My stash

Melissa Thompson Maher, Editor-in-Chief of Generation Q Magazine asked me: “How will your new stash differ from the one you gave user in kits? What draws you now?”
So what went into user kits? Part of this was answered yesterday. A lot of “traditional” type prints these were purchased when I made tote bags; border type prints these for practice and for totes and prints with high contrast, striking shapes – again for practice. Quite a few batiks went into the kits – be shocked, be very shocked. The batiks had either texture that no longer spoke to me or were tone on tone in a high contrasting way that I’m not certain I liked originally but perhaps bought it for a backing??? I don’t remember.
Just note something very important here I have no regrets about the fabric I purchased. At the time it spoke to my heart or made sense for what I was doing. Over time, and this will probably happen again, my tastes change. It happens to all of us. And I like it a lot!
radiance options fixWhat will my stash look like going forward? Well there will be more Radiance. I love this fabric, the texture, the shine the way it shows off stitching.hand dyed fabric 002

Hand dyes are some of my favorites lately. These are just lovely and are rather individual and unique. They dyers out there are just amazing in their uniqueness. cherrywood 12 step color run fun

The depth of color in the Cherrywood just makes me giddy. And I’ve begun building a stash of Clothworks American Made Brand Solids. I like the hand and feel of this fabric.

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’d be right…solids or solid type fabrics that will show off the stitching, ’cause I’m all about the stitching. Where else will I be investing my quilting dollar? In thread. I’ve been building my thread stash over time and am actively working on expanding that. I love thread. I love adding texture and color to create something different and unique.

Happy Quilting!


Minnesota Quilt Show – whole cloth challenge

cherrywood 12 step color run funGood morning once again from the Minnesota Quilt Show!
I am having such a great time here and enjoying my students so much.I have to tell you I’m kinda giddy with the excitement and if you know me in real life that means I’ve hit the goofy BIG TIME.
Let Your Foot Loose be Fancy & Free had such a good time yesterday that I issued them a challenge – a whole cloth challenge.
I did change their challenge up a bit though.
The Minnesota Whole Cloth Challenge includes a fat quarter of Cherrywood – to support a local business. They can go 18 x 18 or the whole fat quarter, it’s up to them.
They can use whatever batting, thread and design they’d like.
And they’re due for Houston.
I’ll be blogging about the students along the way as they send me photos.

If you are one of the students reading this blog contact me through the blog and I’ll email you back from the address I’d like you to send photos.

Thank you all for being such a great class!

Happy Quilting!


Go Mini or Go Home

It started here.
Continued here.
rainy days and mondays 004But truthfully it all started here.  Really it did start there but it’s just blossomed to become this.  I knew when Janie (my BERNINA 780) arrived she’d be something special.  Oh yes.  She’s the first machine that’s ever had a name, and that’s special to me anyway.
A month or so ago I added a new workshop to the list based entirely on my experience with Janie.  I’m going to add the class to the list at Hartsdale Fabrics where I work and I’m going to teach it in Minnesota at their big quilt show in June.  Did I tell you yet that I’m going there?

Well in part because I’m teaching in Minnesota and in part because I needed a cool picture for the lecture/workshop page I had to get this quilt top done.  I finished the set in piecing last night and thought I’d share part of the process.

CAM00614After piecing that first miniature log cabin block with 3/4″ strips I thought hey, this is fun and was a little giddy.  So of course I have to go from something fairly straightforward to something a wee bit more complex, deciding to do a lone star or an 8 pointed star if you like.  I started making strip set after strip set with 2 color runs of these beautiful Cherrywood hand dyes.  The strips are cut at 1 1/4″, a full 1/2 wider than the strips for Rainy Days and Mondays.
As I’m making the blocks I’m writing down what’s working, what’s not working and taking photos so the handouts to for the students are coherent. *if you’re interested in this class, students will need to cut 1 1/4″ strips prior to class.*
Over the weekend one of the blocks gave me a bit of a fit and when I showed the progress of the quilt I noticed 2 things:CAM00586

1) the wonky block and
2) I didn’t like the color of the setting squares and triangles.
Don’t get me wrong I love that bronze/rust color. It’s gorgeous.  It’s nice with the hand dyes but, eh.

FB_IMG_13824487539261776Because I had the seam ripper out to take off that wonky block I thought I’d take off the Radiance at the same time.  The new block I put onto a hand dyed pink that I’d thought about the first time around and, well I just like it!

CAM00619I know the photo to the right really does not do the pink justice, it’s rather washed out, that’s what happens at 11 PM, with indirect lighting, in a hallway, 3 feet away from the piece.

As this is a piecing class I won’t be quilting it before sending the photos to Minnesota Quilts or adding it to the lectures/workshop page.  It will get quilted sometime after the new year.

I showed my boss and one of my coworkers the progress yesterday just confirming for me my level of nuttiness.

As I write this morning this quilt does not have a name. I’ll give that a bit of a think.  Tonight I’m going to see Jennie Rayment in Bronxville:

Quilting Lecture by Jennie Rayment

October 23rd at 7.15pm. Copenhaven Room, Reformed Church, Bronxville.

Tickets are $25 – cash at the door is preferred. Doors open at 7pm. (There is limited space – please reserve by e-mail to )

Jennie Rayment is one of the best known names in quilting in the United Kingdom. She has taught all over America and the rest of the world– but this will be her first lecture in the state of New York!

Jennie has published numerous books, patterns & DVD’s and is a regular on British TV.

Come and meet the Mistress of Muslin and support the Reformed Church Quilting Group and Quilting a Memory.

After the lecture there will be an opportunity to meet Jennie – she will be happy to sign or personalize any books etc.

Happy Quilting!


Mini-me Round 2!

It’s hard not to sometimes, post on facebook that is but I know not everyone who reads my blog follows me on facebook.  I’m okay with that so for those of you who follow me on facebook, some of this will be a bit of a repeat.

As an opening aside Keith sent the next quilt, we’ve named it “Arsenic and Old Lace” I am desperately trying to understand the “color” of arsenic, apparently there is no general consensus as to the color and I was provided with this link which left me more options than I thought.  Yiyiyi what is this quilter to do…I do have something percolating in my head and it’ll all come together at the right moment.

CAM00102A couple of weeks ago I shared Mini-me where I’m piecing a series of small log cabins using 3/4″ strips.  The log cabin will come together shortly.  These strips for this next quilt are cut at 1 1/4″, significantly larger just cause I wanted them to be. 🙂 Good reason, eh?  I’m still working with small strips and one of the things that becomes even more essential is keeping that 1/4 inch seam allowance.  For me there are 3 components: A) needle & thread; B) patchwork foot and C) pressing.


In the first photo the BERNINA patchwork foot #37 from needle center to the outside edge of the foot it’s 1/4″.  The other thing I like are the front and back notches that are 1/4 in away from the needle position great for piecing and binding.

It’s hard to see the color variation in this photo however this is part of the color run of gray and the red to yellow from Cherrywood Fabrics.  Pardon me a moment while I swoon.
CAM00108Thread & needle – I prefer to use MasterPiece by Superior Threads for piecing.  Look what happened today!  I use an 80/12 needle with it – either a microtex or top stitching needle.  Depends on my mood and what I’m doing.  I love quilting with this thread as well particularly when I want the quilting to fade to the background it’s fine.

So as I’m stitching those strips my bobbin runs out.  Holy cow it’s weird when that happens on my Bernina 780.  And I do mean weird.  So I wound another bobbin and 1/2 with this and soon the spool was empty.  Shock!  Horror!! What’s a quilter to do?  Rummage through every drawer of her thread cabinet looking for the other spool that I know I have.  Success!

Pressing.  Essential to the art of piecing is knowing when and how to iron and when and how to press.  Iron yardage, press piecing.  On the advice of a friend I’ve started pressing with vodka (cheap vodka, but vodka) and it works very well.  When pressing I use a multi-step process: press to set the seam; spritz and finger press open the seam; press to set the seam; flip the piece over and press from the front.  Something I’ve noted as I press the seams open I can feel if I’ve got the seam all the way open.

CAM00113Back to the piecing.

Because I’m cutting this on a 45 degree angle later on I’m offsetting the piecing by 1 1/4″ (the width of the cut strips) this save fabric later on.  I’m using the see through drafting ruler.  It’s handy, light weight and fits under the extension table on the machine.  This is Cherrywood people, gotta use it to the best advantage.  Yes, I know I can get more, but I have this here, I’m inspired now and chomping at the bit to stitch.


And here we go, the first finished star point.  I’m using all the square inches I have available to me to get as many of these stitched up as I can.  I’m not sure of the layout just yet.  Right now I’m thinking it’ll be dark in the center and lighten up as it goes out.  I say that now, it could change.  But probably not.  As I stitch I use the peek-a-boo method to make sure my seams are lining up, the seam ripper came out a couple of times just to get things lined up.  I have something in mind for this quilt.



Inspired to piece – volume 2

round robin before final workThe quilting portion of the last few weeks has been all about piecing quilt tops as evidenced by this post and this one and this one, oh and this one.  I’m sure there are one or two more on piecing posts lately.  Today’s finish leaves me with 5 quilt tops to quilt.  As I searched for a quilt backing from Sew Batik  I have on hand I found another top from a couple of years ago and since I’m going to a friends home to use long arm for a few hours later this week I might as well bring this one with with me too and see how many I can get done.  Oh pick your chin up off the floor I’m not going to become a long arm quilter.  Debby basted a quilt she’s quilting on her Sweet 16 on her long arm and got my mind thinking, thinking, thinking.  Thanks Debby!

This means too that all of the backing must be ready.  I did the clip and rip on the backing for Gramma’s quilt.  I’m happy with it and I think Gramma will be happy with her quilt.  I thought I’d go with a red backing for the quilt Keith sent and oooooo another idea and I’m going to make it happen.

CAM00022Back to the piecing part of my weekend.
Sunday I finished piecing the quilt on the right.  The 9 patches measure 2 3/4″ across making them 2 1/4″ finished.  I’m going to admit being a bit of a “Tricksey Hobbit” with this quilt.  One of my quilterly goals is to help quilters through their quilterly fear into a productive quilting experience.  I’ve been there, I know what it’s like, and sometime having someone walk with you through it, support and encourage you makes all the difference. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for the quilter, just getting through the fear.  Melanie gave me 4 of her hand printed pieces and my hands were itching to get started piecing.  I added some onyx Cherrywood, a hand dyed yellowy orange and a lovely fuchsia.  I added the Onyx (not quite black) for a very specific reason.  Melanie bought a dark gray to show off her fabrics and I wanted to, no needed to give her an idea of what they will look like with her prints.  The gift of this as I posted photos on fb? Melanie was encouraged, inspired and smitten.  Mellys 9 patch 019My work here is almost done.  I still need to quilt it.  I’m thinking out of my zone and going for straight lines.  Maybe.  We’ll see.  The finished quilt is about 40″ long and about 30 wide.  It may already have a new home.

I flew by the seat of my pants piecing this one.  After making the 9 patches I wanted something to go with them so made the other blocks.  As I chatted with Debby one night I thought I’d make one really long strip to run the entire length of the quilt then have the rest set in perpendicular to the strip.  Well as you can see it didn’t quite work out that way.  All in all I’m quite pleased with this.  The next project with the Cherrywoods will be

wait for it

are you sure you want to know?


Keep reading

an 8 pointed star.

I’m beginning to think I’ve lost my mind.

Happy Quilting!


Inspired to Piece

Mellys 9 patch 019Piecing.  It’s not been very much of my quilterly life over the last few years as I’ve focused in on machine quilting and have in essence become a whole cloth quilter because I love to play.  Oh how I love to play at machine quilting.  Watching what develops under the needle is so exciting and peaceful.  There is something incredibly beautiful about watching a piece of cloth become something, oh something different and exciting.  Changing thread and fiber.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been enjoying some piecing.  I think I’m doing a bit of a creative reset.  It started with Gramma’s quilt and has just moved right along.  I love stitching tiny pieces together.  There’s something oddly comforting knowing that I can cut accurately and piece well.  Please take a moment and pick your chin up off the floor.  Thank you.
Last week I posted that Melanie Testa gave me some of her hand printed fabrics.  I love them.  I think Melly is pretty fab – her creative spirit is energizing.  If I ever owned a quilt shop each one of the employees name tags would say “fabric enabler”.  I have learned something over the last few years I might be introverted by nature but by quilting bold would do quite well.  To me, black would be too strong, a deep gray a bit less strong still deep enough to make the color just pop. I also thought of fuchsia.  (please tell me that you’re not really surprised by this fabric choice.)

Mellys 9 patch 027The lighting is bad here really bad.
I found a way to incorporate the fuchsiaMellys 9 patch 029 into the quilt.  The fuchsia is from dyeing to sew.  To go with this the choices were a more solidly cheddar orange or a paler orangey/yellow.  I went with the palery orangey/yellow to pop the fuchsia.  And it worked!
The strips for these 9 patch blocks are cut at 1 1/4″ making the blocks 2 3/4″ finished.  Can I just add how fun it is to piece this size block?  Part of it is the challenge and part of it is my own confidence level has really changed over the last 5 years.  I’m not planning on competing with these, it’s just play time.

flowers and phone 002(Insert gratuitous lily photo here)

All in all.

Quilting is supposed to be fun.

Go have fun quilting!


Rainy Days and Mondays Mini me

rainy days and mondays 003Wee tiny, little log cabin how do I love thee?
Let me count the ways. . . 3/4″ at a time.
3/4 of an inch?
Yep, you read that correctly.  The “logs” for this cabin are 3/4″.
The finished block size right now is 2″.  Why am I making blocks using 3/4″ strips? 
The flip answer is, “because I can”.  Annoying right?  Part 2 of the flip answer is, because I want to.”  And now you really want to smack me upside the head.
In reality I’m making these smaller blocks because it’s fun.  Sometimes it’s necessary to just do something because you can and have the time and things are all working together.  I do not have any kind of plan for the blocks that I’m making.
This color way is a one-of and will be joined by another color run, then several blocks that size in a just because I really love the feel and texture of Cherrywood Fabrics and want to use every inch available to me.  The 2nd color run starts with the dark gray in the middle and gets  lighter as I go out.  Yes I can get more with a visit to the website, the City Quilter or The Quilters Alley.  I do love a good challenge.

rainy days and mondays 004A block this size is about cutting well and piecing well. 

The cutting, as you know, is all about a steady hand, a good eye and a sharp rotary blade.  I changed my rotary blade for the first time in oh a couple of years.  Yes, that’s right. . . years.  Not doing any piecing my blade lasted a long time. 

I’m using the #37 foot.  There is a significant difference between this and the zipper foot (that I used when piecing Gramma’s Quilt).  If I’d thought about this a little bit more I would have picked up the #37D foot which would allow me to engage the dual feed – just one more tool to make the quilting process easier.

I’ll admit that even though I’m using the straight stitch plate, the 9mm width on the BERNINA 780 is a bit intimidating when working with such small piecing.  However it’s like anything else in the world of quilting, figure out what works, what does and just go with it.  My finger position here has a lot to do with keeping the pieces from going off in some kind of evil direction.  Under my fingers I can feel the feed dogs.  rainy days and mondays 003

I can also use this beautiful, hand made stiletto to guide the pieces in.  The toughest part is the first 3 me block number 2 001 

One thing I am doing is using a leader, a small scrap of fabric to stitch on as the seam is started.    This is immensely helpful in keeping everything straight and to keep the top thread from nesting on the back of the block. 

When I get to piecing Rainy Days and Mondays I have, at least in my head, worked out that I’m going to tilt the blocksrainy days and mondays 002 and set them in a beautiful pink hand dye.  I have 20 blocks total.  And I have special plans for this quilt.

It’s so much fun to play!

Happy Quilting!