Thursday, May 27, 2010

how 'bout a swap?

As it's just about the only quilted thing that I have made and kept in my own home, I am a little bit obsessed with this pillow.  Except I didn't make it in its entirety, which you already know if you've been around a while...Ashley, from the much-beloved Film in the Fridge, made it for her Modified Bento Box Block tutorial...and it became my first and only giveaway win.

I would love to make a full quilt like this someday...and might...but one day I got to thinking how much fun it would be to swap these blocks.  And so, I give you The Mod Bento Block Swap...

...mod from Ashley's "modified" tutorial, and also for modern fabrics.  The basic deal is that you make as many blocks as you want to, quarter them, mail them, and get back that same number of delightfully-mixed-up quarters for your own awesome project.  Ashley was kind enough to allow me to base the swap on her tutorial--thanks, Ashley!

Through a little graph-paper geekery (which I'll post in the next day or two), I figured that you can get all of the components you need for one block from a quarter-yard (not a fat quarter) of fabric, and so 5 quarter-yards will yield 20 coordinating-but-different quarters.  Do some assembly-line cutting and sewing, and end up with a great variety once the swap is done.  Of course, these can be scrappy, too...more thinking, but maybe more fun.

Some ideas for smaller numbers of blocks (in case you're not up to making a full quilt's worth)...

  • 4 quarters:: a pillow, 4 placemats
  • 12 quarters:: a wall hanging, a table runner
  • 20 quarters:: a lots-of-solids quilt (I'll throw some possible layouts around in the coming days), 
  • 48 quarters:: a lap quilt with dimesions like Ashley's original (40" x 54").
Sound like fun?  Here are the specifics of the swap:
  • Please use modern (there's that "mod" again!), quilt-shop quality fabrics.  There are plenty of lists floating around the web of what constitutes "modern fabrics"--I'm guessing most people who are participating know them when they see them, butif you have a question, just send me an email or post to the flickr group.  
  • There are no color police, but to keep everything coordinating pretty well, let's aim to use primarily neutrals and saturated colors and prints.  Also, please try to use a mixture of colors in each block--no "blue-only" blocks, for example.  Solids are great, and it's fine to use different fabrics within a particular "ring" of the block.
  • Please follow the tutorial!  Nobody is perfect with seam allowances & block sizes (least of all me!), but the strips in each quarter need to line up fairly well with their neighbors in order for the blocks to look good.  To allow a bit of wiggle room, let's go ahead and follow Ashley's suggestion of squaring up to 15.5" (before cutting), which will result in 7.75" quarters.
  • This is a centralized swap, which means you'll mail me your block quarters and a stamped return envelope (the same amount you used to send), and I'll mix everything up and send you back the same number that you made.
  • International swappers are welcome!  I think the best way to deal with postage is through Paypal, which we can handle as needed.
  • A suggested mail date for US participants is June 28.  Allowing a week-plus for the blocks to get to me, I'll mail what I have on July 9.  I'll plan to do another switch-and-mail for stragglers after a week or so if needed, but for best variety, the blocks should arrive here no later than July 5
  • Feel free to keep one of your quarters (i.e., make a block, send me 3 quarters and keep one for your project).
  • I'll do my best to give you a variety of quarters, but depending on what I receive, you may end up with a couple from the same set of fabrics.
If you're still with me (I know, I'm kinda wordy) and want to participate, please send me an email at with your name, mailing address, and a guesstimate of how many quarters you'll send (not that I'll hold you to it--I'm just nosy).

From here on out, we'll handle questions, discussion, etc. at the Mod Bento Block Swap flickr group.  Join us!

**edited to thank Christina for catching an error in the button code...if you've had trouble with it, try again as it should be fixed.  Thanks, Christina!**

Sunday, May 23, 2010

sunday smatterings

::April bee blocks;

april 2

::and May (did I mention I started a bee?).

bee liberated 2
bee liberated 1

 ::such an interesting post.


::sprinkler weather in May? At six o'clock at night?


::a winner!  Thanks to everyone who entered and welcome to those of you who've decided to stick around.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I'm so excited about this spring's Blogger's Quilt Festival (hosted by Amy)--last time, I was still a quiltgawker, so it's nice to finally be on both sides of the equation. I'm so looking forward to browsing all the beautiful entries.

making lemonade front

My first quilt--named Pink Lemonade--is still my favorite. The layout was kind of an accident, but I think I prefer it to what I had originally envisioned--and it was an great lesson in keeping calm and carrying on (something I've come to actually love about quilting, a la Gwen Marston...sometimes plans change for the better!).

I adore both the colors and the big blocks of white.  And it was so satisfying to finally execute all of the steps I'd been reading and thinking about for so long...from piecing the blocks all the way through to sewing the last stitch of the binding...and of course to pulling it out of the dryer.

It was just a little bit hard to give it least it went to an adorable baby girl, and of course there are always more quilts to be made.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

giveaway day!

Winner, allow me to make you a pillow.

bento pillow chair

Not *that* pillow, but your own, designed and made according to what you would love to have in your home.

That's the giveaway.  It stems from a few places--Elizabeth's giveaway from December was so cool...pillows are fun to's hard for me to think of and execute something that someone might or might not want, but who doesn't want to be a part of Giveaway Day?...I might like to do custom work someday and this will be good practice...and mostly, I missed the signups over here.  I figure that I got a good chunk of my bento pillow (above) from Ashley, so this will be kind of like the other half of a swap, right?

If you're new here (or even if you're not), that last paragraph might seem a little busy and cryptic, and I apologize.  Moving on, here's the info that you're probably here for:

  • If you win, I'll make you a quilted, bound, zipper-closured home dec pillow cover.  
  • You and I will work together on fabrics, colors, size, etc.  I might ask you to make a flickr mosaic or browse over there (or here) so I can get an idea of what you might like.  I've got a couple of fabric stacks in mind that you might choose from (some Amy Butler, some Anna Maria Horner, some Sandi Henderson), but I've got a lot of random stash and scraps too.  And I'm always looking for an excuse to buy a little something!
  • I'll include some of the scraps and a couple of other fun fabrics in case you want to make something that coordinates.
  • I'll probably throw in a couple of magnets, too...And another (little) surprise.  The surprise from last time was my favorite part of the package!
  • The deadline for mailing per the Giveaway Day guidelines is May 24, but since this prize is custom-made, I'll probably send it more like June 1.
To enter, just leave me a comment with a favorite fabric line, designer, color, whatever...just something that I can brainstorm about until we start emailing about the particulars.  Please make sure that you include your email address if you're a "no reply" can't win if I can't get in touch with you!  I'll choose a winner using the RNG on Thursday night, May 20th.
Thanks for popping by!

Don't forget to check out all the other terrific giveaways over at Sew, Mama, Sew.  So much fun!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

lake is the new charcoal

may tbk 2

This is my block for my TBK quilt.  Inspirations here, here, and here; that last one is a block made by my friend Emily from CMQG, who sparked the idea that tied it all together.  Every print in my stash ended up in my packages, along with the lake blue Kona solid.  So much rethinking went into this design and I almost didn't go forward with it.  But I'm really, really glad I did.

may tbk 1

The wind and sun were not cooperating with our photo shoot, hence blowing, wrinkles, and shadows. 

alex studies the block

Luckily, Alex *was* cooperating...I'm just starting small and preparing him early for when he'll be made to hold up an entire quilt.

alex the block holder

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

coming down the pipeline...

the sewing pipeline, that is, if there is such a thing.

My month for one of my bees.

Still need to make those spider webs...

A birthday gift.

A block for the next CMQG meeting.

Giveaway Day!

A block swap

My husband calls me overcommitted (in the nicest possible way) and maybe I am, but having sewing projects with deadlines fills some of the void that was created when I quit my job, but in a much more fun and less lucrative way.

Having nothing to do with sewing whatsoever, here's the guard dog at Cook Mansion.  Can I tell you how much I love living in a town that has a mansion with a guard dog statue?  A lot.

cook mansion guard

Sunday, May 09, 2010

tea leaves

I know I keep talking about these famous sheets, but humor me one more time, if you would.

Margaret, from TBK, is a really accomplished award winner...and she has her own longarm quilting buisness too.  It's only fitting that her blocks for the bee were the most challenging so far.  She gave us plenty of lead time (I think I had my fabrics at least a week before March began), and posted a thorough tutorial, but I was kinda busy in April.  They were the first thing I did after that craziness was over, because I hate to be late with bees & swaps (shhh!  I still have my Spider Bee blocks to do!--Tuesday at the latest, Tracy!), and I finally mailed them out midweek.

margaret's tea leaves 2

Paper piecing is terrific, friends.  I had only tried spider web blocks before, but am now even more obsessed with seeking out other paper-pieced blocks.  I've been known to have issues with 1/4 inch seams, and for the most part, this process eliminates that stress.  Everything is so precise and tidy!  My only concern is the bulk when four or five pieces of fabric came together, but hopefully smooshing the life out of them with my iron and quilting will take care of that.

margaret's tea leaves 1

Aren't they cheery?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

improvising, DS-style

My partner for the Urban Home Goods swap on flickr really made things easy on me.  She put "wall hanging" first on her list (with an exclamation point!) and loves Denyse Schmidt as well as charcoal, yellow, orange, and aqua together.  That combination really sort of spoke to me (and I already owned three of those colors...though who can resist a few extra Kona solids?), so I was off and sewing.

urban swap front

I actually own Denyse Schmidt Quilts, and while I have long enjoyed browsing the photos, I realized I had never really looked at the patterns very carefully.  Talk about picky!  So many pattern pieces!  I was kind of looking forward to improvising, wonkiness, and etc., so I ended up going in a different direction.  The "pattern" I ended up using was inspired by the beautiful DS Run & Fall...the description talks about the complicated pattern and math that goes into achieving a random look, so I guess I was kind of wrong about the improvisation process.

I'm more of a rotary-cutter person, so I went that route, a la wonky log cabin/Gwen Marston slicing (even without a ruler sometimes!).  I think the idea comes across pretty well, though there is a certain something about the shapes of the pieces in the DS quilt that I'm missing, I think--maybe that's what the pattern pieces are for!  I wish, too, that the scale was a little different....I think narrower rows with two charcoal strips might have looked better. 

On the up side, she was certainly right about that color combo!  I had originally planned to use two different oranges, but in person, they were almost the one orange it was--still, though, it's a good mix.  Can you spot that one yellow-and-white poka dot piece?  Using a little bit of print with mostly solids seemed kind of DSish, and it's also a nod (along with the bigger stripes of dots on the back)

urban swap back

 to the dots my partner loves (sorry they're not red!).  The binding is charcoal (though it looks almost royal blue in the photo of the back...not sure what's going on there).
The quilting was fun.  I scoured flickr for inspiration, as most of DS's work seems to be hand quilted...something I'd like to try but wasn't ready to do for the first time on someone else's project.  This is kind of what I was after, though there's no part of me that's ready to quilt leaves!
urban swap detail

My partner also mentioned magnets, and somehow I thought of this was fun to look through my photos for favorite shots of fabric.


All packed up with some Lemonheads (the factory is right next to my hometown, but these were made in Canada?) and off to New Jersey, an hour before the last FedEx pickup.  Whew! 

Next up, the sheets (for real this time!), then some shots of the beautiful things my partner made for me.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

a diversion

uno de mayo front

uno de mayo back

Probably, it wasn't the best idea to make a quilt for the same event I was chairing, but it was actually kind of nice to have something I *had* to do that I also *wanted* to do. A break from talking to the printer and coordinating ticket sales and knocking on doors for donations.

The downside was that the photos were taken five minutes before I left to set up the raffle table, where it was bundled with tickets to an outdoor concert and gift certificates to wine and gourmet stores. An embarrassingly large number of my own raffle tickets went into that bag, and though I didn't win, at least I know the person who maybe I can at least visit it once in a while.  Because it wouldn't be weird to visit a quilt!

The fabrics are all the pinkish/orangeish Kaffe Fassett prints I could choose in the (short) time a 3.5 year old is happy at the LQS, plus some Kona solids.

Hot pink quilting in a loop/pebble hybrid, made denser by the fact that it's harder to control your (faithful but not-meant-for-quilting old Singer) machine when you've attached an oatmeal lid to it with painters tape in order to cover the feed dogs...(such fun to have the new machine die mid-quilt!).  There are some puckers.

Machine-bound in the pink solid and a pink KF diagonal stripe.  First time with that, and likely my last.  Doesn't look as good as Rita's always do.  But it's a picnic quilt, not a bed quilt, so I'm mostly OK with that. sheets are here!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

back on the grid


and this is all that's left of The Fundraiser.

That and some money. More than a thousand, less than a million. But a good chunk of money for a worthy cause.

Now, sewing, sewing, sewing!