Peace Like A River

May 3, 2015 § 14 Comments


A year and a half ago, Sherri Lynn Wood of Dainty Time sent out a call for folks to test out her improv quilting methods for a future book. Thinking that I might learn something, I signed up. As her book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters hits the shelves this week. I thought I might share my experience in making a test quilt.


The improv methods or techniques that Sherri uses to get you started are called “scores.” Something akin to a musical rhythm or classification like polka or waltz.  Each of the test quilters filled out a questionnaire that included what they felt their current skill level was in terms of improvisational quilt making.  I felt like a beginner, so I was assigned a score that was suitable for beginners.


At the same time that the instructions were being sent for our particular scores, my mother passed away.  And my assignment quickly became a therapeutic outlet for processing my grief.  I’m a little self-conscious about sharing my process because of this.  But, then again, it’s a part of my quilting journey.  While my quilt wasn’t chosen to be included in the book, I would really like to try this score again as well as develop my own version of some of the other scores in Sherri’s book.  Her techniques for creating  improvisational quilts are both directive and freeing.  You’ll have to try one for yourself to experience just what I am talking about.

Below are a few photos that I took as I was making this quilt.  I started with a limited color palette and it quickly morphed into so much more. Maybe too much for this simple score?  My assigned score was called Floating Squares.  Our rules included cutting fabric without rulers. That in itself was hard for me at the beginning. But it got easier as time went on.  You can see more examples of Floating Squares from other test quilters in Sherri’s Floating Squares Flickr gallery.




As I went along cutting and sewing and remembering my mom, the old hymn It Is Well With My Soul kept running through my head.  The first line of the song starts with “when peace, like a river, attendeth my way,”  hence the name of this quilt.  My sewing became more water-like as I went on.  When I shared what I was doing with my dear friend, Letty, she shared a photo that she had taken of rippling water that was so much like the vision for this quilt that it was uncanny.

Lettys River

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Dear Jane, I have been distracted.

April 3, 2015 § 14 Comments


I wish I was a 1 or 2 project-at-a-time kind of gal. But I’m not. There is always another project that draws me away from my current one.  Lately, someone has been pinning lots of Dear Jane quilts on Pinterest which prompted me to take at look at what I’ve got. Only 61 out of 225. Sigh.


I started out pretty strong in the beginning, back in 2010.  It was my original goal to have it done by now. Five years later!  I think the last block I finished was in 2014. But that was the only block made in 2014. And I was using the book as a sort of diary, keeping track of when each block was finished and noting something that was going on in my life at the time.

When I posted the photo above on Instagram this week, we started talking about alternative layouts. So I played around in EQ this morning and drew up a few ideas.


This one uses a contemporary improv style layout and all 61 blocks that I have done. It is tempting to stop with what I have and finish them up!  But it doesn’t stay within my original plan of only a red & white themed quilt.


This one uses 77 blocks and wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to finish.  It’s definitely an option. And I have always loved the various versions of a plus or cross quilt.  Very tempting…


This one uses 116 blocks which makes me approximately 53% finished. This one is tempting because it would give me an opportunity to make a few more of the blocks that make the Dear Jane quilt so unique & interesting. But it also means that I am a LONG ways away from finishing.

I originally started making the Dear Jane quilt with the goal of hand piecing all the blocks to overcome my intimidation of hand work and to improve what little skill I had.  I feel like that original goal has been accomplished. But I also started with the most simplest of blocks. So some of the blocks that make Dear Jane so cool and intriguing have not yet been made. Which calls to me to make a few more blocks!  Oh the dilemma!

Whatever I decide to do (and I could be persuaded in any direction)… At least they look pretty on my wall at the moment.

Modern Building Blocks

February 20, 2015 § 7 Comments


I have become a very lazy blogger. Therefore, I am giving myself a goal to post something at least once a week. Anything! Something!

So…. this is a little bit of the sewing that I have been doing. My local quilt shop is making Moda’s Modern Building Blocks quilt as a block-of-the-month in prints, instead of solids.  And I have been making the sample blocks each month.  I have really been enjoying these blocks! Above is the first four months worth of blocks.  We are breaking each section in half to spread it out over the entire year.

January blocks

January blocks #8, #19, #44 and #12


February blocks #41, #39, #20, #42, #10 and #17

March blocks

March blocks #6 and #5


April block #1


As I have been making these blocks, I’ve decided that it is worth the extra effort to trim off all the points.  It just seems to make them sew together better.  That is a whole topic in itself for another day.  But suffice it to say, that as fussy as it seems, it is worth the effort to cut off those scraggly points.


For the half-square triangles I have been using this 8″ Bias Square ruler. I have no idea when or why I bought this ruler, but it’s in with my basket of other rulers so I may as well use it!  There are lots of other brands that also square up half-square triangle blocks.


And for the points on 90-degree triangles I have have been using the Precision Trimmer that I picked up with my Star of Chamblie kit.  That was going to be my winter project but I haven’t yet had the time or energy to dig into it.  Again, there are lots of rulers out there that trim a variety of points.

So many projects…  I did clean up my sewing room today in anticipation of a little free-motion quilting.  Stay tuned for some finished projects in the near & far future.

Four Friend Challenge

December 19, 2014 § 6 Comments


This fall, four friends got together and challenged each other to use this polka dot fabric below.  We also added that it needed to have an autumn theme.  We finally had the big reveal a couple of weeks ago.


I decided that I had to make something useful. I have enough things in my house that I don’t use and have been trying to get rid of.  So I made a table runner.  But I made it reversible.  Finished with big stitch quilting, the change in the color of thread makes a bright zig zag pattern on the back side.


Here are all of items together at breakfast when we had our big reveal.  A tea cozy, a pillow, my table runner and a coin purse.  It was fun.  I so proud of my friends!


Are you ready for Christmas? I’m just trying to finish knitting a pair of socks for a birthday the day after Christmas.  And even though my hubby & I decided to skip Christmas this year, I did order a little surprise online that I’m waiting for. It may or may not show up for Christmas. No big deal. We can enjoy it in the New Year.  So far, it’s been really good to lay low through the holidays this year.  I’m looking forward to our total disconnect next week.  Pure relaxation.  With the possibility of an Instagram post or two.

Cozy, wooly & perfect

December 9, 2014 § 19 Comments


Hazzah! My tied flannel quilt is done. I feel like I’ve gone backwards in my quilting journey.  But I don’t care. I’ve never done a proper tied quilt before. One night I got a bee in my bonnet and started searching the internet for dark cozy flannels when I stumbled across this kit plus an extra yard of a darker print at Bella Rose Quilt Shop. I didn’t use the pattern but the layer cakes were a great way to get a nice variety of fabric.

It was going to be my Thanksgiving weekend quilt project.  I started the weekend before Thanksgiving. But it took a lot longer to tie all the yarn knots than I thought it would.  Although this was a super easy project, it still takes time! The quilt ended up measuring 90″ x 81″ without a scrap worth saving in the end.


I was inspired by this photo on Flickr.  Though my version took a bit of a turn because of the layer cakes.  I really wanted the ties to be wool yarn so they would felt up into fuzzy balls of yarn after washing.


This is what the yarn looked like before washing.  I used a double strand of yarn to tie a square knot at every corner seam.


And I used up most of my leftover wool batting scraps.  There were four large pieces that I stitched together using a multiple stitch zigzag on my sewing machine.  It is SO warm & cozy.  My hubby loves it! And so do I.


The view from here

October 27, 2014 § 9 Comments




I’ve almost forgotten how to blog, it’s been so long.
The seasons keep changing.
November arrives at the end of this week leaving only two months left of this year.
It has gone by so fast!

A lot seems to have also changed.
My mom passed away last January.
My best friend moved away last month to care for her mother.
I’ve gained new friends that have become so dear so quickly.
The holidays will be different this year.

I’m declaring this last week of October UFO week to try and finish a few projects.
I’m trying to not do much of anything else but the bare minimum so that I can spend maximum time sewing.
It’s only Monday, but at the moment I’m feeling content about it all.

This quilt above was finished a week or so ago.
The blocks were made by the lovely ladies of the Faith Circle of Do.Good.Stitches.
The tutorial for the castle block is over here.
It will be sent to Restore Innocence, an organization that rescues girls from human trafficking.

The binding fabric came from my mom’s stash.
The backing fabric I found on sale at my local Ben Franklin and is quite wild.
I wish I lived somewhere exotic because it felt like this quilt needed to be photographed near a castle or a cathedral or some majestic building.
But I live in a suburb where there are no majestic buildings.
So my shed comes to the rescue again.
And the sun made a short appearance today among the rainy days of the season.

Have a lovely Monday!

Ooops! Where did September go?

September 23, 2014 § 9 Comments


Oops!  Somehow nearly a month has flown by and I haven’t posted anything new on my blog.

And now it is Autumn.  YaY!  Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  But I refuse to think about the fact that the beginning of the crazy “holiday” craze is just another month or so away. With the decorating, the shopping, the cooking.  I’m. Not. Ready.  It all starts to fall apart just after halloween.  No thank you.

But I do love crunchy leaves, fires in the fireplace, soups on the stove.  Sign me up for that!  I’m ready.


Based on the fact that I don’t really have anything to show for the month of September, this is the only news I could scrounge up for you.  I had a few of those mini charm packs, the 2 1/2″ square ones, sitting in my stash. Taking up space.  But I don’t NEED another project.  But I did need some mindless sewing. So I cut up some white & cream 2 1/2″ squares to sew them into 4-patches.

Then I got to thinking about what to do with the 4-patches once they are finished. They’re not finished yet.  But maybe they need to become something like this?  I was teaching a Liberated Sewing class yesterday and one of the students had a really cool cheddar colored fabric. You know, the Civil War cheddar color.  So I dug out a fat quarter just to see how they might look.


And then I quickly drew up a semi-plan in Electric Quilt.  Hmmm….  maybe.  We shall see.

And while we are talking about EQ, did you you know about the Random Recolor tool?  You have to go find it and add it to the tool bar.

Right click on that ziggy bar just below the arrow at the bottom of the quilt worktable tool bar on the right and select Add/Remove Buttons.  Click on the one that looks like a star on a magic wand. That’s the Random Recolor tool.  From there, you can select how you want to recolor your quilt in the pop up dialog box. And then click on the quilt to activate the recoloring.

I colored my quilt in solids and then chose the “Map to fabrics” option to recolor it.  You could do the opposite and go from fabrics to solid colors.  Or you could choose a shift in the hue, saturation or brightness to change the overall color theme. It’s quite fun to play around with recoloring your quilt and see what the program comes up with.


Well, that’s all I have for you today. But I realized that I never finished my summer Piecing 101 series. And now summer is over. I’d best work on finishing those psots!  Up next will be matching points. Just as soon as I can get a pointy block or two together to show you.

Happy Autumn!

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