Thursday, October 20, 2016

TGIFF: A finished BOM sampler

Welcome!  I'm Alla, and I'm so glad you are visiting.  I have been blogging about my creative passions since 2011; these days, it's pretty much all about the quilting.

Today's finish is a sampler quilt made from black-white-and-bright BOM blocks.  I hosted/taught this BOM last year (September 2015 - August 2016), and made a commitment to the students to stitch it up as soon as I could.

New skills for me:

Wonky/twisted setting for blocks (based on tutorial found at; click ahead to step 3).

Placing blocks in a non-grid pattern, which involved partial seams everywhere.

Curved piecing on some flying geese in the background (learning about/practicing my curves in this year's BOM).

Quick shot of the reverse, a giant B&W print from the stash of amazing art quilter Jonathan Shannon.

Not sure if the fabrics and the setting managed to break this traditionally-pieced sampler out of its stuffy past, but I like to think that 12-inch star blocks can aspire to a modern sensibility.

Thanks for reading about my quilt!

Now it's your turn:  Link up those fabulous finishes here and don't forget to stop by some of the other finishes--leave them some comment love! Grab the TGIFF button and link back to this post, so your  visitors can see other dynamite finishes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I Hava Design Wall!!!

Yep, I hava design wall, and I'm pretty chuffed!
All last night I was singing, in my best Jo Anne Worley warble, about the virtues and wonders of this new development in my sewing space.

Not familiar with Jo Anne Worley? (Such a shame, youngsters)

(If for some reason the video doesn't play, I got it here on Youtube.)

Design wall specifics: two 4 foot x 8 foot pieces of rigid foam insulation, found at my local big-box lumber and building supply store. One side is a silvery mylar, one side is a white plastic; the "foam" looks like a styrofoam product to my untrained eye.

I covered the whole thing with 1 2/3 yards (8 feet) of polyester batting, from the roll at the quilt shop.

Held up very cleverly with blue painter's tape; and by being wedged between the floor and ceiling.

And on the design wall today?  A little ol' table runner whose borders need some help. 

(I am aware that 64 square feet of design wall is a tiny bit of overkill for a table runner.  But I will use its lovely, ginormous surface soon, I promise.)

This table runner is made from three blocks out of last year's black-white-and-bright Block of the Month.  I threw it together quickly, to show students an idea of how to use some of their blocks.  I also wanted to try out a border idea that I had previewed in 2014--also on a black-and-white quilt.


 Upon further review, I was left feeling that my version of the border--which I made narrower due to the size of a table runner vs. a full quilt--was just too darn loud.  The black-and-white fabrics I used did not allow for good viewing of the piecing.  Plus, they shouted down the lovely blocks in the center.  Not good at all.

So, there you have it: a large canvas to give perspective to noisy borders.  I'll be replacing some of the fabrics to try and calm things down a bit.

In other news... I will be hosting TGIFF this week.  More super excitement brewing!

If you have a FINISH, please come back and join the party on Friday this week.  I love to celebrate finishes!!
3rd of July wedding = awesome photographs

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Special Stocking

One of my goals for September--Memento Stocking--finished!

Last seen during fabric auditions. I showed some of my color ideas to the recipient, and she gave me carte blanche.  As long as I used the pocket and name tape from the uniform of the Marine being honored, she had no opinion about the rest--yay, who doesn't love picking fabrics?

This stocking was made using my tutorial. I have had a great time personalizing each stocking I make for a specific recipient, and using special, meaningful materials.

I used part of a sleeve from the uniform to make a bias strip for the toe detail.  I also added batting to the cuff to make it feel more substantial.

Name obscured for the family’s sake
I felt so very honored to make an item that will remind the family of their fallen loved one.

Linking up with Finish it Up Friday, hosted this week by Sarah at Georgia Girl Quilts.  Happy to have a finish(!) and to check out marvelous, motivating work by others.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Who Do I Blog For?

It occurs to me that blogging has not happened lately.  I apologize if any of my regular readers have missed this. I've been writing in my journal--not regularly, don't think I'm "cheating" by putting all of my thoughts in writing elsewhere--but I think this places some of my blogging energy on paper, rather than the digital sphere.

What I have not done is replace my blog with an Instagram feed of things I am working on.  Even if I manage to post some fabricky porn on Instagram, it will never fill my need to process and share via the written word.  That's kinda always been my thing; not gonna change that mode as long as I have the ability to write...

So, I'm pondering again who it is that I blog for: is it just for me?  Do I want lots of followers?  Will better blogging lead me to fame and fortune as a small business person?  (If my small business dreams ever get out of the micro-business realm.)  And overall--if I have all these ideas for blog posts floating around in my head (and I DO), why can't I just stick to some sort of schedule and release them into the world like a normal blogger?

Things I have read lately about blogging

Inspire to Thrive: surefire ways to succeed in social media
Just read a piece from them on why your business needs a Facebook page (um, can't say I'll get right on that, but it's probably a good idea I will want to implement. Soon, maybe.)
Coincidentally, the most recent post is titled "What Happened to Blogging and Having a Great Blog?"

Basic Blog Tips: helping you build a better blog
Just their post headlines make me want to read more "what's a landing page and why should I make one for my blog" "why your email open rates have taken a nosedive" "using comments to boost your own blog's traffic"

But then again, I ask myself if my purpose is to build a great blog, or just be my messy, authentic self online.  Who has time to curate their persona?  Not me, obviously; I can't even write a blog post every week.

Thoughts?  Authenticity vs. branding?  And how often should I push myself to Just Post Something (Anything) Already?!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Goals for August

Oops...make that Goals for September (already?!)

Haven't put any of my sewing goals in writing recently.  And yet, setting goals really is helpful for my internal compass, which tends to get knocked about by all the ideas floating around--the shop, the blogiverse, my friends, the Facebook.

External Deadlines

1.  Memento Stocking for the family of a U.S. Marine
Fabric auditions for another Memento Stocking
2.  Make step-outs for teaching Circles BOM (for September and October classes).
3.  Finish sample(s) for September's class in Oregon
This kimono is goin' places!
4.  Make step-outs for paper-pieced kimono class
5.  Make step-outs for memento stocking class

But I really, really wanna do these, too

6.  Finish flimsy of black & white BOM
Thirteen blocks = fussy setting
7.  Betsy bag
8.  Make 2 more Circle blocks for BOM samples
Latest circle: Grandmother's fan, on a muslin foundation

BONUS Points - as if!

9.  Cinch sack
10.  Pillowcase for a certain niece
11.  Hem Sweetie's pants (she is so patient with me!)
12.  Asian BOM fan sample block

Whew! Setting my aim high again, with no hope of actually finishing them all.  However, it is super important for this list to exist.  In fact, as I was writing up the list and sorting out the "must do" from the "wanna do", I realized that I have been plotting and scheming on the wanna list for the past few days.  Chomping at the bit, as it were.  Tally ho!  

I am teaching three sewing classes in September--those are some motivating deadlines.  Best to remember where my stitching energy should get put in order to not come out looking like an amateur in that regard.  

Do you make lists?  Are they helpful?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Few Forgotten Finishes

Over the past couple months, I have finished a few small projects. No big fanfare. But I feel compelled to at least mark them: this blog is my place to keep track of and celebrate my worthy accomplishments, no matter how small.

A tissue-box couch, made as a gift. The ribbon and box-pleated trim was from stash (yay!) but the train fabric was purchased with a specific person in mind. Unfortunately, this was a gift that never found its way...

Altar cloths for the college chapel.  These guys were on my "hem me" pile for the longest time. So glad to get them done and off to be used.

Another Memento Stocking, this one made from one of my mom's t-shirts (University of Washington--go Huskies!) and a pair of her pajamas (cows; very typically Mom). I will be teaching this technique at a shop in September.

That's it. Little bits getting done a smidge at a time.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Guild Blocks (Done Early)

Quilt guild meets this Saturday, and I've had my blocks done for over a week. Go me!

First up: this block is called Another Star, and instructions can be found here at the Quilter's Cache website.

Flying geese and HST's
While Marcia Hohn's instructions for this block are just fine, I chose to construct mine a different way. 

I noticed that there were four flying geese units (one is outlined in red) and eight HST units (four of them are marked with asterisks).

My favorite flying geese method, when making 4 gooses, is the no-waste technique, which you can find demonstrated very aptly at McCall's Quilting University.  So that's what I did there.

And I tried out a HST method that I read about in a magazine.  [The math: double the finished size of your HST block and add 1-3/4"] 

Put two identical squares right sides together, with the lighter color on top, and mark along both diagonals.  Sew 1/4" away from each diagonal, on both sides of the drawn lines (4 lines of stitching).  Then carefully cut the square in quarters and along each diagonal.  When ironed open, you will have eight identical HST units.

The second block was actually more challenging, as it is constructed along the diagonal, and there's lots of bias edges to be aware of.  I'm just happy with the skull fabric hanging out in the black-and-white mix.

And happy to be done early--for once.  What deadlines have you beaten lately?