Sunday, April 29, 2012


Oh, the joy, and the pain, of organizing my new quilting station.  I spent a good four hours or so on Saturday refolding just about every piece of quilting fabric I own so that a folded edge will show when placed on a shelf.

It was a lot of work, but well worth it. Now I can see all of my fabric at a glance, and the folded edges showing makes it easy to see what I have.  (And I'm please to see that while I have more fabric than I have projects, I have less fabric in total than I thought.)

Once everything was organized, I was ready to get back to work on the quilt-as-you-go quilt for our friend who's moving to Pasadena. Since I finished the pieced strips and pieced together the backs for the solid strips earlier in the week, I was ready to start quilting the solid strips with the backs. 

I decided to do three vertical lines spaced evenly across the strip, as well as some random curves. I marked the straight lines with a hera marker, which I find quite a handy tool. 

Once the strips were quilted, it was time to assemble the full quilt. I laid out the three solid strips and four pieced strips on that table of my quilting station. Sure, it's a little smaller than I'd like, but one makes do with what one has. Even a bit cramped, I thought it showed promise.

I decided to sew the strips with a basic seam, so that the front would be clean. It went pretty quickly, seeing as it's just a series of long, straight seams.

Here is the finished front...

...and the finished back. (I'll cover the raw edges of the seams on the back with strips in the same floral fabric as the long front panels.)

I'll have to piece some of the strips, because I have limited fabric left, but I think it will look good. Luckily, I have just enough to do all six strips.

I still have to decide what to do for the binding, but that will have to wait for another day. I had to get up early on Sunday morning, so I covered my sewing machine, bid good night to my wonderful quilting station and headed up to bed.

Friday, April 27, 2012


I checked in with my husband as I walked to the train after work today, just asking what he was making for dinner, if I needed to pick up anything on the way home, that sort of thing. I commented that the lovely spring evening had me feeling like I wanted to stop at City Quilter, although I was just there yesterday to pick up more batting and a larger rotary cutter (and maybe I also got a couple of long quarters), but what I really needed to do was a new post for my blog. He replied that he thought I'd have some organizing to do. 

Huh? We'd gotten a box of goodies from a friend in Greece this morning...

...but nothing that would involve organization, so I was baffled. "What do you mean?" I asked, to which he replied that he had set up something in my sewing area. Woo-hoo! My quilting station was done!

Last year for my birthday, my husband (an experienced woodworker) offered to build me a work table/storage cabinet for my sewing area. We're lucky to have a basement in our New York apartment, but our space is still limited. As I acquired quilting tools (and a little bit of fabric), I found I was having trouble finding adequate storage, not to mention I was forgetting what I already had. (Yes, I've bought the same fat quarter twice.) It's been a little longer in construction than he'd anticipated, but my fabulous quilting station is finally finished!

(Insert sound of angelic choir here...Ahhhhh!!)

The table is the same size as my cutting mat and is at a comfortable height for me to stand and cut or assemble quilts. There are deep shelves from top to bottom (I'll need to get some storage baskets) and, because space is at a premium, the table folds up to make a "door" for the top four shelves. Clever design by that man of mine. I'll be able to store my fabrics up top and things that won't suffer from a little dust (e.g., my sewing machine case) down below. It will also free up space on my sewing desk (just to the right of the station) for books, jelly rolls, tools, and the like.

When I got home, I spent a little time transferring my fabrics from various locations (including my desk, which no longer has room for my computer because of all the quilting supplies). I took a break for dinner (sliders and homemade potato chips--have I mentioned how wonderful my husband is to build things AND cook for me?) and now I'm blogging, as planned, but not about the quilt show we saw last week. That will wait for another day.

Tomorrow I'll have to choose between organizing my quilting station and working on one (or more) of my quilts. This is a dilemma I can work with.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Thunderstorms and rain all day were in today's forecast, so I planned to spend the day indoors quilting. The thunder never materialized (if you can say that about a sound), but it was raining for much of the day, so I was happy to have indoor projects to keep me busy.

I probably should have kept working on the Carousel quilt we laid out in the yard last week (I have two rows assembled so far), but I was eager to get started on a quilt I'm making for a friend of my husband. She's moving to Pasadena, CA this summer and I want her to have something to remind her of her friends back in Brooklyn.

I lived in Pasadena for four years, and some of my closest friends are still there, so it has a special place in my heart. One of my favorite things to do each winter was volunteering to help build floats for the Tournament of Roses Parade. It's great fun working with all of the other volunteers, and it's amazing to see what the designers are able to come up with every year. Keep in mind that every surface on the float has to be covered by organic material, so these are not floats that can be thrown together overnight.
2006 NAMM float. I think this is the second (or third) float I worked on.
Anyway, because of the parade, and the many roses that grow around Pasadena, I wanted to include roses in the quilt somehow. Her favorite color is "any shade of purple," so I set out to find a fabric that featured purple roses. I decided to try to find a large print to use in the Lake Shore Drive quilt in Colorful Quilts for Fabric Lovers by Amy Walsh and Janine Burke. It uses wide strips of the focus fabric with pieced strips of scraps dividing them. I'd been admiring the pattern for a while, so I'm pleased to have a project suited to it.

I found a few purple rose fabrics online, but nothing seemed right for this extraordinary woman, who had a successful career as a clothing designer, later sharing her knowledge and experience as an author. I concluded I needed to see fabrics in person to decide what would make this quilt pop. 

I headed over to the always wonderful City Quilter. After looking at several Kaffe Fassett fabrics and some other large prints, I settled on Flower Market by Martha Negley. The photo I took shows lilies, daisies, and peonies, but I swear it also has roses. The fabric has a lot of pinks, but there is also a good amount of purple.
Flower Market by Martha Negley, with pattern page for Lake Shore Drive quilt.

I chose Kaffe Fassett's fabulous Wood Ear in purple for the back, and I pulled a number of purple fat quarters, as well as some greens and pinks, to use in the pieced strips. Some are prints and several are batiks. I think they all go nicely with the main fabric. Of course, none of them included the name on the selvage. (One is a great green and purple lettuce print.)

I got all of the rectangles cut for the pieced strips and laid them out on the bed to make a pleasing pattern.  (I'm making a lap quilt, so I didn't have to drag anything outside in the rain.) I'm doing it as quilt-as-you-go, so my next step was to cut strips of both the Wood Ear (for the back) and the batting.  I sewed together two of the rectangles in each small four-patch before sewing them onto the batting and back.

The strips came together quickly, so I was able to get three of the four done before dinner called me away.

Once I finish the fourth strip, I'll need to decide what I want to do for quilting on the strips of the Flower Market. I'm thinking maybe wavy lines to bring to mind stems and vines. I don't really have any experience with free motion quilting, so I don't want to be too ambitious. Hmm...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Last night was my monthly "Dear Jane" class. For those unfamiliar with "Dear Jane," it's a quilt from 1863 that was made by Jane A. Blakely Stickle. It is made up of 169 unique 4.5" blocks, 52 pieced triangles, four corner "kites," and 56 solid triangles.  It gets its name from a book by Brenda Manges Papadakis, in which she imagined writing letters about the quilt to Jane Stickle, hence "Dear Jane..."  She drafted patterns for each of the blocks, triangles and kites, and she gave names to each of the blocks (e.g., Maze of Madness and Bennington Star).

The City Quilter has an ongoing Dear Jane class, where students learn tricks and techniques for each block and give each other encouragement for getting closer to completing all the blocks. In truth, it's also a bit of a gab session, since many students have been taking the class for years. I often take advantage of the seasoned quilters in attendance to get input on other quilts I'm designing or working on.  Last night, one of the other students was soliciting suggestions for how she should quilt a small red and white quilt made up of tiny 1-inch half-square triangles.  (An off-center spiral was the leading contender last I heard.)

Here's the completed Dear Jane quilt that hangs at the front of the room for each class.  It was made by the teachers, Judy Doenias and Diane Rode Schneck.

Each session, Diane chooses a couple of blocks and one triangle as challenge blocks. Anyone who completes one (or several) is eligible to win a little chicken pin cushion. I finished both challenge blocks this session (they were both foundation pieced, which I love doing), so I won a little purple chicken!

I'm taking this as a sign that I need to buy the purple chicken fabric I saw on etsy the other day...

Sunday, April 15, 2012


After making good progress on my "Carousel" basket weave quilt yesterday, I decided to take a short break this morning and put together the challenge block for the Metro Mod Quilt Guild June group quilt. (If I decide I don't like it, there's plenty of time for a do-over.)

The block is inspired by an antique quilt one of the guild members shared during show and tell at the last meeting. I wish I'd remembered that I have a tendency to misjudge the contrast between two fabrics and end up with a less than striking block. The fabrics I chose appeared to have more contrast before I cut them, but still showed promise when the pieces were ready for assembly.

The block is a four-patch with four "mini blocks." Here are all of the minis, with the top two already stitched together (as well as my cheat sheet, since I didn't have the computer in my sewing room).

And here's the finished block. I like it, but I may try it again with more contrast.

Fabrics used: Wrenly by Valori Wells: Bloom and Wildfield, both in cobalt.
After my break, I got back to work on the Carousel blocks and finished (what I thought was) 144 blocks, one more than I needed. The blocks on top of the stack have lattice on only one side because I hadn't decided yet which ones would be on which end, and the end pieces get a wider strip on one side.

Since we don't have a space in the house big enough to lay out a queen size quilt, my husband and I headed out to the back yard. We laid out a sheet, which wasn't quite big enough for all the blocks, but it did give me a place to sit while I sorted out what should go where.

It took less futzing than expected to get everything in place, which means either I'm a genius at block sorting or I'll discover there's not as much randomness in the pattern as I'd hoped. I ended up with four extra blocks, three more than I thought there'd be. Apparently I had miscounted as I cut and assembled them. I'll probably use the extras on the back, along with some leftover kaleidoscope blocks from my niece's quilt. (I sneaked in a block from the main fabric on her quilt, too.)

Overall, I'm pleased with the variety of blocks and the look of the quilt.

Special thanks to my husband for acting as photographer and assistant block sorter. (He's very tolerant and supportive of my quilting habit.)

After coding the rows so I'd remember where everything goes, I brought the blocks back in the house and sewed the wide lattice strips onto the ends. Now I get to start assembling the rows!

But first...

Since my Dear Jane class is tomorrow night, I thought I'd better put some time in on my Dear Jane blocks. Both challenge blocks this session are perfect for foundation piecing (which I love), so I'd planned to do both B-6 (Wild Goose Chase) and C-8 (Hani's Crown). I'd finished Hani's Crown a few months ago, so that was already done.

I started Wild Goose Chase at class last month, but had done NOTHING on it since.  

Lots of little pieces, but nothing particularly challenging. I'm happy to have achieved my goal of completing both blocks, although I didn't do any other blocks this month.

If only the weekend were just one day longer so that I could get more done!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Our office was closed on Friday (in observance of Passover), so I had time to work on more blocks for the green and brown basket weave quilt. Now that I finally have the brown fabric for the lattice, I've made excellent progress. (I think the blocks go nicely with my old green Bernina.)

Late in the afternoon, I headed into the city to meet a friend to go to a quilt show.  She works at City Quilter, so my husband and I stopped by a little early to do some shopping. A friend of his will be moving out of state this summer, so I decided to make a quilt to keep a bit of our love nearby. We found some suitable fabrics for the quilt, and also a few random fabrics to add to my stash. There's never a shortage of things to buy at City Quilter! (Or at any other quilt shop, for that matter.)

After the shop closed, we headed over to the Eli Alexander Gallery on East 27th Street to check out a show of quilts by Luke Haynes. The name of the show is "The American Context," and it features quilts inspired by iconic American art. Here's a photo of one of the quilts, inspired by "American Gothic" by Grant Wood.

I was particularly fond of the quilt inspired by John Singer Sargent's "Portrait of Madam X." Of course, I foolishly didn't take a photo of it, but here's the inspiration (very shocking in its day)...

...And you can find a photo of the quilt (and some others) on the NYC Metro Mod Quilters blog. He also made a quilt that had an optical illusion.  When lying flat, it has an odd look, but when it's draped on a bed, it looks like Benjamin Franklin is sitting on the bed. Very clever.

After an enjoyable time at the show, we were famished, so we popped over to Hill Country Chicken for a late dinner. 

Any place with homemade pies and ceramic chickens on the counter... okay by me. The fried chicken was delish, and I bought a few of their tiny 3" pies to enjoy later. The Cowboy Pie (dark chocolate, butterscotch chips, dried coconut, and toasted pecans in a graham cracker crust) was yummy, if a bit sweet. Now, what coconut has to do with cowboys, I've no idea.

Monday, April 9, 2012


I stayed home from work today with a queasy stomach, so I was sitting on the couch when my husband came in with the mail. Along with a quarterly statement from my 403b and a plea from the public radio station for financial support, there was a big padded envelope.

"Did you order more fabric?" he asked, knowing that it's not the most unlikely thing ever to arrive at our house in a padded envelope. "I don't think so," I replied. "Well, you got something from the Alliance for American Quilts."

I had just joined the Alliance on Thursday (so that I could get a discount on admission to Quilters Take Manhattan in the fall), so I was surprised to already be getting something from them. What a pleasant surprise to find an AAQ pin, a couple of gold-toned fat quarters, and a packet of "Word Play" fabrics from Benartex.  (I love all things wordy, so this was a excellent gift for me.)  Since I absolutely didn't expect anything from having joined, it was a really wonderful bonus.

I'm considering making a quilt for the Alliance's Home Is Where the Quilt Is contest.  You make a small house-shaped quilt that somehow reflects the theme.  (Click here to see some of the entries from last year.)The quilt judged best by their panel wins a fabulous prize from Handi Quilter, and all of the quilts are auctioned off to benefit the Alliance. A fun way to get motivated to design a lovely quilt and benefit a group committed to preserving our country's quilting heritage. The deadline is June 1, so I have to get going on a design.  Hmmm...

Sunday, April 8, 2012


A few months back I picked up Kim Schaefer's Cozy Modern Quilts on a shopping trip in Annapolis.  I like many of the patterns in the book, but I was particularly drawn to one called Carousel, which is a basket weave with lattice.  I decided to make it in a variety of green prints with a chocolate brown lattice. 

I combed through my stash and supplemented with some fat quarters and a few prints from other quilts, then cut some ridiculous number of 6-1/2" x 8-1/2" rectangles (143 or so).  

The next time I was at City Quilter, I planned to pick up the chocolate brown fabric I wanted to use for the lattice...but I realized when I got there that I'd forgotten to write down how much fabric I'd need.  Grrr.  

The quilt in the book is a lap quilt, so I'd planned it out as a queen size (92" x 108") using EQ7.  According to the handy tool that tells you how much of each fabric you'll need to assemble your quilt, I needed 3-3/4 yards of chocolate brown to do the lattice for the queen size.  So, back I went to City Quilter...only to discover that they were out of the chocolate brown fabric I wanted.  They said it was on order, so I said I'd stop back the next time I had a class (usually a couple of times a month).  Unfortunately, the next few times I was in the store, they still hadn't received the order.  The fabric is called Suede, but I don't know the manufacturer, which makes it a challenge to find online.  (It's a marbled blender/backing fabric.  I used the bright and dark greens for my niece's Kaleidoscope Shadow quilt.)

Having been away from the store for a few weeks, I stopped by this past Friday hoping that they would have received their Suede order, so I could get stitching on the quilt.  They'd rearranged the store a bit in my absence, so I had to search to find the many colors of Suede.  There were various shades of green and taupe, but still no chocolate brown.  Such sadness.  I checked in with one of their wonderful staff and she offered to run downstairs and check the shipment that had just come in.  After several trips to the basement and consultations with other staff, they finally found it.  Oh, the elation!  Who knew I could be so happy to see chocolate brown fabric.

I bought the necessary yardage, and this morning very happily cut strips and assembled blocks.  I have 37 of the 143 blocks done (at least one of most of the fabrics I want to use) and I think it's going to look great.  (The colors really don't show well in this photo because of the nasty lighting in the kitchen, the only place in our tiny apartment with enough floor space to lay out the blocks.)

Now I just need to finish the other 106 blocks...and finish ironing all the new Washington fabric I pre-washed.  I particularly love the yellow and gray paisley toward the back of the basket.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


My sister finally (at least from my point of view) was able to get together with my niece and give her the quilt I made for her birthday as part of the Kaleidoscope Shadow quilt-as-you-go class taught by Judy Doenias at City Quilter.  So, here at last are photos of the finished quilt.
Quilt front

The front has 12 kaleidoscope blocks made from the fabric in the center of the top row of blocks on the back.  The fabric is called "Prince Charming" by Tula Pink.  You can't see it very well in the photo above, but there's a frog with a bug in his belly worked into the pattern with scrolls and berries.  Charming indeed.

Quilt back

I used a variety of fabrics on the back (for the first time) and am very happy with the result.  I ended up making more kaleidoscopes than I used on the front and like how the spares worked in the border on the back.  

It was a lot of fun to make and I'm glad I gave myself the motivation to give it to my niece so that it didn't become yet another unfinished project after the class ended.  Because it was done quilt as you go, I actually finished it in less than two months.  What a concept!  I named the quilt "Hovering Love" because the kaleidoscopes seem to hover over the background, and it was made with love to surround my niece with love.  (Awww...)

My sister reported that my niece likes the quilt, which was my goal all along.  This photo appears to support that statement.

Rallie gives it a thumbs-up.
I look forward to making another kaleidoscope shadow quilt sometime soon.  I have a few more gifts planned that are next in line though.  (And maybe one for our home as well.  I think my husband would like that.)  Of course, the new City Quilter classes for the spring and summer were just posted online, so that's another reason/excuse to start another quilt.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


My sister, brother, husband and I ventured west last weekend to do some renovation work on my grandmother's old house in Central Washington. It was a great opportunity to see my family, do some good work...and sneak off to a quilt shop for a little shopping.

The long flight from New York to Seattle gave me time to do some hand stitching on my name tag for the quilt guild name tag swap. I didn't have time before we left to use the machine to sew the binding to the name tag, so I did it all the old-fashioned way. I sewed the back on the way to Seattle...

...and finished the front on the way home. I realized when I was in Washington that I'd forgotten to bring a safety pin to attach to the back. Luckily, I found a large one in one of the boxes of my grandmother's old fabric, so Jessica will have an heirloom pin on her name tag!

Here's the finished product ready for the swap at the guild meeting. In retrospect, I would have liked to make it a bit more modern, but I hope Jessica likes it.

Before we left for Washington, I was able to finish all the machine sewing on the quilt for my niece. My plan was to work on the house by day, then hand sew the quilt binding by night. There were a few evenings when I was more inclined to go to bed early, but once I started sewing, my energy picked up. I finished the sewing (including the label) on Wednesday night, so I had Thursday night free to spend our last night in town having a great Mexican dinner with family. I sent the quilt home with my sister and will post photos of the quilt as soon as I receive word that it has found its way to my niece.

On one of our many trips to the Home Depot in Moses Lake, we stopped at a quilt shop in Ephrata. How thoughtful of them to put their shop in my path!

 The Fabric Patch looks like a small shop, but inside, it's like a rabbit's warren with nooks a crannies that seem to go on for miles. I picked up over a dozen various fat quarters, as well as yardage of several wonderful fabrics. I was particularly pleased with their selection of printed flannels. I haven't seen anything like these in shops near me, so I was happy to get two prints from Bliss by Valori Wells. (I find I'm often drawn to her designs).

The cotton wovens I bought didn't fit in my suitcase, so they're winging their way home in flat rate boxes with some fabric that used to belong to my grandmother. (Thanks to my uncle for gifting them to me.)

I made it home in time to make it to the Metro Mod Quilt Guild meeting yesterday, where I turned in my spring colors challenge block and the name tag for the swap. I received a lovely name tag made by Victoria of Bumble Beans, Inc. Unfortunately, Jessica was out of town this weekend, so I'll have to catch her at the next meeting to get her reaction to her name tag.

Now I'll patiently await the arrival of my boxes of fabric, and I'll keep the fond memories of a great week spent with family.