Tuesday, July 22, 2014

… where i sew

well, this has been a long time coming. i meant to share my new sewing space when i moved into it, oh... over two years ago. i made a few improvements recently and realized it was also where i sew month at pink chalk, so i figured it was time to take a few photos and show you all this little space i call my sewing room (the operative word being little).

i used to sew in the sun room off of our dining room (you can find a tour of that room here), which was lovely and i enjoyed being on the main floor of the house, but we realized that it would make a better play room for ingrid as she got more mobile. so i moved upstairs into the tiny bedroom, which i was already using as an office (barely). it really is a tiny room (no bigger than 8x10'), but it fits everything just perfectly and i couldn't be happier with it. i had it painted this delicate pale pink when it was my office, and i still love the color for my sewing room.


the first thing you see when you walk in is the table with my sewing machine (my trusty janome memory craft 6600p). this is the same old dining table i had downstairs. it used to belong to my mom. it's not ergonomically ideal, but i love it. with the extension leaves it holds a lot, including my scrap baskets and my smaller cutting mat, which i keep next to the sewing machine.



above the table are some ikea shelves that i spray painted yellow. they hold scissors, sewing machine accessories, pins, knitting needles, and other notions. the sweet little quilt block painting is by blair. it is one of my favorite things in this room. the triangle print up top is by alyson fox. the calendar is from ilee. c buys me one every year for christmas and every year it delights me.



to the left of the sewing table is the closet the holds all my fabric (hiya solveig!). i recently painted the top panels with chalkboard paint and put up some wallpaper on the lower panels (designed by jessica jones, from chasing paper). right now i'm using the chalkboard for my to-do list and to make quick quilt sketches. you can see that i store most of my batting on top of the closet, and when my ironing board is not in use i tuck it up between the closet and my chair.



inside is my fabric stash. it's organized primarily by type of fabric, yardage, and then color. the very top shelf is batting scraps, below that is yardage of quilting cottons, the next three are smaller cuts of quilting cottons organized by color (so. much. blue.), below that are solids, and the bottom shelf is other substrates (home dec, flannel, wool, etc.) i do admit that i sort of miss having my fabric out on open shelving so i can constantly admire it, but it's much happier in here where it doesn't get faded from the sun. i learned that lesson the hard way with some precious fabric in my old sewing room.


on the other side of the room is my cutting table and a small bookshelf. i think my favorite part of this sewing room is having a dedicated cutting table. space is definitely tight in here but i felt like that was a necessity. my back and shoulders really used to hurt after cutting fabric for long periods of time on my lower sewing table. i used an old desk top that i got at ikea ages ago and bought some new trestle-style legs at ikea that are height-adjustable. i also love that it's high enough for me to store a bunch of stuff under there, like my handy ikea raskog cart, which i use for projects in limbo, and as a place to stash fabric between projects (kind of like a to-be-shelved library cart).


one of my newest improvement was the addition of this pegboard above my cutting table. it holds my rotary cutter and ruler, along with some other accessories, and serves as a place to put up photos and small bits of inspiration. i love love love having this here.


above the cutting table is my pearl bracelet trip around the world quilt top that i still haven't gotten around to quilting. i figured in the meantime i can at least admire it every day. below that are some framed prints that i adore. the one on the left is by my friend, holly. it makes me very happy.


that little bookshelf holds my quilting and knitting books, along with patterns, a bin of saved selvages, and some charm squares. i use the top as a sort of desk for my laptop and place to put my tea and snacks while i sew. the print atop the shelf is for a built to spill show benefiting fantagraphics with artwork by some of my favorite cartoonists (so many of my favorite things in one!) i would hang it elsewhere in the house, but c doesn't like the one panel with the woman with the weird boob, so it stays in here with my things. (when ingrid sees it she always asks why her boob is so funny. ha.)


and lastly, on the wall between the door and the sewing table, is my design wall. it's a little low-rent, as it's just a large piece of frankensteined flannel that's attached to the wall with push pins, but it works great for me. i can keep a bunch of small projects up here as i work on them or lay out a fairly large quilt if i need to.

yay, that's it! i do love this little room and hope you do, too. it's cozy and sweet, and suits me perfectly. any hours i get to spend in here are usually very, very happy.

Pink Chalk Studio

linking up as part of pink chalk's where i sew month!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

... my little huckleberry


oh yeah, so i guess i should mention that i had a baby a couple of months ago, huh?


this is solveig hilda. she was born november 8th after half a day of labor (shorter than my labor with ingrid, but much more intense) and only a few minutes of pushing. it was crazy and scary for a few minutes (cord around her neck, dropping heart rate, fluid not fully cleared from her lungs) but all turned out well and i am still a huge fan of the epidural (for both my girls it seemed to help me relax enough to let labor, that had been slowing down, speed up and progress). she was just over 9 pounds, which i know is huge, but after 9-1/2 pound ingrid seems quite normal to me.

Baby smiles! It feels like everyone grew up a little while I was away. #dailysolveig

she is a delight most of the time, a little dictator the rest of the time. you know, constantly needing attention and food and cuddles, as infants do. but she is sleeping relatively well at the moment and laughs and coos enough to be charming and obviously i love her to pieces.


having two kids is quite different than having one. i look back at my life with just ingrid and think about it much as i did when i looked back on my life without children when i only had ingrid. that is, i wonder, "what did i do with all the precious free time i had? i must have been squandering it and not appreciating it at all!" because i have so little time right now for much of anything, even though both of us are at home and ingrid goes to preschool in the mornings four days a week. i am finally out of that period of the baby-fog enough that i really want to get things done (namely: sewing) but i don't have enough time or free hands to do it. i'm sure things will change soon and i am trying to appreciate these quiet, uncomplicated days, but i really do miss just doing things.


ingrid is doing pretty well and, i think, might actually enjoy having a little sister. things were weird at first (mostly that she wasn't interested in me right after solveig was born) but now she's happy and likes to talk about the things she'll show solveig when she's bigger.

so, for now, you can look at pictures of our little solveig. she's quite the charmer. (that beautiful vintage sheet quilt below was made for solveig by the amazing emily. i am continually flabbergasted by the kindness of internet friends.)

Get out of town @emmmylizzzy! I can't believe you made this for #dailysolveig! What a sweet, generous, beautiful surprise. (And the book for Ingrid is perfect, as is your insanely cute wrapping paper.) Thank you thank you thank you!

(and the next quilt for solveig was made by my seattle mqg friends! seriously, isn't the quilting community the best?) You guys! I love Solveig's quilt so much. Thank you so much to my #seattlemqg peeps @sewkatiedid @seasona @samilou01 and others I'm not sure of in my babybrain state. Who else helped? Please let me know! #dailysolveig

and i am trying to keep up with another weekly photo project (this time with plants rather than fabric), but i'll put those up here later (you can check out the flickr set in the meantime, that is, if you have patience for the new, slower, uglier flickr... ugh).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

... a courthouse steps quilt block tutorial


this is a mini-tutorial for a courthouse steps block for the love circle of do. good stitches. this is a very straightforward traditional block but i wanted to point out a few details for our group.


  • please use any cool color of your choosing for each block (blue, green, purple, or grey) and make two 11-1/2" square blocks. i used blue for my sample block.
  • use a variety of fabrics in shades of that color that are dark and light value (or high volume/low volume, brights/pastels, whatever term you prefer).
  • the center block will always be a dark value fabric.
  • try to use a good number of solids along with prints that read primarily one color.
  • this is a great block to use up scraps, though you can also pull from your stash.
  • all strips are 1-1/2" wide in a variety of lengths.
  • you can cut your fabric strips in advance according to the measurements (below), or you can use strips that are slightly longer than specified and square up when done (this is how i do it to ensure the most accurate piecing).
  • use a scant 1/4" seam allowance to allow room for error.
  • i find it easier to press seams to the side on this block to avoid bulk, but feel free to press however you like.
  • this is a simple log cabin block variation where instead of going around from the center square you sew the pieces across from each other.
  • the most important thing is that the two sides contrast in terms of value. if you're unsure of the value of a fabric, try taking a photograph in black and white and you can see how it compares to other fabrics.


start with a 1.5" square piece in a dark fabric. cut two 1-1/2" square pieces in light fabric and sew on either side of dark square. this piece should now measure 1-1/2 x 3-1/2". always check to make sure your block is the right size and square up after adding each new set of sides.


sew two 3-1/2" strips of dark fabric to the long sides of this unit. when done, it should now measure 3-1/2" square.






continue alternating dark and light strips on either side. after each round of dark and light it will measure 3-1/2", 5-1/2", 7-1/2", 9-1/2" and finally 11-1/2" square.


feel free to add some piecing to your strips. you can see that i added some small bits to the text fabric in the last round of dark fabric. i also pieced two lengths of light fabric together in one round, and another is made up of two horizontal pieces in a middle round. this is optional, but feel free to be creative if you like!

if you want to cut your fabric in advance*, here is what you'll need for one block (all strips are 1-1/2" wide):

for the dark fabrics:

  • 1 1-1/2" square
  • 2 3-1/2" strips
  • 2 5-1/2" strips
  • 2 7-1/2" strips
  • 2 9-1/2" strips
  • 2 11-1/2" strips

for the light fabrics:
  • 2 1-1/2" squares
  • 2 3-1/2" strips
  • 2 5-1/2" strips
  • 2 7-1/2" strips
  • 2 9-1/2" strips

*again, i like to cut my fabric as i go and cut a little longer than i need to allow room for error and then square up as i go. but if you feel like your cutting and piecing is very precise, feel free to cut in advance.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

… a 3/4 log cabin quilt

high-volume 3/4 log cabin

before i finally pack this up and send it off to wrap them in love (i know, i know, i'm a little pokey with these things lately) i thought perhaps i should write a little about this quilt, my new all-time favorite for the love circle of do. good stitches. you may remember the quickie tutorial i wrote up a few months ago for my bee members to make these simple, bright blocks in a pattern i'm still calling 3/4 log cabins for lack of a better term. well, here they are, in all their amazing, bright, saturated, in-your-face glory.

i'm seriously quite tickled with how it turned out.

high-volume 3/4 log cabin back

the backing fabric is from anna maria horner's hand drawn garden collection. i picked this up at fabric depot when i was down in portland for the pnw modern quilt guild meet-up in august. in retrospect maybe i should have taken the extra few minutes to try and line up the pattern where i had to create a seam, but i'm generally so terrible at cutting and sewing large pieces of fabric (seriously, does anyone else have this problem?) and i worried that even if i tried it would still not meet up completely and that would frustrate the heck out of me. oh well. i still love the print and how it complements the boldness of the front.

high-volume 3/4 log cabin

i also quilted this one on my friend sandie's longarm. she suggested this terrific baptist fan pattern board. the shape reminds me of a rainbow, which i like because it softens up the hardness of the squares, but the rainbow shape keeps with the rainbow theme of the colors (hey, it's a stretch, but it works!). she also suggested the orange thread, which i never would have thought of myself, but looks great on all the bright solids. if i did this myself i totally would have used white thread, which would have been too jarring for the quilt. that sandie is so smart.

high-volume 3/4 log cabin

this is the 7th quilt i've made for do. good stitches after being in the bee since its humble beginnings. it's fun to look back and see how many quilts our little bee has made and think about how much good it is doing for others. and, to be honest, it's so fun for me to be a part of this group, that there is definitely a bit of selfishness involved here. i've met so many wonderful women through this group and had the chance to learn while sewing out of my comfort zone that it rarely feels like work. so thank you to everyone who helped make this quilt happen!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

… october


O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;


When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;


When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;


When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;


When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;


When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;


When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.


O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

October's Bright Blue Weather
by Helen Hunt Jackson

Monday, October 14, 2013

… a quilt i never wanted to make

heart quilt front

it's hard to find the words to talk about this quilt, but i wanted to share it because it's special to me. a few weeks ago, one of our dear friends died of a heart attack, just a couple of weeks shy of his 42nd birthday. he was so young, so healthy (a former professional dancer turned dance teacher), so happy, so vibrant, so sincere. so it was, and still is, a shock. and while my heart is breaking for the loss of him from the world, and selfishly for the loss of him from my own life, my heart is breaking even more so over the fact that his wife, also our dear friend, and his 4-year-old son have been left behind to figure out how to go on living life without him.

what makes this extra hard for me is that they now live in the netherlands, and while my initial instinct was to jump on the next plane to be with them, being in the last few weeks of pregnancy makes this an impossibility for me. the day after he died, i was sitting around cycling through a rollercoaster of emotions, and landed on the thought, "what can i do for them?" and, being a quilter, it suddenly seemed obvious that though i can't be there to physically wrap my arms around them to show my love and grief, i might be able to send a quilt that they can wrap around themselves. while i know a quilt is no substitute for a husband and a friend and father, it comforts me to think that our friend and her son can snuggle under it together and possibly feel my love from the other side of the world.

i'm not even sure how to explain how the design came about as i normally might. i guess a heart might seem cheesy, but it felt like i was sending them a huge expression of my love for them, for their lost family member, for my lost friend. and it also represents the impact our friend left on the world. i know when people talk people who have died it's easy to overlook shortcomings and focus only on the good, but i can't even begin to say how essentially good our friend was. always smiling, always interested in everyone around him, always showing nothing but love for his family, always the best sport in our weekly summer croquet games, always emanating a kind of light and warmth and love that you could almost feel and see when you were around him. so i quickly sketched out this heart, that to me glows with warmth, and made it so big as to be the entirety of the quilt. i also wanted it to be simple enough that i could finish it quickly and use what i had on hand. it's constructed of 3-1/2" squares and half-square triangles. the final size is about 67 x 70, a generous lap quilt.

heart quilt back

the back is one of the happiest prints i could find, anna maria horner's sketchbook in ivory from the hand drawn garden collection. in fact, it's so happy i think i want to use it on everything now.


it's bound in a martha negley print called holly light snow in red from her holiday collection, poinsettia and holly. i found it at drygoods design after realizing that, once again, nothing in my stash was at all right.

i quilted it with sandie on her long arm with my favorite spiral pattern. sandie was so sweet to let me come over and do this one relatively quickly. and i just love how the combination of the patchwork heart and the swirly quilting look together.

while i'm not sure i necessarily feel better having finished this to send to our friend, i do feel like i've at least tried to show her our love and support. i'll be honest, making this quilt has made me really sad and it a little hard to look at objectively (i'm sorry to anyone who has asked me in person about the quilt and gotten a vague answer... it's just been too hard to talk about this out loud), i'm happy that at least i was able to do something tangible. and i'm sure that's not something i need to explain to any other quilter out there who has ever made a quilt out of love.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

… so much sewing

i really have been quite busy lately. i'm now 32 weeks pregnant and the part of my body that needs me to be ready for this baby is seriously screaming at me to BE READY FOR THIS BABY. i'm making lists, crossing things off, and trying to prioritize projects. i'm not going to lie, i'm also super overwhelmed. i'm starting to realize that not everything is going to get done. i'm half panicky about that and half totally at peace with it.

so, here's an onslaught of what i've been working on for the past few months, starting with a backlog of do. good stitches love circle blocks i never shared here.

HST/log cabin blocks for do. good stitches

march blocks for natalie. she wrote a nifty tutorial for these half-square triangle log cabin blocks on her blog, and you can also see the finished quilt here. such a great quilt.

two log cabin quilt-as-you-go blocks for rachel for the April do. good stitches quilt.

april blocks for rachel, who also created a tutorial for quilt-as-you-go log cabin blocks that she turned into this lovely quilt.

do.good stitches wonky stars

and some wonky stars in purple and yellow for the lovely miss jacey's may quilt. that one on the left turned out enormous and is maybe is a little bonkers, but oh well.

goose creek blocks for deborah

june goose creek blocks for deborah. her color palette was inspired by the class board game sorry, which is just so cool.


july was my turn to quilt and i had everyone send high-volume blocks using my 3/4 log cabin tutorial. believe it or not, i finished that quilt a couple of weeks ago, and i'll show some more pictures of it on the blog soon. woot!

house blocks

house blocks for natalie's august quilt. she asked for any size and any kind of house and tree blocks so i sent her one paper-pieced greenhouse using a pattern i bought from during quiet time on etsy and one improv-pieced block, that, to be honest, now that i look at it probably has a little too much white going on, since the block is so huge. again, oh well. but i do love that greenhouse!

go anywhere stripe block

and today i just finished my september block for rachel. she created an amazing tutorial for foundation piecing these go anywhere stripe blocks that got me so excited i made my block super early (for me). i seriously love this block so much i was thinking about turning a couple into pillows. wouldn't that be lovely? i'm really looking forward to seeing how this quilt turns out.

but wait, there's more!

Finished tote bag and @noodlehead531 open-wide zipper pouch for the #mqgmeetuppdx swap this weekend. Dang, that railroad denim is hard to photograph-- those small stripes just look like op art. But it's a seriously lovely fabric in real life. For the stra

i made this tote bag and zipper pouch for a swap for the pacific northwest modern quilt guild meetup in portland last month. we all got a half yard of robert kaufman fabric to incorporate into our bags, and i used a railroad denim that was super lovely. this swap was so fun (as was the meetup itself) and i should totally show you the amazing bag i got in return.


and this month we did a pot holder swap within the seattle modern quilt guild. i used the pattern in zakka style and a bit of improv patchwork i initially created in a color workshop i took with bill kerr recently to make this pair. despite these colors not being totally my thing, i really like how they turned out.

bassinet pad

bassinet pad

and, lastly, i finally got around to making a new basinet pad for our moses basket, since this is where the huckleberry will be sleeping at first. it looks much like the one i made for ingrid two years ago, but that one felt really thin and shrunk after i washed it (even though i used prewashed fabric) so i felt a new one was in order. i used some more of my precious anna maria horner folksy flannels again, but this time used five layers (five layers!) of batting to make it extra cushy and put some binding around the edges. i'm not going to lie, trying to quilt through five layers of batting plus flannel was a huge bummer and my thread kept breaking, so the quilting isn't terrific. but you get the idea. at least it's soft and reversible, and i like that one side is calm and serene and the other is a bit crazy. we'll see which one the baby prefers.

i'm so glad i got that out of the way since, as of today, this new baby has no room, no crib, no dresser for her clothes, no nothin'. please don't come early, little huckleberry, okay? i still have way too much to do!

wish me luck.