thoughts on the snake trail quilt


I’ve mentioned previously that I have taken on Denyse Schmidt’s snake trail quilt pattern as a long term project.  I thought I’d share my thoughts on the process so far. I am really enjoying making this quilt.

-I don’t intend to sound negative right off the bat, but I think I’ve found some errata with the pattern pieces.  As far as I can tell, pattern pieces A and B are supposed to vary slightly, but I have discovered that they are exactly the same.  This is slightly frustrating because I was keeping track of the B pattern pieces I had cut and was making sure that I was only sewing them onto the ends of the arcs, as the pattern instructs.  In a word, I was wasting time organizing pieces of fabric.  Boo.  I have since emailed the publisher and author for clarification and will report back if I hear back from them.  I am discovering that the pattern is working out fine without the slightly altered B piece, so I’m not really concerned.

-I am hand- and machine- piecing this quilt.  I have cut thin strips of fabric to use as a guide for my seam allowance when I am hand-piecing.   These thin strips of fabric are the exact same width of the seam allowance that is created when I use the quarter inch foot on my machine.  I’ve discovered that my quarter inch foot sews a generous quarter inch seam, rather than the typically recommended scant quarter inch seam.  The small strips of fabric ensure that my seam allowances are uniform, whether I am hand- or machine- piecing.

-Because my seam allowance is wider than it probably should be, I am piecing eight A pieces into my arcs, rather than 7, which is called for in the pattern.  I like having the extra wiggle room and am able to cut any excess down to size once the block has been assembled.

-I had plexi-templates of the pattern pieces made by this Etsy shop, which was recommended to my by a friend who posts the most beautiful quilts on flickr.  Many of you will know her as jwc.  The templates have made cutting fabric quicker and easier and have been a huge help with fussy-cutting.  Also,  I can tell that the A and B pattern pieces are identical when I stack the templates on top of each other.

-Sewing the scrappy arcs onto the background pieces has been easier than I had thought.  It is really important to line things up from the center, as the pattern instructs.  Sometimes I pin the curves, sometimes I don’t. I don’ think one way is easier or saves more time than the other way.

-I’m pretty sure that I am going to have to cut down my blocks to significantly smaller than the 12″ squares the pattern calls for.  I don’t think this is a flaw of the pattern.  I think it’s because my seam allowance is a tad wider than it should be. Still, I think it would be great if quilt patterns gave you a half inch of wiggle room for trimming blocks.  I sort of wish I had enlarged the pattern pieces a tiny bit when I ordered the templates to allow for this.  Live and learn, right?

I really love this quilt.  It’s going to take me good amount of time to finish, but it’s going to be gorgeous!


slowly but surely…

breakfast mess  fave block 2nd fave block pattern emerges

…I am building a snake trail* quilt.  This hand-stitching** project is serving as an excellent reminder that, in my fairly busy*** life, I actually have quite a few small pockets of down time.


*This is a pattern from Denyse Schmidt’s latest book.  I’m ALMOST completely sticking to the pattern, which is uncharacteristic — and really nice for a change.  I’ll write more on the process soon.

**I started this as a hand-piecing project, but when I do find time to use my sewing machine, I go for it.

***When I say “busy,” I mean “full.”  An abundance of good things.  I am SO grateful for that.

totally doing this


I just love this idea.  Details here.  Check out what people are making in the flickr group here. Or search #tobostonwithlove @ Instagram.

In addition, the Boston Modern Quilt Guild has embarked on a quilt-making project.  Another excellent way to use your talent and help. You can find that information on their website.

snake trail beginnings

I’ve begun a new, long-term quilt project. I am using the snake trail pattern from Denyse Schmidt’s newest book–but I won’t use the layout of the quilt that is pictured in the book. {I like the version that is more curvy and winds around.} It will be a full sized quilt for our guest room. My motivation was to have an always-available hand-stitching project at the ready, but I’m reserving the right to use my machine to stitch as well. I’m going to use all of my favorite bits of fabric — it’s going to be fussy-cut heaven. My initial fabric pull could only have been influenced by Jolene {Blue Elephant Stitches} and her amazing single girl quilt. I’m going to try to blog my way through the process of making this one and share my thoughts as I work.

In other news, I’ve finally joined up on twitter and instagram. I am always hesitant to add another social networking venue to my repertoire {which is why I am several years late to the game on this!}, but I’ve finally made the plunge. Honestly, I haven’t posted anything particularly interesting at either spot, aside from my ridiculous obsession over Friday Night Lights {again, several years late to the game}.  I’m feeling kind of shy about it all. I’m @applecydermill at both places.

brrr! winner

The random number generator chose #32 Katy to be the winner of the the Brrr! fat quarter pack.  Congrats Katy!  You are going to love it.  I will send you an email soon.

I managed to sneak a little bit of Brrr! into some of these quilt blocks I made for a new virtual quilting bee I joined recently.  I’ve resisted joining a bee for at least four years, but I made the leap and it is turning out to be so much fun.  By coincidence, Katy is a member of this bee, although the blocks pictured were made for another member of our six-quilter group.

another round

The medallion quilt I am making with a friend is growing!  I made the center block and my project partner added the sweet, traditional border.  Wouldn’t this make a great pillow, as is?  I am feeling a little hesitant because my instincts are telling me that the next round of blocks should be of a more complicated nature and I am afraid I might muck up the simplicity of the quilt as it stands now. At first I was considering making a bunch of sawtooth stars, but I think a border of friendship stars might do the trick.   Rows of equilateral triangles could be fun too, but at the moment I feel like making some fun, fussy cut stars–see photo below.  I’ll post again after I’ve made some progress.

I also thought I mention that Kelly has a baby quilt in her etsy shop right now that is simple and stunning and uses this Heather Ross Mendocino fabric line in a wonderful way.  If you are in the market for a unique baby gift, this would be perfect. {She’s not charging enough for it, so snatch it up quickly if you think you’d like to have it!}

something for me

I thought I’d share a project I am currently working on that is something I am making for myself.  Block-by-block, I have been building a lap-sized postage stamp quilt that will house a gazillion prints I love.  Once it is finished, it will sit in a basket in our livingroom, ready and waiting for me to use whenever I’m sitting on the couch. {I had considered making it large enough to use on our queen sized bed, but I’ve decided that I will enjoy it more if it is used in this way.}  I started by cutting a bunch of 2.5″ squares out of my scraps.  Once I made blocks with that pile, I set up a few swaps with some flickr friends and have been making blocks from squares that they have sent me. I’ve since received donations from other friends as well.  I’ve also linked into a scrapbuster swap group that will allow me to swap blocks I’ve made for ones made by other crafters. It will be fun to see the variety of blocks that will result.

The beauty of this project is its simplicity. There is no color scheme and there is certainly no real plan. I just grab a handful of squares and arrange them in a manner that is pleasing to me. When I have time to pull out my sewing machine, I mindlessly chain piece them together. I can sew a block in fifteen minutes.  The process is freeing.

Of the many projects {five, I think, which is A LOT for me!} I have going currently, this one is my favorite by far. What began as an attempt to catalog a countless number of fabric bits that I adore has now become a testament to how generous and friendly this online community of crafters truly is. Most of the time, as I piece together these small bits of fabric, I am not thinking about anything in particular. That is the beauty of this basic, almost rhythmic task. But there are times when I think about the countless kind, generous people I have met through this online platform and how much their friendship, advice, and camaraderie has influenced the things that I make. I get really excited thinking about the final product. It’s going to be such a great quilt!

ETA: I am very lucky in that I now have all the scrappy 2.5″ squares I need to make this quilt. For the time being, I won’t be setting up any more swaps. 

long distance quilting

A friend and I have decided to make a medallion quilt together and I am so excited about it.  We have chosen a stack of fabric that we will use and I made the starter block, which is pictured above.  I sent this off to her and now it is her turn to add a border around it.  Once she is finished, she will mail it back to me and I will add another border. And then, I will send the growing quilt top back to her.  And so on and so on.  There are no design restrictions-other than that we are using the same set of fabrics.  We will sew whatever types of blocks strike our fancy.  We don’t have a set final size in mind either. I suppose we will just continue with the project until it feels right to stop. We aren’t going to share our design ideas while we are working on our borders because we want to be surprised when we open the package after each iteration.  I’m hoping to document our progress here as we go.  This one is going to be so much fun!

getting scrappy

I’ve just realized that I don’t have any strict upcoming sewing deadlines. This is a good thing, of course.  I plan to make a twin sized quilt for my daughter, but that is a long term project that won’t be rushed.  {I think I’ve decided on making her a very scrappy equilateral triangle quilt.} I also have two lap sized patchwork blankets that need to be finished. They were made in collaboration with my son and a friend of his and have been languishing for a while now.  It’s time to finish them up. But otherwise, the field is wide open and I’m pretty excited about that.

When I don’t have a strong feeling about what I want to make next, I  go straight to my scrap boxes and just start sewing stuff together. I will try a paper pieced quilt block I’ve been curious about or a brilliant new-to-me technique for sewing together half square triangles, for example. Usually, one thing leads to another and I stumble upon my next project.

Because I find so much inspiration by working with scraps, I like to keep them fairly well organized.  One of my go-to activities is sorting and cutting my scraps.  I use templates to cut them into 2.5 inch and 4.5 inch squares and also make piles of long strips and shorter bits. Sometimes I just need to connect with my craft, even for just a short bit of time.

{“Connect with my craft” sounds pretty dramatic. I am chuckling at myself right now but am going to let it stand.}

scrap management + a plan

This is block 58 of my 60 Blocks of Summer challenge.  It is made up entirely of 2.5″ scraps. This, and another block made up of lighter value scraps, came about as a result of a recent effort to get my scraps under control.  After reviewing the mammoth pile, I decided that I would like to make two different quilts for our home.  One will be all dark value prints; the other will be lighter colors.  Both quilts will be made up of 2.5″ squares like the ones in the block pictured above.  I could see them ending up as a pair of throw-sized quilts for our living room.  But they could also end up bed sized – one for my husband and I and the other for our little girl.  These will be very long term projects because the goal is to use only scraps. I don’t normally like to have a million works-in-progress, but I am thinking of these two quilts as an efficient way to manage my scraps. {So, I am OK with it.}

As I was making these two simple blocks, I was thinking about two things.  The first is how I’ve come to realize that I really love sewing simple squares together.  There are a million beautiful shapes you can use to create gorgeous quilts, but I truly like to use a plain-old-square the best. My other thoughts centered on the many projects that I’ve sewn that have helped create these scraps.  If you would like to see notes on the original projects from which the scraps originated, click over to this photo and scroll over to read the notes. It’s a mini stroll down memory lane for me. If you’ve been following this blog long enough, it might prove to be the same for you.