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.

ColorPlay November 18

Glockenspiel on Glockenspielplatz
Glockenspiel on Glockenspielplatz

I am working, today, with another photo from my trip to Austria.

I used to live at Glockenspielplatz 6/3/13 and this is the Glockenspiel (chimes, carillon) across from the main house door. I don’t remember that giant tower and will have to look up some photos from my last trip to Graz to see if I simply don’t remember.

Again, I am playing with neutrals, apparently. The colors of the buildings are remarkably consistent in Graz. The yellowing stone of the buildings, the red tile (slate???) roofs and the green copper of some towers or other architectural details. No fuchsia or turquoise here.

ColorPlay November 18 n.2
ColorPlay November 18 n.2

The Palette Builder tool created a much more neutral heavy palette, which makes me wonder how the circles are placed on the image by the programming. The circles seem to gravitate to the darker sections of the photo. You can see that none of the gold or sand colors have a circle on them.

Still the tool selected a bit of blue, which adds to the palette, though I was sorely tempted to move the blue circle to a darker section of the sky.

ColorPlay November 18
ColorPlay November 18

I thought my first attempt would also be somewhat depressing (I am gaining more of an appreciation for neutrals, however), but the yellow and the blues add some cheeriness.

I wanted to get a good color for the green copper, but wasn’t really successful. This made me think about whether I was expecting a matching color from my mind or if I was truly seeing that green color. Yes, I do know there are a variety of greens in that architectural detail.

ColorPlay November 18 n.3
ColorPlay November 18 n.3

Since I seemed to be stuck on greens, I decided to try and create an almost completely green palette using that copper covered tower.

I am not sure if Limestone, Shale and OD Green are actually greens. If I assume they are, I have to say they lean heavily towards the grey end of the green spectrum. Yes, I did move that blue circle to a spot that would register Stratosphere.

Let me know if you make something from either of these color palettes.

Final Napkins

Thanksgiving is next Thursday in the US.

Is the pie crust made?


Pie filling?


Rooms tidied of their pieces and piles?

Sort of.

Napkins - final
Napkins – final
Napkins - final
Napkins – final



However! The napkins for Thanksgiving are done! As I mentioned last time, one got eaten so I went and bought another pack. The dusky purple was an inspired choice. All of the motifs turned out really well on that background.

Even the Pennsylvania Dutch style turkeys is appealing.

More Garment Sewing

Layout pattern
Layout pattern

Well, I cannot seem to stay away from the garments. I am still not a confident garment maker and I couldn’t do it easily without my SIL who is a master (mistress??) of garment sewing.

We are using the same Hawaiian style shirt pattern that we did when I visited her in Maryland a few years ago.

I am using some great California fabric that I found at the Granary. It is called California Here we Come by Studio 8 for Quilting Treasures.

California Here We Come Fabric
California Here We Come Fabric

I bought 3 yards of the tan for the shirt. I knew I would need some extra and I didn’t want to run out in case I made mistakes. I thought the tan colorway would look good with the recipient’s coloring. I also bought a half yard of the black on white, which would be my colorway preference.

This is a really good California print as it has a lot of the sights of our state and goes beyond the most prominent. Whoever drew the print was thoughtful about the motifs.

She is supervising me heavily and I need it, because I can’t get the layout of the pattern pieces straight in my head. I only had to recut 3 pieces this time, which is an improvement.

Now I have cut all the pieces and applied interfacing. I have also hemmed the shirt fronts. Onward.

More Bias Rectangles (HRTs) Resources

Last week, I wrote a post on HRTs. After writing it and concentrating, mostly, on tutorials, I thought of rulers. Yes, I mentioned the Tri-Recs ruler, but I thought there might be others. I am not sure why I didn’t think of it myself.

BlocLoc HRT ruler
BlocLoc HRT ruler

This idea got legs when one reader (Thanks, Libby!) told me that the BlocLoc ruler system has an HRT ruler. I saw them in an online shop and they look similar to the BiRangle, though different as well.

I am not familiar with this system of rulers, not because there is anything wrong with them. I haven’t used them, mostly because I don’t want to get sucked in to another type of ruler! I do want to support small quiltmaking businesses and I feel the urge to just try them all the time. It is hard since I am such a ruler lover.

Creative Grids HRT
Creative Grids HRT

After finding the BlocLoc rulers I went searching for others. I found a Creative Grids triangle ruler that will help you make HRTs in a variety of different sizes. It is similar in shape to the Tri Recs, but looks like you can make more sizes using it.

I think you could also make blocks with super skinny triangles like Storm at Sea or 54-40 or Fight.

This CG ruler is a little pricey – $18.95. Think of how many quilts you could make! 😉

Accuquilt-HRT die
Accuquilt-HRT die

It also occurred to me that Accuquilt may have a die. They do. The die (#55411) cuts two skinny triangles in a 3 x 6 inch size. You must have a Go! machine to use this die. It is compatible with the Studio, Big and Go! Baby, though you might have to use an adapter. This die is also included in the Accuquilt GO! Qube Mix & Match 12″ Block set. The obvious drawback is that you get only one size.

I went to the Cotton Patch a few weeks ago and they had a whole Accuquilt Center in their store now! It made me want to swoon. If I only had unlimited funds and space! I suppose more time would be useful as well. 😉

Happy HRT making!

FOTY 2016 Squares Progress

FOTY 2016 Nov 2016 Squares
FOTY 2016 Nov 2016 Squares

This group looks like it would be a wonderfully cheerful baby/toddler quilt. Turquoise and pinky-red! What could be better?

It makes me want to just toss all the FOTY 2016 squares up on the wall and sew them together in a way that creates a larger cheerful quilt with this look. This tells me that I am getting tired of the project.

Don’t worry; it is a stage int he process and I will get through it. It is a good sign and perhaps I will start arranging right after New Year’s Day. We’ll see.

I looked in the box of squares yesterday and found it stuffed to the gills. I hope I don’t have to cut the squares down. I don’t want to.

Orange Soda Journal Cover

I have been in desperate need of leaders & enders lately. The crisis has passed since I got my order of Northcott Colorworks charm squares, though before it did a lot of weird pieces were sewn.

Orange Soda Journal Cover (closed)
Orange Soda Journal Cover (closed)

I had some orange scraps that I had started to sew together, so I continued to sew and turned it into a journal cover. It is along the same lines as the Orange Crush journal cover and the scraps may have been from that piece.

I am really pleased with how this one came out. The front cover is really well placed. The scraps aren’t too small, which always causes finishing issues. It is also bright and cheerful. I need bright and cheerful right now.

Orange Soda Journal Cover - open
Orange Soda Journal Cover – open


ColorPlay Friday

Dornbirn Window Boxes
Dornbirn Window Boxes

On my first day in Dornbirn, I went with my Austrian mom to the natural grocery store (Bioladen). Across the street was the house above. I love the painted shutters and the window boxes. September is such a lovely month in Vorarlberg.

I decided to use the photo to see what kind of palette I could make. I have recently been fascinated with the combinations of neutrals. I see a lot of houses in the neighborhood painted in a pleasing combination of neutrals. I am reluctant to commit to such a color combination, however. There is a difference between admiring as I amble by and being forced to look at it each time I drive up and walk in.

ColorPlay Nov 11 n.1
ColorPlay Nov 11 n.1

This photo has some interesting neutrals. I focused on the neutrals in the first palette. As individual colors combined with super brights, as per my usual, I can imagine using them. I am not sure about the palette above. I was trying to get a white, but the Palette Builder recognized the color as baby blue. It is interesting to think about using a very, very pale blue instead of white. This is when I need a team of assistants to sew on command. 😉

ColorPlay Nov 11 n.2
ColorPlay Nov 11 n.2

Kind of depressing, especially after Tuesday, so I tried to create a brighter version. Not much to work with, but I do like the result. The watermelon is an interesting color.

What have you made?

Peacock Work Continues

I know I just wrote about my progress on The Peacock a few days ago, but I have made more progress and I am pretty excited. The progress feels kind of like a baby. The first few months of a baby’s life sees a lot of change in their looks. In this piece, each row seems to provide more personality.

The Peacock - Nov 2016
The Peacock – Nov 2016

I spent most of the day Sunday out, but since it is Standard Time and the day started early, I arrived home on the early side. The timing allowed me to spend a few hours sewing. I wasn’t expecting any sewing time and was very pleased. As I am getting towards the top, the piece really looks more and more like something.

I am not sure I am a huge fan of the green (feather) diagonal line, on the right towards the middle, that was formed when I pieced those rows. I am not, however, unpicking. I do like the trails the green solid has made and I am eager to get those sections on the design wall so I can finish working on the final width and layout.

I know I was pretty ambivalent after making the blocks for this piece. I am really interested in how the quilt top is turning out. It is taking a lot of time and work. However, the challenge is really working my brain.

Thanksgiving Tablerunners

Pumpkin/gourd tablerunner
Pumpkin/gourd tablerunner

The tablerunners are ready for their first outing in a couple of weeks. I have no illusions about finishing the tablemat, but I am pleased with my efforts thus far.

The first one I finished is shown on the left. I really like this one and kind of wish I had bought more of these panels, so all of the runners could match. I didn’t and I am not making more.

Tablerunners #2 & 3
Tablerunners #2 & 3

I did very simple quilting, for the most part, though the quilting ended up being much more complicated on the alternate design just because of the fabric motifs. I did a lot of outline quilting of the leaves and such, so it took more time.

I think, depending, that I will plan to take the tablemat to the next quilt retreat. I get a lot of blocks made at retreats, but quilting is also a good task for a retreat.


26 Projects – November 2016 edition

The last time I reviewed my list was in July. I have made some progress, but not a lot. August was pretty much a desert for getting projects done and I was gone in September so no sewing then either. I was ready to rock in October and am making some progress.

Finished 2016 Quilt Projects

Finished 2016 non-Quilt Projects

In Process
The  ‘In Process’ is used to denote projects on which I am actively working or pretending to stitch. I try not to put away projects, because that will ensure I never work on them.

  • Carpenter’s Wheel blocks – I finished #9 and #10. I thought this finish concluded the blocks. However, after I laid them out, I realized that I didn’t have enough to do what I wanted. I need to make a few more. Perhaps as leaders and enders?
  • English Paper Piecing Project– half hexies – I added three more stars to the large piece over the weekend. I also measure the piece and figure out how much more I have to stitch to get it to a good size.
  • Lobster – have more stitching to do and then I need to quilt it.
  • Octagon 9 Patch: ready to put together. Not sure what I am waiting for. Another leaders/enders project or do I want to lay out the blocks more carefully?
  • Peacock Quilton the design wall and sewing the top together is in process.
  • Pies and Points from Victoria Findlay Wolfe class. No further progress. I did find more of the background fabric when I went to Portland, so I can make a larger piece.
  • Stepping Stones #2 – I am in the process of making the border blocks after I designed them to be a little different from the first Stepping Stones quilt.

Still WIPs
I still have WIPs. Who doesn’t, after all? A project in the ‘UFO’ category means I am stalled. A nicer way of saying UFO is a WIP. The list is a lot shorter and the projects are newer, for the most part.

  1. Aqua-Red Sampler – I made progress on the partial seaming tutorial and need to sit down to finish it.
  2. The Tarts Come to Tea: I still haven’t worked on this since April 2011, though, it is in a prominent location so I have easy access. I am taking a machine quilting workshop soon (shock, horror, I know) and the focus is on background motifs. Just what I need!
  3. Pointillist Palette #4: Fourth is a series of 6 quilts; needs tiny square patches sewn together. I still haven’t worked on this project either, but I do think about it.
  4. Self Portrait: started in 2006 at a class at Quilting Adventures in Richmond, Virginia. My career counselor breathed new life into this project for me. She asked a simple question and the end result was inspiration for this piece, but I kind of lost steam again after printing images on paper to try out different designs. Lately, I have stopped feeling like I need to finish this piece. I am not ready to give up on it yet. I think it really needs major surgery.
  5. Under the Sea: class project; like the design and am happier with the colors. I bought a few spools of Aurifil 12wt and have been embroidering with it and the Perl Cotton on it. It might become a lush pillow for someone.
  6. Serendipity Lady Quilt

Ready for Quilting

  • Thanksgiving tablemat

In Quilting Process

  • Theoretically, the Tarts Come to Tea is in the quilting process. I am taking a class next weekend that may give me some ideas and perhaps get me back on track with it.



Hunting and Gathering

  • Blue Gradation Quilt: cutting 2.5″x 4.5″ blue rectangles
  • Blue Lemonade: cutting blue, green, purple 2″ squares
  • Pink Gradation Quilt: cutting 2.5″x 4.5″ pink rectangles
  • Spin Wheel: really not started, but supplies gathered. I probably have enough fabrics and just need to decide to start.
  • Windmill quilt: Still hunting and gathering. I am supposed to be cutting a variety of greys for the background. I bought a new template, so I should be able to get going again


What’s on your list?