Round Robin Reveal

 Beautiful quilt blocks by Elsa, Wendy, Cher, Ellen, Andrea & Brittany.

This is a week that I have been looking forward to for a long time! Last March the Portland Modern Quilt Guild mini-group that I belong to started a round robin. Each of us came up with our own theme and created a starting block. Along with our blocks we included a notebook to discuss our themes, and as each person added to the quilt they wrote notes about what they created and how they were inspired. Beyond the suggestion to look at the quilt and see what it needed next, there were no rules for how to add to the quilt. Quilts were randomly switched every other month, which meant that we got to add to six different quilts, and six different friends added to ours! Speaking of six, despite moving over 600 miles away halfway through the year, I got to keep up with my group and we mailed the quilt tops back and forth.

The Big Reveal!

 This month's timing turned out so that I got to be in town for the big reveal! What an exciting night it was! The image above is my finished quilt. Am I lucky or what? It brought tears to my eyes! I'm just so thoroughly tickled by the whole process and what my friends made that I was moved to write about it. Below, you'll find details about everyone's contributions. 

The starting block

I saw this pattern, "Turkey in the Straw" a couple years ago and was immediately drawn to it. I had been wanting to make it for something, so the start of a round robin seemed like the perfect project! I found references to the pattern from 1933 and 1937. It was either named by or created by a woman named Nancy Cabot. Another name for it is "Swing in the Center". One of the things I love about the block is that it was inspired by square dancing, specifically to the song, "Turkey in the Straw" which is sung to the tune of another old song, "Do your ears hang low". Four dancing couples are represented by the white and blue bars, and arrows point the gents to swing their ladies to the center.

I shared in my notebook how this block inspired me, specifically in regard to dance, music and rhythm. I love how a pattern in fabric can make my mind travel so many places! I also included some extra fabric that I encouraged my friends to use (or not) to their heart's content. 

Andrea's addition

Andrea chose "Boy's Nonsense", a variation on my original block. I love the fabric she used for it. The flowers are a Liberty of London print that I have had for a number of years, and the blue and white fabric I found more recently. It was one of those in the store that I just loved, but didn't have a plan for. I love her placement of them, and how perfectly they parallel the left and right edges of the "Turkey in the Straw" block.

Elsa's addition

Elsa made these cheery "Scrappy Star" blocks picking up with Andrea's fabric choices and adding this lovely yellow wood grain. I love how she matched the grain with the direction of the stars, so their points really stand out!

Ellen's addition

Ellen decided on the placement for Elsa's blocks which was a nice balance for the placement of Andrea's blocks. She noticed that there were a lot of diagonals throughout the blocks, so she had the great idea of finding a block to "ground" the diagonal lines. Her block is called "Checkered Folds" by Yvonne Malone. In her stash, she had this lovely dandelion fabric that matches so beautifully with the original blue in my block. She included extra fabric for me, which I will definitely be able to use!

Wendy's addition part one

Wendy added a whole song to the quilt! It's a round of the song"Shoo Fly", which she explained is a personal favorite. When one of her daughters was in preschool she learned the tune and sang it for about nine months! 

Wendy sang it for me;

Shoo, fly, don't bother me.

Shoo, fly, don't bother me.

Shoo, fly, don't bother me.

For I belong to somebody.

I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star.

I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star.

She told a hilarious story of working on her addition to the quilt. She had just had surgery and was on pain medication in bed and had the brilliant idea to make all of these intricate notes. When her medication would start to wear off, she would wonder what she got herself into with all of those tiny hand appliquéd pieces! Then, she'd take another pill and be happy as a clam to work on it! I'm happy as a clam that she did it, I think it's just wonderful!

Wendy's addition part two

And of course, what better way to finish of the "Shoo Fly" song than with a "Shoo Fly" block! I love how these fun polka dots mimic the notes in the song, and I also love Wendy's use of different colors of linen to create the staff.

Brittany's addition part one

Brittany made approximately one million darling Crossed Canoe blocks. She was inspired by Wendy's music notes and thought of songs that she sang during her camp days. She also sang it for me at the reveal, and it is so sweet! I hadn't heard it before.

Here are the lyrics;

My paddles keen and bright,

Flashing with silver

Follow the wild goose flight.

Dip, dip and swing.

Dip, dip and swing.

And if you'd like to hear it, I found

a group singing it on vimeo

that is really nice rendition.

Brittany's addition part two

Brittany also made this darling "Singing in the Rain" block! Isn't it just cheery and delightful? I love the flowers and bumblebees in the umbrella.

Cher's addition

Cher was inspired by Brittany's "Singing in the Rain" block, and did these incredible wonky/liberated letters. I love their staggered placement and how it echoes the sound of the song. She also created the gold and blue border around the edges that really ties it all together. Cher has a collection of butterfly fabric, and I didn't realize until I got it home, but the background yellow has sweet little butterflies in it so I will definitely think of her whenever I see it!

The final quilt top

All of the colors in the quilt just make me feel so happy, calm and content. The gorgeous blocks made by my friends, and the ideas behind them, make it even more precious. I can't wait to finish it and wrap myself up in song, dance, and friendship! Thank you so much, ladies!

Handsewn Holiday

 I had some fun with sewing for a few of my 2014 Christmas gifts. Pictured above is a Social Tote that I made for my mom. It's a pattern by Carolyn Friedlander and Anna Graham of Noodlehead. Follow the links to find their posts about the pattern, as well as info in case you'd like to make one yourself! I made one for myself a couple years ago and I love using it!

Next up, the very exciting Sew Together Bag by SewDemented. One of my New Year's resolutions last year was simply to sew a zipper, and I ended up sewing 16 before the year was over. The most thrilling thing about sewing zippers is that it's not as difficult as it seems... not even difficult at all. My sewing machine came with a zipper foot (which is crucial), and before I made my first attempt I watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials and read through instructions. I followed Noodlehead directions for my very first zipper, and it was a cinch! 

One of the main reasons I put "sew a zipper" on my to-do list for the year was because I wanted to make this delightful bag! I made one for myself and decided to make a couple for gifts. The purple and blue bag above was for my sister in law, and the one below, featuring a Cotton & Steel exterior, was for my friend, Lisa.

 I used the same colorful fabric for the exterior of mine, I love those colors and am very fond of postage stamps, so when I first saw the print I couldn't leave the store without it!

The last project was a trio of kindle cases! I followed Atkinson's Designs' Reader Wrap pattern. One was for my Dad and the other two were for Josh and myself! It's so nice to have a case, and extra nice that it's so cute and cozy! I'm sure that's why the boys like it. I haven't used the little pocket on the left yet, but I imagine that it will come in handy. Our kindles are the small original style, so I shortened the cover by an inch and also shortened the pocket on the right so we can read the whole page without taking the kindle out! We all happened to have the same kindle, but the pattern has instructions that can be adapted for any e-reader.

Superfluous DVD Case

My husband came home with this DVD one day, which was loaned to him by a friend as a must watch! As I inspected the cover I told Josh, "that guy looks a lot like a young Sam Axe." What? The goofy, tactically helpful, best friend of Michael Weston, on Burn Notice, isn't a household name? Oh.

Look, he autographed it! Turns out that Sam's real name is Bruce Campbell and before I knew about him he was starring in cult classics like The Evil Dead and Army of Darkness. I do like Sam Axe, but I'm not a devoted enough fan to watch something that features a "ghastly army of skeletons," so while Josh watched the movie, I made a box to protect that fancy signature!

One final note, those little guys with the fork and match are pretty cute. I wonder what their story line is.

A Quilt for Baby Andrew

This quilt belongs to a little guy named Andrew who was born on the 15th of July! He gets to start his life in the sweetest nautical themed nursery. I had been wanting to make a quilt for him, and when I saw the nautical theme, an idea came to mind for this herringbone style quilt. I had navy and white fabric on hand from another project, and was able to jump right in and make big half-square triangles to piece together a crib sized quilt. I had some fabric in mind for the back, but when I went to Jo-Ann's to pick out polka dots for the binding, I saw this darling whale fabric and it was kismet. You can click on the photo to see it up close, it's so cute!

In these colors, the boldness of the pattern reminds me a little bit of boating flags, and the interlocking nature of it reminds me of the knots associated with nautical things. Can you tell I don't know much about being on the water!? Most of my nautical reference comes from my one time on a sailboat, going on a cruise, and whatever my husband tells me about Deadliest Catch or Shark Week. 

I really like the look of the thick binding on the back. This is the first time I've done that. I thought it would be nice to be able to machine stitch the binding down on the long sides, and have that line of stitching double as the last line of quilting on the front of the quilt. I hand sewed the top, bottom, and miters of the binding since I didn't want a line of quilting running perpendicular to all of that parallel quilting.

My friend sent me this photo last week, aren't these kiddos darling!! Andrew is already so good at sharing!

Custom Address Books

Have you ever had one of those friends that you don't talk with for ages, but when you do it's as if no time has passed? I have one of those from childhood/ teenhood, who I just love! But this post is about address books, isn't it! This friend of mine got in touch to see if I could make some custom address books for some newly married folks, and this is what we came up with!

I had some extra paper after the endsheets were made, so I made some simple soft cover books to include in the package. I thought my friend and her mom could toss them in their purses, or gift them along with the address books!

This endsheet paper is mesmerizing! 
I was able to use pre-sewn text blocks for these, which is a huge savings over printing and cutting out all of those little tabs by hand! Check out the link if you'd like to try your own DIY books.

This lokta paper was interesting to use for endsheets. It is handmade, so there is a variation in thickness throughout the sheet. You can see through it in some spots, I'll have to remember that because it could be a fun parlor trick for another project!

A Quilt for Emmalyn & Hope

This quilt had quite an adventure before it was delivered to the little girls who call it their own. Before darling baby Emmalyn was born (2010), her mom, another dear friend and I picked out the Pickle Dish pattern from Kaffe Fassett's book called Quilt Romance. We were certainly romanced by the pattern on the cover and spent hours together at Joann's picking out just the right fabric.

I ended up working on it during a span of four years, in three different states! It started out in Florida, made its way to Missouri, and finally was finished Oregon before returning to its home in Florida. By that time Emmalyn's sweet baby sister, Hope, had been born (2012), so it became a quilt for two!

Ollie had a lot of fun with this one, and is probably still looking for it around the house!

It was so satisfying to see this through! I remembered to post these pictures because the little ladies have a baby brother who just recently made his debut into the world. He has a quilt headed his way in the mail, and I will share pics of that next week!

A Visit to OCAC

I paid a visit to the enchanting campus of the Oregon College of Art and Craft the other day. The studio manager of the Book Arts department graciously gave me an excellent tour. I had been there once before, several years ago, long before I studied at NBSS, and it was fun to see it with fresh eyes! 

Classes weren't in session, but I was able to get a good glimpse into the classroom spaces of all of the departments. Most of the spaces had really wonderful natural light streaming in. I, of course, enjoyed taking a look around the Book Arts department, but some of the other departments made a lasting impression as well. The Fibers department had quite a large room full of more looms than I'd ever seen in one place. The Ceramics department has an outdoor kiln area that smells wonderful and looks rustic in a way, but that could just be because of the green surroundings and the local wildlife! The Drawing and Painting department is in a newly built space (a portion of it is pictured above) that is really fantastic. When I studied drawing at SCAD it was in an historic building that had been renovated and turned into classroom space. That had a special feel to it, but I had never been in a building so specifically suited for the art of drawing and painting. Here's a neat post about the building from Architecture News Plus. The Photography department was beneath the Drawing and Painting space, but that was the one studio we didn't see.

A little deer family was strolling about finding their lunch during my visit. While I was in the library, the librarian pointed this one out to me and we spoke in whispers while we watched. The school library is part of my county library system, so after my tour, I spent a bit of time there and checked out a few books on book design and layout for an upcoming project. It was a pleasant surprise to be introduced to this great resource for art and craft books.

I'm not sure what connection I might have with OCAC going forward, but it is one of those places that just has a nice feeling to it, so having some sort of relationship would be great. There are community programs and opportunities for further education that are available, but for starters I might just make it a habit to visit the cafe for lunch, stop by the gallery and gift shop, and then pay a visit to that gem of a library. In any case, I'm happy and appreciative to have been able to tour this special creative place that is practically in my back yard!

A Quilt for Baby Sam

My friend Wendy had her second baby, a son named Sam, a little over a month ago! When Sam's big sister was born, Wendy and I worked on a quilt idea together. This time around, I saw some fabric that just felt right and went for it without spilling the beans. Part of the reason for the secrecy was to go easy on myself just in case I didn't finish it in time! Keeping my lips sealed must be the trick, because I finished it about a week before Sam was born!

My favorite helper, Ollie, is modeling the lovely fabric by Skinny la Minx. It's called Up Up & Away and was designed for Cloud9 Fabrics. I have some triangles left, and while I don't have a baby to swaddle, I think our new printer might be in need of special attention by way of a quilted cover of sorts!

The back of the quilt features Passing Clouds in gold by Eloise Renouf from her Bark & Branch line for Cloud 9 Fabrics. I bought all of the fabric for this quilt from Lima Sews, a Portland Etsy seller.

Happy Birthday, Sam!

A Patriotic Gift

A good friend of mine, who was born on the 4th of July, has a special interest in the Presidents of our country.

I always get excited when I come across neat presidential things, because I can squirrel them away for later gift giving! A while ago, I found this little book about the lives of the U.S. Presidents at one of my favorite antique shops, The Butler Did It Antiques in Cannon Beach.

The book is very slim and just has a paper cover, so I thought it deserved a clamshell. Then I decided that it needed my friend's initials on it. Very presidential, don't you think?

Here the book is nestled in its box. It is a Little Blue Book, as can be seen on the front cover. I wonder if it was ever truly blue, that's some serious fading!

It all starts with George! All of the illustrations are pretty great. Another thing you can see in this photo is that the book was printed in the US, but what I didn't realize is that it was published/printed in Girard, KS. Girard is about an hour away from my friend's hometown of Independence, KS. That was a fun discovery!

Big Friend Co.

The latest folding and sewing that I've been up to has been for Big Friend Co. and I couldn't be more pleased about it! My husband, Josh, and I put a name to our design studio this year. It seems like we've always had a company, working together on this and that, but the time came to put a name to it and as it is said, hang out our shingle.

The bulk of our work is of the freelance variety, including children's books, posters, album art, and some motion graphics. If you follow this link you'll be treated to a full page of Josh's illustrations. Understandably, I am the most partial person you'll ever meet when it comes to his work, but I really think you'll like it!

In addition to this freelance work, we thought we'd like to make some of our own products. This was born from the idea that there were some things we wished we had, and perhaps other people might like those things too! To start with, we've made some fun journals and card sets. Follow this link to take a look at what we've made! And this link to keep up with the Big Friend Co. blog!