The Graduate


…and there it is. Where have I been? Graduating. Dissertation complete, family in and out of town, celebratory parties partaken of. It’s been a whirlwind from my final defense on April 15th until last weekend, our first alone time together in a long time. Yes, he did get to watch me sew for part of that time 😉

Meanwhile things were made, SIL’s quilt just needs a binding, I have pics I just need to upload them and share all the wonderfulness I have been hoarding.

Oh freedom, how I love thee.

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A Finished Market Tote!

In celebration of the completion of my dissertation manuscript (no that is not the end of the hell that is doctoral candidacy, I still need to defend the blessed thing)  I decided to sew something that could be completed. I belong to the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild and we are having a “grocery bag swap” at our next meeting. Meaning….I think….we all bring our hand made creations, put them in the middle of the table, pull names and pick someone elses bag to keep. In an effort not to be the last picked I think I went for overkill

Market Tote Side #1and the other side

Market Tote side #2This is made with a tutorial by Bijou Lovely called quite simply the Market Tote (grocery bag = market tote I see the connection, don’t you?). It is a simple tutorial to follow which was what I was after since I have only made one other bag in the last 30 years. I used the fabric that I had made my sewing table cover with before it was “replaced” by my current sewing machine and table.

Market Tote Scalloped StitchingI used one of my machine’s fancy stitches instead of regular straight line top stitching on the bottom half.

Market Tote Handlesand contrasting threads on the handles and bag. I decided to make the handles with the black side out because the theme fabric was a bit busy for that area. I like the choice myself but my husband thinks I should have left them facing out. I like the contrast myself. He’s got a great eye but I stuck to my guns on this one and I like the outcome.

Market Tote Interiorthe interior is a piece of fabric that has quilty words on it, I thought that was fitting considering the audience. There are no pockets this time, I just followed the directions as written. Next time I will go rogue and add some.

I’m very happy with the outcome. I can see why people love making bags so much, it can be very satisfying. I say it can be because the duffle I made my sister was quite the process, unlike this one which I got done in an evening and a morning. I’m already making a mental list of worthy bag recipients in my life so I have an excuse to make more!

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WIP Friday…Where Did Wednesday Go?

Yeah, yeah I know the quilty blogoshpere posts their WIP’s on Wednesday. At this point in my dissertation progress I’m lucky to post anything. In fact, this morning I am using my post as a writing warm up. I have now written every chapter at least twice except the last one which has only been written once but we’ll be remedying that today now that I have received new revision for the last three chap’s. Whoopee 😐 May they all be ready to turn in on Monday. Don’t get me wrong, there is still the opera to be seen tomorrow night and guild to go to Sunday morningish…with the sew-in to follow. Unless I am feeling particularly behind and guilty.

In any case, stress relief sewing is being accomplished. In fact exactly one month ago I was at that retreat where I began piecing my SIL’s new vintage quilt. It has now turned into this


notice the “design wall” we rigged up in front of the plantation shutters in the sewing room/den. The picture colors are a little off because I can’t really get much natural light with the window being covered but it’s the best we can do for that room…for any room really.


Of course every time I brought the quilt to the sewing machine I had this to contend with.   He’s just so darned cute.

Since then the borders have been attached and I am ready to miter the corners. The batting has been purchased, wool, and I need to sew the back together. As this is vintage inspired it is not going to be a pieced back, just one fabric, so that will go together relatively quickly. With any luck I’ll be basting this weekend.

In other piecing news


I have been sewing cranes. As you might remember they are my extra go-to project. I only have 22 so far I’ll be needing…I don’t know…100 or so. They are all of 4″ square and paper pieced. Let’s just say it’s good I am in no hurry on this one.


And then there are sprouts. The last couple of nights I have thrown carefully pieced some of those together. I have decided that I would like to finish that quilt next. I need to balance my quilty life with something a little more modern. As I have been working on other projects I have been cutting out 2.5″ squares of any fabric that might work in a sprout so I have a bit of an accumulation. I need to count them and take a little color inventory to see if I am particularly lopsided…which may not matter.

…and lastly,


bee blocks. These are for one of my fellow San Diego Modern Quilt Guild members. She gave us the fabric with instructions to make two different looking “slab” blocks a la the Sunday Morning Quilts Book (which I happen to own, and love). These bee blocks are great because it allows me to give a block a try that I am not planning to do anytime soon, if ever and it helps out a quilty friend 🙂

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English Paper Piecing Progress

I am in the throws of finishing the rough draft of my last chapter for my dissertation (while I work full time) so time has been of the essence. Therefore…not getting a whole of sewing done. That being said I have taken some time out at the end of my day to sew while I hang with my hubby.

So here is my progress on the English Paper Piecing Project.

All of the stars are done! And I managed to add more of the red dot fabric as well.


Remember all those stars came from this one piece of fabric! That Sue Daley knows how to pick ’em (remember I started this project in her little wall hanging class at the Riley Blake Fabric Fest in Vegas last September, oh how I hope they do another one of those).

In the meantime I put all of the pieces out on my dining room table to see if it would be long enough.


Yup, looks good. However, I am thinking that when I finish the sides there will be an awful lot of that red polka dot fabric. I have a lot of the red left over so I am playing with the idea of adding a line of red fussy cut hexies along the sides. That would also make it wider.


I’ll have to see if I have enough fabric to fussy cut one or two different designs that would make the full length of the table runner.

We’ll see 🙂

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What? Another Project!

Okay, so here’s the story: I went to North Carolina with my husband to visit his family for  Christmas. While there I noticed my sister-in-law looking through etsy and the what not at quilts to purchase. You see, as a child her grandmother made quilts for all the kids…except her, because she was the youngest and gran was too old to make anymore quilts by the time it was her turn. She had pushed this aside until they spent some time up in a cabin in the woods that was full of hand made quilts. She snuggled and cuddled under them everyday and night and fell in love. Unable to purchase any of those quilts off of the owner she began searching for one online. Now, maybe because it was the holidays and all the good stuff had already been sold or…maybe there just isn’t a great inventory of good quilts to purchase…I was unimpressed with the selection and the effort that was clearly not put into the quilts we were finding on the market (under $1000).

It may not be surprising that I looked up from my iPad after another covert quilt purchasing search and said “you know I make quilts, right?”….and here it begins. I convinced her that I would be happy to make her a quilt, and one she would like to boot. Her husband would buy the fabric (his Christmas gift) and “we” (the royal we of course) would make the quilt with the understanding that it would take some time as I work full time and I am trying to finish my dissertation…in my spare time. I found a pattern called Pinwheel Pinache in the Sep/Oct issue of McCalls Quilting Magazine. It is a very traditional pattern, looks like something grandma might have made back in the day. It also has a bigillion pieces, which if you know anything about me by now, you know is my thing. I have an over piecing problem.

So we went to the local quilt shop Wish Upon A Quilt in Raleigh. A quaint little shop perhaps smaller than I am used to here in San Diego but no matter. And we set out to choose fabric

SIL Quilt Fabrics

Here is what we came up with. The fabric on the far left is the border (although I bought extra to add into the piecing and the fabric at the top is for the back.

Now, that was in December…notice we are in February. So, the dissertation timeline got moved up a month and I went back to work after being on sabbatical for 6 months. Whoa! Fortunately, many moons ago I signed up for another weekend retreat at Rosie’s Calico Cupboard Quilt Shop don’t let the old school web design fool you, this shop is huge and has great classes…they are a Janome dealer too (not that I am looking to give in my trusty Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 anytime soon. Still loving it, it’s amazing). I digress, I took a weekend off from the dissertation and spent the weekend at Rosie’s being generally fed and pampered and given a whole table to spread out on.

SIL Quilt Making at Retreat

Here is the first look at progress being made at the retreat on the quilt.

Pinwheel Construction at Retreat

and another look

68 pinwheels

in the end I made all 68 pinwheels. Mind you I spent a whole day cutting the fabric for this quilt the weekend before my dissertation deadline was moved up…very good timing.

The Angler 2

While working, the expert quilters in the room took pity on me. I was drawing the stupid line across the squares from corner to corner in order to make my half square triangles. They turned me on the “Angler 2″ which allows you to sew from corner to corner or from 1/4” to each side of that line without drawing a thing. What a time saver!


I also managed to start on the stars for the quilt. There will be 27 of these.  I texted pics throughout the retreat to my SIL to prove that progress was being made. She was thrilled 🙂

Last night, after having sent in my chapter 4 revision of my dissertation (there are only 5 chapters…the home stretch!). I took a break and made some more stars

4 of 27 stars to be made

this is how many I have now. I’m a little worried about all the low contrast fabrics but I am hoping it works out in the end.


I found that my work space at home is significantly smaller than the retreat table but I am making it work. I’m afraid this is not very portable so taking it to the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild Sew in this Sunday is out. No problem, it’s a good time to use more of that ever growing stash of oriental fabric on those paper pieced cranes anyway. I have about 15 now, I’ll have to take a picture soon, I’m really happy with their progress…and I am still working on my English Paper Piecing (see my last post) whenever I get a little down time with the hubster in front of the tv (I manage to squeeze in an hour here and there).

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English Paper Piecing While Watching Downton Abbey

Back in September my mother and I took a trek to Las Vegas for the Riley Blake Fabric Fest! It was a great retreat and if they offer it again I would go in a heartbeat.

One of the classes I took was a  Fussy Cutting English Paper Piecing (EPP) technique with Sue Daley (you can find a great video of her EPP technique on the Riley Blake blog here).

She uses a glue stick, this fun little mirror and a rolly mat. the only thing you really need for her technique is the glue stick to begin with, the rest you can get later if you get hooked like me.

In class we were to learn how to make this cute little wall hanging that had three stars and by my Christmas trip to North Carolina I was about this far

I totally got into it over my break (it didn’t hurt that just about everyone in the house got very ill except me and one of my nephews so I needed something to do). On the trip home my tray table looked like this:


I love how the drink holder fits little star pieces perfectly. The guy sitting next to me (not my husband the other one) was rather confused, try as I might to explain what I was doing.

Now that I’ve gotten home the wall hanging has turned into a table runner


of course dear Apollo is a little too interested. I think it might be the papers inside that make him want to hall off whole sections and naw on them. Sigh.

…and now that Downton Abbey is back on it seems only fitting to work on my English Paper Piecing while watching (reminiscent of putting on my mouse ears to watch the Mickey Mouse Club).

You might be interested to see the original fabric that the stars come from


and it turns into this once it is radically fussy cut


Crazy eh?

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Super Secrets Revealed

As I have mentioned before I am a proud member of the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild. Not that my quilts are all modern but I love the way they hold a meeting. We have the general agenda where announcements are made, the new bee block is revealed and whatever else needs to be said. Then there is the sharing, always awesome. Usually we have a demo of a technique after that and then we sew together for hours. It’s a great day.

A few months ago we were told that our president was not planning on running for reelection (she founded the group years ago and has been the president ever since). So a call went out to make a string block or two for a quilt we would gift her after the new elections. We were given color parameters and told to go forth into our stash


I ended up making eight! I’d never made a string block before so I had no idea what I was getting into and had no idea what kind of quilt this would make.


I can’t believe how cool it turned out. She was thrilled. The color way was based on a pillow she had shared many months earlier and she couldn’t believe we remembered…good feels all around.

There was also a secret santa that I participated in. We gave each other random stuff for a few months leading up to the big reveal. Fat quarters, candy and fun quilty stuff was exchanged ( I did get another scrappy sprout block, yippee!). We had filled out a form stating the kind of thing we’d be interested in getting for our final gift and I just said a glasses case. Now, I was thinking some little thing I slip my reading glasses in but noooo my over achieving santa couldn’t make that she made this


with a magnetic closure and everything. I don’t know how she figured this thing out. Ohhhh that’s not all, she couldn’t stop there. It was nestled in a big honkin’ zipper pouch


look at those paper pieced glasses!


And she lined it with glasses fabric. She said she got the pattern from Noodlehead in case you’re interested.

Coincidentally, my secret santa giver was also my receiver and I worked for a whole day and then some on her mug rug


I had never made one before. In fact, I didn’t know what a mug rug was before I began this journey. Nor had I ever made wonky stars. I had to look up how it was done in my Modern Blocks quilt book. To make matters even more exciting I am relatively new to the whole free motion quilting thing so that took some practice before taking the plunge on this little gem.


This is the back. I used a piece of fabric I got from Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts when she brought in some of her stash to give away at quilt guild.

and finally I realized I had never actually posted a picture of my finished puppy quilt.


Here she is. We actually keep it on the floor for our dear Apollo where he plays on it with his little toys. Hopefully it will stand up to all the love he gives it.


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23 Years In The Making

December was a little…non-existent…here in bloggity blog land. One could say I was busy and out of town and sick and okay there is no really awesome excuse but I have some super secret quilty stuff that I’ve been keeping under my hat until after the holidays. Like this:

P1010420The face everyone wants to see by the recipient of their hand made quilt. That would be my sister. I was ready with the camera for the moment she realized what was in her hands.

P1010379No fooling, she did wait 23 years for this quilt and had absolutely no idea it was finished. Everyone even kept this blog a secret from her so she couldn’t see its progress.

P1010422She’s been wrapped up in it ever since

P1010415At first she had no idea it was coming

P1010416and I hid it in a duffle bag I made for her

P1010428Apollo was, of course,  happy to see the quilt again

P1010247Here is what it finally looked like when all was said and done. Ahhh the 1990’s colorway. FYI, all hearts are hand appliqued and that center star, also on two corners, was hand drafted by yours truly, it was a y-seam o-rama I clearly had no idea what I was getting myself into.P1010248and this is the back…pre-label.

The quilt itself was pieced mainly with hand drawn templates on subscription cards (because I guess I was too poor in college to buy card stock and no one made template plastic back in those days anyway). No rotary cutting until I pieced the back because back in the day no one used rotary cutters…needless to say the back took me one day to piece. The adventures of this quilts’ making are tagged in the work-in-progress section.

The duffle bag is quite large

P1010380it could fit several quilts but my sister is a sky diver and a singer and voice over person so she does quite a bit of scooting around (in Germany, where she lives). The bag pattern is from Craftsy, it’s called the Travel Duffle Pattern by Studio Cherie. Here are some details:

P1010395Top zip with tabs…note my variegated thread, I was rather proud of that…the tabs were a bit of a bear due to the size of the zipper

P1010390Side zip pocket with pleats (there is also a slip pocket on one side). In the future I would add pockets to all sides, one can never have enough of those.

P1010391lined with lions

P1010388Actually the whole freaking thing was lined with lions. My sister is a Leo and has always had a thing for lions…and they were cute so I had to buy the fabric!

P1010423All in all she was a very happy girl. Yeahh me!

More projects I have been keeping from you to come…soon…really soon.

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November Under Cover

Where did the month go? By looking at my blog you might think…uh nowhere. Fortunately I was crazy busy and therefore neglected my happy little updates. Firstly, I worked on three secret projects, two of which I can reveal in about a week the other is a Christmas present so no peeking! Secondly my parents in-law came to visit for about a week which put the den out of commission which is where I sew.


Here is a picture of my mother-in law getting her first motorcycle ride on my mom’s Harley Trike, driven by our good friend Merlin who was visiting my mom.

On to the sewing that did get done and can be shown:

Firstly, there were bee blocksP1010348

These are wonky butterflies. You can find the tutorial on The finished quilt looks something like this

Butterfly Quilt ~ Quilted

I am thinking a larger butterfly might make a good scrap buster…and heaven knows it is time to do one of those.

Nextly, we have the ever popular book case block


I think I may have been less successful with this block as my contrast seems lacking. She provided about half of the fabric and requested we add some neutrals with words on top which I think is a great idea but I am not sure my execution was spot on. I hope she likes it anyway, the outliers can always go in the bottom corners.

Lastly, on the block front is the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild 4th Quarter Chariy Quilt.


I made two blocks for that. It’s called chicken….something…hold on I’ll look it up…ahh, it’s called urban chicken, the tutorial can be found here

That’s all for the blocks I can show. Another particularly productively happy time I had was a retreat sew-in at a local Quilt Shop called Rosie’s Calico Cupboard. I sort of stumbled into it and got what I now find out was a coveted spot. They had put in the newsletter that they would be making this quilt called Chains of Hope

EPB1009F_Photo1or you could work on your own thing. What I didn’t  know is this group of ladies is pretty tight and they bring their own projects and share, like a little guild. Soooo I was the only one working on Chains of Hope. The retreat was Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. There was food there was drinky drinks (hiccup) and much good cheer.

P1010284Yup even a tv…there was much sports watched. I only watch mixed martial arts (seriously) so I was not sad that my back was to it. You can see the back of my machine there next to my water bottle

P1010289There is some of my progress

P1010287…and a bit of a closer look.

Of course once the sew-in was over the project had to get shelved as there was the secret Christmas present to finish, the in-laws and finally, the beginnings of my first Christmas quilt!

P1010364I tried to pick something that would go together quickly, this is my progress as of last night. It is a Henry Glass fabric called Holiday Frost (except the green which is a Moda called Christmas Countdown). I went the super easy route and took the free pdf pattern to whip this sucker together with little concern for the design process, not that I don’t love the design process but Thanksgiving is over dude, I gotta get a move on! Of course the pattern is seriously lacking. Each block is supposed to be 7 3/4″ no problem right? Well, the fabric character squares are about 6ish” (not square) and there is not enough room around each of them to get all of the blocks cut to size. I ended up cutting the last two rows as big as I could and adding fabric…yeah extra random seams. Additionally I am finding myself cutting many more squares and rectangles than they have published. I am starting to get a little tired of setting up my cutting station in the kitchen because this *&%@! pattern was not properly tested. Grrrr. I do have a potentially cool back planned but it will have to wait because I am out of green, which is also my main border color (front and back) fortunately I got a great cyber Monday deal on it from….love their inventory.

And that’s where I am 🙂

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My Best Friend Misha

This month for the Modern Quilt-A-Long we are creating the block called Best Friends from the Modern Blocks Book. This block is special to me. I found a fabric with cats on it and they looked kind of like they were in the sky. Well, my most wonderful cat Misha who had been with me for 16 years before she passed simply needed an homage. Sniff, sniff. If you’ve been there I’m sure you understand.


We are six months into our Quilt-a-Long here is what I’ve created thus farP1010281this was a hard shot to get, it was windy outside and they kept flying away 🙂 If you are interested in learning the stories behind each block you can click here.

If you’d like to see how the others in the quilt-a-long have been interpreting the monthly challenge you can click here we are all putting up our progress this month.

Speaking of best friends I got a surprise in the mail the other day

P1010272My sister and one of our best friends (she is older than me and has actually known me since I was in Kindergarten!) sent two scrappy sprouts blocks for my bee block quilt. It choked me up, what a sweet thing to do. They just came out of the blue. Happy me. I have close to 40 blocks now…about 15 more and I can start putting it together!

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