Friday, July 3, 2020

Blogger Stuff and Pretty Pictures / Beauties Pageant 88


I have had multiple conversations with other bloggers lately about various issues we’ve encountered posting in the new Blogger interface and commenting on other people’s blogs. If you’re not a blogger, this post may not contain any helpful information for you. In that case, I’ve added a bunch of pretty pictures of my latest finish. It’s a baby-size Ship’s Ladder quilt in New Bedford fabric. Both the pattern and fabric are from Denyse Schmidt, and I’ll go into more detail about this quilt when I post its companion, a lap-size version of Ship’s Ladder, in the next few weeks.

Disclaimer

I hate dealing with the technical part of writing and maintaining a blog. Whenever I try to research an issue, I rarely get the cut-and-dry answer I’m hoping for (if I get any answer at all). That’s why I’m writing this post. And honestly, I am not in a position to advise anyone on such technical issues. In a past life I handled the production of the website of a national magazine—so I consider myself smarter than the average bear on this topic—but truly, I’m no expert. Consider yourself warned.


Problems Commenting

I’ve heard from friends that they’ve had problems commenting on my blog or others’ blogs. I recently had issues commenting from my iPhone using Safari. Even though I had signed on to Google, the comment form didn’t recognize that. I wrote my comment and submitted it anyway, without the browser acknowledging that I am Michelle @ From Bolt to Beauty, and nothing happened. The comment wasn’t published, and there was no indication it went to a moderator.

I did not research this issue. I simply downloaded the Chrome app to my phone and started using that instead of Safari. It worked like a charm. That fix has worked for friends who have had comparable issues—sometimes from their desktop, sometimes from their phone, sometimes using Safari, and sometimes not.

Paragraph Spacing in Bloglovin’

I started using the new Blogger interface a few weeks ago. I haven’t had any problems with it. I find it pretty intuitive, and I like how it allows me to search my past posts.

But I realized that, since transitioning to the new Blogger, my text was appearing differently in Bloglovin’ than it was on my blog . (By the way, I have a love-hate relationship with Bloglovin’. I love that I can read posts from my favorite blogs in one app. I hate that I can’t block followers who hawk inappropriate content.) I always return twice at the end of paragraphs to create a blank line between them, but those breaks were not reflected in Bloglovin’, which made for difficult reading. I looked at the code of my recent posts and realized that if I had a blank space after the ending punctuation of a paragraph and then returned twice, the blank line would successfully appear in Bloglovin’. Is that the most stupid workaround or what?  (The answer is yes, yes it is.)


Disappearing Posts

The latest issue I encountered was a blog post that simply disappeared. It existed in the list of posts in Blogger and I could find the corresponding comments in Blogger, but there was no content on the published post other than the title. Crud.

I’d like to blame this on the new Blogger interface, but I suspect I somehow caused this mishap. I had no backup of this post, but I was able to cobble the post back together by referring to the version that existed on Bloglovin’ (so there’s another brownie point for that app). Then I did something you Blogger users should do right now: I backed up my entire blog.

To back up a blog in Blogger, go to Settings. If you edit more than one blog as I do, make sure you’ve selected the one you want to back up. Scroll down to Manage Blog and select “Back up content.” Select download, and you’re golden. This action backs up posts, pages, and comments.

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Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of a rather boring blog post! If you have any Blogger words of wisdom to share, please do so in the comments. Kind words about Ship’s Ladder are also appreciated. : )

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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Friday, June 26, 2020

Warm and Cool Coin Quilt / Beauties Pageant 87


I am happy to announce that the first From Bolt to Beauty pattern—my Warm and Cool Coin Quilt—is officially available for immediate download at Quilt Pattern Mart.

As a modern twist on the tried-and-true coin quilt, this pattern is very “me.” That traditional, bold geometry, however, is turned on its head with the simple addition of a diagonal line, which gives you the quilter an opportunity to play with color. You could separate your fabric into warm and cool color groupings, divide your scraps into two complementary color palettes, or create your own unique approach.

I made the lap-size cover quilt with a layer cake of Kate Spain’s Canyon collection. I have a second version, made with scraps, that just needs to be bound. I hope to unveil that soon!

For me, different designs check off different boxes, and this pattern ...

* Can work with precuts or scraps. The instructions are written for layer cakes, fat eighths, and scraps.

* Is a quick and easy sew. In particular, if you use precuts, you can whip up this top up in a weekend.

* Offers a variety of sizes. Directions for baby, lap, and twin quilts are included.

* Is good for all levels of experience. This pattern requires a combination of traditional piecing and simple paper-piecing, making it a good way for a beginner to try out a new technique. (Tutorial on paper-piecing coming soon!) But if you’re an experienced quilter with a bin full of scraps, this will be a satisfying sew for you, too.

This pattern was professionally designed and tech-edited. It also was thoroughly tested by a small army of quilters in three different countries. : ) I’ll be highlighting testers’ quilt tops on Instagram in the coming days, but here is a sneak peek ...

Kim (@serenityquilts on Instagram) juxtaposed two colorways of Alison Glass fabrics for her lap-size quilt. The bold colors on a crisp white background makes for stunning quilt top!

Photo courtesy of @serenityquilts

Beth (@bcurran322 on Instagram) broke into a bundle of Tula Pink’s Dots and Stripes to create her own beauty. It never would have occurred to me to use just two prints in different colorways for this project, but it completely works. It’s a show stopper!

Photo courtesy of @bcurran322

I’m especially excited to partner with Quilt Pattern Mart for this release. QPM debuted a few months ago as a one-stop shop for PDF patterns. The brainchild of Heather Kinion, it offers patterns from many well-known modern quilt designers ... and now me!

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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Friday, June 19, 2020

Fund-Raising Success! / Beauties Pageant 86


When I start a new quilt project, it’s always for my pleasure. I work with the fabrics and design of my choosing. After all, making a quilt is a time commitment, and I want to tackle the projects that will bring me joy with the limited time I have to dedicate to this hobby.

Friends and family members have suggested over the years that I try to sell my quilts. I never do—I won’t recoup the investment of time and money I put into a project. Instead, I gift about 75 percent of the quilts I make. The rest live here at From Bolt to Beauty world headquarters with me and my family.

But recently, I gifted a quilt and raised money with it. I donated my quilt Grape Fizz to an Instagram fund-raiser to benefit various organizations that fight racism. This event, hosted by Mathew of Mister Domestic and Amber of Alderwood Studio, wrapped up last week, and my quilt sold for $450!

I made Grape Fizz back in 2016 and 2017, and after being displayed at MQX in 2018, it has been awaiting the perfect recipient. This fund-raiser was just that! I’m thrilled that it’s now at its new home in California and the Equal Justice Initiative received a substantial donation as a result. : )


I on occasion donate quilts—especially baby quilts—to organizations that get them in the hands of someone who needs them. My quilt guild, however, has donated multiple quilts to auctions. One in particular caused a bidding war and sold for a few thousand dollars. Others weren’t quite as successful. (I’m convinced that has nothing to do with the quilts that were donated but was an issue of marketing and getting the opportunity in front of the right eyes.)

If you have experience with donating to or running quilt auctions—online or in person—please share it with the rest of us in the comments below.

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Friday, June 12, 2020

Fastest Way to Finish a WIP / Beauties Pageant 85


I discovered the fastest way to finish a WIP: Sell the fabric!

I have been pretty diligent about pruning my stash over the past two years. I use what I have on hand, supplementing when necessary with smart purchases from my local quilt shops or online retailers. Gone are the days when I buy yardage just because I like it! Part of that process, at least recently, has been posting lots of fabric to sell on FeelGood Fibers, a secondhand fabric marketplace.

Using FGF has been an effective way to move fabric that doesn’t work for me anymore. So far I’ve sold 11 of the 14 lots I have posted. If you’re considering doing a little destashing, you might learn from my experience ...

What’s Worked for Me

My goal for posting this fabric was simple: Get it out of my life. This wasn’t just stuff I didn’t like; it was stuff I don’t think I could ever use. There was the Bonnie and Camille polka dot that was too pink for me, the Art Gallery floral that was lovely but not a palette I could work with, the graphic Carolyn Friedlander print whose cream background was too yellow for my projects.


I priced items to sell and did my best to estimate shipping. (All FGF prices include shipping within the United States.) After I had a few sales under my belt, I adjusted some price tags. Price points that worked for me were $12 for a yard of fabric, $16 to $20 or for a 2-yard cut, $25 for a modest collection of smaller cuts, and $35 for larger lots.

I took well-lit pictures of my fabric and was very specific about the size and condition of the fabric, including dimensions, whether it was prewashed, and the fact that I have a smoke-free, pet-friendly home. I also promoted everything on my regular Instagram account (@frombolttobeauty). I did this occasionally, because people don’t follow that account with the intent to purchase fabric. Including a notice about my FGF shop once in my feed and once in my stories seemed adequate. I did list each of the 14 lots to my secondary Instagram account (@fbtbdestash), pointing people to my FGF shop and making sure that I used #thegreatfabricdestash in each post. I know some of my sales came directly—and quickly—from those Instagram posts.

What I’ve Learned

I’ve learned that I’m not the smart fabric buyer I thought I was. Sure, some of the lots I posted were too traditional for my modern taste. Others were remnants from projects past. But half of them were things I bought because they were on sale. Moving forward, I’m going to buy what I love at full price instead of fabric I like at a reduced price.


What I Have Now

The three remaining lots I have on FGF are all canvas or home-dec sateens. I am fine with them sitting on FGF for a bit. If they don’t pique anyone’s interest, I’ll eventually price them so low that folks are just paying for the shipping; the fabric will in effect be free.

The lots I did sell have earned me a PayPal balance of over $200 (less the shipping costs). I will be spending every cent of it on new fabric purchases! : )

BTW: A word on the pictures included here ... The lot of Amy Butler fat quarters at the top of the post was slated for a project and then I decided to sell them. (Take that, WIP list!) The canvas fat quarters are still available at my FGF shop. The fat quarters from Bonnie and Camille’s Vintage Holiday also sold.

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Grape Fizz to Be Auctioned Off



Update: The auction is over. Grape Fizz sold for $450, and the event overall raised more than $150,000!

A small army of makers is coming together this week to auction off items to benefit organizations that fight racism.

This effort, coordinated by Mathew of Mister Domestic and Amber of Alderwood Studio, is happening on Instagram at @misterdomesticfundraiser. The auction starts on Monday, June 8, and bids will be accepted through Friday, June 12. Over a hundred handmade items have already been listed!

I have donated Grape Fizz, shown in this post, to the event. It is a lap-size quilt (53 inches by 72 inches), the design for which appears in Amy Garro’s book, Paper Pieced Modern. It features an ombré array of Kona Cottons and Michael Miller Cotton Couture colors, ranging from a pale orchid to a deep grape, and a single floral print from Valori Wells.

The design and piecing, however, are upstaged by the custom quilting from Mary Gregory. This quilt is adorned with pebbles, ribbon candy, and paisleys. It’s really stunning work.


I am happy to support these organizations with this small gesture.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

An Easy, Breezy Quilt-Along / Beauties Pageant 84


Friends, I needed a reason to smile this week, so I started sewing a new version of my Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt. Can I interest you in joining me in an easy, breezy quilt-along?

The plan is simple: Start when you want, finish when you want, sew at the speed that works for you!

I will be posting any in-progress shots on my Instagram account with the hashtag  #ridiculouslyeasyjellyrollquilt. If you want to keep tabs on this project, that’s the place to be.

Everyone is a winner in this quilt-along, and the prize is the satisfaction of making something beautiful with your own two hands. HA!

To get started on your own Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt, download the free pattern here.

Beginner quilters, this is truly an easy pattern. As long as you know how to work your sewing machine, can read a pattern, and can sew a consistent quarter-inch seam, you’re good to go. And there is a small army of experienced quilters on Instagram who would love to answer any questions for you along the way.

By the way, I am sewing my project with a jelly roll of Basic Grey’s Gypsy Soul, pictured above, which I purchased at Green Fairy Quilts. Judi and Clint have a bunch of Moda precuts at good prices, and I received my fabric in just over a week. (I know many online retailers are behind in filling orders, so I was pleased with this turnaround and shipment from Utah to Massachusetts.)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/10sc4XEg2Ozdme0kir2Gfjx6vxMyZgVB3/view

I have so many quilts in the queue right now: Two just arrived at the longarmer, another is ready for quilting on my domestic, and yet another just needs to be bound. So of course, I started a new project. If you have one that’s crossed the finish line recently, good for you! Share it below, in this week’s linky.

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
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Friday, May 29, 2020

Pageant Highlight Reel / Beauties Pageant 83


Were your ears ringing earlier this week, Beauties Pageant regulars? I was talking to my mom, also a quilter, a few days ago, and we were chatting about the usual suspects here on From Bolt to Beauty. I was telling her about the beautiful drawstring bag Anja sent to me from Canada (just because!), and we had a laugh about Roseanne’s sweet and sassy comments.

That’s what I love about hosting this humble little linky each week: It’s made the quilting blogosphere smaller for me, in a good way. I enjoy keeping tabs on what everyone is up to—like cheering Linda on as she finished the quilting on her temperature quilt or seeing what new scrappy creations Cynthia has to share.

And the inspiration this weekly celebration of finishes offers me is quality. This post includes three projects that got me thinking about potential future projects. At the top of the post, you’ll find Anja’s version of 3rd Story Workshop’s Common Ground pattern. I am crazy about that palette and think the quilting is stippling perfection. (I strive for curves that are that curvy!)

Below are two other awesome pieces. Margo’s unique take on a disappearing nine-patch reminded me of my own Mix and Mingle. That circular quilting really makes the project something special, doesn’t it?


And Sew Yummy’s Diamond Brights quilt top makes me want to abandon my propensity for white backgrounds—at least for a bit—and explore a darker alternative. OK, so it wouldn’t be the most practical of palette decisions when you live with a golden retriever as I do, but look at how the charcoal makes those colors pop!


The Pageant Highlight Reels don’t run regularly enough to feature all the great finishes people have shared. Which one got your creative juices flowing? Tell us about it in the comments below (and include the URL!). : )

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.


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Friday, May 22, 2020

How I Trimmed My WIP List / Beauties Pageant 82

This baby quilt was a quick WIP to check off my list.

Last November, I engaged in some self-inflicted accountability and made a list of my WIPs. Usually, working on 5 or 6 WIPs at a time provides the variety I need to maintain my interest and be productive, but the count last fall was a whopping 21 projects.

Some of the 21 were finished flimsies. Others were piles of fabric with an accompanying pattern. No matter what state each WIP was in, however, I had committed to finishing them all. And now, exactly six months after my initial count, my list is down to a respectable 12.

If your WIP list is unwieldy—and we each get to decide how many projects is too many projects for us as individual crafters—here are my suggestions for pruning it ...

Start with the Deadlines

Quilt deadlines tend to live in the gray. How many of us have, say, promised newlyweds a quilt only to present the finished gift on the couple’s third wedding anniversary?

Last fall, however, I had a hard-and-fast deadline: submitting to QuiltCon. After I finished the project I hoped would get juried into the show (and it did!), I moved on to two quilts that I needed for gifting at the end of January or beginning of February. Done, done, and done!

Love Boldly was displayed at QuiltCon 2020, in Austin.

Tackle the Low-Lying Fruit

From there, I focused on projects that were further along in the quilt-making process. I was all about culling that total number of WIPs down, so a quick baby-size quilt was an automatic priority, as were tops that were already pieced.

Call in the Reinforcements

I almost always quilt my projects myself, but I knew I would clear projects from my list faster if I enlisted the help of a longarmer or two. One project (finished but not yet unveiled here) was a twin, and I wasn’t interested in wrestling it through my machine. It was the top candidate for a little quilting by check. Then there were a few Christmas quilts I was making for family and friends. They merited some special quilting treatment, too.

Insert Some Fast Finishes 

Along the way to a smaller WIP list, I took some breaks. I sewed some Christmas minis. I tried my hand at making vinyl zipper bags. I completed enough Popcorn Pouches for a small army. Trimming my WIP list was a fine objective, but a fast finish here and there helped keep things interesting for me.

These minis went to the three paraeducators who work with my younger son.

What is your plan of attack for WIPs? Are you a stickler for tracking your projects and your progress on them, or do you allow yourself the freedom to follow your creative whims? Or are you one of those quilty unicorns who works on one project at a time, not starting a second until the first is done?

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.


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Friday, May 15, 2020

Adding Bling to Some Bags / Beauties Pageant 81


Despite the dozens of zippers I have installed in past projects, the process continues to intimidate me. I think the issue is that I sew with zippers in short spurts—when I, say, bang out Christmas presents for a small army or tackle the four zippers in a Sew Together Bag. There’s just enough time in between such projects that I begin to doubt my zipper acumen.

But recently, I had the need for some quick gifts—for Mother’s Day, as thank-you gifts—and I decided to make Amista Baker’s Popcorn Pouch pattern. It’s one that’s been on my radar screen since its release back in 2018, and it proved to be both a simple and a satisfying sew. In fact, the zipper installation is so straight-forward that it would be an appropriate project for beginners.


I love making pouches and bags because they’re practical gifts and I can never have enough of them myself. They’re also a good way to use stashed fabric that hasn’t worked for quilt projects. Look at that Cotton and Steel fabric at the top of the post. It’s lovely, but I struggled to fit it into more than one quilt top (this one). On a pouch or two, though, it’s the star.

And consider the Denyse Schmidt fabrics in the pouch below. They’re from collections sold at a national chain. Because they weren’t quilt-shop quality, I hesitated to use them in projects that would get washed over and over again. An item that won’t get laundered, though, is the perfect venue for them.


All the zippers, fabric, and interfacing used in the nine Popcorn Pouches I made came from my stash, so I thought I’d indulge in some crafty retail therapy by buying some charms to use as zipper pulls. They were inexpensive, were easy to install, and added a little personality to the finished products.


A question for my fellow bag makers: Have you upped your zipper-pull game? My first foray into adding a little bling to bags was simple: I attached single charms with jump rings. If you have any suggestions on what I can do in the future, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
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Friday, May 8, 2020

A Quilted Christmas Village / Beauties Pageant 80

This week I checked another project off my list of WIPs. It’s the first of two versions of Kate Spain’s Chalet pattern I have planned ...


I own a bunch of Basic Grey’s Juniper Berry collection, and this pattern was a satisfying way to make a dent in that stash. To showcase those Juniper Berry prints with a lot of white, I chose a tone-on-tone gray polka dot from Riley Blake as the background. It was not a typical-Michelle fabric decision—and one I’ll make up for in the second version I have ready to sew, which will have a white background—but it works here. (I also used Kona Pepper in this quilt. That’s another odd choice for me. And I bound the quilt in the same polka dot I used as the background. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. Weird!)

This pattern was a hit with me. In addition to being super cute, it was a straightforward sew that had me piecing the many flying geese in a clever, new-to-me way. The lessons I’ll take into my second quilt, however, include the precious points in those flying geese. I always default to a scant quarter inch when I’m at my sewing machine. For flying geese (especially ones that I cut down to size, as is done in this pattern), a more generous quarter inch gives me more wiggle room to preserve points. Remembering that would have made sewing the blocks together an easier process.


Even if I had sewn generous quarter-inch seams on my flying geese, I would have encountered a problem with the binding. I almost always attach my binding to the back of a quilt and finish it from the front by machine. There have been some occasions when I do the opposite—attach to the front and finish from the back—but without exception, I finish binding by machine. I don’t ever tack binding down by hand. (To those of you who do—and to those of you who do and even enjoy the process—good for you!)


It was impossible to keep all those points intact when finishing the binding. I did allow some extra space when I trimmed the excess batting from the quilted project, but I wasn’t comfortable providing too much. With my second Chalet quilt, I plan on adding a thin border—maybe just an inch or two—to address this issue.


If this post has stirred up your own feelings about binding preferences, I want to hear about it! As I mentioned, my bindings are 100% machine sewn. I’m also a width-of-fabric binding maker. What are your binding preferences?

Linking up to Favorite Finish ...

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
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Friday, May 1, 2020

A Scrap- and Stash-Busting Finish / Beauties Pageant 79


Last week’s post, which I intended to be snarky/funny, ended up more grumpy/grumpy. Since then, I have rallied, friends. I needed a win, and I got one! In the past week, I quilted and bound my Farmhouse Chic quilt ...


This project ate up a chunk of scraps. The bits that set the palette are the peach and green floral from Rifle Paper Co.’s Les Fleurs line (see it on the left in the picture below). At a guild meeting years ago, a friend generously offered scraps of that print. I took home a lot of it, almost all in thin strips. I got serious about putting those strips to use when I found this Cluck Cluck Sew block tutorial (read my initial post here). I supplemented the Rifle Paper print with Denyse Schmidt fabrics, a few solids, and assorted low-volumes. As with all of my scrap projects, I pulled as much as I could from my scrap bin before supplementing with yardage.


The resulting quilt top skewed a little more traditional than I usually go and was asking for a simple, nonlinear quilting design. I took the opportunity to try my hand at stippling, which isn’t an option for my more modern projects, again. I stippled my first quilt top back in February. That baby quilt needed a small-scale quilting design. With Farmhouse Chic, I went a bit larger. I focused on smooth curves, clean stops and starts, and an even-ish stitch length. I grade my quilting as a solid B, even though I pulled the quilt off the machine only when something especially ugly happened.


I came to modern quilting through the Denyse Schmidt door, and I tend to keep projects that rely heavily on her fabric collections for myself. I am hoping to accumulate four or five finished quilts, however, and then give a friend her pick of the lot, so this finish isn’t automatically mine. We’ll see whether I stick to that plan. : )

That begs the question: What percentage of the quilts you make do you keep for yourself? I did a quick count of my projects since I started quilting back in 2013. I have made at least 65 quilts and have kept about a quarter of them. I hold on to almost all of those that are my original designs, especially the ones that have been shown publicly, and those that showcase my favorite designers (Basic Grey, Kate Spain, Denyse Schmidt, etc.).

What’s your best estimate? How many of your projects find their forever home at your house?

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday and Oh Scrap! ...

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
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