9646350884_f66d517765_z 9646351064_d55104381c_z  9646355988_b73305a8bb_z 9643115217_7c224bfa49_z9646351918_ac8ef00c23_z

I have a friend who made a very difficult decision to brave a very risky surgery, and very much triumphed in the end.  At the beginning of her medical journey, I knew I wanted to make her something that would brighten up her hospital room.  Since I “didn’t have time” to make a whole quilt, I decided on a pillow.  I took a couple of arcs that were originally intended for my snake trail quilt, and appliqued them to an out-of-print Echino fabric that I adore. Once I sent her the pillow, I realized that I needed to make her a quilt. I asked her about her favorite color and got to work cutting up all of my most favorite orange prints.  Somehow I found the time to put it all together.  Funny how that works.


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!

quick-ish gifts and fabric love

noodlehead and wisbrun1noodlehead and wisbrun2

I must be getting quicker at this pattern because I sewed six of them assembly-line style and didn’t get stressed out.  This is the famous and forever fabulous Open Wide Zipper Pouch that is offered as a free tutorial on Anna’s beautiful Noodlehead blog.  This is the medium size.  I think they make great cosmetic and project bags.  But really, they are great anything that needs containing. The fabric I used is from Melody Miller {retro look} and Anna Maria Horner {feathers}.

noodlehead and wisbrun3

I feel like the luckiest blogger in the world because on of my most favorite fabric designers ever, Laurie Wisbrun, sent me a very kind preview of one of her latest lines for Robert Kaufman.  It’s called Table Talk and it ships late summer.  Check out what Laurie is making with it.  I am completely smitten with the mix of color it presents. I have lots of plans for this grouping of beauties. The first thing I will do is fussy-cut little bits to add to my snake trail quilt.  Then, my four year old has order a dress made of the top print.  {I was pushing for the rolling pin/whisk print in the purple color-way, but my tiny baker has spoken assertively and that’s that.}  I also have this idea that I will make a bunch of simple potholders that I can have on hand as hostess gifts for when we go to parties and BBQ’s this summer.  Or, if we host a party this year, hand them out as parting gifts.  Confession:  sometimes when we are invited to parties, I consider asking the hostess if I can sew them something rather than bring food.  I never do it because I feel like I’m trying to get out of cooking, but maybe I should try it sometime. Happy summer!

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.

finished flags

all flags

I finished my To Boston with Love flags and have popped them in the mail. They will be displayed with hundreds of others at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston over the course of their Free Memorial Day Community Weekend.  What a perfect venue for such a fun and thoughtful project. It’s going to be a spectacular exhibit of support  {and awesome craftiness} from all corners of the world.

flag making progress

zakim citgo sign photo

I’ve started making a few To Boston With Love flags. The deadline has been bumped up to May 21 so that flags can be displayed at a {not yet announced} prestigious Boston institution for Memorial Day.

The flag pictured on top is a copy of a design of the Zakim Bridge originally created by the very talented South End Textiles.  {Don’t blame me if you click on that link and end up shopping! They have great stuff.} The bottom flag is my paper-pieced rendition of our city’s beloved Citgo sign. These are such quick, instant-gratification projects.  I’m excited to see the whole lot of them–from all over the world– once they are displayed.

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.

wondering about workshops

My local library asked me if I would organize a hands-on quilting workshop that would be open to the public.  I accepted the invitation immediately because I love the idea of getting more people excited about sewing .  I did a good amount of public speaking when I worked abroad, so I’m not nervous about getting up in front of a group of people I don’t know.  But it did occur to me just now that there is one big gap in my credentials.  I have never led a quilting workshop before, nor  have I ever participated in one. Hrmmm.  To loosely quote a new knitting friend: I believe in the endless powers of google and coffee to figure most things out.  Beyond the basic foundations of sewing that my mom provided when I was young, I am largely self-taught.  {Or shall I say internet-taught?}

I wondered if anyone who has either led or participated in such an event would be willing to offer any advice?  Format, length, logistics etc? Things you like/dislike about workshops? The event will take place on a weekday evening.  We will have a good number of sewing machines available for use.  I don’t want to do a ton of talking because I’d rather dive right into the making.   I imagine I would do a brief introduction with visuals {Pecha Kucha style?} then get people started on sewing a few very basic blocks, like rail fence or maybe log cabin.  I thought it might be both fun and convenient to skip the rotary cutting.  We could simply use scissors or tear fabric.  {The added bonus would be that I wouldn’t have to worry about finding the time and space to use rotary mats and cutters.} By the end of the class, everyone will have had the chance to create a little bit of patchwork.  If the workshop goes well and there is demand for a follow-up session, I could potentially organize another one to cover other important aspects of the craft.

Any advice? I’m all ears!  Thanks in advance.

thoughts on motivation

This post by Chawne spurred some thinking about the types of quilts I most enjoy creating–the ones that give me that “rush to finish” feeling.  I’ve come to realize that I am happiest making quilts that are my own design.  Inspiration hits and I just go for it.  There is no pattern to follow.  Its just me, my ideas, and a desire to work with fabric until I make whatever it is I am hoping to make.  I love the feeling of not knowing exactly how the finished product will turn out, but trusting my design sense and technical skills enough to know that I will make something beautiful, or practical, or comforting {or whatever it is I hope to accomplish.} I also like making heartfelt gifts that are motivated by the prospect of giving a little bit of handmade beauty to someone who is important to me.  My goal is to make something that the recipient will love.  I try to figure out their style, their tastes, their favorite colors, etc.  This type of project can feel a lot more like work because its more about the end game than the creative process.  I still find great satisfaction in it, nonetheless.

As I was trying to coming up with ideas for the quilt that is pictured above, I endeavored to combine these two types of quilts:  heartfelt gift and original design.  I wanted to make a gift for a friend that she would love, but I also wanted to throughly enjoy the process of creating it.   I am pretty sure I didn’t even include her favorite color {purple?}, but I know that it is well-constructed, one-of-a-kind,  and will keep her warm. Its an added bonus if she thinks its beautiful, right?

Enough of the introspective naval gazing. Here are some details.  I was originally inspired by this piece of artwork by Mia Christopher, but I went in a totally different direction color-wise and skipped the rounded corners. I didn’t use a rotary cutter while I made this quilt; I tore the fabric strips instead.  The “organic” grid quilting was inspired by this awesome quilt.   I backed it in flannel and bound it {with the same flannel} using Sherri Lynn Wood’s fantastic invisible binding tutorial. I machine-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt for.the.first.time.ever because I knew that the stitching would blend with the quilting on the front. It went really quickly and makes the finish product a lot sturdier than if you hand-stitch.  I always forget to measure my quilts but my guess is that it is about 60″ x 75″ in size. I like to make sure that my friends will be able to cover their bodies entirely and wrap their quilts around their feet when they are snuggled up on the couch.

Now, I am curious.  What motivates your making?  What types of projects do you love to create the most and why?  Let me know if you have a minute.

low volume quilt

My friend Jenny and I made this quilt together.  We chose a very simple pattern {rail fence} and a color scheme {low volume} that was easy to pull from our stashes.  I think it took Jenny all of two days to sew her 16 blocks, assemble the gorgeous backing fabric, and mail it all off to me.  Super speedy!  Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service did not follow her lead.  Those gorgeous quilt blocks traveled to Massachusetts from Indiana via Florida and New Hampshire.  It doesn’t take a geography whiz to figure out that’s not the most efficient route.

But arrive they did, and a collaborative quilt was born.  I did my usual safe and steady straight-line quilting and finished it off with a scrappy binding made of matching low volume prints.  Jenny and I used a collection of some of our most beloved prints for this one. {Not that it really matters but the photo above of the whole quilt is driving me nuts because the colors are off.  I really had a tough time photographing this one!}

This is the softest, prettiest quilt I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting together. It was such a wonderful group project. It makes me feel so grateful for the internet and the generous, collaborative community it fosters.  XOXO.