Category Archives: Machine Sewing

Two Purple Trees

I kept working on my Stash Bee blocks in RSC colors this week and came out of it with two more purple improv trees.

I think I’m getting better at it.  The tress didn’t take nearly as much background material, though I still ended up with substantial scraps.

I’m generally happy with these three trees, though piecing them wasn’t a lot of fun for me.  I don’t think I’m going to make a quilt of just RSC improv trees.  I’m going to stick with my original plan of integrating them into a year-long quilt of improv-leaning blocks from the Stash Bee in the RSC’s colors.

I still have another block or two that I’d like to make from this month’s Stash Bee hives, and I’ll probably get one done this coming week, but the other two need more thinking (and possibly a die-cutter).  They’ll go on my Project List (see the menu bar up above) under “Someday”.

In the meantime, I like my trees!

And I can’t wait to see what else will join them.

I’m linking up with RSC at so scrappy.

Purple Heart and Tree

Today was a dark day for our democracy here in the US.

I did some hand-sewing for Grackle Party, which I’m not ready to share yet.  I don’t want to associate that piece in my mind too much with this part of history.

A few days ago, I did my first Stash Bee blocks in that month’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge (from soscrappy) color.  January is PURPLE.

First up was Hive 2’s January heart block:

I didn’t quite hit the final measurement of 8 1/2″ square, mine’s more like 8 1/4″, but it’s close enough for an improv-ish block.  It wasn’t supposed to be improv, but it’ll likely fit better with the improv blocks than the more traditional ones.  I also learned that I need WAY more light in my sewing area to cut accurately.

Second was Hive 6’s January improv tree block:

I didn’t even bother with her width and height requirements and my top’s uneven, but I think I nailed her look.  I enjoyed this one so much (though it had a steep learning curve for me) that I have trunks cut and pieced and purples pulled for two more blocks.

I’m going to have lots of neutral scraps for other projects or blocks when I’m done with these trees:

It was a mess, but I think I understand better how the angles go together now.  The back’s less of a mess than the front, amazingly.  I did press after each seam, which helped.  Unfortunately, the purple fabric’s been in storage for a LONG time and I could not get that crease out.

I’m linking up with RSC at so scrappy.

Finish Along 2017 Q1

For a more complete list of my WiPs, look above my header image at the “Project List” link.  That list is a work in progress, too.

Before the end of March, I hope to finish (or work on or think about):

  1. The Star Wall Hanging on black, for my mother.  Two more years and it’s still not done yet.  Argh.
  2. Tiny Flower Garden for Prim.  It’s a lot more done now than it is in this picture, and I have more pictures of its assembly which I have yet to blog.  I think if I really push, I can get it quilted and bound and ready for hanging in under three months.  I’m dreading the applique to the borders, but I think I’ve done enough hand-sewing by now that it’ll be fine.  I have no idea how I’m going to quilt it beyond “simply”, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

3. Pumpkin Patch for Sec.  I’d decided that this would be a twin-sized quilt, but I’m going back to my toddler-bed-sized plan.  It’ll be a faster finish and he’s not super-into pumpkins anymore, so this can go into storage for someday when he moves out and takes it with him.  Or he can use it on the couch.  Or both.

4. Red and white twin-sized bed quilt for Sec.  Not blogged (or named) yet, I’ll add a link when I post about it.

5. Improv linen throw quilt.  Chunky rectangles of color, accented with black and white.  1/2″ seams, not blogged yet.

6. Toddler placements.  I promised these to the kids’ (old) school, and I’d like to get them finished up and mailed.  Not blogged yet.

7. 16″ square epp pillow cover.  It’s currently just paper shapes, not blogged yet.

8a-d. Four 7.5″ x 8″ drink/snack mats for the kids’ new drink station.  These are EPPed and I’ll have to redact the photos, since each features its owner’s first initial.  I have Prim’s ready, but I need to re-do the binding as I rushed it and it’s not great.  The paper for Sec’s is cut out and I’m in the basting stage.  These are four separate projects, since they’re time-consuming, but they’re part of a series so I’m listing them together.  Not blogged yet.

9.  Four 7.5″ x 8″ alternate drink/snack mats.  These will be machine-pieced and are much simpler, so they count as one project.  I have the top of Prim’s sewn together and Sec pulled fabrics for his, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.  Not blogged yet.

And I’ll leave it here, since I don’t want to miss the link-up for the first quarter.  I’ll keep updating my “Project List” link, since I’d like a master list of my WiPs to work from.

Linking up to the Q1 2017 Finish-Along.

Modern Medallion Inspiration Links

Even though I went in a totally different direction with my “Modern Medallion” quilt from Rachel at Stitched in Color’s Handstitched Class, I wanted to share some of the very inspirational posts that I saw while I was still thinking about completing it as presented.

First, Happy Go Lizzie’s flimsy is gorgeous in its constrained, muted color palette, except for those pops of yellow in dark grey.  I also really liked her diagonal quilting in the random squares part of the quilt.

Another detail of diagonal quilting in a fall palette from Ginette.

A flimsy full of brights, fussy cutting, and leaves from Kellyfairy, displayed like stained glass.

Amanda from My Sewical Hour discusses her slow stitching, decision making, and inability to complete someone else’s pattern.  This one really spoke to me, because it turns out I have the same problem.  (It doesn’t help that this is/was one of my first real quilt projects–I think I just wanted such a big project and finish to be MINE.)

A happy, bold, FINISHED Modern Medallion by Emily.  It can be done!  Someone finished it and the hand quilting is wonderful.

Another muted, constrained palette for the flimsy which stuck with me.  This one’s by HNoelMauri.

And, since months have passed, Kelly Kruzner’s flimsy in seaglass blues.  I LOVE it.

I didn’t go in any of these directions, but they all added something to my process.  I love that people share their work, especially when it’s so beautiful.

Star Wall Hanging

I thought long and hard about my February goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, and realized that I barely have time for anything in February since I’m working on the Handstitched class quilt.  But then I remembered a simple finish which will let me practice straight-line machine quilting.

During one of the scrap classes at my local quilt shop, we made strata and cut sixty-degree triangles.  They were supposed to finish in a star on a white background, which I bought the fabric for, fully intending to finish quickly.  Like so:

Traingle Star on White HP

For the scrap class post, I took a picture of them on my favorite black background and LOVED it:

Pieced Triangles Warm & Cool HP

So I’m going to assemble to star on the back background, machine quilt it, and try an all-machine binding.  I will need to trim the triangles to all the same size since I used different rulers in class, I should be able to handle that in a month.

Best Black Fabric HP

I ordered more of my favorite photo background black, which is Lily’s Garden from the Lily’s Linen line by Patrick Lose for RJR Fabrics.  I don’t know why I love it so much, but I just do.

I’m linking up with ALYoF.  (EDIT: Or not, since I guess I missed it this month.  I’m still going to work on this wall hanging, but I’m actually relieved not to have to push to finish it if I have other things going on.)

Finished Nightstand Topper!

Berries with Lemon Action DONE HPDone and in use, my first A Lovely Year of Finishes finish, the nightstand topper for my son Sec, “Berries with Lemon”!

It all started with his fabric picks and here we are with a functional piece.

Berries with Lemon Front DONE HP

It’s a tiny bit wonky, but it almost perfectly fits his night stand.  I ended up just doing bar tacks at some of the brick intersections by hand.  It’s not going to be washed much (as you can see from the first picture, he doesn’t like putting his water cups on it), so it should hold together just fine.  No, he doesn’t really use the clock for anything.  He claimed it from another room and now it’s his.

The bar tacks were partly because I couldn’t bear to drag out my sewing machine to do the quilting.  I despair of ever being able to sew a consistent, straight line without a struggle.  Good thing I like hand-sewing now, though burying the knots and ends of all of those bar tacks was no fun at all.

Berries with Lemon Back DONE HPI do like the back.  I don’t want to mess it up with a big ugly white label and I’m not sure I can easily match the red for a Spoonflower-printed label, so we’ll see.

But it’s done and getting used, so YAY!

Linking up with ALYoF’s January finish post, just in time.

“Berries with Lemon” Progress

I didn’t make as much progress on this nightstand topper for my son Sec as I would have liked, but some progress is better than none.  I got the binding sewn on the front.

Berries with Lemon Progress HP

I really, really like the back.  It’s much cooler than the front.  No label yet.  That’ll have to wait for my next Spoonflower order, so it might be some time.  It’s not going anywhere and I’ve documented it here, so I’m not too worried.

Berries with Lemon Progress Back HP

I actually made a bunch of mistakes with this project.

First, I didn’t make the backing significantly bigger than the front on all sides (there was some leeway on the long sides, but none on the short), so spray-basting it all together was a nightmare.  I was afraid that it would shift badly if I machine-quilted it, so I decided to hand quilt it, but I wanted to get the binding on while I had my machine out, so I did that.  It’s a little project, so I think it’ll be fine.  I think I’m only going to tack it all down at the corners of the squares.  Warm and White says you only need to quilt every 10″ and I don’t think it’s going to be washed often, so it’s likely okay.

Berries with Lemon Progress Oops HPSecond, you can see where my machine sewing failed when I was adding the binding.  I sewed too narrow a seam allowance, so it wasn’t hard to fix, just annoying.

I cut everything very carefully, had my (new) walking foot on, and went super-slow.  I’m beginning to think my 1/4″ seam allowance woes aren’t all me, but may be at least partially due to my machine.  I’m going to have to try out a new machine at the quilt shop.  I realized that I’m having no fun at all doing the piecing because I dread the wonky seams.

At this point, I’d rather hand-sew than drag out the machine.  <sigh>  I don’t want anything fancy, just a machine that feeds evenly.  Yes, I just had it serviced.  Argh.

Well, I only have hand-sewing left on this one and then it’s a finish!

Handstitched Class Quilt Decisions

I’ve been agonizing too much about what I want to do for the Handstitched class quilt “Modern Medallion”–I’m going to call mine “Bold Tranquility” and I’ve tagged this post and the first with that name.

Black and White Prints HP

Even though I bought this third print, thinking to use it for the central dogwood blossom, I’ve decided not to use any prints at all, just fabric and pearl cotton for quilting in white, black, and a few greys.

If I hate how it’s turning out, I can make it into table topper and try again with the prints.

I got my freezer paper and my spray starch (and sizing, just in case).  Tomorrow, I’ll iron and start cutting.  I hope to do the hand sewing on the central dogwood blossom over the weekend, but I doubt I’ll be able to take my machine out for joining the next three rounds until Monday.


Handstitched Class Quilt Fabrics

Starting tonight (and for the next nine weeks), I’m taking the Handstitched class by Rachel from Stitched in Color.  I’m really looking forward to it–especially making the hand stitched class quilt, Modern Medallion.  Here, she features some students’ class projects.  It’s nice to see all of the different colorways for the quilt.  Look at this FABULOUS muted and slightly modified version by Happy Go Lizzie on Flickr.  (Please excuse my laser focus on the quilt.  It’s crept into my dreams).

I’m going to do a black/white/grey version, though I still have some decisions to make, like “Should I use the left-hand print in the photo, the right-hand, or neither as my central dogwood blossom?”  The prints are actually shades of grey and black on a white ground–my lighting was not so good.

Black and White Small Prints HPI was thinking about going with a white blossom and embroidering or hand-quilting in some detail and interest, but I really like these prints.  I might use the more open one (on the right) in the central blossom and both elsewhere (there are some little dogwood blossoms in a later round, and the print on the left could easily mix in with the various greys for the square patchwork section).

Shades of Grey HPHere the prints are in the same terrible light with the greys I got.  They’re all sitting on black.  I didn’t include the yards of black and white that I bought in the picture.

I need some good natural light before I decide which of the greys I’m going to use.  Some don’t look pure grey.  I love Fat Quarter Shop, but I wish they’d use stickers to label the individual cuts of fabric, to make it easy for me to identify which grey is which (the names are all fairly similar–different ways of saying “grey”).

Your thoughts about the prints (vs white with embroidery) are welcome in the comments!

“Berries with Lemon” Top is Done!

Berries with Lemon Top HPHere’s the untrimmed top.  The picture has some weird perspective issues.  I mean, the top’s pretty wonky, but the photo has problems, too.

Berries with Lemon Top Reverse HP

And the back after pressing.  I could not get the seams to stay flat.  This photo’s more true.  I’m not sure how I’m going to quilt it.  probably simply in the ditch.  The back fabric has a big, red and gold all-over pattern, so I’ll match the  thread to the red and hope for the best on the top.

Berries with Lemon Binding HP

Speaking of the back: it’s just about an inch too narrow.  I made a little too much scrappy binding, so I’m going to add the last bit of the blue in the above photo to the back as a stripe.  I think it’ll look good.

I’m going to use Warm and White batting, since that’s what I have on hand.