Friday, October 15, 2021

The Return of My Gypsy Wife Quilt / Beauties Pageant 149

In September, Leanne of Devoted Quilter launched a 100-day WIP challenge. There were three projects that she wanted to wrap up before the end of the year, and she decided that if she worked on them bit by bit over the course of 100 days, she’d likely accomplish her goal. After solidifying the schedule and lining up some prizes, she invited other makers—not only quilters, but anyone who stitches—to join her. 

I’m pretty good about not letting projects linger. There is one, however, that has become the crafty albatross around my neck: my Gypsy Wife quilt. I started my Gypsy Wife project back in 2018 with a group of guild mates. It’s not the most straightforward of projects—following the instructions requires more brain power than I expect to devote to a pattern, far more than I’d ever ask of people making my own patterns—and after a few focal blocks, I lost steam. Then, in 2019, I joined an online quilt-along and tackled many other blocks until the lack of a design wall, a problem that has since been remedied, hampered my ability to make smart fabric decisions. Could the last quarter of 2021 be the time I finish this beast of a project once and for all? I hope so!


One of the reasons I’d like to wrap up this quilt from my WIP list is that I’m using my stash of Bonnie and Camille fabrics to make it. B&C has a signature palette, and homing in on a subset of those colors makes the task of selecting fabrics more manageable, especially in a quilt top that requires many, many choices. I would like to make other quilts with all those B&C fabric, though. Gypsy Wife is the logjam.

As a first step in restarting this project, I arranged my completed blocks on my design wall and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was further along than I had remembered. In fact, I started adding the long vertical strips to some of the completed blocks and already have 4 of the 10 sections fully pieced. This process has been so much fun that it’s been hard to return focus to the deadline-driven projects I have on my to-do list. Who would have guessed I’d be looking forward to chunks of time I can devote to Gypsy Wife?!

Thanks, Leanne, for the motivation to return to this project!

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Friday, October 8, 2021

An Ombre Jelly Roll Quilt / Beauties Pageant 148

Some quilts and fabrics just insist on getting together. Such was the case with my Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt pattern and Vanessa Christenson’s Ombre Fairy Dust Metallic collection. I have zero need for a rainbow quilt in my life, but I really wanted to see how Ridiculously Easy would look in all those luscious ombre fabrics. Would I have been satisfied with mocking up the quilt in EQ7? Perhaps, but the Ombre Fairy Dust line includes 34 different fabrics. It seemed simpler just to sew the project!

I’ve made this pattern a bunch of times. This was the first time, however, that I was a super stickler for fabric placement so I could get that awesome color-gradation effect. I cut each of 29 jelly roll strips into four segments, per the pattern, which resulted in two dark and two light pieces of each color. Then I labeled those strips 1 through 29. I sometimes sew at night under artificial light, and without the labels, I would have struggled to differentiate between some of the colors.

In the top foreground chevron of my quilt top, I placed a dark rectangle of each color. The next two chevrons feature light rectangles, and the bottom one used the remaining dark segments. I also alternated the order in which I laid out the ombre fabrics. The result is that most of the warm oranges and reds live in the middle of each row, which I like. I used a dark navy as the background. I am slightly obsessed with orange and blue quilts, and with the warm colors concentrated in the center, the quilt almost seems more like a homage to that complementary combination instead of a rainbow quilt.

I chain-pieced to keep the project pieces organized. I sewed all the base units first, per the pattern. Then I added the end pieces to the tops of the base units. Next, and without cutting anything apart, I chained-pieced the end pieces to the bottoms. (Some strips didn’t require an end piece. I sewed them into the chain, too, just to keep them in the right order with everything else.) I should have taken a picture … All that fabric connected together looked like a hot mess when really the technique saved my sanity!

So, as I mentioned, I don’t need a rainbow quilt in my life, and to be honest, the dark background here, although lovely, is not practical with two Golden Retrievers in the house. I often gift quilts to friends, but I can’t think of anyone who would especially like this beauty. 

All of this is to say that I’m considering selling this quilt once it’s completed. I recently opened an Etsy shop without promoting it anywhere (I have all of two sales—I’m considering this iteration of my shop a soft opening while I get a few things straightened out!). In the past, I’ve been pretty against selling my quilts. I’m convinced the only people who would pay what a quilt is really worth is another quilter, and why pay several hundred dollars for something that you can sew yourself?

I welcome any and all advice on this front—on selling quilts in general and on selling through Etsy in particular. 

Just a note from your friendly neighborhood fabric enabler: Ombre Fairy Dust Metallic debuted a while ago, but you can still find jelly rolls of it. Check out the stock at Lark Cottons, Fat Quarter Shop, and Shabby Fabrics

PDF versions of Ridiculously Easy are available through Quilt Pattern Mart and my Etsy shop. Print versions are available only through Etsy.

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

She's No Angel / Beauties Pageant 147

If you stopped by earlier this week, you know that I participated in a blog hop for Scrappy Improv Quilting, Kelly Young’s recently released book, and created my own version of her pattern Cherub Wings. Before even beginning, though, I realized that the latest addition to the Cain family, a rambunctious Golden Retriever puppy named Gracie, might work for a specially styled picture with the mini quilt. Once the project was finished, I couldn’t resist making the photo shoot happen! It wasn’t easy, but with the help of my husband and a handful of treats, I snapped the pic at the top of the post.

Miss Gracie is now more than 30 pounds, and I assure you: She’s no angel. She’s embarked on her journey as an adolescent, which means she’s ramped up the obnoxious, boundary-testing puppy behavior. She eats books, digs through the trash, chews on the furniture, and harasses the wildlife in our yard. Just minutes before posing her in front of Cherub Wings, she went missing from our house. After many minutes of searching, I found her in the front yard exploring as if she hadn’t a care in the world. See what I mean?! No angel!

I wanted to share some more (dog-free) pictures of Cherub Wings, mostly because I love the quilting. (This is a complete one-eighty from last week’s post about straight-line quilting.) Kelly’s own version of Cherub Wings features beautiful free-motion quilting. It’s amazing work but outside of my current skill set. 

I chose to stipple the scrappy improv background on my Cherub Wings mini quilt and then use my walking foot (the same one I was complaining about last week) to make a double line of scalloped quilting to mimic feathers. I did so using 12 weight Aurifil in my needle and 40 weight Gutermann (my usual piecing and quilting thread of choice) in my bobbin. I’m over the moon about it!

The smart approach would have been planning the scalloped quilting from the get-go and creating a template to make the left- and right-hand wings identical. Instead, I unsewed some quilting I wasn’t crazy about and sketched the quilting free-hand on the left side. After falling in love with the results, I had to replicate them on the right. A few pieces of tracing paper, a hole punch, and a water-soluble pen helped me duplicate the placement of the points on the right side. Then I used the marking tool to re-create the swoops of each scallop. It worked well!

I had always planned to snag a pic of Gracie with this quilt. I even pieced a few Golden Retrievers into the improv sections.


Don’t get me wrong, there was room for improvement—like, what will it take for me to consistently cover up my feed dogs when I use my darning foot for meandering?! Yes, I did the last chunk of stippling with my feed dogs intact and am living with the less-than-perfect results. Blerg. : /

I hope that your time at your machine this past week included some comparable triumphs. Please share them with the rest of us in the linky or comments below!

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