Never Judge a Quilt by It’s Fabric

It’s been a while since my last entry into a Quilt Challenge, and this one was something that called to me. My local quilt Shop, Quilting Away in Amherst NH was hosting it’s annual challenge, and I wanted to participate. The shopowner selects one fabric, and it’s a kind of quilter’s choice as to how to use it. The quilts are then hung in the shop for a month, and shoppers (and shop hoppers!) are encouraged to vote for Viewers Choice. I always love these kinds of challenges…it seems to me that no two quilters ever see a fabric the same way. The featured Image is the challenge fabric.

Challenge was a good word for it – to me it was a beautiful palette of colors, well balanced, with some beautiful motifs contained within it. And a ton of geometric lines which would be a ‘challenge’ to put into a traditional block. This one had to marinate for a while on my design wall until I came up with a plan. Knowing me, if you thought there was a deadline involved, you’d be right! Normally, when I do a challenge – I take the basic fabric and add to it. Not this time.

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My 5 senses in quilting – are they changing?

How my day starts

I have been thinking lately about the progress I’ve made in my quilting journey. In some areas, it’s not as pronounced – but in some areas, it’s something that even I can see. Everyone’s journey is different, and progress is sometimes (often times) a factor of the time one puts into working on their craft. At other times, it’s a function of what gifts Mother Nature in her infinite wisdom (?) bestows on us, and how graciously, we accept her gifts. They can’t be regifted or exchanged, but how we incorporate that new reality can make a world of difference in our daily living schedule.

Most people would associate sight (and I will get to that in a moment) as our primary ‘sense’ used in quiltmaking…but in fact each of the five senses is used in our craft if you think about it. The sense of touch is something that I associate with the soft, smooth feel of a really good quality cotton (or even flannel), where you just want to ‘pet’ the fabric or run your hands over it. That sensation is fed by the quality of the greige goods that are used in production. if it feels good on the bolt, won’t it feel good on a cold night to snuggle under? I know that I’ve had the chance to run my hands over rougher quality cottons – and the label may say 100% cotton, but I go with how the fabric feels.

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Looking for Quilting Inspiration on the road

Shot of Lime Greem

If you had been watching my Facebook or Instagram feeds last week, you would have seen a series of photos post, seemingly random, all with the hashtag theme #inspirationiseverywhere. And I believe it is, but the truth is that those photos weren’t nearly as random as they seemed, and they’re a good jumping off point for this week’s blogpost.

I was traveling with my husband, and when I do that, I don’t post that we’re out and about until we’re home. There’s no sense in tempting fate. The photos actually have a theme to them – they come from hotels we have found along the way. Would you believe that the photo above is a shower curtain from LaQuinta hotels – I’ve actually seen it twice – once in RI, and this past week in North Carolina.

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It’s the start of my quilting year…

When the calendar changed last month, I had a faint sense of welcoming from my days as a mom with kids in the house. I loved back to school time, My kids are now grown with kids of their own, but the sweet days of September still leave me with a faint sense of new beginnings. Cooler temperatures (that’s supposed to be the case!), new notebooks, new shoes, a clean slate for projects which have been dormant too long. September this year brought me a LOT of engagements to work through, and now I’m looking at a desk full of things which need to get done. That’s a good thing.

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September Color Challenge – Lilac/Lavender (or Violet?)

Monthly Color Challenge – September

Happy September – I can’t believe we’re here already. I’m happy to be back participating in Patterns by Jen‘s Monthly Color Challenge again…this time for the Lilac/Lavender color for September. Truthfully, I’m also thinking of it as Violet – but that’s mostly because I’m a fan of the Dowager and the Downton Abbey movie due out shortly. If you haven’t seen my May entry into the challenge, you can see it by linking here.

This color challenge is one that Jen is running throughout this year so that we can both explore color and learn new blocks. As you’re reading my blog post on this, you can also find the other bloggers for this month here:

Jen Shaffer – Patterns by Jen

Joanne Harris – Quilts by Joann

Maryellen McAuliffe – Mary Mack’s Blog

Sarah Myers – The Quilted Diary

This color isn’t one that I usually work with – and obviously, I need to change that! – but I started by going through my stash and pulling out two versions of that color – a light and a dark.

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Reveal – Ringo Lake Renovation

Ringo Lake Renovation

This is the story of a quilt whose story I began almost two years ago, but the story isn’t over yet. This is a sort of ‘You get to pick the ending on this one…. this fall, in Houston (or online!). This is the story of the quilt I’ve donated to the Ovarian Cancer Quilt Project, the proceeds of which help to fund the Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

In 2017, the auction helped to raise over $52,000 to help fund the fight for a cure for Ovatian Cancer, and I (along with my partner in this project, Cheryl Szynkowski) have been pleased to participate again this year. The online auction will be held from October 23rd to Nov 6 this year, and I hope that we exceed the 2017 numbers – the mission hasn’t been accomplished yet.

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Safeguarding Our Quilts – A New Look at Best Practices ( 2 of 2)

Last week, I talked about the importance (for both safety and documentation) of putting a label on your quilts, and shared how I’ve recently updated how I do mine. In today’s post, I’m going to show you how I add watermarks to my photos – for free – and walk you through the process on a step by step basis. This is an update of a tutorial which I had originally done in 2015. As of this date (Aug 2019), I’m not receiving any compensation for this tutorial from the company.

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Safeguarding our Quilts – a New Look at Best Practices (1 of 2)

Today’s blog post is the first in a two part series about safeguarding quilts – today’s blog will cover the physical quilt, and the second will talk about the electronic image of your work. One of the things that I have been diligent about over the years is putting labels on my work…but recent events have had me rethinking how I place them

I’ve had a couple of stories about stolen quilts cross my newsfeed recently – alas, they are becoming more and more prevalent. Quilters have long known about the Lost and found quilt page, but in the past month or so alone, I read about the Quilts taken off the porch at a shop in Minnesota, and then another story about a Dream Big panel taken from a shop in Oregon. Any quilt stolen is heartbreaking, and it does seem to be a sign a the times, unfortunately. A label is no guarantee, but it does offer some peace of mind.

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Room Organization – better, but not yet done!

The saga continues (but you knew that, if you’re a longtime reader of the blog. Part one of this series can be found here, and deals with getting my fabric organization under control…or did it?

I have always maintained that organizing a space is a highly personal endeavor, and what works for me won’t work for you. It also evolves as you move through your quilting journey. In my case, this time I’m making changes that align with my quilting goals, and makes it easier to work in my space. There’s still 5 months to go in the year, and things that I want to accomplish along the way.

First off, I want to explore more ways in which my Cricut Maker can help me cut out projects more efficiently. That was hard to do when it was in a bag, on a shelf…in my sewing world, I like things to be easily accessible so that I can work with them. My cutting table is actually 2 base cabinets which have an oversized counter top on them…it’s slightly over 4 and a half feet in length, and the perfect height for me to cut with…and the perfect size for my room. The Maker’s footprint is slim, and it now sits on the edge (near the wall), plugged in and waiting. The drawer beneath it holds accessories needed, and the door space below that holds my cutting mats. I love using vertical storage space…

A proper workstation…easy to access, and to use.

The next space I tackled also deals with the cutting table…of sorts. I usually have a pressing station on the right hand side of the counter, and move it when I need to. One of my frustrations was not being able to locate a good spot for my Martelli rotary cutting mat…it simply took up too much space (or maybe it was the shape) on the counter, and if I put it away, underneath, I usually couldn’t be bothered to get it out. Then this solution appeared to me one night…and it’s a winner.

My cart tucks unter the overhang of the countertop, and provides a great solution for my Martelli round mat and pressing station, which I covered.

Another problem solved, and truthfully – a great solution for the wool pressing mat that’s a new addition…it just lays on top.

One of my goals for the year is to become better at my free motion quilting…and we all know that there is only one way to do that…practice, lots of practice. Funny thing, my pieces to be quilted – and the practice sandwiches – needed to be corraled and located next to my machine for easy use. They also needed to be put onto my calendar so that as I look at a month ahead, I can see consistent practice time in my planner. I TOLD you there was a shift coming on.

More sandwiches than a school field day…and Ribbon Candy as well!

This bag is a great shape…it sits on top of my sewing machine bag right between my sewing station and my desk. Perfect height, and the perfect place to keep things corralled. I’ve had problems with muscle memory for my ribbon candy pieces…and I found a solution for that as well…there’s a stencil for that!

Now, onto two areas which I haven’t resolved yet…but which are on the calendar for August. This August. The first is what’s probably the root cause of clutter in the sewing space…I’ve cleaned around it, I’ve moved it, I’ve shoved it in bins, buried it in a closet…I’ve done everything but deal with it. Batting scraps…just thinking about it makes me feel icky. But I’ve also put it on the calendar, and I’ve come up with a plan to deal with it. I’m too frugal to toss it (tempting as that might be)…it’s time.

Batting scraps – it’s time to deal with you. I’m done.

And finally, something that will bring this full circle. More fabric scraps that need to be dealt with. Does it ever end…yes, this month it does. This is the pile of miscellaneous fabric that I’m tired of tripping over…in a laundry hamper, of all things. It’s amazing how long I can put things off. But this month, I’m determined to go through it, and get it under control. I have time, a plan, several patterns, and a need to work through this. And if you’re in the market for scraps, let me know…I can hook you up.


If you get a bigger bin, you can hide more scraps. Time to deal.

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Organizing My Quilting Space – Again!

I can’t tell you exactly what kicked off my latest frenzy of sewing room organization, but this one is different. If you read my blog post from late February titled My Quilting Room sparks Joy, you should have set an egg timer on this. Or bought a lottery ticket and waited. In my defense, that post dealt with my methods of sorting and organizing my thread collection. It’s funny how I never mentioned fabric – or heaven forbid, my scraps!

I recently finished up two major scrap based projects, and that meant that I needed to put the leftovers back into my stash. I’ve often thought of my sewing space being organized, but when it came time to attempt this – which admittedly doesn’t happen very often, I found myself very frustrated…where did it belong? The pieces which were regular cuts – yards and fat quarters, which is pretty much what I buy – were easy. Once I put those back in the shelves, I was left with one big pile of ugly to deal with.

My scrap system is small (I’ll come back to that in a minute). I have a finite amount of space to work with, and I’ve made it a minor obsession with trying to organize it – which can also be quilter’s code for keep it out of sight and out of mind. I don’t have enough space to keep the fabric in plastic drawers, but I do have an over the door shoe organizer in the closet. It’s incredibly handy, and keeps fabric at eye level…but the before picture above shows what it can look like after a year of working with it.

It was clearly time for some maintenance, and to ponder the question of how much fabric can I realistically deal with. The Maintenance was in fact pretty easy…go through each of the pockets (which are supposed to be organized by color, and take out any fabric which isn’t in the right pocket, then take the largest piece in the packet and roll the smaller pieces within it.

Turquoise scraps
The inside of the turquoise packet.

Repeat until you run out of fabric, or pockets…in my case, I didn’t run out of pockets, but found I had some extra spaces to fill, which allowed me to find room for some interesting finds that I unearthed along the way.

Where did all these bindings come from?

This was the largest surprise of things I found along the way…I don’t recognize or remember making a majority of these bindings. And as far as I know, I don’t make random bindings – I tend to make them and keep them in the project box until needed…so who made these? And why – I made a quick inventory of my UFOs, and no, I’m not missing any bindings. I see an interesting improv project in my future.

Other interesting finds in those pockets included a couple of UFO projects to add to that group of projects. The binding stash was the biggest surprise…I’ma bit embarrassed about that.

So, a reasonable question to ask would be – is this all the scraps you have? Not by a country mile…I also have a big, unsorted bin if scraps that haven’t made it into the shoe system yet…and a deadline coming up. By the end of the summer, I’ll be able to report back on that.

This cleaning cycle is an ongoing project here, and next week, I’ll give you some insight into the other areas that I am dealing with, and some solutions which have presented themselves in the process. As I said before, this cycle is different.

Thanks for reading, and leave me a comment below as to how you deal with scraps – sooner or later, we all have to.

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