Saturday, December 31, 2011

Orca Bay week 7

The Orca Bay mystery is on the verge of being solved! I spent a few minutes this morning joining some of the triangles we'd made in earlier weeks to form new rectangle-shaped unites, and was so pleased to see a pattern emerging. I think this is going to become a really great quilt! I'm looking forward to the final installment of the directions tomorrow, in honor of New Year's Day---can hardly wait to see what it will look like together.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Here's a photo of a botany inspired quilt I made to be part of a quilt show that was organized by the Quilters' Guild of Brooklyn. The quilts will be on display at the Windsor Terrace Library, 160 East 5th Street Brooklyn, New York from January 4  through February 7, 2012.
The Opening Reception is Wednesday, January 4, 2012 from 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Here's the description of the show from the guild:
This array of 22 quilts is the result of our Guild’s Summer 2011 Challenge which was to design a 20” square based on the theme BOTANY. The challenge process offers quilters the opportunity to go beyond the familiar and comfortable. Here we present the very personal responses to the BOTANY theme in designs that have been inspired by poems, the mind’s eye, photos, nature’s tenacity, and quilters’ experiences. Just as varied are the different approaches to quilting - traditional, modern, abstract, realistic. They all draw upon the rich quilting vocabulary - assorted textiles, applique, embellishment, embroidery, painting, plus machine and hand stitching. 
If anyone is in the neighborhood, please come and introduce yourself!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Orca Bay Mystery, Week 6

Bonnie Hunter published the directions for Week 6 a day early this week, on Thursday instead of the usual Friday, but I was too busy finishing my Christmas preparations to even notice.
Nonetheless I managed to get a fair amount of cutting and sewing done over the holiday weekend. We had to combing the black-and-white hourglass units we'd made during Week 1 with a series of new squares, and presto! Ohio Stars!
So far I'm really happy with how this is coming together. Maybe my new enthusiasm will help me go back to some of the earlier steps and work towards finishing the number of units required? We'll see....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Orca Bay Progress

Now mind you, I'm not whining, but I'm finding it is taking more time than I imagined to made these string blocks, or string triangles, to be more accurate. I think I hava about half of them done now (they're not all in the photo) and I guess I just need to keep plugging away. I think I've accomplished even less on some of the other steps, so I have a ways to go to a completed quilt.
I guess I just have to relax and try not to worry about it. As they say in my yoga classes, the call it a "yoga practice" for a reason: it's not only about the reaching the goal, but about the journey as well.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Orca Bay Week 5

Over the weekend, I added triangular "wings" to most of the tiny black-and-white half square triangles that we'd made in Week 3. I'm getting a little concerned that I don't have a big enough variety of fabrics in my blacks and whites, and am thinking of going back into my stash to see what else I can come up with. Maybe there are some interesting pieces in there that I've overlooked---think I'll try to look through again and see if I can come up with a wider selection.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ocra Bay Week 4

I grabbed some time yesterday evening and whipped up about a dozen segments for week 4 of the Orca Bay mystery quilt. The week 5 directions are published tomorrow morning, so I'm just in the nick of time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this quilt and posting it---I don't think I included it yet in the group of photos of quilts I've made in the past. This one goes back at least 10 years---maybe more---and it's a wall hanging that's about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long.
I hope you like it as much as I do! It's one of my favorite Christmas decorations to hang each year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Scrappy Trip top finished

I just finished sewing the borders on the Scrappy Trip I've been working on, and I couldn't wait to take a photo, even though the light's not great. But you get the idea. It's a queen-sized quilt, and it is square. The colors are a little darker than they look in this photo. I'm pleased with how it came out, and I'm pleased to not have yet another UFO in my fabric closet to ignore. I plan to send it off to be machine quilted to I have time to work on Orca Bay and other projects. I'll post another photo when I get the entire quilt finished!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Scrappy trip borders

I've just finished sewing together all the blocks I'll need to make a border for the much-discussed scrappy trip quilt---hurrah! When I finish this post I'm going back to my sewing machine to attach them altogether, and then, hopefully, I'll complete the scrappy trip quilt top. Two reasons I'm working like mad today: I've got the day to my self (at least until 3 pm) AND I'm dying to get to step 4 of the Orca Bay mystery quilt, but I've promised myself I'd finish this last step on the Scrappy Trip top first so I don't end up with another UFO. Wish me luck! More photos soon, I hope.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 3---Orca Bay

I didn't have much time over the weekend to sew, but I made 16 tiny segments so I'd have something to post today, and so that I'd be keeping up, even if it's only in a very small way!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Orca Bay week two

I started right in in the blue string-pieced blocks called for in the directions in the 2nd week of Bonnie Hunter's current mystery quilt, Orca Bay. I think I've only done string piecing once before, so I was happy to have such detailed instructions about how to do it properly: the correct stich length, using the paper foundation, etc. It's addictive!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time for a mystery quilt!

Actually, I DO NOT have time to be making a mystery quilt, but I've been checking in on Bonnie Hunter's blog Quiltville every now and then and noticed that she just happened to be starting a new mystery quilt one of the days I clicked on her site. It's called the Orca Bay Mystery. Since Bonnie seems to be all about using up scraps, and I've got more scraps than I know what to do with, I figured I can justify my involvement. So I started right in. Here's a photo of the first units she's asked us to make, from black and white fabrics.

If I remember correctly, we're supposed to make 230 or so of these little units (they measure 2 1/2 inches) but the instructions said to just get started, and not to worry if you didn't get all of them finished before the next directions are published on Friday.

That said, I'm determined not to let my current project, the Scrappy Trip, become another UFO. So I'm working on both quilts at the same time. I've got all of the large blocks for the Scrappy Trip finished, and I'm now creating a border for it that I hope will read as a zig-zag line when it's done. Here's a photo of where it stands now:

I want the border to be separated from the main part of the quilt by a strip of fabric---I was thinking of even using white, or maybe a pale yellow. I'll see what looks best when I'm ready to start sewing it all together.

Friday, October 7, 2011

October block lotto

I just finished these 3 blocks for the October round of Block Lotto. This month we need to work with blue and cream fabrics, and can add brown if we want, and are able to make any type of block we want. I didn't have too much time, so I did 3 simple ones, but I like them---they'll go well in someone's quilt when they win the lotto this month.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Making progress

I'm happy to report that I'm making progress on the scrappy trip around the world quilt I started recently. The best  thing about working on this quilt is how forgiving it is---I can sew, and cut, and move things around to my heart's content (which is just how I like to work) and the quilt still looks good. I don't have to worry about running out of any specific fabric, or making a cutting mistakes. Pretty much anything goes.

Here's the counter I work on, with the current crop of 2.5-inch strips that I've cut from my stash laid out:
I don't have them arranged in any kind of order---for awhile I tried to keep them organized by color, or by darks and lights. But I've found that I don't mind just rooting around for what I want every time I make a new block. If I don't find what I am looking for,  I just go into my fabric stash, or my box of scraps, and cut more strips. I even found a few pre-cut strips in my stash that I was able to use, and that made me especially happy!

Here are the blocks I've made so far on my design wall:
This photo shows the 16 blocks I've made so far, and it's about 4 ft. square. I guess I'd need to make another row of blocks all around---20 blocks---to have a bed-sized quilt. I'm having fun with this so I'm optimistic.....I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Scrappy Trip Around the World

I fell in love with this block when I saw it on the Joe Tulips' blog last week (the link is here) and decided to try to make a few of my own. I'd already cut a bunch of 2.5 inch strips for another project I was working on, so it was easy to get started. It's really fun to put different fabric combinations together, slice them up, and see how the pattern develops....I'm hooked. I think I'll keep going until I have enough for a queen-sized quilt for my guest bed. It's a great stash-buster and it doesn't get boring.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How cool is this???

OK, this is not a great photo but I was  excited to see how all the African Violet blocks that I've been receiving from the block lotto folks would look together. It's even better than I'd imagined! I love how the colors are working together. My plan is to sash them with a lovely fabric I've already got in my stash: it's a pale green stripe on a cream field. I love stripes. I'm just waiting for a few more flower blocks and then I'll start working on it in earnest. I'll keep you posted.... 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Experimenting with the Square-Pants block

I've made a few versions of a block I discovered a couple of weeks ago on the Lily's Quilts blog, which you can find HERE.
For the first one, which I've already published, is pictured again below. For that one, I assembled a random assortment of bright fabrics from my stash, in no particular order, and used white as my neutral. I liked the block, but was disappointed that it didn't "read" like the one on Lily's website. Her block read clearly as two overlapping squares, with a diamond in the center, and mine looked like a random assortment of triangles.

So I tried again, and stuck to fabric scraps I had in blues and browns. I figured I could make one of the "squares" out of blue and the other from brown, and then keep the floating diamond shapes in either blue or brown. Here are the two blocks I made sticking to that color scheme:
After I'd finished those two, I checked the photo of the block on Lily's blog again and realized that I hadn't placed the colors the same way that she had. So I made a 3rd version of the block, pictured below:

I think this block, which is most like Lily's, is my favorite of the 4. Now I'm thinking of making a few more of them with the same color placement to see how they'd look together, and then decide whether to continue on and make a quilt. My husband likes these blocks, so I'm encouraged to start something new (you can tell it doesn't take much!).

Above is a photo of all 4 blocks together. I think they cold make a great quilt once I get the color placement figure out! The blues and browns are a little dark though. Maybe I can find some lighter fabrics in my stash to brighten it up.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I won!

I just found out that I won 56 blocks in the Block Lotto drawing for August. I am so excited! The blocks are African Violets, and they are so sweet. I posted the five I made to enter a few days ago. These will make a lovely little quilt!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Love this lunch box....

I spotted this on a shelf in my local craft shop and asked if I could take a photo. Even my husband thought it was pretty funny!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Quilts Matter, History, Art & Politics DVD

I just received my copy of Why Quilts Matter, put out by The Kentucky Quilt Project, which is a 2-DVD set that contains 9 episodes of a television series about the size and depth of the quilt culture. The series is scheduled to be aired on PBS starting later in August, I believe, but when when I saw it was for sale I knew I needed my own copy.
I'm gonna watch the first episode right now.
To order your own copy, visit

Friday, August 19, 2011

Another on-line contest

I entered this quilt, which I've called "All About Flowers" in an on-line contest for flower-themed quilts. You can vote for it by going to this link.  It's about half-way down in the group of quilts that have been entered. I think the contest closes on Sunday at midnight.
I'm flattered that already two people, including the person who runs the website for the contest, have contacted me to ask about the pattern.  I honestly can't remember if I used a pattern or just reassembled bits and pieces of other patterns I liked.....I'll have to look through my books and piles of Xeroxes and see what I can find.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Square Pants block

I made this block using scraps today from a pattern I found on a blog called Lily's Quilts, which you can find here. The blog's author, Lynne, made her block with a black background, and was more artful about how she arranged the pieces,  so that she ended up with a block where the two overlapping squares embedded in the pattern emerged more clearly. If I make this block again, I'll try to follow her example more closely, so that my block won't look like such a jumble of color.
She wasn't sure whether she'd invented the block, or what it's name was, so she decided to name it after herself.....and one of my favorite cartoon characters: LynneBob Square Pants. I've abbreviated mine to be called simple The Square Pants Block..

Friday, August 12, 2011

African Violet blocks for Block Lotto

I made 5 block for the September round of Block Lotto, and may may a few more if I get a chance. These blocks are easy to make, and they are fun besides---they look very 70s to me. I love participating in Block Lotto, because I always come away with new ideas for blocks, even when I don't win.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Small floral quilt...Done!

I posted earlier in the summer about my ideas for making a 20 x 20-inch quilt for my quilt guild's summer challenge project. In the end, I decided to used a quilt-as-you-go block that I'd made last year and had never used.  One of my favorite parts about his block is the back: I really love how it came out, even though I am new to this kind of machine appliqueing.  Here are a couple of photos showing details of how the back looks:

I'm sorry that the photo quality is not better, but you get the idea!
It was tricky to add borders to a quilt top that already had a backing and binding attached to it. Since I had made this as part of a class at City Quilter in Manhattan, I had a vague memory of the instructors teaching me how to do it, but that was about it.  After quite a bit of incorrect cutting (luckily I had extra fabric!) and ripping out of bad stitching I was able to create something that was more-or-less what I wanted. And I still have two more of these blocks, so maybe I'll make small quilts from them as well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Log cabin contest

I just entered this log cabin quilt, which I made as a gift for my husband Mac a couple of years ago, into a weekly on-line contest. This is the first time I'm entering....if you're reading this post and you've had any experience with this kind of contest I hope you'll let me know!
Anyway, you can go to the website over the weekend and vote for my quilt. Visit early and often! Any votes will be much appreciated. Here's the address:
Thank you and happy quilting!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


My mail this morning contained this wonderful hand-made postcard, sent to me by Julie Post in Titonka, Iowa, who's the author of the Joe Tulips blog. She sent it after I'd left a question on her blog asking if she puts the gorgeous postcards she makes in the mailbox, or if she seals them up in envelops first. I guess I got my answer (no envelope).
I'm going to hang this up in my sewing room and smile every time I see it. It's made my day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

36-patch blocks

I've just begun another project using an idea I got from a blog called Crazy Mom Quilts written by a quilter named AmandaJean. I love her ideas and patterns---they're usually simple, but they are clean and beautiful too.
Anyway, the idea here is to make 12-inch blocks, each out of two fabrics that are of different values. She suggested going through your stash to find fabrics that had small prints on them, and then dividing them into piles of darks, mediums and lights before selecting pairs that you thought would work well together.
I jumped at the idea because I'd recently been going through my stash for another project, and had found a number of great fabrics in there that I hadn't looked at for months or years. As I'd come upon a piece I loved I'd wonder why I hadn't make anything from it yet, and feel sorta bad that it was just sitting in a cabinet for so long. Once you've collected a lot of fabric, it really IShad to figure out how to use it and it's easy to neglect pieces that you really love, or that you purchased at a terrific little shop you found on a vacation or were given as a gift.
So this project seems to me like the perfect one for getting some of those treasures to into the light of day. And it's a project without any deadline, which makes it pretty appealing too. AmadaJean encouraged the quilters who follow her blog to try to finish a specific number of blocks a week---lets say 2 or 3 or 4---since this type of project is so easy to pick up and put away. I'm on a roll, having made 6 blocks already, but even if I run out of steam I can pick this up anytime.
I am trying to use a little green in each block so they will tie together when I've finished, at least enough to make a quilt out of them that hangs together. I imagine I'll make a queen-sized quilt, so I can use it on my bed so I'll have a chance to admire the fabrics I've loved for so long now that they're "out!"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wonky checkerboard blocks

I make these 8 checkerboard blocks for the July round of Block Lotto. Again, it's not the kind of block I'd ever have thought I'd want to make, but I had fun putting them together and I am pleased with how they came out. Wonky quilting is starting to grow on me.
It's an easy block to make, so I'm glad to have it in my arsenal of quick-and-happy blocks that could be used to make a baby quilt or get-well gift. This would be a very good month to win the lotto challenge, as the winners will receive enough blocks to make a lap-sized quilt. I've got my fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guild challenge: small floral-themed quilt

My quilt guild---the Quilter's Guild of Brooklyn---has announced a summer challenge project for its members: We've been asked to create a 20 x 20-inch quilt, using any method and fabric we choose, designed around a floral theme. The quilt needs to be completed by the Guild's October meeting. We were encouraged to interpret the assignment any way we'd like, as long as there's a floral component in there somewhere. We're also supposed to submit a 4 x 6 inch photo of our inspiration for the design along with the quilt. I like a challenge that takes me away from the projects I've already got going, so I got right to work.

My first inspiration was to design my own little quilt depicting a row of flower pots on a shelf in front of a window. I still really love this idea, but it's turning out to be more difficult than I originally guessed. I paper-pieced the first flower (this is just a test) and realized it's really hard to construct a flower using this method that can look like it's sitting in front of a window. And it would be just too dull to have a row of flowers against a plain background. I guess I'll have to applique if I want to create something that has any depth. I'm still thinking about this one.
The floral challenge also brought to mind the fact that I have a couple of floral-themed UFOs lurking around in my sewing room. One of them, pictured above, consists of a series of unfinished appliqued circles of floral fabric on white backgrounds. Hand-sewing these circles has been a kind of therapy for me for a couple of years. I work on them while I'm a passenger in a car, or when I'm watching helps me to sit still. I've really never had any vision for what I'll do with them, and I think there are a lot more of these little blocks in a draw somewhere, because I really have been making them for a long time.
I wonder if I could pluck out a couple of the most interesting ones and make them into a small quilt for the floral challenge?

I also have a couple of very floral, machine-appliqued quilt blocks in my sewing room that have been waiting patiently for me to find a useful purpose for them. I made these during a class I took at City Quilter about a year ago. I really enjoyed the class, but after the class was over I wasn't inspired to make any more of these blocks, so of course, no quilt came out of it. I did turn one of them into a pillow that I gave away as a gift last Christmas.
It would be pretty simple to finish one of these, add borders, and to turn it into a 20 x 20 inch quilt. I think this is a real possibility.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June blocks for block lotto

Here are the 8 blocks I made for the June block lotto drawing. It's hard to distinguish them from each other in this photo, but each is a simple 3-patch rectangle that contains one blue, one green and one purple rectangle. I decided to donate my chances this month, as I've got too many projects in the works already.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Future's So Bright: Done!

I just finished this queen-sized quilt for my niece Anna, who is getting married at the end of the month. I hand-stitched the binding on, a process that often takes me a long, long time to finish. I think the trick to finishing it in 10 days, rather than 10 weeks, was downloading a good audio book to listen to on my iPod while I sewed.
I borrowed this free pattern for this wedding quilt from a blog called Crazy Mom Quilts by Amanda Jean for two reasons. First, I loved the simplicity and beauty of the design. Second, and maybe more importantly, I felt that the name of the pattern (The Future's So Bright) was absolutely perfect a wedding quilt. I pieced the quilt by machine, and had it machine-quilted by Merrie Handfinger (really!) of Sew Materialistic in Brooklyn.
My niece is a fan of red, orange and yellow, so those are the colors I chose to work with. I love the material I found for the back of the quilt, which is pictured below on the left. I also loved the orange-and-red polka-dotted fabric I found for the binding, which is also picture below on the right.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pineapple Blossom blocks for May Block Lotto

Here's a photo of the 7 "pineapple blossom" blocks I've completed to enter into Block Lotto for May. I've got enough strips cut to make 2 more blocks for the contest (9 entries are usually allowed for each participant each month) and I'll probably get around to sewing them together in the next few days. I won the lotto 3 times in the first year or two I'd started contributing, but haven't won in quite a while now (you can see the quilts I made with my winning blocks if you look back to the first entries I made to this blog). But even when I don't win, I don't find it discouraging: I enjoy making the blocks, and I've learned some new techniques from a few of the patterns that have been chosen by Sophie, the amazing block lotto organizer. Also, I've used a lot of scraps from my considerable stash, which is always a great feeling.
Just a note: Block Lotto is an extremely well-organized quilting lottery, and I highly recommend participating in it if you are looking for a high-quality on-line group to join. I've never met Sophie in person, but I have a lot of respect for her administrative and organizational skills and am grateful that she's taken this on!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spotted at a Brooklyn Museum Exhibit about Tepees of the Plains

The gorgeous contemporary quilt was made by Claire Anne Packard (Yankton Dakota--Sicangu Lakota) and won top honors at the 1994 Northern Plains Tribal Arts Show. The quilt is really striking---I'm afraid my snapshot doesn't do the colors justice.
I'm always happy when I find a great quilt in an unexpected place. Today I'd expected to see only tepees and other Native American artifacts and I was lucky enough to see this wonderful quilt!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Elephants on my design wall

I'm trying to figure out how to put my elephant quilt together. I started making the small ones intending to use them as a border around the 9 larger elephants, but I realized pretty quickly that all those extra small elephants were going to make the quilt larger than I wanted it to be. I guess that's the danger of working with elephants! I am making this quilt to hang on a wall at the top of a staircase, and I don't want it to get too large for that space.
This morning I was just struck by the idea of lining up the small elephants I'd already completed and using them within the main body of the quilt. I actually really like this plan, because it makes the quilt a bit more interesting. I always like to include something a little unexpected. It's funny to me that the small elephants are going in one direction, and the large elephants are going the other way. That's a bit how life works sometimes! To be honest, this happened because when I shrank the pattern down to the small size and in order to paper-piece the small elephants, the design, of course, was flipped. It was the happiest of "mistakes" and I decided it was actually coming out just the way I wanted.
Next I will need to experiment with sashing, borders and quilting. I am thinking of throwing in a couple of horizontal strips above and below the band of small elephants. I will give it a try and see how it looks before I make any decisions. I've found with sashing and borders especially that I really need to see what I'm thinking about before I make up my mind. It's amazing how many times I've planned to use one fabric, and then realized at the last minute that a different fabric would be much better.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Modern" clover blocks for April Block Lotto

Just finished these 10 blocks for the monthly block lotto drawing. I have been getting lazy lately, and have only been making 3 or 4 blocks for the lotto each month, rather than the 9 usually permitted, but I decided to go for the maximum number this time around. These little blocks are so sweet I'm thinking about making a few more and creating a small quilt for my dear sister-in-law who is having some health problems. We'll see.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Infinite Variety

I was totally amazed by the exhibition of 650 red-and-white quilts running now inside the Park Avenue armory in Manhattan. All of the quilts being exhibited belong to one collector--Joanna S Rose---and they're being shown for only 6 days. The way the quilts were hung in the cavernous space by the curators from the American Folk Art Museum was almost as interesting as the quilts themselves. They did a fantastic job, and the show was breathtaking! I'm including a few of the many photos I took there to give you an idea, but for a better look go to the Museum's website: