WIP Wednesday: an hourglass quilt

My story today takes on a somewhat somber tone, beginning with some forgotten Civil War fabric in my stash. It’s not the kind of thing I would purchase now, but some of the fabrics had a distinctly modern feel to them, albeit in muted colors.

It wasn’t long before I thought an hourglass block would be the perfect fit. What gave me the idea was all the ways that war — or any military conflict — is about waiting, from the call to arms, to the beginning of the battle, to the families’ hopes for a joyous reunion with their loved one or their grief at a hero’s burial.

layout1 I took this photo from a distance and cropped in so you could focus on the overall color values rather than the fabric themselves. You can see off center to the right the concentration of the red, symbolizing the bloodshed. (The center block in that section is a solid piece of the brightest red, to symbolize the point of the weapon’s impact.)

Around that area I used as many of the darker red/brown blocks in random placement to symbolize war’s many battles. The gold/cream blocks near the top are the families in waiting; the red/cream ones for the families whose soldier will never return.

This quilt will finish at 81″ x 81,” made up of 324 five-inch blocks, and I plan to call it “Waiting.” As it stands right now, it doesn’t quite match the idea in my head, but I hope when I do get it right with a future project, both quilts will become a small tribute to the brave men and women who serve our country.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.



Testing the App block

So much to say this week! Who knew I could get my act together like this?

One of the first blogs I started following a few years ago was from the blue chair. I love Kati’s contemporary spin on modern quilting, particularly with one of her newest works, the App quilt, inspired by a drawing from her six-year-old daughter.

A few weeks ago, she put out a call for pattern testers for this quilt before she releases it, and I quickly jumped at the chance. I couldn’t believe it when I got the email asking if I was still interested in the project. Was I still interested? Woo hoo!

And then reality struck. I said yes without giving a thought to what I’d make from it. I didn’t want to buy more fabric when lo and behold, I was sitting on a goldmine of perfection.


This inspiration print is a retro Fifties kitchen from Michael Miller that I kind of had plans for, but nothing definite. The rest are some blenders I bought to go with it.

DSC_0005The challenge came with the background. I tried the creamy kitchen print against some Kona Snow, but it didn’t really work. They were just too similar, but still different, to be jarring rather than pleasing.

And then, the unthinkable happened. One of those moments where I get the perfect idea and think to myself, “Sandra Louise, you are a genius.” Just a few stacked pieces down from the Snow was some Kona Medium Gray, and when paired with all my selected fabrics it looked absolutely fabulous, darling!

DSC_0015It was like it was screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” as if it knew that by pairing it with my fabrics and the wonky look of Kati’s block, I’d not only have me an App quilt when I was done — I’d have me an Atomic App quilt! I mean, how cool is that?

It’s all very “Mad Men” meets “Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” cool. When it’s finished, I’ll have to save it to cuddle under while watching Don Draper sandwiched in between a Gregory Peck movie marathon.

Should I wear the pearls or the lamé for this?

Thankfully, Kati only required that we make two blocks, one in each size. I wasn’t sure if I wanted the small or large size for this, but after making them both it was abundantly clear.

DSC_0014The blenders would have been fine in the small size, but not the thing that got us here in the first place. I want to show you the only other block I’ve done, this really cool jacquard print of wonky lines, which I hope you can see. It will definitely be the inspiration from the quilting when I get to that point.

DSC_0021Kati asked if we were able to make a finished quilt in two weeks, but I know I can’t make that happen. However, I do hope to have it finished before I go visit a friend next month who lives in a very 50s-style ranch house. It will be the perfect gift.

Wish me luck!


A last-minute rush to link up with Lee for WIP Wednesday.


Supernova swap update

It’s amazing to think that it was only a couple of weeks ago that Stephanie from Late Night Quilter was just one of the many bloggers I follow. Today, not only are we becoming fast friends, we’ve got 86 participants in our block swap!

friendship-button-largeThank you all so much. It has been such a treat to connect with you via email and this blog. I think this swap is really going to be a blast.

We have a couple of people still out there who expressed interest but haven’t gotten back to us about getting a partner. If you’re still want to play along, please email me immediately so I can help you find a match.

Stephanie and I both feel like we’re becoming the Quilting Loooooove Doctors.

If you’ve already started on your blocks, how is it going? Don’t forget to join our group on Flickr so you can post photos. There are 32 members so far, with a few gorgeous blocks already. Stephanie tells me there are more coming soon.

Here are Lee’s original instructions for each step of the entire process to make the Supernova block, including fabric selection, planning the blocks, cutting and final construction.

Jo from Riddle and Whimsy has posted her own version of cutting instructions. She and Sara from Smiles Too Loudly are giving their Supernova a rainbow look with different background fabrics in each block. Jo found a way to tailor the cutting instructions to her needs, and has posted it for anyone who might find it helpful.

Check out Stephanie’s latest post to learn more about a new Facebook group she’s started called “Late Night Quilters,” with some of her blogging friends. It’s for anyone who does most of their quilting late at night or anyone who just loves to gab about all things quilt-related.

Be sure also to stop back later this week when I’ll have an announcement about a great giveaway!


Finished: striped four-patch pillow cover

OK, I have to admit, as much as love sewing and crafting, there are just some days that I feel like calling this blog “One million mistakes …”

On those days, I could take every last scrap of fabric, yarn and floss in my stash, not to mention my extensive collection of patterns, books, needles, scissors, thread, a sewing machine, a serger, a brand new fabric cutter, and my $15 iron and throw them all in the muddy, polluted river that’s about two miles down the hill from my house.

So imagine my surprise when yesterday afternoon I was able to finish a pillow cover with fairly minimal effort and only a few mistakes, none of which were irreparable.

This does not happen in my universe. Ever.

The story begins with a pillow I wanted to recover so I could get rid of the awful, 20-year old fabric on it that hasn’t been my taste for probably 19.9 of the years I’ve owned it.

DSC_0004I mean, seriously, what was I thinking back then?

So, I took some of the leftover fabrics from the plus-sign quilt I’m making for my bed (that is if I ever finish piecing enough leftovers to make the ginormous back) and threw them into the fancy new cutting machine I paid way too much money for to see how well it worked.

Even without using the correct size mat this baby cut perfect 2.5-inch strips. Hmmm. Guess that’s why they charge so much for the darn thing.

Then I sewed a bunch of strips together, decided it looked boring, so I cut them in half, turned one set and wound up with a pretty cool striped four-patch block.

DSC_0002I knew I wanted to do some straight-line quilting on this puppy, so I got out a few scraps of leftover crappy batting and zigzagged them together because I was too cheap to cut a single piece of the good stuff.

Why use the good stuff if you think you’re only going to ruin it by ripping out 9,000,000 stitches?

I was also lazy and basted the layers with a few straight pins. Didn’t get stuck. Not once, though next time I’ll probably do things the right way just to be safe. Easier to cheat on a small piece.

Here’s a photo of the front and shock of all shocks, for my second time quilting with this method it turned out pretty well.

DSC_0009If my photography skills were better you might actually see the quilting. At least I rememberd to take a photo of the back:

DSC_0010Not too shabby. Definitely not perfect, but good enough to make me quite happy. For a recovering perfectionist, this is saying something.

I won’t bore you with all details on how I made the envelope back and finished things, other than I was able to use some more of the black toile I recycled from an old comforter. I did serge around the edges for a little extra protection when I wash this. A quick press and voila!

DSC_0015And the back:

DSC_0016A couple more photos, because the natural light was great this afternoon.

DSC_0024DSC_0025Before I go, I want to say thank you to everyone who signed up for Stephanie‘s and my Supernova Friendship Block Swap, as well as to my new followers. You guys are so great to follow my shenanigans here.

We’ve got a few more singles to pair up, and then we’ll be set. If anyone still wants to join the fun, we’d love to have you, but we’ll ask you to find your own partner.

Do what I did. Make some comments on someone’s blog you admire and when they email you to thank you, take a chance and see if they’d be willing to participate. With four kids at home, I totally expected Stephanie to say no and was thrilled when she agreed. She is also the one who thought it would be a great idea to open our swap up to others and has gathered the terrific prizes we have so far.

Thanks, Steph, for being my new quilting friend. I can’t wait to get to know you better.

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day. I’ll be thinking of my sweet mommy who got me started on this crafting journey many years ago. Thanks, Mom.









My first MQG fabric challenge!

One of the great benefits of being a member of the Modern Quilt Guild is free fabric. I mean, who doesn’t love getting presents in the mail?

mmfabricchallengegraphicNeedless to say, you have to make something with your bounty. The guild’s current challenge features Michael Miller’s Petal Pinwheels line and since I love his stuff, it was a no-brainer to sign up. Armed with a packet of six fat eighths, you can use as little or as much as you like, as well as add from your stash, if you so choose.

I got my fabric  a couple of weeks ago, but to be honest, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to make, only that I didn’t want to get too complex and then not finish. And, of course, I’ve procrastinated a bit on this. Thankfully, the MQG extended the challenge deadline from June 23 to July 25.

But, what to do, what to do? I don’t really care about winning anything (and highly doubt I would anyway) but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to make something fabulous. Thankfully, this morning, I came up with an idea. Take a look:

Michael MIller baby quiltI got the idea after reading a recent post from Leanne at She Can Quilt. Her pattern, “Canvas,” features four individual squares surrounded by four individual L shapes that make a square in a square pattern, based on two complementary colors. Leanne has made it both in solids and prints, and I just love it.

More and more, my favorite quilts are ones that feature either all solids or lots of solid negative space. While I had thought about doing a pillow, I really wanted to have the center motif stand out in a background, rather than be something stand-alone.

Having decided to make a baby quilt — something small that I could hopefully finish by the deadline — I tried out my idea using Adobe InDesign, which made it quick and easy to see how things would look. The background color isn’t an exact match for Kona Cotton in School Bus, but it was close enough for me to know whether or not I’d like it.

I did try other colors from the prints, but none worked as well with the strong orange center (Miller’s Cotton Couture in Cora).

For the back, I came up with another idea I like (possibly even better), and now I’m not sure which of the two I like best for the front. Here’s how it would look on the back with the orange binding:

Michael MIller baby quilt3I like the tumbling blocks thing, but no, I’m not really crazy about the binding color. Here it is if I bind it in the Kona Ash and make it the front:

Michael MIller baby quilt4Much better, but then I have to commit to having the original idea framed in Kona Ash. I don’t like it as much as the solid orange, but I like it better than I expected. Take a look:

Michael MIller baby quilt5Knowing me, I’ll have changed my mind a million times by the time it’s done, but for me, that’s part of the fun of quilting. And no matter which design I choose — one of the above or something else altogether — I’ll definitely go with straight-line quilting. If I get industrious and have time, I may even echo some block shapes in the negative space.

So, what do you think? Am I on to something here, or should I go back to the drawing board?