Friday, April 24, 2020

Desperate for a Finish / Beauties Pageant 78


The longer I stay quarantined at home with my family, the more haphazard my sewing to-do list becomes. At first I was all business, prepping tops to pass onto a longarmer and cutting new projects to sew. Six weeks into the stay-at-home advisory, however, my sewing room has become a free-for-all. With my family here all the time and me at the beck and call of two school-age sons, peace is hard to come by and I can’t seem to finish anything.

(This is no exaggeration. One day last week, my morning shower was interrupted by my fifth-grader, who barged in demanding to know whether sixty seventy-fifths equals three fourths. Can no one spare me a few moments of quiet? Do I not deserve a shower free of math problems? Was that issue so pressing it could not wait another five minutes? And no, they are not equal!)

Case in point: my twin-size Warm and Cool Coin Quilt. This is the pattern I’ve been working on. It’s been tech-edited. It’s been sewn by a group of testers. But it limps along to the finish line in a world where I don’t leave my house (for, say, a cover-photo shoot) and my family runs the show (even when I’m in the shower).

My original version, in the lap size, was sewn from a single fabric line, Kate Spain’s Canyon ...


The second is the first bed-size quilt I’ve made in years. It was fun playing with all the blue and orange fabrics, and I love the effect of the variations in value—that’s what makes this version interesting to me. Plus, sewing it wiped out good chunks of my blue and orange scraps. : )



I have to admit, though: Handling a twin-size quilt is a bigger pain than my usual lap-size quilts. Pressing it was annoying, I’m still wrestling the backing for it, and my husband could barely hold it up for an impromptu photo.

I bring this up because I haven’t been making the best decisions lately, and I set my mind to sewing a king-size quilt for my guest bedroom. (The quilt pattern is Robin Pickens’ Hopscotch Happy, which I plan to sew with Kate Spain’s Grand Canal collection.)  And I’m committed . . . I already have fabric coming from Nebraska and the UK for the project. After this twin-size project, though, the thought of working with a huge quilt top makes me want to curl up in fetal position. What advice do those of you who piece large projects have for a king-size newbie?

On a completely unrelated note . . . Did you notice the photo bomber in the picture at the top of the post? The dog won’t give me a moment’s peace, either!

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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!)
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Friday, April 17, 2020

Easy-Peasy Free Quilt Pattern / Beauties Pageant 77


Back in 2015, I declared war on my stash of jelly rolls. Those lovely spirals of 2.5-inch strips were too much for me to resist, and I had accumulated more than I cared to admit. To use up my jelly roll of Basic Grey’s Evergreen line, I designed an easy quilt pattern and posted the corresponding tutorial here on From Bolt to Beauty.

This pattern, my Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt, quickly became the most popular page on the site and continues to be so, year after year. Maybe other quilters, like me, have a jelly roll to use up, or maybe they are pulled in by the promise of an easy quilt pattern, I don’t know!

In any event, that tutorial has been designed as a free PDF download. To download your copy, click here! (If you read my posts through something like Bloglovin’, you may need to click through to my original post before downloading the PDF.)

I know I have at least one more Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt in me, and I have my sights set on a jelly roll of Kate Spain’s Solstice collection—the last jelly roll in my stash. I may host a casual quilt-along on that front. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, what have you been working on? If you can boast a quarantine-time finish, please add it to the linky 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, April 10, 2020

Owls and Bunnies, Quilted and Bound / Beauties Pageant 76


Not all fabric designs are conducive to being cut into little bits and sewn back together. Some are better off cut into big chunks and showcased. Such is the case with Maureen Cracknell’s Nightfall line, a collection I won in fat quarters ages ago that features beautiful oversize owls and sweet bunnies.

It took a long time to find the right pattern for Maureen’s designs, but when Alison Vermilya posted her Garden Plots pattern to Moda Bake Shop, I knew Garden Plots and Nightfall were a great match.


Alison’s pattern calls for a jelly roll and yardage, so I had to get creative, supplementing my Nightfall fat quarters with solids from my stash and trimming down the size of the project. In the end, I made it work, although there was more unsewing than I would have liked as I refined my plan for the quilt.

The back was an opportunity to use up gold and teal yardage, and my friend Lisa Teichmann quilted the project on her longarm.


I still have a stack of Nightfall fat quarters from the Moonset colorway—all in eggplant and salmon and teal. Do you have any recommendations for other quilt patterns that will allow me to keep the critters in this line intact? If so, I’m all ears (big, floppy bunny ears, that is).

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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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, April 5, 2020

My Plan of Attack for Scraps


Back when I started quilting, I didn’t like scrappy quilts. I had encountered too many that were a mishmash of colors and fabrics. Since then, I have developed an affinity for scrap quilts; I just require some order when storing and using them.

Here’s my approach ...

1. Establish some rules.

Some people treasure every bit of scrap fabric they produce, and that works for them. I find keeping everything to be overwhelming, so I’ve set some parameters for my collecting: To me, scraps can be any size from a 2.5-inch square up to a quarter yard (fat or skinny). Everything that’s smaller than a 2.5-inch square goes in the recycling bin. Everything that’s a quarter yard or bigger goes into the stash.

2. Sort by color.

I have a big plastic bin, minus lid, filled with my scraps. (Once upon a time, the lid still fit on top!) I sort everything by color and place each color in its own Ziploc bag(s)—it’s not a pretty system, but it works. The key for me is that all the bags are transparent. That way, I increase the likelihood that I can find a needed scrap without opening a bag and rummaging through its contents.

There are some exceptions. Alison Glass fabrics and Anna Maria Horner fabrics get their own bags, and I occasionally throw scraps from a particular project in their own bag. Breaking the rules is fine as long as it helps me use the scraps in the future.

3. Play.

Every so often, this scrap bin of mine becomes unwieldy, its contents piling up precariously. That’s the sign that I need to spend some quality time with my bags, so I visit each one, tossing any too-small or unusable pieces and ensuring everything is in order.

Taking stock isn’t enough, though; these occasional reviews of my scrap scene are more productive—and fun—if I give them purpose. To that end, I choose some quilt patterns, or design a pattern myself, that is conducive to using scraps and start collecting for those projects. (I talk more about my current pattern lineup below.) One go-round with my scrap bin might not be enough for a particular project. That’s fine. I can always dip into my stash to accumulate the needed fabric or let the project marinate for a few months. A needed scrap may not be in my bin right now, but after four or five months of working on other projects and creating more scraps, I may be in luck. 

4. Know when to let go.

Sometimes I lose my love for a fabric. For example, I have always adored Denyse Schmidt’s Hope Valley collection. After buying and sewing the collection in fats and using up yardage on top of that, I was done. I had made a quilt with it. I had made a Jane Market Bag with it. I had made a tote bag and heaven only knows what else with it. Hope Valley no longer sparked my creativity or captured my interest, so I gave my remaining scraps of it away.

I encourage you to leave that option open, too. You can take a pile of scraps to a guild meeting or post them to social media. (I’ve done that, asking that interested parties pay only shipping.) I recently started posting lots of yardage and scraps to FeelGood Fibers, too. (Heads-up: FGF has suspended sales for the time being because of the coronavirus emergency, but you can still upload things to sell at a later date.)

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I like scrap patterns that use up a good chunk of scraps and have a rhyme and reason to them (no scrap vomit allowed!). Here are three projects that I sorted fabric for during my recent review of my scrap bin ...

Leaded Glass

The quilt at the top of the post is one that’s been on my radar screen for six years. I originally saw it on Tracey Jacobson’s Instagram feed and found the pattern in the November 2014 issue of American Quilter. I discovered almost all of what I need in my scrap bin (background fabric will come from my bolt of Bella Solids in white). I just need a few fats in hot pink and magenta, which will likely wait until I can enter a quilt shop and get the right color match.


Fire Truck Quilt

I came across Erica Jackman’s Fire Truck Quilt, a free tutorial on her Kitchen Table Quilting blog, and knew it would help me bust through red scraps. The required 750 squares to sew the quilt top—in red, gray, white, blue, and yellow—are taking me a while to accumulate. The end is in sight, though, and I look forward to sewing this easy kid quilt in the next few months.


Color Catcher 

When I attended QuiltCon last year in Nashville, I received a freebie copy of the April 2019 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, and it was love at first sight between me and the cover quilt, by Erika Bea. The pattern calls for 20 fat quarters, but I am not going to buy 20 new fats for this project. While culling through my scrap bags, I set aside any sizable chunks of solids, without any thought for overall palette or worrying whether they would meet the yardage requirements. It’s the first small step in the fabric pull for this project. I look forward to seeing where it ends up. (Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure I won’t use a stripe in between the main blocks.)


What works for you when it comes to organizing and using scraps? If you’ve never dove into your scraps and created order, I recommend signing up for Shannon Fraser’s 7-Day Scrap-Sorting Challenge to tame your scraps. She helps you take baby steps to getting everything sorted and organized. : )

Linking up to Oh, Scrap! ...

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Finishes Big and Small / Beauties Pageant 75


It’s been fun to have my family around during this hunker-down-at-home pandemic. All four of us get to have dinner together every night and talk more than usual. I have ample time to do whatever the kids want me to do with them. Mom, do you want to watch a show/read a book/talk about video games? The answer is almost always yes—although to be truthful, when it comes to talking about video games, I just smile and nod in agreement with whatever my 11-year-old is saying.

But sometimes it’s not fun. Sometimes I find myself—quite literally—running away from that same 11-year-old, locking doors behind me, yelling, “Leave me alone!” For as much as I love my family, I am an introvert who recharges by spending quiet time by herself. That’s where my sewing hobby comes into play.

I am often quilting for sanity these days. After all, my sewing machine doesn’t talk back to me. Actually, it makes few demands of me at all, apart from the occasional drink of oil and new needle. And it lets me think without interruption; I feel smarter when I spend time with it. Also, when a project is finished, it stays finished. I wish I could say the same about the state of the laundry, the dishes, or the house in general.

As a result, I am making good progress on a lot of projects. Some of them, like the quilt at the top of the post, were among the 21 WIPs I identified back in November. (For the record, that list has been whittled down to 15. Yahoo!) That is my Warm and Cool Coin Quilt, the first official From Bolt to Beauty pattern, sewn with Kate Spain’s Canyon collection. It’s with a team of great testers now. I will be sharing more pictures of and details about that pattern in upcoming weeks. : )

Other projects are small and satisfying. Remember my See-It-All Pouches? I made two more. The latest pouches started out as a pillow cover that was over quilted and, as a result, rather stiff. I cut it up to make two lovelies that went straight to guild friends. Here are the before and after pics ...




Yes, that’s much better.

Have you had the luxury, like me, of getting extra sewing time these days? If you have finishes to share, please add them to the linky 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.


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