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.


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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.


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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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