City Sampler Progress

While my heart dreams of starting the Penny Sampler, my reality – both financial and time wise – compel me to carry on with the City Sampler.  See, you can even make sewing sound like drama!

I am exaggerating of course.  While its true, I’d prefer to start my new project, I’m really happy to continue along my merry way with the City Sampler.  The blocks are fun to put together, and I’m becoming much more careful in my cutting, and my seaming.  When I first started quilting (like yesterday), I was terrified of cutting the fabric the wrong way – what if I waste some of it?  But fear has never stopped me from picking up a scissors. We’ve all seen the effects of that with my Piano Keys quilt, and the sliced off border.  But, I do think that cutting each block individually has made me more economically.  I’ve gone from impulsive cutting, to plotted cutting.  I plan more, and I save my trimmings in a plastic bag instead of throwing them on the floor.

Anyway, here’s where I am –




And finally –



Ta da!

As far as the Penny Sampler goes, here are my stumbling blocks.  First, I can’t really decide on a color scheme.  While Rachel’s original quilt is fairly muted, that doesn’t mean the quilt wouldn’t look awesome with vibrant colors.  But, I have hers stuck in my head, and its making it hard to break away from her concept.  There’s a Flickr group for class members to post their photos, but a lot of people seem to be sticking to her concept as well, even buying the same fabric she used (when she started the class, she offered a bundle that was similar to the fabric she used).  While there are some who have gone their own color way, they haven’t put their quilts together yet, and it’s kind of hard to tell if they’re going to come together.

Stumbling block no 2 – I’ve looked at every hot fat quarter bundle out there, and the thing is, while there are prints in the quilt, the solids are really the important component, and for me at least, buying solids online is really hard.  What I’d really like to do is go to an actual fabric store, and handpick my fabric.  I am going to the Grace Kelly exhibit at the Michener Museum in Doylestown with my mother next Saturday, and there is a quilt shop in Doylestown – but that means waiting an ENTIRE WEEK to get started.  And, it also means shopping with my mother, who tends to get a little impatient.  But, I think that’s the way I’m going to go.  And, in the meantime, I’ll continue to work on it in my head – or perhaps, with some of the neutrals I have in my stash . . . hmmm . . .

City Sampler Underway

After much thought, and a reality check – including time, money and interest, I’ve decided to go full speed ahead with Tula Pink’s City Block Sampler, and abandon, at least for now, the Farmer’s Wife.

I’m jumping in on the Quilt A Long late, to say the least. But, it’s all good – better than good actually, because I’m picking up at a very good section for a beginner – blocks. How much can you screw up a block, right?

So, here’s one last look at my Denyse Schmidt Florence, all bundled up, neat and pretty. I read on someone’s blog that fabric bundles never look the same again once you’ve undone that sweet little bow – and now, with that thought in mind, undoing the bow is like ripping off a bandaid.


But, off the band aid without an accompanying ouch, because it’s pretty fab after it’s been exploded.


The solids aren’t part of the bundle, but rather perfect selections from Pink Chalk Fabrics that I bought to compliment the fat quarter bundle. I have no idea how far this stash is going to get me – 10 blocks? 20 blocks? Half way done? No clue. Part of me says I’ll worry about that when I get there. The other, sensible part (and mighty optimistic), is formulating a plan – I’ll either buy another bundle of the same, or maybe I’ll go with one of the other Denyse Schmidt lines – during one of my click through a linky internet adventure, I saw someone who had combined several Denyse lines, and it all worked out pretty well. (Edit – I just tried to link to the Pink Chalk solid bundle I bought, and it’s no longer available – so it’ll definitely be back to the drawing board).

But, clearly I’m getting ahead of myself – I’ve got all of four blocks done, that’s 96 more to go – NINETY SIX. As they say on Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming – I’ll have plenty of quality time with my machine and my fabric and my book. You’ll see!

And 71 –


Block 72


And, fussy cut Block 73 –


Tula’s fussy cut features a sweet little frog from her Prince Charming line. I don’t have anything like that – in fact, I have very little that’s fussy cutable. I have fabric left over from my Amy Butler birdie swing tote that has birds on it – but it’s not such a great fit with this fabric. So, I pulled this out from my stash of vintage fabrics that I got when I was putting together a Maryann Moss journal –


I said, a ha! Perfect! And I cut away.

And then, I immediately regretted it.

How cute would that panel have been in a tote bag? Argh. Oh well, it’s cut now.

And, I’ve mentally dealt with slashing this one of kind piece of fabric. I’m going to use the little calendars in other fussy cut pieces, marking special dates, and there are other bits that can be used too. All is good. It’s just quilting.

Anyway, here are all of the blocks together –


This weekend really was pretty productive – I’ll be back for WIP Wednesday to show you my other projects – but I did want to show you this – I finally pieced around my owl, sewed on his eyes, and put him in his hoop.

Love him!

Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!



WIP Wednesday – Altered Squares

So, as I mentioned in my last WIP post, I started a quilt for my niece for Hanukkah, and since Hanukkah starts Thanksgiving, I’m feeling a little under the gun. And, since she requested pink, lavender and zebra fabric, I was feeling kind of iffy about my fabric choice – Summersville Spring, which I think is young, modern and funky, but I didn’t know how it would go over with her.


So, I showed it to her.

I thought she would be jumping up and down – you started my quilt! The fabric is awesome! Yeah!

But, instead, she said, “yeah, it’s nice.”

Hello, you are not a teenager yet – you’re only 10. A little enthusiasm please?

“It’s nice. I like it. I said it’s nice.”


So, here’s the start of her nice quilt.


Joe decided to clean his car last night, so that meant – a. the trip to see Grandpop in the rehab facility wouldn’t take place until way later than we got home, and b. I didn’t have to do any cleaning while he cleaned his car because he was using the only vaccuum. Yeah, quality sewing time!

Now, I’m about 10 blocks away from being finished sewing the 80 blocks – 40 4 patches, and 40 hour glasses.


And, here’s my design floor – since I don’t actually have a wall in my craft room that doesn’t have an eave, and an example of what the blocks will look like when they’re put together.  This isn’t how they’ll be arranged – I just had a few minutes before work this morning to throw some blocks on the floor, and snap a photo.



I think I like it.

Great, now I sound like my niece.

Linking up with Freshly Pieced –

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

And a PS’s (because I never know when to stop the babble) –

PS: When I was looking at my podcast list this morning, I just kept thinking something’s missing, something’s missing – and indeed, a favorite podcast had mysteriously vanished from my queue. Probably not so mysterious – I probably deleted it by accident. Anyway, I reupped my subscription to Books on the Nightstand, a podcast from two publishing industry insiders who just love books.  Whatever they’re reading, I want to read, because their love of reading, and whatever book is on their nightstand, is infectious.  And, they have good taste, too.

PSS A new version of Sense and Sensibility is out by Joanne Trollope.  This is all part of the Austen Project, which pairs modern authors with Jane classics, to promote, I guess, the modernization of Austen.  At first I was horrified, but then I thought how much Sense and Sensibility speaks to modern times, and how young girls behave like idiots sometimes.  I know, because I was an idiot once – drank too much, did dumb things, had crushes on the wrong boy – and when I finally let Jane speak to me – that one scene where Elinor asks Marianne if she compares her conduct to the cad Willoughby, and Marianne says, no I compare it to what it should have been – I compare it to yours,” – when I finally stopped comparing my behavior to those who acted worse than me, and started to compare it to people who behaved well, my whole life changed – I met my husband, let myself be treated well, and the rest is history.  Thanks Jane!  And I hope the new Trollope version lets her Marianne in on the same secret.

Blogger’s Quilt Festival

Twice a year, Amy at Amy’s Creative Side, hosts a Blogger’s Quilt Festival.  The first time I participated, there weren’t categories – you could just link up your quilt, and on your post, tell your quilt’s story.  Now, there are categories, and voting, and unfortunately, there’s no category called, Beginner’s Disaster.  So, while my quilt certainly isn’t in league with 99% of the quilts entered, I’m participating anyway, because the quilt blogging community is awesome.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a quilt blog that didn’t ooze with enthusiasm.  And, quilter’s are so eager to share their enthusiasm – so many online quilting bees, swaps, and tutorials – every blog has a tutorial tab.  It’s awesome.  And, hopefully, as my skill improves, I’ll be able to share the things I’ve learned too.  Right now, all I could share is mastering the seam ripper.
So, without further adieu, my finished Piano Keys Quilt –

I never photographed the quilt, hanging up, in it’s full glory. And, since I gifted it, I can’t do it now. Oh well.

I started this quilt back in 2011. Knitty D and I picked the same pattern, but she, smart girl, picked the smaller size, and she, after basting, did what she knew – straight line quilting. Me, nah. I had one baby quilt under my belt at this point, and I was ready for free motion quilting. Not that I knew how to drop my feed dogs. Not that I knew how to get the darning foot on the machine. Not that I had any quilting gloves. Nevermind all that, I figured – I was just going to go for it, and figure it out as I went along.

So, I went to Knitty D’s and we had a basting party.




Looks good, doesn’t it? But, the disaster, like a virus, had already taken hold. I decided to spray baste, and I didn’t use very many pins.


When I took it home to quilt, I watched my youtube videos about setting up my machine for free motion quilting. I said to myself, got it, easy peasy.


So wrong.

It was really hard – I was pushing, and pulling the quilt through the machine. It was like a prize fight. And then, I took a look at the back of the quilt. Horrors! The spray baste had come apart, and the quilt had folded back on itself. I had sewn so many overlapping circles and twists and things that were supposed to be stippling, there was no way I was ever going to be able to rip it out. Well, at least that’s what I thought at the time. Thinking back now, I probably could have, with a little patience. But, patience is not one of my strong points. So, I decided to just cut the border off.

And, in a scissor frenzy, my Piano Keys border was gone, and I was just left with a center with a raggedy edge.

I was depressed. I put it away.

For two years.

And then finally, I pulled it out again. I straightened up the edge, and just decided to finish it.




Luckily, the return of my Piano Keys mojo corresponded with my mom’s birthday. I would have preferred to give her something closer to perfect, but I did work hard on it, even if my efforts were often counterproductive. And, the fabric, in another happy coincidence, was in her colors.  So, I finished it up, bound it, and wrapped it.

And her she is, totally stunned at my talent!


She really was pleased as punch. And, she didn’t care it didn’t have a border. Nor did she care that the back of the quilt showed all of my boo boos, where the bobbin got jammed up, or my tension was screwed up, or I quilted in the same place 100 times and made a big brown blob.

She just loved it because it was from me. And I made it.

And that’s what quilting with love is all about, right?

Thanks for stopping by!

Country Mouse v. City Mouse

So, in my last post, I pointed out the obvious – I had once again failed to complete a 30 day project. I failed at 30 days of Faces, 30 days of index cards, 30 days of lists, 30 days of whatever. I did succeed at 30 days of not blogging. Frankly, 2 weeks into the listing thing, and I just thought it was stupid. The truth is, I’d rather be doing the things on my list rather than making the list. And so, for the past month of failing at blogging, I’ve been crafting up a storm – sewing, quilting, knitting, keeping up with Project Life – all of these things are a success – so I’m not too upset I failed at listing the projects before I started the projects.

Most of my projects start with a google search – I’m interested in x, I follow a link, then follow another link, and then all of a sudden, I end up interested in Y – a place I never expected to be in the first place. For instance, I was interested in making an Amy Butler Weekender Bag. I read many a blog that convinced me that the Weekender is not only above my pay grade skill wise, but above my pay grade pay wise – that darn thing is super expensive to make. So, I started looking for simpler, cheaper alternatives. That lead me to Sew Sweetness, and her Purse Palooza. But not only does Sew Sweetness host the Purse Palooza, she hosts the City Sampler Sew-Along. What is this? I thought, and started clicking through those links. I ended up buying the Tula Pink City Sampler  book, and I’ve got it in my queue of things to start. And, while I was looking at blogs who were doing the City Sampler QAL, low and behold, these same blogs had quilted along to the Farmer’s Wife Quilt-a-long.

I then started looking at Farmer’s Wife Quilts, the Flickr group, and eventually the Yahoo group. I bought the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Book a few years ago when I was taking my quilting class at the now defunct Spool, and I was thinking about jumping on the Farmer’s Wife QAL bandwagon.  I was fascinated by all of the little blocks, and how they came together like a puzzle. But, then I read the book – and I was just appalled. In 1922, Farmer’s Wife Magazine asked their readers if they had a daughter, would they want their daughter to marry a farmer. The answers inspired blocks, the blocks make up the quilt. Ok, I know it’s 1922, but the answers were so myopic, and the limited nature of the dreams they had for their daughters was disheartening. By 1920, I had hoped that the famer’s wife wouldn’t still want to keep her down on the farm, not after she’d seen Paris – but the truth is, that’s just a song, and they hadn’t seen Paris, and the only world was the farm, and the people they knew – which to me was so exclusionary – certainly not welcoming or openminded to people of color or, like me, who was reading the book, of a different religion. So, the text of the book turned me off, and also, this is probably just me, but some of the blocks look like swatikas. Now, I know that the symbol itself has ancient origins, and was traditionally viewed as a symbol of good luck. I’m not faulting anyone, or judging anyone for it being in a quilt, or a fair isle design, or anything – it’s been a crafting motif forever.  But to me, I just don’t want to look at it. And, if a block resembles one, I don’t want it in my quilt. And the blocks in this book, they’re not swastikas, they just resemble them, and that’s the first thing I see when I look at them.  That’s just me – not anyone else who’s made this quilt – just the way this symbol imprints on my brain, and that’s it.  No judgments – just not for me.

So, why am I back to the Farmer’s Wife? Again, it’s the blocks . . . and, as I followed links, and looked at blocks – it’s the paper piecing, or foundation piecing – when you sew your fabric onto the back of a pattern (the paper, the foundation), and eventually remove the paper to reveal a perfectly pieced block, with perfect points and seams. Voila!  It’s awesome.  It may just be my most favorite quilting technique I’ve learned in my internetting journey.  And the best thing – no cutting!  You can just use your scraps – as long as the scrap is big enough to cover the block in the template, plus a quarter inch seam.

So, do I want to make an entire Farmer’s Wife Quilt? Maybe, I don’t know. I love the blocks, but I still have a hard time reconciling the theme. On the other hand, I do feel kinder towards the Farmer’s Wife than when I bought the book several years ago. It was 1922 after all, and it is a slice of Americana history. And, I feel there’s balance – because I definitely want to make a City Sampler, and it’s nice to work from both ends – traditional v. modern, farm v. city. I like that dichotomy.

Boy, I really am over thinking all of this, aren’t I?

Again, maybe – if quilts are about storytelling, my story is not down on the farm. But, recognizing that, I guess, is part of the story. And, I am grateful for the food that’s on my table every night, and certainly, in this economy, the farmer’s plight couldn’t be more relevant.

Enough babbling – let’s look at what I’ve done – because if nothing else, the Farmer’s Wife Quilt is excellent practice – and I don’t have enough fabric, even scraps, to make it at this point.


What’s that owl doing in there! I’ll get to that in a sec.

The three traditional blocks are from the Farmer’s Wife – the Attic Window (Block 1), Autumn Tints (Block 2), and the Bat’s Wing (Block 5). You may ask what happened to Blocks 3 and 4. 3 is Joannie’s basket, and requires some applique – one technique at a time – I’ll pick that up later if I end up doing a whole quilt.  Block 4 was one of the windmilly ones that looks like a swastika, so I skipped it. And block 4 is totally NOT a swastika – again, it just reminds me of one – it’s just a basketweave. Block 4 is probably one of the ones I could get over, and throw it in – but since I was just practicing I moved on to 5, I liked it better anyway.

Now, what about that owl.  Well, of course I went looking for paper piecing tutorials.  And, the best one I found was on Bubblestitch Quilting’s blog , although the tutorial is by Connecting Threads.  Anyway, while on her site, I found my way to her craftsy patterns, fell in love with the Owl, and with three Farmer’s Wife blocks under my belt, I felt confident enough to go for it (even though my Autumn Tints block is a wreck – that’s certainly nothing more than a practice piece):



How cute is this owl! Now, you can see from my photo, I screwed up a little – I didn’t realize the pattern already had a quarter inch seam allowance built into it, and when I cut my head out, I added one – oopsy – but I don’t realy care – I’ll make another one. I don’t think I’m going to do a whole quilt or wall hanging with them – I think I’m just going to add a 2.5 inch strips around the block, and stick it in an embroidery hoop to hang on the wall.

And what about my City Sampler? I have the fabric – Denysce Schmidt’s Florence, with a stack of solids, put together by Pink Chalk Fabrics.


But, as much as I’d like to start working on it – I started a quilt for my niece for Hanukkah – and since Hanukkah is just about a month away, it’s the priority sew at the moment.  I had a really hard time picking fabric because I wanted something easy peasy, so I wanted a precut – because cutting is the biggest struggle for me.  She requested hot pink, lavender, and zebra print.  Sheesh.  So, I found Summersville Spring (I linked to Red Pepper Quilts instead of a store because she has the fabrics all laid out) which has a print that sort of resembles an animal print at least and has the requisite colors.  I’m making Jenny Doan’s Alternate Square layer cake quilt (from her Craftsy class, Quilting Quickly 1) – one layer cake is cut into four patches, the other, half square triangles, and then the blocks alternate – the diagrams are on the back of the Moda fabric label when you get your layer cake.



But, once that’s done, and I can’t imagine its going to take too long – I’ll be off to the City. Or maybe the Farm. Or maybe a different farm, Jane’s Farm – I found the Dear Jane quilt on my linky travels, too.

But that would just be too crazy.


Anyway, I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced, which I also found in my linky travels. 

 WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


And if you’ve stopped by from WIP Wednesday, thanks so much for popping in!

Beach Blanket Hexagon

Sunscreen, check!

Bathing suit, check!

Charged up camera, check!

Kindle, ipad, check!

320 precut squares . . . huh?


While listening to Darren Daulton once again make an ass of himself on national television (I thought those days were so ovah, but apparently not), I cut my pack of Cut Out and Keep half yard bundle in 4 x 4 squares to make hexagons at the beach. 

Hey, it’s supposed to rain all day Sunday.

It’ll either be that or Cowboys and Aliens.

Probably both.

So, I’m ready.