Thursday, September 23, 2021

Feeling angst about WIPs-B-Gone

Project that broke my sewjo, July2021
 Have you ever done a 100-day challenge? I haven't, but I have FOMO about the times I lurked and followed along with someone else's 100-day journey as if I was the one doing the work.

Most recently, Sarah of Sarah Goer Quilts had her own 100-day challenge to finish a bunch of WIPs--which she did amazingly well. I tried to use her finishing energy to get myself motivated on some of my own UnFinished Objects, but ended up being mightily frustrated and losing my sewjo. The exact opposite of successful.

So, along came Leanne of Devoted Quilter with a 100-day WIPs-B-Gone challenge that involved actually signing up, with prizes for encouragement and gentle accountability. I signed up.

That 100 days starts today--100 days left in 2021. If you're keeping track, that means I have made a commitment that will extend through my busy travel-for-work month of October and the whole end-of-the year holidays. What am I getting myself into?

Well, the first issue I am contending with is my HUGE list of WIPs: 63 as of this writing. In fact, most of them are so long since the last time I worked on them that I generally refer to them as UFOs (WIP having that pesky "in progress" part of its acronym).


Currently in progress Norah Quilt
Some folks have declared a Top 3 Goals for the first 25 days of this challenge--I'm so very scattered when thinking of my extra long list that I haven't been able to winnow down to any sort of reasonable "what should I start with" or even "where do I want to finish". I know I want fewer than 50 items on my list at the end of 100 days. That's a goal, right? I also want to experience what it's like to make time every day for my stitching practice, no matter what the busyness of the day/month/season feels like.

So today, I decided that I would let go of a project or two. That's one way to embrace WIPs-B-Gone! My Quilt Guild has a "Kiss it Goodbye" table that shows up at meetings a few times a year--and that's happening next week. So, in preparation, I went burrowing in the bins and totes and canvas bags to find projects I am well and truly ready to part with.


Discarding or donating projects counts towards WIPs-B-Gone!


I am choosing to let go of 4 projects: paper-pieced kimono wall hanging (last blogged about in July 2017); two other paper-pieced kimono blocks that feel too much like cultural appropriation; funky fish blocks that I made as prototypes for writing a tutorial (in August 2014); and teen-friendly wheel blocks from 2017's Row by Row "On the Go" free pattern, that were used as a floor sample when I worked at a quilt shop.

Row by Row 2017

Lo and behold, in parting with these blocks, I may have discovered my first WIP to tackle. I have a pair of placemats that are pieced with the same kimono blocks that I just parted with. I also have enough background and backing fabric to complete 4 more. 

Bonus reason that this project speaks to me now? I leave in 12 days for a business trip and need a portable handwork project to bring with me. The existing placemats are lightly hand-quilted with big stitch; I think they're a perfect travel size! Add in the motivation of deadline sewing to get the piecing done before I travel, and I might be off to the races...

Any 100-day challenge words of wisdom?

Friday, January 15, 2021

2020 Monthly Color Challenge: "Blocks in a Box"

 I have an exciting finish to announce: my 2020 Monthly Color Challenge blocks, from a free Block of the Month offered by Jen of Patterns by Jen, have been successfully assembled into a FINISHED QUILT!

2020 Monthly Color Challenge Quilt Party

I tell my family that any quilt for me is a 3-year endeavor, so to start and complete a quilt in the same calendar year is truly a feat.  Of course, as one of the select bloggers for 2020, I had access to all the block patterns last January. So I was able to piece my top and get it to a longarm quilter in October.  And sewed the binding down the last week in December. Done feels so good!

Sampler quilt with faux on-point setting
(c)2021 rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes.

The setting here I call "blocks in a box", because it can be used to make a larger quilt out of any collection of blocks of the same size. It looks tricky, giving the blocks the appearance of an on-point setting, without the need for piecing rows on the diagonal.


Since I knew this was the setting I would be using, I made some alterations as I was sewing the monthly blocks.  A prime example is April's purple block, where I made the outer block corners from the same mottled purple batik that would form its "on point" frame.

In all, I used ten fabrics to "frame" the 12 monthly color challenge blocks (the flamingo print was used for three of them); seven fabrics were used along the "border" of the quilt, although four of these are repeat fabrics from elsewhere in the quilt (the border looks like setting triangles, but is constructed differently).


If you'd like a copy of a simplified set of instructions to sew up this quilt setting, please leave a comment here on the blog, or email me from my profile. Caution: the instructions are simplified because the version I wrote about only uses two colors of background fabric, as seen in this sampler quilt.  I have every intention of writing fuller instructions, just haven't gotten there yet. (Free instructions available until February 28, 2021.)

Blocks in a Box setting in 2 solid colors

Now, back to the Quilt Show! Our Monthly Color Challenge designer/hostess Jen has created a lovely setting for these sampler blocks that uses fabrics from each month in a kind of pixelated sashing/border treatment. If you've been sewing along, you can link up with Jen's Quilt Show, and see everyone else's progress in one place.

And go check out some of 2020's participating bloggers for their final shares.

Joanne - Everyone Deserves a Quilt

Fawn - Quilty Creations by Fawn

Roseanne - Home Sewn by Us

Sarah - Sew Joy Creations

Alla - Rainbows Bunnies Cupcakes (you are here!)

Wendy - Pieceful Thoughts

Anja - Anja Quilts


Who is sewing along with Monthly Color Challenge for 2021? I haven't decided yet what Block of the Month I will pick up for this year... and I'm always open to suggestions!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Maximizing a novelty flamingo print

 Subtitle: Monthly Color Challenge, November 2020

Fabrics fanned out
I joined the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge, a free Block of the Month party hosted by Patterns by Jen, specifically because of this year's color theme: birds. 

You see, I had this fabulous flamingo print that I wanted to feature.  I had a plan.  Those flamingos were gonna pop up all over the sampler blocks.  And they are destined to play a starring role in the overall setting I have chosen for putting the blocks together.

Bought this particular flamingo print eons ago.  And I used it to make a square dancing outfit.  (Because square dance outfits can be extra like that.)  Even entered that flamingo outfit into the county fair.  (Because I am crazy in chasing after blue ribbons, and you won't win any if you don't enter.  So I enter lots of things.)

Flamingo-print top & skirt w/blue ribbon  
Yep, won that Blue Ribbon

So, these flamingos did not end up appearing in August's pink block.  I used a different flamingo print... And I feel kinda bad about it.

Which might have been why I used the flamingo fabric in November's block.  Color: BUFF.  Bird inspiration: buff-breasted sandpiper.

How, you ask?  Well, with fussy-cutting, of course.  Although the prescribed pieces in November's block could not be cut cleanly from just the background of my flamingo print, I was able to piece delicate 4-patch sections, showing faint palm trees and clouds against a creamy sky background.  If you read my previous review of this year's blocks, I have already used fussy-cutting in January and May to get the colors I wanted in each block.  Just one way to make my existing fabric stash work--I consider this the challenge part of Monthly Color Challenge.

And paired with another metallic (a sub-theme for me this year).

quilt block in light tan colors
November Monthly Color Challenge: buff

Thanks for visiting!  Be sure and go check out the other bloggers who are showing off their November blocks.

Stephanie of Quilt'n Party

Becca of Pretty Piney

Sarah of Sew Joy Creations

Alla of rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes (that's me!) 

Kathryn of Dragonfly's Quilting Design Studio

Kathy of Kathy's Kwilts and More

Kris of Scrap Dash

Joanne of Everyone Deserves a Quilt

And did you know there are SPONSORS?  Link up your block at the end of the month (to Jen's linky party) and you might win something from one of these generous donors (these are the 4th quarter sponsors--prizes will be awarded in January 2021)

Sponsors October thru December

Said With Love - PDF Pattern

For the Love of Geese - PDF Pattern

P & B Textiles - Fabric Bundle

Quilters Dream Batting - 60" x 60" Dream Blend

Warm Company - 45" x 60" Warm and Plush

Warm Company - Light Steam and Seam 2

Island Batik - 3 1/2 yards of assorted fabrics

Patterns By Jen - Superior Thread S-Fine 50

Patterns By Jen - PDF Pattern

 Go get this month's pattern directly from Jen--it's free until the end of November.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Triangle Paper for October's Monthly Color Challenge

Wait til you see all these triangles!!!

This month's block for the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge has either: 

  • lots of flying geese      or 
  • lots of half-square triangles. 

The block is the October entry for this year of Patterns by Jen's Block of the Month.  Pattern is available for free all month from Jen.  See below for links to other bloggers showing off October's block.

I'm a bit of a non-rule-follower, so I often don't read the directions for a quilt block made up of components that I can easily discern.  And when I saw the diagram for October's block, my first thought was: HST's.

Flying geese or half-square triangles?

I rushed to my stash of interfacings and such to find some Triangle Paper.  If you are making lots of identical HST's (and there are 32 in this block, if you count them the way I did), nothing is finer than Triangle Paper by Primitive Gatherings for cranking them out accurately in bulk.  (Close second: Thangles, which use the same-size strips as other components of your block, thus eliminating possible 3/8" or 7/8" cutting.)


Thangles as used in February's block

 One downside to the use of both Triangle Paper and Thangles is the need for papers matching the specific size in your block.  Which I didn't happen to have.  Oops...

[Side note: Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts has a brief tutorial on different HST papers, including a few that I was not aware of.  If you happen to have Triangle Paper to make 1-1/2" finished HST's, you would need two 10" squares of fabric (1 each of focus fabric and background fabric) in order to make the number required for this month's block.  This would replace the fabrics needed for the flying geese specified.]

So then I looked more closely at the block and its instructions--doh, flying geese!

Another opportunity to practice 4-at-a-time flying geese.  I chose a fat-quarter of a textured olive solid as the focus fabric (been in the stash a long time; I have made an effort this year to use my hoarded FQ stash, as it overfloweth) and a coordinating houndstooth to the one used in May's block for the background fabric.

Feels good to use my stash.  And end up with a cute block to boot.

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - October

Want to see how other folx have interpreted this block?  Check out the others on this list.  (While you're at it, be sure and leave a comment or two.  It's not as easy as clicking "like", but we bloggers really appreciate the love of every single comment.)

Fawn of Quilty Creations by Fawn

Roseanne of Home Sewn by Us

Stephanie of Steph Jacobson Designs

Sheila of So This is Kentucky

Alla of rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes (that's me!)

Kathy B. of Kathy's Kwilts and More

Kathy N. of Penny for my thoughts

Joanne of Everyone Deserves a Quilt

October also starts the 4th quarter.  Important because of the PRIZES awarded. So thankful to these industry sponsors who generously show their support:




Sunday, September 27, 2020

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - progress so far

I have been stitching a block each month of 2020 for the Monthly Color Challenge, a free BOM generously run by Jen of Patterns by Jen.  As we head toward the final quarter of the year, it's time to look back at what I have accomplished so far.

This year's color story is themed around the world of birds.  I had a fabulous flamingo print that I wanted to showcase, so I pulled that out first.  And then delved into my phenomenal stash.  I recently determined that my fat quarters were overflowing their designated storage area, so I "shopped" heartily from those bins.  

(Confession: I have had the habit of collecting fat quarters and then never cutting into them. Finally realized that they are not precious, and should be used.  Because that way I can buy more!)

January: yellow (finch)

Fussy cut the yellowest parts of a yellow/gold tonal chevron print for the focus fabric here (this fussy-cutting will be a repeating theme)


February: aqua (indigo bunting)

Prime example of a hoarded, uncut fat quarter: hand-dyed batik dark teal bought at a maker's fair over 10 years ago(!)  Wanted to use the aqua peacock fabric seen in my original fabric pull photo, but I have another plan that will bring the peacocks into the final quilt.


March: orange (oriole)

Surprised that I had so many mottled fabrics!  They look really good in these blocks.


April: purple (honey creeper)

I went rogue: main block is made from a metallic dark purple print and a lavender solid.  But the outer corners are a mottle batik--which will also be used in a frame around the block.  Because by this point in the year, I had come up with a plan for how I wanted to put these blocks together.  Stay tuned...

May: green (budgerigar)

Another example of fussy-cutting: the green here came from a green-brown floral.  It was a good thing the focus green bits were so small in size for this block--I would have had to choose a different fabric otherwise.

June: blue (blue bird)

 Another metallic (I think that might be a mini-theme here) and a mottle cloud print.  Blue is a hard color to find in my stash...

July: rust (American robin)

This ended up as a really busy block.  Focus fabric is another metallic.  Background fabric is leftover from a quilt made near the beginning of my quilting journey (Y2K?) And I tried the same outer-corner trick as with April's purple block.  Not sure it was entirely successful here.

Sampler quilt wisdom: I have never made a Block of the Month/sampler quilt where I loved every single block.  Only once have I chosen to leave out the hated block.  In the scope of a final, completed quilt, even the "failure" blocks have had a welcome home and contributed to the whole.  So I will embrace this ugly duckling block and press on...


August: pink (flamingo)

After being super excited to use the flamingo print shown at the top of this post, I chose a different flamingo print for August's block.  Metallic fuchsia Fairy Frost is the focus fabric, with 2 different flamingo prints and a mottled polka dot playing in the background.  (Flamingo prints here are from my job as a sales rep for a Japanese fabric importer. So many cute animal prints slide through my fingertips; sometimes I succumb and keep a few swatches after a line has sold out.)

September: cinnamon (cinnamon teal)

 Another color of metallic Fairy Frost, and another mottle.  Realized after I saw other people's blocks posted that I had assembled mine in a different way... oh, well.  Done is better than perfect.


Here we are: 9 months done out of 12.  I have started assembling blocks and I am in love with this setting!!!

"In a Box" quilt setting

Quickly realized that I need to wait until I have all the blocks--this particular setting technique doesn't allow for rearranging along the way.  Fine, I have a few other things to keep me busy until December...

Don't you?

Monday, August 31, 2020

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - September

Subtitle: How to fix a quilt block boo-boo

Well folx, somehow we have made it thru 2020 all the way to the month of September. And that means a new block in the free Block of the Month party hosted by Patterns by Jen.  Jen has been churning out lovely 2020 Monthly Color Challenge block patterns every month, with each month having a different color focus.

I present to you: cinnamon!  (Bird inspiration: cinnamon teal)

When I signed up to participate as a blogger for 2020, I chose months with colors that spoke to me.  I mostly play in the warm/earth tones end of the color wheel, so cinnamon was such a natural fit.

Here is my completed block

Astute fabric aficionados will notice the use of Fairy Frost by Michael Miller (color: coin) as my feature fabric.  This follows last month's use of neon pink Fairy Frost in the flamingo block.

It was a fun block to try out the technique of 4-at-a-time flying geese (otherwise known as no-waste flying geese).  And to give a bit of breathing room, in the face of some of my previous busy blocks.

But what I really want to share with you today is how to come back from adversity when making a quilt block.  Because we all know that "adversity" happens.  And in this case, it was more adversity than even a seam ripper could have helped with.

Did you notice my block's boo-boo?  Not sure how it happened, but I managed to cleanly cut off a corner of the background fabric, after the block was constructed.  (If you saw my cluttered, disorganized sewing space, it might make perfect sense. #honestcraftroom as Jen says.)


The old perfectionist me would have cut a new square of the needed size and re-sewn that portion of the block.  But maybe I wouldn't have had enough extra fabric to do that--I am making these blocks entirely from stash, after all.  So what other option does one have?

Well, you can just patch that bit with more of the same fabric.  Not the first time I've done this sort of rescue (not the first time I've cut into a completed block, yikes).  And although it looks glaringly obvious when I'm 10" away from the block, I've never had a regret about using this technique once the quilt was complete and in use.  The quilting step hides a multitude of sins.

Things to keep in mind if you "patch" a quilt block this way:

  • cut off more fabric, if that makes the area to patch a more regular shape (in this case, a 45-degree angle, instead of the random hack that was there originally)
  • pay attention to grainline of your patch, where possible (another reason for making the 45-degree angle)
  • if the fabric has a strong pattern, be willing to overlook pattern-matching issues (this mottle does not count as a strong pattern)
  • oversize your patch and trim to size after it is stitched in place
  • press open this seam, so the patched section lies flatter
  • due to pressing seam open, consider a shorter stitch length and switching to a matching thread color (seams pressed open tend to show stitching more than those pressed to one side)
  • most importantly, don't point out your mistake!  Unless you're writing a blog post about it, know one ever needs to know.


Thanks for reading this far.  Be sure and go check out the other bloggers who are showing off their September blocks.

Wendy of Pieceful Thoughts

Sarah of Sew Joy Creations

Alla of rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes (that's me!)

Tammy of Tamarinis

Sandra of Textile Time Travels

Joanne of Everyone Deserves a Quilt

And did you know there are SPONSORS?  Link up your block at the end of September (to Jen's linky party) and you might win something from one of these generous donors (these are the 3rd quarter sponsors--prizes will be awarded October 1st)


Sponsors July thru September

Quilters Chic - PDF Pattern
For The Love of Geese - PDF Pattern
Carole Lyle Shaw - Pattern and Grunge bundle
Quilters Dream Batting - Dream 80/20 - 60" x 60"
The Fat Quarter Shop - Fabric Bundle

Warm Company - Warm 80/20 - 55" x 60"
Warm Company - 1 yard Insul-Bright
Make Modern Magazine - 6 month subscription
Patterns By Jen - Superior Thread S-Fine 50
Patterns By Jen - Magic Wand


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Quilt Qwazy Queens - a tiny wardrobe

For World-wide Quilting Day in March, Marian from Seams to Be Sew hosts an annual blog hop.  This year's theme for "Quilt Qwazy Queens" has us post about our craziest make.  I must admit that I've made my share of crazy unusual items over the years.  (See here, here, and here, for example.)

I'd like my epitaph to be about my boundless optimism and wild creativity...

Note: giveaway info and full blog hop schedule at the end of this post.

Today's post is about a tiny wardrobe.  And the handsome fella who gets to wear it.

Meet Oakie: world traveler & fashion icon

It all started with the raincoat.  Oakie came home from a spring break trip to England where he had spent much of his sightseeing time inside a ziplock bag due to the incessant rain.  (Spring can be that way, right?)  Sweetie asked if I could make Oakie a raincoat.  Um, sure thing.  Black pleather OK for that?  And a visor on the hood (to keep his beak from getting wet).  And a striped lining (just because I can).

Casual beach attire

Formal wear (the lad has been in multiple weddings)

Hanging out at QuiltCon 2018

Dive hoodie: a real hit with the ladies

Makes friends wherever he goes

Tiny dinosaur backpack--with pockets & piping!

You didn't really get to see all the places Oakie has been: London was just the tip of the iceberg for this little guy.  He makes a great travel companion--takes far better photos in front of the coliseum in Rome or Hubbard Glacier in Alaska or the Sydney Opera House than anyone else.

His wardrobe has grown to the extent that I made him luggage (seen in photo at right).  And I talked others into participating in the tiny wardrobe madness.  The mini-quilt and orange life vest pictured above were made by others (as were his Santa hat and Minion beanie).

And, as he clearly loves the camera so much, I go to great lengths to photograph Oakie & post to Instagram

Someday, I will make tiny clothes for grandchildren.  But for now, this is my craziness.  Thank you so much for the chance to show off. 


There are two $35 gift certificates for The Fat Quarter Shop to be won by some lucky blog reader and commenter.  The Rafflecopter link is here.  Closes on March 20, 2019.

Full Blog Hop schedule:

March 18, 2019
Days Filled With Joy
Life In the Scrapatch
Rainbows. Bunnies. Cupcakes. (you are here)