked my bee members to make any size and any number of blocks they wanted.  So sashing this quilt has been an undertaking.  I also want to balance the colors throughout the quilt so I don't get big patches of yellow poking me in the eye every time I look at the finished product.  . 

varied sashing
balancing colors

I took the scraps that were sent back and made tiny geese 
and tucked them into the sashing, too.
mixing blocks

top left corner

A big part of the reason I started working on this quilt again (and took any photos of it) is that grommet that you see at the top of the next photo. My design wall used to be a tacked up, much-too-large quilt batting in my dark basement sewing studio. These squares were up on that 
and the excess batting was spilling on to the floor and the sewing table. 
new design cloth

I liked the square placement, but the wall set up was unmanageable.  Then Felicity gave me the idea of using a picnic tablecloth as a design space. I bought three tablecloths, installed hooks on the wall and punched grommets into the table cloths. Now I have THREE design walls and they are portable for photography or for sorting colors in daylight. I'm a much happier crafter now :)

And now I don't worry about the batting on the floor.  I can focus on geese, geese and more geese.

Are there any studio organization tips that have transformed your crafting lately?

Another Quilt Finish

I'm especially excited for this one. It is another quilt that will be headed to the Pine Ridge Reservation. This one is made almost entirely of vintage sheet fabrics. I'm just so excited about the springy colors and the improv piecing in the quilt top I had my sheet scraps cut up and I just started throwing them together and making all decisions based on instinct. I felt like a driven woman for two days while I looked up close, then stepped up on a chair to get some distance, while I turned things clockwise and counterclockwise, while I added strips and took some away.   
My brain grabbed onto this idea and wouldn't let go.


Once the top was done, I did step away for a short time. Then I rented time on a long arm quilting machine to freehand quilt.  I tend to gravitate toward a loopy meandering quilting pattern, so non-crossing, non-loopy meandering was a big challenge for me. A big enough challenge that my curves are HUGE on this, but I don't mind.


I bound this in Hooty Dots from Riley Blake.  
The color is just a bit too bright a lime green, but I think I like it that way. 
The back is another vintage sheet.


Even on a super gray day, this quilt seems to brighten everything up


The hard part about giving this away is that I wish I could see a baby snuggled up in this one. 
I'll just have to use my imagination, though :)

Bright Return

I was a quilter back in college.  My first quilt was one I made from three fabrics and I traced a boxed cake mix to make the "squares."  I made another five quilts after that and then I just...stopped.  I lost the inspiration and I started focusing on making more pottery and then knitting.

Anyway, 9 years later I was pregnant with Henry and nesting and I had an intense need to make him a quilt.  I designed and pieced about half of the quilt top, and then neglected it in favor of other nesting projects.

This was my return to quilting, and it is the first baby quilt that I'll be sending to charity.  It will go to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  If you are on ravelry, there is a group there called Bundles of Joy.  They knit blankets, hats, sweaters, booties, and other items for the babies born at the Pine Ridge Hospital OB Ward.  I'll be sending this quilt to the same place.


This is the first quilt that I did freehand on the long arm machine.  
I had a lot of fun making a meandering loopy pattern.  

This quilt was the gateway to my current sewing madness.  
I hope it will keep a new little one warm and happy.

Swaptastic 3

My last mid-May deadline was for the Pretty Little Pouch swap.  
I was inspired by this book and my partner's colors.

pretty little pouch front

pretty little pouch back

I should have taken a photo of the inside of the pouch.  Since both sides are quilted before constructing them into a pouch, the seams on the inside are covered with binding.  I found the corners to be difficult to deal with.  And hand stitching the binding took some time, but I'm happy with the final result.  I do love the quilting and the gusset. 

Swaps are such a great way to stretch your abilities, try new techniques and find new inspiration. But now I'm looking forward to finishing up a couple of my own projects that have been on hold. I hope not to sign up for any new swaps for awhile. We'll see how long that lasts....

Swaptastic 2

For the seventh round of the Potholder Pass Swap, there was an option to make a shopping bag rather than another set of potholders. I chose the Wrap it up bag pattern from Penny of sewtakeahike.  I used a bottom weight brown fabric and home decor weight County Fair from Denyse Schmidt.
bag side 2 bag side 1

(Sidenote: this pattern is great.  It calls for quilting weight cottons which are much lighter than the fabrics I chose.  I struggled with turning it right side out and with getting the strap to fit to snap it up.  That was all because of my fabric choices and not the bag pattern.  Word to the wise: do as the pattern says and not as I do.)

Then I wasn't sure what to send as a package extra.  My partner did have quite a few tree quilts in her favorites, so I thought I'd try one out.  I originally planned on making a mug rug, but it ended up too big for that.  At around 7 x 14" it counts as a small wall quilt. 
extra, mini quilt

extra, leaves

I hope she likes it.

Have you ever participated in a secret swap? 

It is a challenge to make something that inspires me but that also fits in the tastes of my partner. 
And, having never met my partner in person, am I getting the right "read" on her? Do you ever get nervous when you send out a swap package? Or any other handmade gift for that matter?


I had deadlines for three swaps in mid-May.  The first one is part of the 3x6 Bee.  In that bee, the participants are split up into groups of seven with one caretaker and six others.  You then make six of the same block in each person's preferred colors and you receive six different blocks in your colors.  The people in that bee get shuffled around each quarter but the caretakers never get blocks from the other caretakers.  So, this is the first quarter that the caretakers are making one special block for another caretaker.  I pondered the design for a month.  And Penny taught me the skills at her workshop in April.  So, here it is:

caretaker swap

I also sent some fabric scraps in my partner's preferred colors.'ll have to be patient to see the other two swap packages :)

Cute :)

The quilt has been well-received in Finland.

Peitto koekäytössä

If I keep getting smiles like that I might sign up to make even more of them.

Edited to add:
Blogger ate a bunch of the lovely comments that I received on the last post.  
Be sure that I read each and every one of them and appreciate them.  

LindieLee, I did make the label myself.  I used a Micron pen to write on the fabric, then I pressed the edges under and hand stitched the label onto the quilt.

1 out of 4

I bookmarked a few "I Spy" quilts when Henry was tiny.  I loved the idea of sitting down with him and poring over the pictures in fabric and telling a story about them together.  Over the last year, I've been collecting bits of cute, modern prints for the quilt I'd make him.  Then, I found the I Spy fabric swap in January and was able to swap to get 200 different prints by trading fabric with other people.  I've also found personal swappers to exchange novelty prints with.

Well...somehow.... my original idea of one I Spy quilt has turned in to four.  

Henry's still isn't finished yet, but this first one is.  

It is for the son of my friend in Finland.  I usually like to send books as gifts for little ones, but the pictures in these fabrics are perfectly translatable. 
on the line

I chose to do solid white checkerboard pattern in between the other blocks so it would look more cohesive and brighter. I did diagonal straight line quilting through the white squares to add texture and interest to the solid and to leave the prints uninterrupted.

Henry was fascinated almost immediately. 

And here is the label. 

I hope you enjoy it Suvi and Jäppinen!

Also, can anybody tell me that I'm not the only one to take a simple idea and multiply it 
into something four times bigger?

What's happening...

I'm watching spring take over our yard,



teaching the boy how to hug trees,

hug a tree

and starting a project for the Pretty Little Pouch Swap.

pretty little pouch start

So, what is happening with you?

Ten Glorious Laps

I went for a swim at the gym's pool tonight.  I love swimming on Friday nights.  I had all seven lanes to myself for ten glorious laps.  I watched the prairie sunset through the tall windows and the orange reflection on the still water in front of me.  I only heard the sound of my breath in my ears and the bubbles going by.  I looked at the lane lines, the square pool tiles, the plus sign design in the tiles, the glass panes of the windows and the ripples of the water and it all made me think of quilt designs.  Then I remembered this quilt and that single orange square....

After those ten laps,  another gentleman came to swim in the lane next to me.  I did the rest of my workout, but it wasn't quite the same.  By the time I left the sky was getting dark.  I'm already looking forward to next Friday....

My favorite bee block, ever.

book block for Vicky in the Sew Buzzy Bee

This block was very hard to tuck in an envelope to send away. It is for Vicky in the Sew Buzzy Bee. Months ago, she asked all of us for our favorite children's book, fiction book, cookbook and crafting/quilting book. She then sorted that information into book "shelves" for her quilt. Vicky assigned me to craft books. I was given her favorite sewing book titles and those of other quilters in the two bees that are helping her make this quilt. I chose Patchwork Style as one of my favorites. You'll see a selvage and my initials at the bottom of the book spine. I hand embroidered some of the other titles, authors and initials and I freehand machine stitched the "i heart patchwork" piece.

I've never spent so much time on a bee block before (my embroidery is so slow) and I've never been so sad to see a block go. The fabrics she chose are impeccable. The concept is fantastic.  You might just see my interpretation of a bookshelf quilt sometime soon.

Modern Vintage Quilt

I made this quilt top in July of last year.  I designed it as a baby quilt, but I liked the colors and the fabric combination SO much that I was afraid to finish it.
quilt top
(A quilt this pretty might make a girl want to have a second baby before she's ready!)

So, I left it as a lonely little quilt top for a l-o-n-g time.  Then in February, I practiced using a long arm quilting machine.  (By the way, I do not recommend a long arm machine for doing straight line quilting.  The axis locks do not coincide as closely as you want them to.  Trust me.
I should have asked for advice before attempting.)

Anyway, I chose to quilt lines on either side of the horizontal seams
and then diagonal quilt lines on every other row.

I pieced my binding from leftovers of the blues and aqua and turquoise.   

binding and daffodils

This quilt gets its name from the mix of fabrics used.  I adore the vintage sheets featured in this quilt.   I collected some of them for this picnic blanket, then I received one through the Vintage Swap (that print on the back) and lastly, I added some scraps given by a friend.  

back 2

The modern fabrics I chose are also some of my very favorites--solids, shot cotton, polka dots, stripes, a 30's reproduction and one print from Wild Thyme. 

Mixing the modern and the vintage blended the very best of both worlds to me. 


Not long ago, Ben and I decided that our family was just the right size as it is.  Almost immediately after that, I heard that a close friend was pregnant with her second.  I've been so excited to pass this quilt on to their new addition.  I didn't know if their baby would be a boy or a girl, but I knew that this quilt fit the personality of the baby's parents.  They are a special couple that I admire especially for how they live with old fashioned intentions in a modern world.

So, Grace Eliza, welcome to the world.  You are a lucky girl surrounded by much, much love.