crossroads quilt along - the big assembly

I know that I say I love all my quilts, but I really love this one. Extra love for the Crossroads quilt! This month, the blocks were connected with sashing, and I arranged the blocks exactly like the pattern. The pieced border has 122 red half-square-triangles. And I have a little confession. The pattern directs you to make them using triangles-on-a-roll paper. But instead, I used my usual method which is done by placing two slightly oversized squares right sides together, drawing a line from corner to corner and sewing 1/4" away from the line on both sides, cutting in half on the drawn line and pressing them open, and then trimming the pressed HSTs down to exactly the right size. Use whichever method works best for YOU! And finally, I added the five borders.

I loved watching the quilt come to life with each step of the assembly. It looks like the perfect antique that I hoped to find at the antique flea market that we went to yesterday at the local 4-H Center. Sadly, all I found were tattered, abused quilts - I wonder if those quilts were loved very much, or if they were just used for farming needs. Well, now I have my own "instant" antique quilt!

I'm so happy that I participated in the sew along, and I really hope that you've been sewing with us. All of the patterns are still available free of charge here, courtesy of Fig Tree Quilts and Fat Quarter Shop. A minimum donation of $5 to March of Dimes is requested for the use of each pattern, and your donation will go directly to the charity. This month's video tutorial is really helpful (and at least I learned how to use those trianges-on-a-roll!). Next month, we'll assemble the pieced backing - I'm using the kit, and I'm planning to tweak it a just a little :-) and then Crossroads can go off to my quilter!

Also - congratulations to last week's giveaway winner, Tammy Barnhardt! Tammy likes to decorate for Christmas with red and gold, but she's thinking of trying pink and teal. Thanks, everybody, for playing along!

moda modern building blocks quilt FINISHED!

I have a finish to share with you today! The Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt is finished, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I can hardly believe that I started this in July 2014 - two years ago! The last time it appeared on this blog was February 2015, and at that time, I said that I had only two blocks to go. Wow, how time flies!

The pattern was a bit challenging, for sure. The block patterns instruct you to use triangles (not the stitch-and-flip method), so lots of careful cutting and pinning was needed. Several of the blocks - such as the large 36" block! - have stretchy bias on the outer edges. I loved working with the Fig Tree color palette, with a few prints added for interest. I added a narrow Fig Tree toile outer border in a taupe color.  There were three reasons why I did this. First, I wanted to contain all those seams that would have been on the outer edge. Second, adding an outer border ensured that no star points would be accidentally hidden within the binding. And finally, the borders created a quilt that was the perfect size for a queen bed (it finished, with borders, at 90" x 102" before washing). It was quilted in a Baptist fan pattern by Kaylene Parry of Lehi, UT, and I love how her quilting helps to bring a classic element to a modern quilt. 

But I don't have the quilt anymore - it's been gifted! When I was first started working on the quilt, my friend Carole saw it on the blog and mentioned that she'd be happy to have it. I thought how perfect, now I know what to give her for Christmas! So this past Thanksgiving, I took the still-unfinished quilt top to Ohio so that she and her husband Russ could have a preview. Then I stuffed it into a bag and brought it home :-) I added the border and shipped it off to Kaylene for quilting. And then it sat in my studio for another three months until I stitched the binding (Surely I am not the only lazy quilter when it comes time to do the binding?!) Carole and Russ came to visit us in Indiana last weekend, and I was so happy to be able to present them with a finished quilt... at last.

Specifics: my fabric mix was part of a monthly block-of-the-month program from Fig Tree Quilts. It is made of Moda Bella solids and some Fig Tree Somerset prints. The pattern was written with a different color grouping. You can see more detail about the blocks and fabric yardage requirement on this Moda pdf that I found online. I also searched and found that a copy of the pattern is still available here.

Giveaway: don't forget that you still have a few more days to enter the giveaway on my last blog post! I know that I had a problem earlier this week and my blog wasn't accepting comments. Sorry about that! It's been corrected, so go ahead and enter... just make sure that I can reach you by email if you're the lucky winner!


Summer = an excess of frozen treats in my house. So a few weeks ago I started to work on this new pattern from Fig Tree Quilts called Popsicles. I like to think of it as a palette cleanser between the larger, ongoing quilt projects. Kinda like a lemon sorbet after the steak, know what I mean?!

I'm working with this luscious stack of Moda Bella Solids in sherbet colors, curated by Fig Tree. I ordered it here, along with a copy of the runner pattern. I think they'd be really cute in prints, too.

But... I don't have much use for a runner on our round farmhouse table. So I decided to keep making more popsicles for a larger quilt. (The runner needs just 11 blocks, but I've made 20 so far.) And now Joanna has designed a larger quilt just brimming with popsicles! I preordered my copy this morning, and I'll keep sewing blocks. The larger quilt pattern is available here. I might need to make that melon slice quilt on the cover, too!

I was thinking about my own personal history with popsicles. I remember going to the corner store with my parents in Florida, just to get an evening popsicle. But the wooden sticks give me tongue shivers! I loved Fudgsicles back then, and mom occasionally made popsicles with a Tupperware mold. Then came the Dove bar craze. My love of popsicles came to a crashing end in the late 1980's when I worked for a small company that couldn't afford to make the weekly payroll, so they'd pay us with... FrozeFruit. Seriously! I vividly remember the company owner cackling that "we can't pay you this week, but have a FrozeFruit." And to this day I refuse to eat FrozeFruit! But I still like those Haagen-Dazs dark chocolate ice cream bars! And I just bought a new ice cream maker last week.

DON'T FORGET TO ENTER THE AURIFIL THREAD GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment on my last blog post (not this one) for a chance to win! (ps - I'm using Aurifil thread, color 2000 on the popsicles)

crossroads charity quilt along 2016

crossroads quilt.png

Well, my quilty friends, we are at a quilting crossroads. The Snapshots charity quilt along is nearly finished. It's been fun, right? I've seen SO many great blocks from everybody. My Snapshots quilt just returned from my longarm quilter, Kaylene just a few days ago, and now I can stitch the binding! And the generosity of the quilting community has really been amazing - together, we've raised $38,000 - nearly double the original goal. That's awesome (and I don't use that word very often).

We all need another sew along!

Next up is the 2016 Crossroads charity quilt along. And omigosh it features my all time favorite fabric collection, Strawberry Fields Revisited! Just look at this strawberry-licious fabric. 

You can read all about Strawberry Fields Revisited here. And yes, I was one of those people who asked/begged Fig Tree Quilts and Moda Fabrics to pleeeease reprint the collection. There are some new prints and colors this time, along with the return of some favorites. Strawberry Fields Revisited will coordinate perfectly with any older Strawberry Fields that might be in your stash.

Isn't this quilt perfect? It was designed by Joanna Figueroa and it's reminiscent of a vintage quilt. It's the kind of quilt that I always hope to find at a consignment shop, but of course, I never do. It's definitely a future heirloom for today.

The "crossroads" theme is an excellent way to describe the year that I've had. Many of you know that I was recently at a crossroads with my housing, and we made a huge decision to relocate from NYC to Indiana.  Sure, I wanted more living space and clean air and a modern kitchen. I had many doubts about moving. I knew absolutely nothing about Indiana, and it doesn't even have a tour book! But the decision to move was made very quickly, and all I can say now is... why didn't we do this sooner?! My quality of life is SO much better. I miss almost nothing about NYC, and that really surprises me. My boss told me today that I always readily embrace change and I thought "really, I do?" So this major crossroads changed my life for the better.

Next year's quilt along will benefit March of Dimes, which helps families with premature babies. It's surely a very worthy cause, and I'll be learning more about them throughout the year.  I am confident that quilters can make a difference. We did it this year, and we can do it again.

Okay, so here are the details. The eight month sew along will start in February 2016. Fat Quarter Shop will post a pattern download on the 15th of each month. Each pattern is free, but a $5 donation to March of Dimes is requested for each pattern download. A quilt kit with all the fabric you'll need is available here, and there's also a pieced backing kit. Designer Joanna Figueroa has shared a story about her own personal crossroads, as well as the inspiration for this quilt on her blog here.

I do hope that you'll join me (and a group of bloggers!) as we sew together. I can't wait!

bitty blocks

Hi everybody! I have a quick post today before you start your weekend. Recently, the folks at Quiltmaker Magazine asked me if I'd like to contribute a design to their Bitty Blocks series. Bitty Blocks are mini blocks ranging from 3" - 4" finished. The blocks fit into a row quilt, or you could use them in lots of different ways. So I started with a pile of Fig Tree's Farmhouse fabric (36 days until Christmas!)...

...and I made one 4" block...

...and I kept on sewing, and sewing....

For the instructions on how to make the Jacob's Ladder Bitty Block AND lots of different setting options that you can do with these blocks,  visit Quiltmaker Magazine's Bitty Blocks Blog Tour here!

And don't forget, the giveaway for a copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Magazine with my own East Side Rose pattern is open until Friday at midnight! Leave a comment on my earlier post (not this one) for a chance to win!

And have a very happy weekend!

catching up... from indiana!

Hi everybody! I'm BACK. I can't believe that I've been gone nearly two months. Yikes. I'll tell you all about my move to Indiana very soon. But let me show you what I've been SEWING!

* Warning - lots and lots of text coming up. Remember, I am catching up!

I went without sewing right up until last weekend. I wasn't feeling the need to sew - unbelievable, right? I was so caught up in organizing the apartment and finally being able to cook and bake in my new kitchen. Cookbooks replaced quilt books, like this book and this one, too. But then suddenly, I felt that I NEEDED to start sewing again. And now I'm right back to where I was before. Only this time, I'm going to try to slow it down and enjoy sewing more than I did before.

So. I couldn't decide which abandoned project to sew first. I found that some of those projects that I abandoned are better left undone. New home, new quilt projects! But I really wanted to resume the Fig Tree mystery block-of-the-month quilt. I was only 4 months behind. Totally do-able, right? First, my sewing machine got a long-overdue tuneup. I am THIS CLOSE to being caught up.  It's fun to begin putting chunks of the quilt top together. 

And I made a little switcheroo. Applique has never been my strength, and I'm probably too lazy to spend hours learning to do it correctly. But this quilt has some appliqued blocks. Groan. After agonizing over an appliqued basket for months (I am not kidding) I finally decided to change the block. Of course I gave myself some rules - the alternate block needed to use a Fig Tree pattern, and I would use the same fabrics that were recommended by Joanna. After several more days spent reviewing every single Fig Tree pattern that I own (and even buying more patterns) I settled on a schoolhouse block. It's from the Fig Tree Houses book. And there it is in a taupe and peach print. I love it so much and I think it will make my quilt just a wee bit different from everybody else's quilts. I have a few more blocks that I'm going to change, too. Just wait till you see them!

Now about that move.

The decision to leave NYC was actually very easy. I had lived there for exactly 30 years and in the same apartment for exactly 20 years. And I had one of those milestone birthdays in the past year. Lots of round numbers, know what I mean? I felt like that was a sign. Paul accepted a job in Indiana and I said sure, let's go. It'll be a change. But I didn't know if I could handle leaving. See, my dream was always to live in NYC. And I was lucky to be able to live my dream for 30 years. I love New York, I really do. I had so many unbelievable experiences there and I could definitely write a book, as they say. But for all the sparkly glamour of the city, there's also the dirtiness, rudeness, expensiveness and small-apartment-ness.

The Mayflower people packed up our stuff into a BIG truck. I said goodbye to my apartment - those walls have ears - and I felt NOTHING. No tears, no sadness. Just hope for the future. We put Chloe and Mia into their carriers and got into the car for a very long drive. (Note - cats do not like hotel rooms in creepy, deserted towns in Ohio just off the highway with only a fly-infested McDonald's for dinner.)

Our furniture took 28 days to get here. Apparently, Mayflower had a "shortage of truck drivers." Really?! Their communication was terrible. Their service was terrible. And their prices are very high.

And yet.

I love being here! Every day I think about how radically different my life is. You know - it's all that stuff that most people have, but I never had in NYC. I feel like a real person getting to use all of the modern conveniences here that I went without before: a full-sized shower and tub, a full-sized stove, oven and fridge. A dishwasher (gasp) and a laundry closet (yay) and a balcony where I can grow plants and read. Central air. I can get out of bed without walking into a wall. I can finally use my Kitchenaid mixer, and I've bought lots of new kitchen stuff. I have a home office slash sewing room slash guest bedroom.

The outdoor air is cleaner. I can see stars now (city skyscrapers light up the sky too much, making stars "invisible.") The hummingbirds (and wasps) spent the summer hanging out at our hummingbird feeder. Local events take place at the 4-H center, and we've gone to an antique show and a quilt show there. The high school football games are broadcast on the radio. People are very friendly here - the grocery store checkout people usually ask what I'm planning to cook with my purchase. My new favorite stores have become Target , TJ Maxx and Marshalls instead of Bloomingdale's, Ralph Lauren and Gucci (seriously, have you seen all the cute stuff at Target? Amazing!) Paducah and Nashville are very close, so they'll be places that we can visit in the future.

And I am obsessed with buying new stuff for the home.

The (slight) downside? I miss my old barber. I miss fancy restaurants, but we have almost every national chain restaurant here - all except for my beloved Cheesecake Factory (oh pleeeease come here!) I cannot even tell you how many times I've been to the local Dairy Queen for their Peanut Buster Parfaits and Cotton Candy Blizzards.

And I do not miss NYC at all! I flew to NY a few weeks ago for a meeting. I arrived a day early so that I could visit my favorite restaurants and shops. I even had dinner in my old neighborhood, and I was shocked by how dirty and noisy it was. I couldn't wait to get on the plane and leave. New York was no longer my home. The song that played through my head as I walked around the city was Madonna's "This Used To Be My Playground." But no longer.

Indiana is my home now. And I'm glad to be here.

Thank you so much for the emails and comments asking me if I'm ok and if I'm planning to return. I missed you all. I missed sewing. And I'm happy to be back.

See you very soon! There's a new Snapshots block coming later this week.

fig tree mystery sampler - two more months done!

Hi everybody! Ok, this past week saw a return to some serious sewing! 

I've been completely obsessed with getting caught up on the Fig Tree vintage mystery BOM quilt. I've also been making the blocks in the right order, even though I wanted to jump around. While working on these two Cross & Crown blocks, I thought it might be fun to have the tape measure print pieces lined up. (I'm taking liberty with my use of the word "fun" here. Maybe I should have said that it was like a self-imposed dare.)  I cut each piece as I sewed rather than all at one time, so the 6" block took a few hours. It wasn't as difficult as I expected, and I loved the result. So why not do it again with two Noon & Light blocks?

And here's the second of four pineapple blocks that will go into this quilt. I know that this block looks tricky, but the Pineapple & Figs pattern is so easy. It's made of ivory solid strips, with print squares sewn diagonally onto the corners flipped open. You don't need any special rulers or templates. If you've ever wanted to do a pineapple quilt I would highly recommend this pattern.

Now on to the pastels, with a 6" Lady of the Lake block. Oh how I love this aqua solid paired with a sweet pea print from Fig Tree's Mirabelle collection. I pressed the seams open on the 1 1/2" HSTS to keep them flat, but I pressed the seam on the large HST to one side.

And a springy rosebud block, too.

Finally, a spool quartet block with a text background.

Now I have just one more month to piece and I'll be caught up! But there are a few appliqued blocks this month, so I need to put on some calm music while I work on them, because turned applique edges are not my strength. (I've gone kookoo over Sam Smith's entire album right now. I think I've played it a billion times. Possibly more. You know, the "Stay With Me" guy?)

I was super excited to see that Joanna just showed a preview of her upcoming Fig Tree collection for fall. It's called Farmhouse and it includes black prints, text and cherries! You can see the fabric and the upcoming patterns on her blog here. I already know that I'll need a bolt of the cherry print to use for backings, maybe even on this mystery quilt!

* * * * *

I'll be back this Wednesday with April's Snapshots sew along block... a cute puppy. I'll have the link to the pattern and the tutorial video, so be sure to stop by!

fig tree mystery quilt - month 2

Hi everybody! I'm just back from a week of travel and now I can get BACK TO SEWING. More about the trip in a few minutes.

As soon as I got back I cut up fabric for month 2 of the Fig Tree mystery sampler quilt. The two weathervane blocks in the third photo went together really quickly. The single plum colored pineapple block was fun to make - Joanna Figueroa's pattern for this block uses the stitch and flip corner construction so you don't need to cut any weird shapes or use any awkward rulers. I made a quilt with this pattern a few years ago and it was simple to put together.  

The three nosegay blocks at the top are my favorites. I've been wanting to make these blocks for years but I was scared of the pattern. Joanna originally called it Coney Island. I love that name because I visit the Coney Island amusement park in Brooklyn every summer. I don't do the rides, but I like to walk on the boardwalk and visit the aquarium. It's a little seedy and very old timey New York. Let's go on a little visit to Coney Island now, ok?

That was a fun diversion, right? But back to the quilting. The nosegay/Coney Island blocks actually aren't that difficult to construct as long as you pay attention. I had to do a few steps over with new fabric because my seam ripper really messed up some of the bias-cut pieces. But I absolutely love the finished blocks. I'd really like to do a whole quilt full of them.

Last week I traveled to Houston on business. I was a guest speaker at a military convention. I taught ten classrooms of managers about my company's current fragrance and cosmetic promotions. This involved a day of classroom setup, then 10 solid hours of talking, talking, talking, and finally the classroom teardown. Chocolate and tea helped. Exhausting but rewarding. As a treat, I flew to Santa Fe for a few days to recover. Of course it rained the entire time I was there, but that didn't stop me from eating amazing food like the pumpkin waffles with vanilla cinnamon cream at Inn at Loretto. I got to listen to my favorite cabaret performer, Doug Montgomery. And I visited some of my favorite museums, where I found a painting by American Indian artist Fritz Scholder done in Fig Tree colors.  It really doesn't get much better than that.

I've even started a new quilt using the blogger bundle that I put together for Fat Quarter Shop! It's cute and happy, and I'll tell you all about it next time!

fig tree mystery sampler

I think that one of the best parts about quiltmaking is when I start a new quilt. There's all that new potential for discovering and creating and learning new techniques.

You're probably wondering about my other quilts-in-progress, right? I've finished the Moda Modern Building Blocks top! Yes! That thing is huge. I've been waiting for a sunny day to take some photos. Today was sunny... but I completely forgot to get out my camera. You'll see it soon.

So a few months ago, Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree and Company announced a mystery sampler block of the month. Well, I couldn't make up my mind! I was afraid of another block-of-the-month commitment so I stalled until it sold out (I was already working on the Modern and Snapshots BOMs). And mystery quilts scare me. I like to know what I'm getting into before I sign up and commit to that monthly charge on my credit card. What if I don't like the patterns? What if I don't like the fabric? But I love everything Fig Tree, and when the blocks started popping up on Instagram I felt like I was missing out. Joanna was nice enough to find enough fabric for me to get started... so here I am with a third BOM project. I was determined to finish the Modern quilt before I started this one. So, now is the time!

I've created my very technically advanced chart with fabric swatches. Haha! But seriously... we will be using the leftover bits of fabric in future months, and this little grid will help me to remember the names that Joanna uses for each print. It's just copy paper and a glue stick but it works. There are some great prints coming up soon - even some prints from other Moda designers, so I'm excited about that.

I love churn dash blocks. One of my all-time favorite blocks. So easy and classic and you can vary the dimensions to freshen it up. (This reminds me of a Civil War churn dash block-of-the-month that I discovered in a quilt shop in San Antonio and got hooked.) Then there's the rolling stone block...

I love the rolling stone blocks! But because I'm a little crazy, I started thinking about the block name. Rolling stone? Hummm, these blocks don't look like Mick Jagger or Keith Richards. I prefer to think of them as glamorous, like Mick's exes, Bianca Jagger and Jerry Hall.

And then there are the Mini Stems blocks. Kinda deja vu-ish since I just made the Christmas Mini Stems quilt a few months ago. They're simple, time-consuming, and really cute.

The first month is done! (Well, almost... I'm going to temporarily skip the applique clamshell blocks and return to them later.) Now I need to complete three more back months and I'll be caught up. And just in time, because I've already signed up for the upcoming Fig Tree Christmas mystery sampler!

Thanks for checking up on me while I was away last week. I've been super busy at work - it's fall market time for the cosmetic industry - and I've had client meetings and dinners. I squeezed in an hour of sewing wherever I could last week. I've got a few more weeks like this before I return to normal. Those few minutes of sewing make me happy!

modern building blocks - almost done!

I'm almost finished sewing the Moda Modern Building Blocks. Finally! It's been a seven month journey. And I have just TWO 6" blocks left to sew! I cannot wait to begin assembling the blocks into a quilt top. I have plenty of leftover Fig Tree and Moda Bella Solid fabric, and I'm already thinking of some pieced border options. 

Maybe you've wondered why I've been so quiet this past week. Well, I love sharing what I'm working on with you. But blogging also helps me to remember what's going on in my life at that very moment. This past week, I spent countless hours doing some secret calculating, secret drafting and secret sewing. I've always hated when bloggers have secrets! Here's what I've been working on. It will be just between us, ok? I've worked up a quilt proposal for a magazine! I've never really thought of myself as a quilt designer, and yet I had so much fun (and a few sleepless nights) working on this project. I'm happy with my design. I've mailed it off and now I'll just have to be patient for a few months. I hope they'll select my pattern. And now I have plenty of time to get back to sewing!

modern building blocks month 6

I'm getting near the end of this quilt! It feels good to have finished this month's collection of blocks. Last night I celebrated this with a midnight snack. Leftover Christmas fruitcake, anyone? (I am so not kidding. There's another fruitcake in the fridge that I'll eat in July while sewing Christmas quilts!)

Each month there's one block that proves to be a challenge. This month the culprit was this 18" block. I wasn't happy with my block - it was 1/2" too big, and then I realized that I used the wrong fabric! - so I remade it. Now I love it. The rest of the blocks were a piece of (fruit) cake.

I completely love the Somerset houndstooth and teal star, and I don't even like teal! See how the houndstooth pieces all face in the same direction? That took some careful planning and fabric waste. I had a tiny bit of the houndstooth left that I wanted to use in another block. After much procrastinating, I altered Joanna Figueroa's color suggestion for the next block.

There are just 8 more blocks to go! Yay! I still need to make a 36" star (eek!) and some smaller, simple blocks, and then the big assembly can begin. Now I'll just sit here quietly and wait for the fabric to arrive. Kidding! I've got more stuff to sew!

If you visit my blog often, you know that I'm a devotee of all the fashion exhibits that we have in NYC. Yves Saint Laurent + Halston Fashioning the 70's opened at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology this past weekend. Eighty ensembles and accessories are displayed in a gleaming white space filled with disco music. The show compares and contrasts their highly influential work - Halston's clean, deceptively simple American sophistication and Saint Laurent's opulent, fantasy dresses, each leaving a permanent mark on 70's fashion and continuing to echo in today's fashion. It's a perfect show.

sashed butterflies

Thirty butterflies are now captive within their sashing! Haha. I always forget just how long it takes to attach sashing. Not difficult, just time consuming. For my sashing posts I've used Moda Bella solid in 30's Yellow, and I think it sets them off perfectly. Those white-on-white Sunrise Studio dots kinda remind me of the snow that continues to fall here in NYC. So I have butterflies in the snow. (Hummm, maybe that's what I should call this quilt!)

A few butterflies are all perfectly matched and contain only one wing fabric. They blend in really nicely with the contrasting butterflies, and they only become visible with close inspection. 

And now it's time for me to pick out a border fabric. I'll admit that I'm a bit stumped. My quilty friend Susan would probably remind me that the quilt will take on whatever color I use in my border. And I know that she's right. So that means that I won't use red, because I want the red butterflies to just be little pops of brightness. I think that too much yellow can overpower a quilt. And pink will make it, well, pink. What I might choose is one of the pale blue prints - the gumballs or the lifesaver flowers. What do you think?

I'm using fabrics from the Greg Jones Blogger's Choice fat quarter bundle (hehe shamless plug again!) that you can get at Fat Quarter Shop. I'm starting to see my fabric bundle popping up on Instagram and it makes me SO happy to see that people are adding it to their collections. Remember, you can treat yourself for Valentine's Day! I do! And I'm using the Painted Ladies pattern by Fig Tree and Co.

No more sewing for me tonite. Friday night is sushi night around here! Have a great weekend everybody!

moda modern building blocks update

How did I let nearly two months go by without working on the Moda Modern Building Blocks, Fig Tree Style? It's time to get caught up!

It's fun to receive the block-of-the-month fabric packets from Fig Tree. My challenge is that if I don't start sewing them immediately, then I move onto something else. (Kinda like magazine subscriptions, right? I'm reading January issues quickly, before the February issues arrive.)

I love watching the contrasts develop each month. I'd probably never put these colors together by myself, so in this case, it's nice that somebody else has made the fabric selection for me. These fabrics are Fig Tree's Somerset, Mirabelle and Moda Bella Solids. But I'm getting itchy and might start to shuffle some of the block colors, because, you know, I'm a quilty rebel. Haha.

Look at those two super-easy blocks! A big 'ol 6" half square triangle block in grey toile and coral dots. It almost seems like it's a cheater block because it only took 5 minutes. It should be a component of a block instead of a real block! It was a treat to sew after some of the more difficult blocks, and it gave me a chance to showcase the entire white flower.

The orange and green star block nearly killed me. I spent an entire night on that little 6" block! It was all about sew, unsew, repeat, and yet I love the finished star. I won't think about how many of those magazines I could have read in that time!

I have 30 blocks done! Just 19 to go. And the January fabric pack has new colors, like teal and a frosty green houndstooth.

Today marks my 1 year blogging anniversary! Another anniversary is about to arrive soon, along with a few milestones. I think that this calls for a celebration. Stay tuned!

(And before I forget to tell you, I added photo links to my new Blogger's Bundle at Fat Quarter Shop and the Snapshots quilt along. They're near the top of the right column. Click them for more information. More about that Blogger's Bundle soon!)

fig tree mini stems quilt

I started and finished another Christmas quilt... in two days! It's the Mini Stems quilt by Fig Tree and Co. It measures just 19" x 25" and it can be made with a 5" charm pack and some additional background and border fabric. There is also a full-sized Stems quilt pattern that uses a jelly roll to create the leaves. I knew that the mini quilt would be the perfect way for me to test the pattern without a major time commitment. As an additional incentive, the mini quilt was this month's quilt along project hosted by A Quilting Life and Pink Pincushion

I've mixed red and green prints from several different Fig Tree collections. I used Strawberry Fields, Avalon, Tapestry, and the current Somerset collection. Everything I needed was already on my shelves. I didn't need to buy anything!

Each of those little leaf units measures 2" x 3". The corners are made with a stitch-and-flip construction, and I squared up my corners (with a square Omnigrid ruler and rotary cutter) throughout the process. This helped to ensure that my stems would grow straight up. I did not want wobbly stems! I tweaked the pattern slightly so that I could cut my borders from a fat quarter instead of buying yardage. It worked perfectly. My border is a taupe houndstooth Somerset print. It reminds me of wicker or rattan, and I think it's an elegant way to tone down the reds and greens. 

And Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers! I think that many of you know that I live in NYC, and today I went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I LOVE this parade. It's magical to see those balloons in real life!

I've attended the parade several times over the years. There are the happy balloons that we all know so well - Snoopy, KoolAid, the fireman, the stars, as well as the newer balloons like Hello Kitty and the dragon from How To Train Your Dragon. The bands play as they march, and thousands of clowns throw confetti at the crowd.

But here are some things that you might not have known. The musical acts perform right in front of Macy's, and only invited guests can watch them. So the rest of the 3.5 million viewers (yes, really!) see floats go by with bundled-up anonymous performers. I didn't even see Kiss, even though they performed at the Macy's stop. And seriously, I am ok with that. After all, I saw Cookie Monster, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch dancing in their house. I saw Mr. Peanut waving from his peanut-on-wheels. Who needs anything else?

Oh, and more details that you don't see on tv. There are metal barricades lining the parade route, and police shut off many of the streets. The bomb-sniffing dog was next to me while helicopters circled above. And yet, the crowd is cheery and friendly. While many people arrived as early as 6am to claim their spaces, I got there just as it was kicking off with Thomas the Train and I saw everything just fine. It snowed and I shivered. Should I mention that there are no bathrooms? But it's really a priceless experience. If you ever have the opportunity to see this, be sure to go, because I can assure you that you and your kids will remember it forever. Happy Thanksgiving!

thursday finish - homestead!

The Fig Tree "Homestead" quilt top is finished! I'm so happy to be able to share it with you today. This is one of those quilt tops that turned out far better than I had expected!

Homestead measures 63" x 75" finished. The pattern is available here, and there is also a kit with alternate fabrics. The houses were really fun to sew once I figured out a trick. There are a few points that need to match on the window/door/roof unit. I had difficulty matching them exactly, and then Pam suggested basting the pieces together, checking for accuracy and then re-sewing them. That worked perfectly, and from then on it was all blue skies and green grass. 

Speaking of green grass, the original pattern used just one green print. I wanted more variety, so I pulled several greens. Fabrics used in this quilt are from two of my favorite Fig Tree collections - Strawberry Fields and Avalon. I loved mixing in the navy and aqua prints.

I'm sure you know all about my dislike of sewing borders onto my quilt tops. But I did it! To make it easier, I buy extra border fabric and cut it on the lengthwise grain. Yes, it means that I buy more fabric than I really need. But it means that I don't need to worry about matching the print when joining shorter strips of fabric. (The leftover border fabric is now in transit to another Fig Tree fabric collector!) What makes this quilt interesting is that the borders on the top and bottom are slightly wider than the side borders. It sounds odd, but it does enhance the horizontal houses. 

Now I need to piece the backing and binding and have it sent out to be quilted. I cannot wait to get this one back! And now I'm free to work on Christmas quilts!

moda modern building blocks - the first 18!

Yay! I've completed 18 Moda Modern Building Blocks, Fig Tree style!

This month's blocks all featured the Fig Tree Somerset orange with cream dots and Moda Bella ivory solid. It was like making creamsicles!

I have a tip for you when sewing with bias cut triangles. I love using the Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Corner Trimmer. It gets rid of dog ears before you sew your pieces together, and it helps to make sure that your pieces line up correctly. It's an inexpensive gadget that really works. And it's only $5 from Marti Michell's website. I had one in my sewing box for years and then it mysteriously disappeared, so I recently ordered a new one before I started this project. I used it on all the orange triangles on this square-in-a-square block. 

blocks 24 + 25.jpg

I can hardly believe that Grey Dogwood Studio is going "modern" with this quilt! But I love the way that the blocks look when they're all combined. I really hope that next month's fabric shipment from Fig Tree Quilts has some red!

And now for some fun news!

Be sure to visit me on Monday because I'm the next blogger on the Around The World blog tour! You'll get to learn more about me, my projects, work style and why I'm different from other quilters. Ever wonder about my inspiration? How I put fabrics together? All that and more!

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moda modern building blocks - month 3

It's the third month of the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt- Fig Tree style!

This 24" star block includes a tiny orange pindot print from the current Fig Tree collection, Somerset, mixed in with Moda Bella solids. I love having just the smallest hint of a print. It warms up the block and makes it a little less "modern" and feels a bit more vintage. And then there's the positively huge 30" star block.

These blocks are so dramatic because of their size. I'll also be constructing three smaller blocks this month, and when it's all finished, hopefully my quilt will look like this:

Image from Fig Tree and Company

Image from Fig Tree and Company

The Fig Tree version is sold out, but there is a kit featuring an alternate colorway coming soon to the Fat Quarter Shop. You can also purchase just the pattern and use your own fabrics. The kit and pattern are both available here

This past weekend, I went shopping in search of some upholstery fabric. Any chance to visit NYC's garment district makes me happy. It takes me back to my days at school and hanging out in designer showrooms. And it's a vibrant reminder of the great design creativity that comes out of our country. I only needed to visit one store - Mood Fabrics!

You might have heard of Mood Fabrics. It's where the Project Runway contestants shop. The store was positively buzzing on Saturday afternoon. It's on the second and third floor of an unmarked office building. There are bolts of silk taffeta, shirtings, upholstery fabrics, organzas, satins, burnout velvets... I kinda wonder why some of those outfits on Project Runway are so ugly when the designers have access to all this great fabric!

All that fabric shopping left me hungry for a cupcake! That problem was quickly solved with a visit to Sweet Revenge in the West Village. Sweet Revenge is a tiny cupcakerie that also offers light lunch food, and has special pairings of cupcakes with wine or beer. There are never more than six cupcake flavors, and they're all amazing. I had a "Dirty" cupcake - dark chocolate cake, rich chocolate ganache and dusted with cocoa powder. The cupcakes seem very adult - no sprinkles, no pink and no gummy bears here!

I'd like to thank you for the great response to my Quilty Fun birthday cake quilt last week. I really appreciate the comments and emails that I received. I'm happy that you were able to celebrate with me!


sashing the homestead

Yes, finally! All 20 Fig Tree Homestead blocks are finished!

Isn't this the quirkiest house block? I've never seen anything else quite like it. It's almost an optical illusion. I really love those Fig Tree blues - the sky and navy prints.

I started the sashing last night. But I just wasn't paying attention to what I was doing! Often the simple sewing is where I make the most mistakes. There was quite a lot of unpinning and unsewing going on. My biggest hurdle was getting the horizontal seams of the grass to line up from row to row. It was easy to fix with a little concentration and pins. 

It's amazing how much abuse those poor 1 1/2" strips of sashing fabric had to endure!

And after all that effort, I love how it's coming together. This quilt is going to become a favorite! I just need to add two outer borders and it will be ready for quilting.

Thanks so much for visiting me today. I'm always happy to have house guests (heehee get it?!).

moda modern building blocks - month 2

Howdy, everybody! I recently returned from a short trip to New Mexico (yes, again!) and immediately got back to sewing. It was exciting to find an envelope from Eric Figueroa at Fig Tree and Co crammed into my tiny mailbox. That could only mean one thing - the September fabric pack for the Modern Modern Building Blocks sampler arrived!

Last month I made one 36" block and four 6" blocks, and this month's fabric made an 18" block and four more 6" blocks. Working with Moda Bella solids is fun! I don't think that I've ever used solid fabric for blocks, so this is a bit of a stretch for me. I love that tiny coral pindot fabric from Fig Tree's recent Mirabelle collection. It adds just a bit of texture without being too overpowering. 

The Flower Sugar fabric for my Another Year of Schnibbles "Whit" pattern also arrived while I was away (I could barely open my mailbox!) and I quicky starched and cut it. Here are my fabrics, just waiting to be sewn into flying geese.

So when I wasn't sewing or blogging last week, here's what I was up to. My sister took me on a trip to New Mexico to celebrate my upcoming birthday. She's traveled around the world but never to the Southwest US! First, we visited Taos Pueblo, which has been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years and has no running water or electricity. 

And we had to have a snack at the pueblo. I love this sign. 

No running water or electricity, but they managed to find Sue Bee honey and a plastic tablecloth. That cracks me up. 

Then came a 2 1/2 mile hike in Bandelier National Monument. It's breathtaking to see caves carved out of ancient volcanic ash where primitive people made their homes. There are still traces of their artwork thousands of years later (swirls, zigzag serpents, and... people with marshmallow heads?).

We saw these sunflowers EVERYWHERE we went, growing wild and out-of-control along the highways as well as in the park.

Surely this volcanic ash home could use a nice quilt with pointy-points and heirloom quilting?

After visiting the Bradbury Museum in Los Alamos to learn about the secret mission to create atomic bombs during WWII, we then stopped at Camel Rock, just outside of Santa Fe. We joked about how silly this rock formation looks, but after driving by it 8 times we decided that we just needed to get a closer look. I think that if you look at it head-on it turns into a cobra instead of a camel, but never mind. I wouldn't want Camel Rock Casino to have to change its name!

And, of course, we spent time in Santa Fe, where the annual Fiesta was taking place. And the green chile pepper harvest was being roasted in giant rotating metal drums. We really had a great time. I got to spend time in one of my favorite locations with my favorite little sister!

back at the ranch

I have been quietly piecing the Fig Tree Homestead quilt blocks throughout the past few months. They help me to avoid other sewing projects. Whenever I have a quilt top that needs the dreaded borders, well, it's easier to stitch up a few houses! Fourteen houses are now done, with another six still to be built. 

The latest batch of three blocks just did not want to cooperate with me! Sometimes the simplest piecing can get messed up really fast. These blocks are constructed in three layers. There's the roof section, the middle window and door section and then the walkway and grass. The middle row is just a bunch of rectangles. Should be simple, right? I stitched them over and over and over and over. First the strips were too short - I mean, 3/4" too short in the length! And then they became 1" too long. I ripped and resewed them. I cut more fabric and sewed them again. And then I sewed them together in the wrong order. Whaaaat? Well, I finally figured it out. My sewing machine needle was bent just a teeny bit, but it was enough to turn my scant 1/4" seam allowance into a generous 1/4" seam allowance. A new needle solved the problem. Now why didn't I think of that several hours earlier? (I can't even tell you how long the last 3 blocks took to sew! It's too embarrassing! But I did win this battle.)

And here's the house lineup so far! First, the blues!

The pinks and greys!

The reds!

And the aqua and yellow houses. 

I'll continue to work on these in between other quilts. I just need to get the border sewn onto the Jumping Jacks quilt and I'll have another finish soon!