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.

New in the Shop: Trinket Box featuring Liberty London Fabric

I have a new box in the shop and it started out as most of my "for fun" projects do. I sat down with all of my favorite things and started playing. In this case, that button and those charms found their way to each other and I paired them with Liberty London's Fairford pattern for a happy little match.

Here's what happened next! Click on the photo to see a larger version in a new window.

Pickle Dish Progress

I'm working on a pickle dish quilt for Sarah's baby Emmalyn. It's my first time trying paper piecing and I love it!

I'm following the pattern from Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance book, but we picked out a different color scheme that will match Emma's nursery. Almost all of these pieces are finished now, so I'll have Sarah and baby come over soon to help me arrange all of the pieces!

Custom Folding Trinket Boxes

Upon our return from France, my bags were a tad heavier with the weight of souvenirs and trinkets. Among my favorite were beautiful silky cotton prints by Liberty of London. My friend Camille introduced me to the fabric and the Liberty craze that seemed to have taken over all of the shops in Paris. 

I didn't have a specific plan for these treasures, but they just had to come home with me! I spread all of the fabric out for my family this summer and one of my aunts had the idea to have me use some of it to make something for her and my cousins for Christmas. These photos are of the boxes that were under their tree on Christmas morning. The box above uses Liberty's Small Susanna print.

I sent thumbnails of all of my fabric to my aunt and she asked my cousins to pick their favorites, without giving them a reason why. This was a top-secret project! This Liberty print, Mauvey, is the first that caught my eye. I bought a metre of it at the most fabulous store, Merci, also introduced to me by Camille and her friend Cynthia.

This sweet floral print was a JoAnn's find.

For the guy in the brood, Liberty's Pelagia print gave a bit of a masculine touch.
I found this print of the Tuileries Gardens at Hearbeat Quilts in Barnstable, MA. You can just see a few details in this shot, but I have a couple of yards of it, so I imagine it'll make its way into a quilt (and more photos) this year.

These boxes were based on a trinket box that I made for my dad to give to my mom a while back, and now that I've gotten back into the groove of making them, I'm thinking I'll have to make a lot more!

Anniversary Book

This morning I spent about ten minutes watching a heart warming and tear jerking video of soldiers reuniting with their children. It made me want to put Return to Me in the dvd player, turn the air conditioning up, cuddle under a warm blanket and let the tears flow! However, it's only 9am and these books don't bind themselves, so instead I'm reminiscing about a book bound for a sweet and thoughtful wife to give to her husband on their 10th anniversary earlier this year.

My client wanted a small 5" x 5" blank book full of deckled edge watercolor pages. She provided the beautiful piece of fabric for the cover as well as some of the silk from her wedding dress for the doublures.

The blank pages were filled with a letter from wife to husband. It's an honor to make books like these that will end up being keepsakes for years to come.

Here's to a day full of sweet things and happy tears!

Bonjour Paris!

This long-stitch book is what I've brought along with me as my journal-sketchbook. I've just been carrying it around in my jacket pocket today! For a look at what is inside, feel free to visit Josh and my new blog: adventuringholtsclaws.blogspot.com.

The cover is quilted, using my go-to sturdy pink fabric (remainders from extremely long Ikea curtains that I hemmed), leftover batting, and binding with a print that I couldn't resist when I was last at the quilt shop.

I've already started using it and I'm crossing my fingers that I keep it up! I love the color combo, so I'm betting I'll keep it nice and close!

Secret Quilting Part Three

Now here we have fitting scenery for a quilt! I took photos of this quilt the day after Christmas at my in-laws' house. I finished the binding during our car ride up there, so that's why this one didn't get the volleyball court and pool glamor shots!

This quilt had a pretty different look from the other two since I used a darker background fabric. The alternating border strips stood out quite a bit more than the others, since the flowers were such contrasting fabrics.

I was so pleased with the binding fabric I found at Quilter's Cove. My favorite part about this blue was how it was a bit more bold and framed the quilt so nicely.

Above is a close up of my stitching in the ditch. This is something I first learned a couple years ago from my Aunt Joyce. When I started the quilts I put my aunt in the position of secret keeper! She's an amazing quilter and I thought it would be helpful to have such a guru in the know, in case I needed help! It was especially fun, because I got a sneak peek of the lovely quilted table toppers she made for her sisters (my mom included) for the holiday!

 How great is that porch? It wraps around almost three sides of the house!

Secret Quilting Part Two

Here is the quilt that I made for my brother and soon to be sister-in-law! I wanted it to have color in it, but be neutral enough that it could find a place in any room of their new house.

The example quilt used bold colors in floral prints, which is part of what attracted me to it. Even though I love that type of color combination, I settled on a fairly monochromatic scheme for each of mine.

Each of the quilts has a paisley theme. On the quilt I posted yesterday, every other rosy square was a paisley print and the tan backing fabric was also a faint paisley. On this quilt the centers and cornerstones of each square are a bold and more modern paisley, while the backing fabric has a faint traditional print in green. Paisley, paisley, paisley! That gets a little bit tricky when you say it three times fast!

While I was taking these photos, one of our apartment complex maintenance workers let me know that I'm not allowed to dry blankets on the volleyball court. Good to know!

Secret Quilting

On this too gray and rainy day in Florida, I thought it would be good to look back at these photos I took in December, yes sunny December!

Back in September, as I was thinking about what I might like to make for our families for Christmas, I thought of the sewing machine that my husband gave me for our first Christmas. I had been using it here and there throughout the year for small projects, but I thought it deserved a good work out!

My mom has shown me the ropes on her sewing machine, and I also took a sewing class in middle school home economics. (A project I remember was making a pair of long elastic waisted shorts out of a blue plaid flannel material) As far as quilting? When I was in 5th grade or so, I took a quilting course, where I learned some basic quilting skills. I am a saver, so I still have some of the worksheets from the classes. Armed with all of that and thoughts of snuggling in a winter wonderland I went on a Jo-Anns date with Lisa! We found a quilting book full of lovely photos (Material Obsession: Modern Quilts with Traditional Roots), I chose a pattern from it, and we got busy picking materials for the fronts of three quilts! I wanted to make one for both of our parents and for my brother and his soon to be wife. We magically chose a day when the quilting department was boasting a 40% off sale!

The quilt in these pictures is the one I made for my parents. The pattern is called "Smuggling Letters" and it's by Kathy Doughty. It's a pretty big one! The book calls it a large twin and it completely covered our full bed. When it came time for the batting, backing, and binding fabrics I went to Quilter's Cove here in Orlando, again with Lisa! The ladies who work there are so sweet and helpful. I'm looking forward to my next trip to the Cove.

The binding fabric ended up being one of my favorites. Possibly because I saw the least of it! I shouldn't say that, because I never got tired of any of it! I loved my nights of quilting during those last months of the year. Although it was hard to talk to my mom on the phone without letting the cat out of the bag!  I'll share the other two quilts with you soon, and then I can share the quilt I'm working on right now. I've been using scraps from my Christmas projects with a few bits and pieces that I've saved throughout the years.