BAM Swap Bag

Flip Flap Bag
Flip Flap Bag

The Winter Extravaganza Palooza swap was yesterday at the BAM meeting. Being the blog editor, I had compiled a giant list of tutorials and patterns a few months ago for inspiration. It is an impressive list, so take a look. 😉

My swap partner wanted a bag, so I pulled out one of the bag patterns I have had sitting around and tried it out. I know I could have used one of the tutorials I just crowed about, but I didn’t. I wanted to plow through some of the bag patterns I have purchased and this was the perfect opportunity.

I wasn’t hopeful that this bag would be successful (unlike me, I know!), so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this bag came out pretty well. The flap is a great opportunity to do some machine embroidery or applique’ or other type of embellishment. I chose some interesting, if black, modern fabrics for the outside, so it wouldn’t show the dirt.

The pattern is Flip Flap bag  from Totes by Sandy. The pattern is not 100% clearly written, though the interpretation could have been my problem. I had some trouble with some of the steps, but it all came out in the end. I would have made the lining section much smaller. I did make it a little smaller, knowing from past experience that it didn’t need to be the same size as the outside. I didn’t make it small enough and the inside sags a little. 🙁 I don’t know what the normal reduction is for linings – half inch? a whole inch? I could experiment, but probably won’t.

Flip Flap Bag inside view
Flip Flap Bag inside view

I made the inside light so my partner could see her stuff.

I am thinking about making this again, as I think it is a good size. I wonder about adding more pockets. The handbag I use now has a section at the front for cards, lipstick, etc and I wonder if that could be incorporated into this design. Perhaps not with the asymmetrical flap.

ATCs Again! Finally!

December 2016 ATCs
December 2016 ATCs

I finally made some ATCs! After missing several meetings, then not having time to make any before the October meeting I feel like I have reached the summit of a high mountain. Additionally, I used the charms that have been sitting on my cutting table (or falling off repeatedly) for months!

I wanted a fall theme to go with the leaves and it is still Fall, though it feels like winter some days.

Today is the CQFA meeting, so we will see how they are received.

ColorPlay Dec 2


These dishes caught my attention when I was in Franziskanerplatz in Graz. Later I saw a set of four cups in an antique shop and I thought of buying them as a thank you gift for one of my friends. Unfortunately, the cups were 25 Euros each, which was out of my budget right at that moment. If I had a vacation house, I would buy a set for it. However, a person can only use so many dishes and I have enough at the moment. They are so bright and cheerful, though not clunky and chunky like some other colorful styles. I especially like the purple.

The dishes are by Lilien AT and the style is from 2010, called Daisy. I don’t know if they are still available, though I doubt it as they are not listed on the Lilien website.

This was an appropriate photo for this week since I, and my house, are still recovering from Thanksgiving. The colors are cheerful and springlike.

ColorPlay Dec 2, Palette n.1
ColorPlay Dec 2, Palette n.1

I had fun with the palettes. I was shocked at the default palette that the tool came up with. Can you believe all the browns and neutrals. It is as though the tool is design to select from the edges of the image. I was really shocked at this palette considering the bright colors of the dishes.

ColorPlay Dec 2, Palette n.2
ColorPlay Dec 2, Palette n.2

Of course, I got busy and moved the bubbles around. I wanted to try and get all those gorgeous springy colors. One thing I noticed was that within the colorful areas, it was possible to get different versions of the colors we see. For example, at one point Kona Maize was part of the palette instead of Kona Sunflower. There are shadows that are difficult to see in the photo and that affects the palette.

ColorPlay Dec 2, Palette n.3
ColorPlay Dec 2, Palette n.3

I tried again, still going for the bright colors and made a slightly different palette. Kona Maize is back instead of Sunflower and Kona Peach is in place of Kona Salmon. I forgot to move one bubble off the window frame, so Kona Juniper is also included.

It just occurred to me (DUH!) that there are tone-on-tones that I could match to this palette instead of going to buy the solids. Not sure why that leap of inspiration didn’t occur to me before.

Reducing the Toll

Formerly cuffs, now gift bags
Formerly cuffs, now gift bags

I constantly try to find ways to reduce the huge environmental toll from holiday-related purchases. I have harped about this for years. One way is using gift bags. The fabric may not be terribly environmentally friendly to make in factories in Korea, but once the fabric is here and made into gift bags, they can be used them over and over. Fabric gift bags reduce the amount of paper we use during the holidays.

I practice what I preach and see so many advantages for using gift bags. The biggest negative is actually having to make them before you can use them. I have made gift bags to fit certain gifts in the middle of wrapping. They don’t take much time, can be as complicated as you like and are customizable. The biggest bonus is you get to see your holiday favorite fabrics over and over without actually having to make a holiday quilt.

Lush Gift Bag
Lush Gift Bag

Here is the tutorial using French seams to prevent raveling.


  • Machine in good working order
  • fabric (any kind of fabric to fit your holiday works well)
  • thread
  • ribbon
  • basic sewing supplies

I press a double hem* on one side of a relevant size piece of fabric** and finish it with a decorative stitch. As a bonus, this is a good way to get to know the resources, e.g. time and thread, required to use your decorative stitches.

Once done, I fold the piece in half, wrong sides together, aligning the hem at the top. I put a piece of ribbon, folded in half, inside the piece. The fold of the ribbon will be sticking of the side a little bit and is placed about a quarter of the way down the side.

I sew down the side, starting with the hem. I sew less than a quarter inch from the side. I reinforce the start, the the ribbon and the end by backstitching over it a few times. Then I turn the bag wrong side out.

Trim any stray threads along your tiny seam allowance.


Once pressed, I sew again using a larger seam allowance to cover the raw edges. Make sure the ribbon closure stays out of the way. This completely encloses the raw edge.

Turn the bag right side out and press again. Your bag is ready to use.

I love using gift bags for gifts. Besides the fact that I am terrible at wrapping gifts with paper, I intensely dislike wrapping gifts with paper, tape and ribbon. The fabric feels so much nicer in my hands. If a tag falls off the gift you can easily open it, look in and re-tie. No harm done to a beautiful wrapping job.

*Note: I often use the selvedge instead of hemming to speed up the process.

**Note on fabric sizes: I make the most basic gift bags with a fat quarter, but also use half yards and yards, depending on the size needed. I have also pieced fabric together to wrap larger and smaller gifts, but generally like to use standard sizes and then put the gift into whatever bag size works. Leftover fabric from making pillowcases are good to use as well.


Various & Sundry 2016 #12

Doing Good

Valerie makes blocks every month for charity via Kat’s blog, Kat & Cat Quilts. If you are looking for an organized way to contribute to something good this might be an opportunity for you.

I found another update on the Pulse quilts in Orlando. This one has a slide show of a variety of the quilts.


Need some easy color work? Need to relax? Nerdy Mama has 20 free coloring pages for you.

My pal, Jill (Quilt Rat) has found another IoS creativity tool. I am so sad it doesn’t work on Android devices! It is called Amaziograph. With this app, you can create amazing kaleidoscopic designs a la color pages and La Passacaglia (without the color). Jill has written a blog post and created a basic video tutorial.

Projects, Patterns & Tutorials

Wanda, over at Exhuberent Color posted these sunflower blocks. I didn’t know these were in the Farm Girl Vintage book. I have that book and have looked at it, but must have missed this block.

Aren’t these monsters great? I love them and want to make one.

As per usual, Bonnie Hunter has released the first clue to her 2016 mystery quilt, En Provence. Download it now (she has a printer friendly version I save to my computer) as the clues go away in about 6 months. She has some excellent cutting tips in the first clue. It is always good to check in on our sewing technique.


Sara, over at Sew Sweetness, has posted a list of Cool Tools. Which do you use?

Definitely check out the sincere and lovely thank you from EQ.

Other Artists

My sister shared Christine Peloquin’s website with me. She commented that the art looked like ours would look if we were one person. I think it is true. I am not much of a face-in-quilt-form person (to each his own), but I do like the face painted over the quilt top. The imagery I saw on the day  I looked (11/11/2016) was dominated by images of women. I thought the images were profound given the current discussions on the status of women. Christine is located in Florida.

This subsection will be called the Judy Martin section. I know many modern quiltmakers have never heard of Judy Martin, but I love her work and especially her block designs. She also has a very friendly newsletter. They are not high tech, but cheerful, upbeat and entertaining. They are archived on her website. Judy, seriously, makes me want to visit Iowa again. It sounds much more interesting that I found it to be when I visited my great grandparents for summers as a kid.

In the November issue of her newsletter, she mentions that the Electric Quilt Company has a new download product that originated as her book, Knockout Blocks & Sampler Quilts (now out of print).

She also has a quilt at the Iowa Quilt Museum, which I mentioned previously. Judy writes “Nestled in an old J.C. Penney storefront on the picturesque courthouse square of historic Winterset, Iowa is the new Iowa Quilt Museum. It’s not a huge space with a large permanent collection. Rather it’s a small, nimble space given over to interesting exhibits curated especially for the museum. Through January 24, 2017 the exhibit of star quilts features “State Fair Star,” a Feathered Star variation I made for Patchwork Among Friends. The quilt shares the airy, well-lit space with 29 other star quilts. If you’re traveling to Des Moines or simply passing through on I-80 or I-35, the Iowa Quilt Museum is worth stopping for.”

Judy also mentions “a web site for a socially minded company that is making fabric from empty plastic bottles! They are trying to create opportunities for people in Haiti and Honduras while reducing the ecological impact of littered plastic bottles.” She says that she hasn’t “sampled any of their products, but” that she is “intrigued by the whole thing and certainly support[s] their goals. Take a look and see what you think.”

[end of Judy Martin subsection]


Quilt World News

Christen Daniels has resigned from the MQG board due to time constraints. The Nominating Committee put out a call to assist with the task of filling the volunteer board elected seat. They sought candidates with strong strategic planning skills and knowledge for nomination by November 12.

Not Quilt Related

From the Doing Good-NQR Department comes an article about the Native Sons and their donation to the Craniofacial Center at UCSF. Much of this money comes from $1 raffle tickets, $5 chances on gift baskets and $10 dinner tickets rather than $10,000 donations from rich people. You can make a difference by making a donation.

FOTY Squares – end of November 2016

FOTY - end of November 2016
FOTY – end of November 2016

You got a little peek at the FOTY squares yesterday when I posted about last week’s design wall.

Here are most of the squares in all their glory. I really couldn’t fit all you could see in the photo into the space I had on the design wall. Yes, you saw them all on, but in order to take a photo, you will have to wait for the rest to show up in the next installment.

There is a lot of yellow in the group. I had forgotten about those pieces. they will make an interesting addition to the FOTY 2016 quilt.

It hasn’t been that long since I posted about this project last. I am gearing up to start placing squares in order as soon as I finish the Peacock, thus I am cutting diligently. I want to get it started and done, though I am afraid the size of the squares will make a piece that is too large for my design wall again. Sigh.

Design Wall Monday

Design Wall Week of November 21, 2016
Design Wall Week of November 21, 2016

I don’t regularly post my design wall, though I do occasionally. The last time was in July. I am posting it this week, because I was enamoured with the look of my design wall last week.

As I said, I pressed and cut up many pieces of fabric over the weekend. Partway through my flurry of cutting, I looked up at the design wall to place another FOTY square and saw very little space left. As you can see above, the 4″ FOTY squares have almost taken over the space.

Design Wall Week of November 21, 2016
Design Wall Week of November 21, 2016

This time I don’t have very may different projects on the way. Part of that is because the Lobster fell off. Part of that is that The Peacock is taking up almost all of the other design wall.

  • 1,3 – FOTY squares
  • 2 – Stepping Stones
  • 4 – Bonnie Hunter Essential Triangle Tool
  • 5 – City Sampler blocks

There is actually a lot happening in my workroom, but it all seems to be in process with nothing every getting finished. Soon, I hope.


I am linking up with the Patchwork Times.

Pre-Thanksgiving Work

Pre-Thanksgiving Hunting & Gathering
Pre-Thanksgiving Hunting & Gathering

I spent a lot of time Sunday through Wednesday performing Thanksgiving prep tasks. I am sure many of you did as well.

I decided 3 pies would be enough and since I planned to buy one (shocking I know), I didn’t have as much prep as in previous years. Also, many of my clients went out of town as the week progressed, so work slowed down.

In between food prep, I did some hunting and gathering. I didn’t want to pull out my cutting table (it is stored in the fabric closet when I clean up), because I knew we would need to store random furniture and stuff in my workroom on Thanksgiving. It would just get in the way. I pulled out a portable cutting mat, cutter and rulers and proceeded to cut pieces from the variety of fabric I had ironed over the past….little while. The chair where I hang my washed fabric was getting less useful as a chair.

Key to Pre-Thanksgiving Hunting & Gathering
Key to Pre-Thanksgiving Hunting & Gathering

I really got a lot done as I listened to the end of a Charles Lenox mystery and all of Paris for One by JoJo Moyes (highly recommended!).

Depending on the color, I cut different shapes. The ones shown are:

  • 2.5″ squares, because a person often needs scrappy 2.5″ squares
  • 2.5″ squares for donation quilts. I am cutting 2.5″ squares anyway, so I might as well cut two and have a variety when I make the postage stamp blocks for BAM
  • 2″ squares in blue, violet and green for my upcoming Blue Lemonade quilt.
  • 1.5″ squares for the upcoming 30 Something quilt.
  • 1.5″ squares for a friend who needs them for a scrap quilt. My fabrics are very different from hers and since there is no shortage of fabric at my house, I offered to cut and send some to her.
  • (under various squares) strips to make half hexies for the EPP piece.

What you don’t see are my 2.5″x4.5″ rectangles in blue and pink. They were acting up apparently 😉 and couldn’t be in the picture. I decided a while ago to do a colorwash, similar to the Fabric of the Year quilts, but only in blue and another in pink to see if I could do it. I am still hunting and gathering, but need to stop collecting and try to do it.

When I post my next To Do list, I will be able to say that I have made progress on the washing and cutting!

ColorPlay November 25

Postamt Boden
Postamt Boden

I owe you a chapter from The Little Spark book, but that chapter will not be this week. Thanksgiving kicked my butt and after I post this, I am going to lay on the floor of my workroom and pretend I am sewing.

Once again we are looking at color palettes. This is an endlessly fascinating topic for me.

I saw this floor in the Postamt at Neutorgasse 46 in Graz when I went to mail some postcards home. I love mosaics and tile as you well know and despite the grime and poor repair of this floor, I thought it was a beautiful design.

ColorPlay November 25 n.1
ColorPlay November 25 n.1

I tried to get a pleasing array of the neutrals. Again, lots of neutrals and ‘repro’ colors. Another challenge. Lots of chocolate and mocha type colors. The Kona Taupe definitely has a pink cast and the Ash looks silvery. The two of them keep this palette from being too depressing.

ColorPlay November 25 n.2
ColorPlay November 25 n.2

I worked hard to keep that taupe in the palette on my second attempt. This second palette is somewhat brighter, especially with the Wheat.

If you make anything from one of the palettes above, let me know.


Lozenge Quilt

I have thought about the lozenge shape for awhile. The most recent instance of writing about it that I could find was last year when I wrote about seeing the shape crop up everywhere. I thought I had put it on my dream projects or future projects list, but I don’t see it there.

Anyway, I took the Mostly Manor Layer Cake that I bought with Julie and one of the Northcott white charm packs and got to work sewing the charm squares on to the Layer cake squares.

Lozenge quilt, first look
Lozenge quilt, first look

The work is easy and this is a leaders and enders project, but it is coming out ok. I hope I notice when it is finished.

I decided to split the lozenges in half on the diagonal and sew them back together with other fabric halves. I think it will be more interesting.

I am not a huge fan of the fabric. I think I mostly liked the large roses prints. Still, it should be a fun experiment. I’ll have to figure out what to do with it as I don’t need it laying around. I have a possible idea, but we will have to see.

Mel Beach Workshop

Shockingly, I took a machine quilting workshop.

Yes, I have done so in the past, but it has been awhile.

Mel Beach Machine Quilting Sampler
Mel Beach Machine Quilting Sampler

After seeing Mel’s sampler of designs up close and thinking for awhile that I wanted to pull out my walking foot for use more often, I signed up for the class. I love taking BAMQG classes. The people there are really fun, so even if the class it awful (and there hasn’t been an awful one yet), I know we would laugh and have a good time.

I will never be a great quilter like Colleen or Kelly, but I can be adequate and competent. My method of machine quilt is to follow the designs of fabric, as you saw in the Thanksgiving tablerunners. I usually use my applique’ foot and go very slowly. The applique’ foot allows me to see exactly where the needle is going and I can be a bit exacting when I quilt. I used to free motion quilt, but I haven’t done it in a long time and it doesn’t really suit my style of quilts.

The workshop was held at Grace Lutheran on Saturday a week or so ago. The task was to learn to use to the walking foot or become more comfortable in its use. In the process we would create a sampler (or two) of several different quilting patterns. Most of the patterns were straight line, but Mel included some gentle curves as well.

Mel was well organized and had obviously worked hard to develop her handouts. She covered taking breaks and caring for your body, which is skipped over in many classes. We also learned to use tape to mark, tips and tricks for pivoting, decorative stitches and much more. Mel is a calm and well prepared instructor.

The workshop was organized so that the group would get together to learn information then go to the machines to practice. There was a lot of back and forth, which was great because it encouraged everyone to take breaks.

Result of problem with tape
Result of problem with tape

I had a problem sewing on the correct side of the tape at the beginning. This put me behind, because I ended up with a whole bunch of ripping to do. Still I was able to finish one sampler.

I ended up marking an arrow on the tape telling me at a glance on which side to sew. Simple, and possibly unnecessary, but it helped me. I also marked some of the places with my Nonce pencil, a tool I learned to use when I first started quiltmaking. I didn’t have a Sewline with me.

The first thing we did was create squares on the sandwich we had created at home. Like the example above, we were to have a 9 patch layout in which to quilt our designs. I was moving along fine until I sewed on the wrong side of the tape and suddenly my squares were too small. After ripping, I drew the lines on and sewed over those drawn lines rather than using tape. Note that I didn’t make a big deal out of *my* error, as I have seen some people do in other classes. I calmly ripped enough so I could sew the next lesson and then ripped more while I listened to another lecture. Yes, I was frustrated, but this had nothing to do with Mel.

My Machine Quilting Sampler
My Machine Quilting Sampler

Eventually, I got back on track and was able to finish all but a quarter of one square.

All of the designs are straight line designs except for the heart in the center, which, as you can see, has only a very slight curve. The straight line designs were mostly done using tape in some way to mark out the lines, though in the spiral (upper left hand corner) I used the side of the walking foot, as instructed.

One of the reasons I took the class was to try and find background designs, that fit my quilting style, to use to finish the Tarts. I am not sure I found what I needed, though I think I can use some of the designs for that purpose

Machine Quilting Sampler: Chevron
Machine Quilting Sampler: Chevron

My favorite design was probably the Chevron, though I am not sure when I would use it. It isn’t as hard as it looks.

The class was worthwhile and I am glad I took it. I am not sure whether I am more inspired to quilt more in a new way or just have more knowledge. I don’t have a wild desire to machine quilt everything in sight. I suppose time will tell.

I have another sandwich made and continue to try to decide whether I want to start my own sampler, trying out the designs I wasn’t able to try in class. The problem is that if I am quilting, I am not piecing. Also, I can’t switch back and forth as I have to set the machine up for one or the other. For the moment, I will continue to piece.

Walking Foot Students with Projects
Walking Foot Students with Projects*

You can read more about Mel’s thoughts on her blog post.


*Thanks to Mel for the photo


Mom wanted to go on a mini-shop hop. She mentioned it a couple of times as soon as she heard about the Jingle Bells (??) shop hop. So, we planned it. Since the shops were kind of limited, I suggested that we visit Friend Julie and add Back Porch Fabrics and Hart’s to our shop hop. We spent the night with Julie and went to Back Porch in the morning.

I have spoken/written about that shop many times. It isn’t a large shop, but I love the aesthetic, the light, the colors. Generally I want to buy everything. Some would argue, in this instance, I did. 😉

That is a topic for another day. On this particular day, Gail Abeloe, the owner was in the shop and she spent a lot of time being friendly and showing us different things. I know she was in top notch sales mode, but I don’t care. It was great.

Quilt As You Go Made Modern - C&T Publishing
Quilt As You Go Made Modern – C&T Publishing

One of the things she showed was a new (ish??) book called Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern: Fresh Techniques for Busy Quilters. This really caught my attention as I saw, from her brief demo, how I could churn out more fully completed donation quilts. Gail included an additional handout/tips sheet with the books she sold at her store.

Almost as soon as I got home, I took some of the red and white donation blocks I had been stockpiling along with some leftover batting from recent longarm projects and tried it out.

First joined/quilted QAYG blocks
First joined/quilted QAYG blocks

While I can’t say, I am 100% successful, I only need some practice and refining of the process. I have several blocks quilted and I am in the process of joining them together.

One of the keys is to join the blocks in such a way that you don’t have to applique a join on a block, which I think was how the original technique was explained.

One thing I need to do next time is to make the batting pieces larger and trim them after quilting and before joining the pieces.

It is possible to use this technique along with regular piecing, so I have been making progress on these blocks as leaders and enders while I piece The Peacock. It isn’t a quick process and sometimes I feel frustrated, but I remember I am also quilting the quilt at the same time.

I’d also like to try foundation piecing straight on to the batting – kind of string piecing, but with large-ish strips.

I never heard of this book and will do a review later, but I do hope to have a quilt top done and “quilted” soon.

Blue and White Donation Blocks

Donation blocks Nov 2016
Donation blocks Nov 2016

I have been really churning out the donation blocks in the last week or so. I guess I feel I need to spread some kindness into the world.

I received more of the Northcott Colorworks 5×5 squares so I was back in business making donation blocks. I had almost started sewing 1.5 in x 1.5 inch squares together for the Thirty Something quilt.

Simultaneously, I washed several yards of white fabric so I could cut 2.5 inch squares for the donation blocks using the Accuquilt. The charm packs came first. I also have some ideas for the white and use it for linings to dresses, so I’d like to keep the yardage intact, if possible.

Donation block November 2016
Donation block November 2016

I have a whole group of red and white donation squares that I am putting together into a top, so these blue and white ones are just stacking up.

I am trying to make them cheerful, though I do have a container full of squares earmarked for donation quilts. I cut one 2.5 inch square, at least, from each fabric I buy or wash or use when I do my normal cutting.

Donation block November 2016
Donation block November 2016

For the moment, these are blocks, however, I am testing out a new quilting method and so they may turn into quilts without sending me into paroxysms of pain. Stay tuned.

More City Sampler Blocks

I wasn’t very happy with a couple of the blocks from the last group of blocks, but I am continuing to persevere and am much happier with the latest batch.

City Sampler n.49-52
City Sampler n.49-52

It is working for me to use these blocks as leaders and enders while I piece The Peacock. They require a lot more thought than simple piecing of two squares together leaders and enders, so it is harder to think of them as rote sewing. Still, I am getting these blocks done. I made it to Block n.53 by last Sunday and that block was half done by the time the weekend ended. This means I am more than halfway finished with the set of blocks. All of the 100 blocks in 100 days piecers are nearing the end, which will mean my inspiration goes away. Still, I am taking advantage of it while I can.

City Sampler n.45-46
City Sampler n.45-46

I am making the blocks the way Tula suggestions, which is a problem for me regarding triangles. My machine is eating corners of the triangles. Fortunately, after n.55, I have some blocks with, what Tula calls, stripes. After a quick glance through the rest of the book, it appears that most of the rest of the blocks consist of squares and rectangles. Hallelujah!

City Sampler n.47-48
City Sampler n.47-48

The triangles do look nice on some of the blocks; it is just the making of them that is driving me crazy. I never thought of buying a single needle plate (think of all the needles I will break!), but Tula’s method of making the triangles might drive me to it.

As soon as I finish the Peacock top, I will put these blocks up on the design wall and take a look at how they look together.