(Wo)man plans; God Laughs

love bag 2 resized

That title is a paraphrase of a very famous Yiddish saying.

When I was a kid, my grandfather used to say, Kleine Kinder, Kleine Tsoros, Grosse Kinder, Grosse Tsoros. That means little children, little problems. Big children, big problems.

I spent a good part of my childhood thinking that my grandfather had made up that phrase and wasn’t he clever and wise. A few years ago I saw that saying in a book and can still remember how horrified I felt to discover it wasn’t original to him.

The other phrase? The one that relates to the title of this post? Well, he never said that, but writing it made me think of it and, since I can be a little stream of consciousness sometimes, I took a moment to tell that story.

The planning and laughing has to do with all the lists I make of what I’m going to work on and what I’m going to post about and on and on.

Plan: Pattern some new fabrics, add them to shop, and post about them here.

Reality: Made some new fabric, added them to shop,and am mentioning them here:

crisss cross fat quarter hexies in blue and gray 3 hexies in marigold and white

Not part of plan: Wake up at 4am (mostly because of AMAZING thunderstorm) and make this:

love bag 2 resized

Granted, I dyed the fabric a while back and even quilted the front and back with the intent of making two pillow covers out of them, but lately I’ve been a little obsessed with the idea of re-purposing some belts that have been gathering dust in my closet.

A lot of that has been inspired by this image and this one.

So, I made the bag pretty much for the sole purpose of figuring out how to incorporate the belt.

love bag detail 1

And feature the buckle.

I decided to make a hang tab for the buckle and tuck the other end into the seam between the lining and outer shell of the bag. I did have to use a leather needle to sew the non-buckle end, but that wasn’t a problem.

Initially I thought I’d leave the bag open with no button closure, but there again, my plan and reality were different things.

So, new plan: Make unscheduled trip to thrift store to find more belts and make more bags.

What I’m Working on Wednesday:: Strips and Bricks Redux

sample for sewing party

I think when you work freelance, especially if that means working a fair amount by yourself at your set time, you have no choice but to figure out what methods of working are best for you. I would imagine some people really benefit from have multiple task to do in a day, flitting from one disparate job to another. These folks enjoy moving from a task done on the computer to one done in the sewing room.
I’m not one of those people. I so prefer working on one thing at a time, one day at a time. A full day shepherding a project through many stages works better for me than a bit here on this project and a bit there on that one.
What does that have to do with this Wednesday’s peak into my studio? Not that much as I’ve known this about myself for a while and often try to spend a whole day focused on computer-oriented stuff and then balance that with a day in my dye studio.
I guess I’m filling you all in on this by way of explanation as to why I’m not always as good about blogging as I theoretically should be.
On that day, writing, blogging, and the like are just not the work of the day.
One thing though that happens every day around here is taking pictures. So I have several to share and they mange to document a fair amount of the process of making this, my newest version of my Strips and Bricks pattern.
sample for sewing party

I’ve made many versions of this quilt. Like this one and this one. The first was when I was in the midst of writing my article for Quilting Arts magazine discussing what I called working with “low volume” fabrics. But, I’ve made both saturated color examples as well as one crafted from a jelly roll of my first line for Moda Fabrics, a stitch in color.

This one too has been made for a specific reason, an event I’ll be chatting with you all about soon, but, I’m happy to report that it was just as fun to piece as the first.

strips and bricks top

And even more fun to quilt as I had a better sense of exactly what would or wouldn’t work.

binding strips and bricks

This might be the last I make for a while though, but not because I don’t love the pattern. I’m ready to do something different with it, enlarge it dramatically or piece it improvisationally or limit the palette to two contrasting colors or maybe some combination of those ideas.

If, but probably more accurately, when I do that, I’ll figure it out as I go because that’s the way I tend to work. Oh, and I’ll probably do it in one day spurts.

If you’re interested in making this pattern yourself you can as I sell it as a direct download on my website, stitchindye.com and via my online store.

What I’m Working on Wednesday:: Broken Ring Mini

full view 3

I was thinking about the quilts I make the other day and came to realize that I’ve finished a quilt a week over the past few weeks. That hadn’t been my intention; I hadn’t set a goal to craft a quilt every seven days, but there it was. This latest one is in a similar vein to this and this, same basic starting point, same improvisational approach, similar focus on hand dyed and saturated colors. full view 3 It all starts when I clean up my studio. Really, that’s always how these quilts begin. I invariably run into some piece of dyed fabric that I’d alway meant to do something with. Why that something hadn’t already been done is a mystery, but somehow “accidentally” encountering it jolts me into action. detail All three of these minis feature a dyed-to-look-like-it’s-pieced shibori center. That is the center Wedding Ring block is stitched out of quarters that are mostly patterned with dye to mimic the pieced block. I then add hand dyed or commercial fabrics to frame that center block and sew everything together improvisationally, no rulers, just freehand cutting with a rotary cutter. Everything usually goes together very quickly because when the energy is right in these pieces they pretty much make themselves. I’m just an observer. Pretty cool, huh? I don’t think I could work that way everyday and maybe that’s why I have to “unearth” parts of these pieces to make the minis. Timing must be part of the process and I don’t even realize it. Maybe they’re not “unearthed” so much as “revealed”. If you’d like to unearth this mini in your own home, it’s available in my online shop.

What I’m Working on Wednesday

travel tote interior

I should title this “What I should be Working on Wednesday”, but if I’m nothing else, at least I’m honest.

Here’s what I’m working on:

travel tote full view 2

I made a version of this for the current issue of STITCH magazine, but it was a backpack and featured a different image and slightly different fabric.

For this one I really wanted to use these:

hardware for bag

They’re from an old Pentax film camera I have that I bought off Ebay. I bought it because it was the same make and model as a much loved camera I used in college, Pentax K1000.

pentax with strap

I had delusions( and,really, that’s what they were) that I would take some film pictures alongside digital and scan them on to my computer. Well, film is expensive, really expensive, and getting it processed is even more expensive. Also, the camera didn’t work all that well. And, after a while, it didn’t work at all. But I love the way it looks. So, it sat on my desk and then moved with me a year ago to sit on my desk in my new house.

But then I started eyeing the hardware and coveting it just a bit. Why should that useless camera get to have this cool hardware when I was left to just admire it from a distance?

Well, I have righted that wrong by re-purposing (love that word!) the hardware for use in my new fabulous bag.

And what, you may ask, makes this bag so great?


travel tote detail 1

It celebrates my adopted hometown of Austin, Texas with this shot I took of Congress Avenue one weekend morning. Never mind that the food trailers were moved from that spot to make way for a soon-to-be high priced hotel…minor detail.

And this:

travel tote interior

It is lined and the pockets are made from some of my Simple Marks Summer fabric. Also, I kinda dig that the interior plopped into the shape of a heart as I was about to shoot the picture. Do you think the bag loves me as much as I love it?

My favoritist thing about this bag is that the strap is long enough to wear across my shoulder. So easy to carry.

So, though I maybe should have been working on something else this Wednesday, I am very happy with how this bag turned out and it inspired a new pattern idea that allows you to combine patchwork and re-purposing (and gives you an excuse to use that word). How great is that? More about that soon.


a stitch in dye Photo Shoot

quilts on lawn

One of the best parts of my job is getting to take pictures. And it’s not just the actual taking of the pictures that’s the most fun. It’s getting to take them in beautiful places with wonderful people.

Yesterday, I went to the home of one of my best friends, Nan, to shoot a few photographs of quilts.

And Nan took pictures too.

nan shooting

me taking a picture

Nan lives in a beautiful, old home that she and her husband restored. And, when I say they restored it, I mean they literally did all the work themselves, from redoing the kitchen to repainting to landscaping…everything.

We started our photo shoot on their front porch.

mod ovals detail 1 photo shoot 2 fish baby log cabin 1 fish baby log cabin detail 1

But soon made our way to the incredibly green lawn (we’ve had a lot of rain in Texas this June).

mod ovals 2 mod ovals 3 fish baby log cabin 4 fish baby log cabin 3

And eventually, even the wonderful Oak tree.

mod oval in a tree

Shooting with Nan made the task all the more fun. I think I’ll take her along on all my future photo shoots.

quilts on lawn

What I’m Working on Wednesday:: Mod Ovals

mod ovals finished top 3

I’m on deadline this week for a couple of things, so I won’t be posting to the sew-along until Monday, but I do have a couple of images I’d like to share today.

mod ovals finished top 3

I’ve been working on this quilt top for a few weeks now, a little bit at a time, in between other projects. In other words, the way we all work on things. I had wanted it to be large enough to fit a Queen sized bed, but this one needs to be finished this week, so will have to be content with being lap sized.

finished top detail 1

I’m ok with that because I want to make a second. I can see this design crafted in just two colors for a very graphic, almost stark bed quilt or in a version that pays more attention to either light and dark contrasts or warm colors set against cool colors.

Probably my favorite thing about this design is that I felt like I could work on one block at a time. I didn’t work on it that way, but I could imagine sneaking off to my studio and making a block here or there. Each block feels so complete in a strange way and that makes creating this quilt, one block at a time, a few stolen moments at a time, the right way to go from fabric to finished top.

I made another discovery halfway through this project. It was actually a result of the Ruby Red Trees mini quilt I posted about last Friday. It’s hard to believe, but I was struck by how much I enjoyed working with those luminescent Oakshott cottons and really noticed the difference when I turned from that quilt to work with standard commercial cottons. I missed that depth of color and shine of those richly colored fabrics. It’s at that point that I remembered I had a stack of hand dyed pima cottons that I’d recently made piled on a table. I decided to include those fabrics in this quilt top and would like to make my next version or frankly my next design focused on solids out of my own hand dyes. They really are a different breed of solids and have a sheen and weight that you can’t find in commercial solids.

I may even craft a few Klee’s Trees blocks out of my hand dyes. I’m feeling pretty enamored of them right now.

Be back Friday with, hopefully, pics of a finished quilt and maybe more.

Ruby Red Trees

binding version 2.0 2

First off, in a nod to my friend, Lucie Summers and because Oakshott Cottons are a product of the UK, I’m going to forgo the correct spelling for the word, color, and add the superfluous U to spell colour instead. You’re welcome.

A few weeks ago the lovely folks at Sew, Mama, Sew invited me to participate in a wee little challenge, the Oakshott Ruby Mini Quilt Challenge. I received a collection of 16 fat eighths in an array of browns, reds, pinks, and purples with the instructions to make a mini quilt.

So I did:

Klees Trees 2.0 full view resized

I think I used all but a couple of the colours and added a bit of a blue from my stash.

These fabrics are amazing, deep, intense saturated tones. They shimmer and feel a lot like Kaffe Fassett’s shot cottons, a similarity that prompted me to choose one of his stripes for binding this quilt.

binding version 2.0 2

version 2.0 detail

For those of you familiar with my Klee’s Trees pattern or participating in the sew-along, you might notice that this version is slightly different than the original pattern. Aren’t you observant?

It is a bit different, but, if you have the pattern, you too can make it.

Check out my cute graphic:

version 2.0 step by step

Here’s how:

Images are ordered left to right, top to bottom.

1. For each block, you’ll need templates A and C from the pattern, 7, 1 1/2″ strips of your “tree” colour and 4, 1 1/2″ strips of your background colour. You’ll also need 4 template C triangles.

2. Sew and press the strips together and trim to fit template A just like instructed in step 1A of the pattern.

3. Position the 4 template C triangles so they are properly oriented.

4. Sew and press template C triangles, one at a time to both halves of the block. Trim if necessary(it’ll be necessary)

5. Sew a 1 1/2″ strip to center of one half of block. Press. Trim.

6. Sew other half of block to already sewn section. Press.

Make a total of 12 blocks, sew them together, quilt in a pattern that makes your heart sing, and you too will have a version of this 29 1/2″ x 22 1/2″ mini quilt.

To quote Gus Portolakalos from My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, ” There you go!”

If you’re saying to yourself, ” Hey, self, I’d love to make this, but I don’t have this pattern.” No problem. You can get a copy here, here, and here.

Also, if you need more Ruby Red inspiration, check out the other challenge participants here:

 Debbie of A Quilter’s Table

Jen of bettycrockerass

Deborah of Whipstitch

Kristy of St. Louis Folk Victorian

Beth of Plum and June

Rather than just wish you a happy weekend, though of course I do, I thought I’d leave you with another bit of potential inspiration I found as I downloaded the quilt images from my camera. All the best, Friends!

more inspiration 2





What I’m Working on Wednesday :: Sew Along Edition

june11post 1

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time you know that I often refer to songs, usually corny songs. Truth be told I regularly hear the song in my head before I make the reference.

Well, today’s song is courtesy of Sammy Davis Jr.

I Gotta Be Me

I Gotta Be Me

Sammy sings that, right or wrong, he’s got to be true to himself.

Well, I couldn’t agree more. And that’s why I’m changing my mind about the fabrics and palette I’m using for my Klee’s Tree quilt.

The last time I posted I had an array of fabrics selected with gray as my background color, but as I began to make the blocks I didn’t like how intense the gray was and I wanted to do something different with the background then I had done in the original quilt or pillow versions.

I should have predicted this would happen because me does not like to repeat herself. Me is really interested in all the variations and possibilities. Me likes change.

So, this is what Me is currently doing with the blocks:

june11post 1

I’m limiting the palette to gray, yellow, acid greens, and orange. I may add a color or two. I can’t be sure because I’m cutting fabric for blocks as I work.

Notice anything odd? Are the two bottom blocks on the right hand side a bit different? Could that be what happens when Me relies on her memory of the instructions instead of referring to the instructions? Will these block be eventually eliminated from the final quilt? No. I gotta be me. And I like to include everything, even the little imperfections.

I do have a few tips for you all as you make your blocks.

1. I added about 1/8″ to the hypotenuse side of template C. I was finding the fit a bit tight and would rather trim if necessary than struggle with seaming pieces together. I may have to add that to the pattern as a not of errata, but I haven’t quite figured out if it is just my printer. Let me know if you’re finding the fit tight as well.

2. Mark a midpoint in template B along the bottom edge. Then finger crease a corresponding midpoint along the bottom edge of the sewn section you create in step C of the instructions.

mid point image for post

This allows you to line up the template with the sewn piece. Finally, cut sewn section to fit template B.

3. “Create” nesting seams if necessary.

back view of block

I’m not afraid of twisted seams and you shouldn’t be either. If turning a seam allows you to nest two seams together and get a super tight fit, then do so. I use this technique to get more accurate points and edges.

That’s it for my starting tips and blocks.

Check back here Friday for a mini quilt version crafted out of Oakshott Cottons and a tutorial on how to use your pattern (with a few tweaks) to create one for yourself.

Comments? Questions? Please leave them in comments section and I’ll respond there.

Also, if you’d like to join in it’s not too late. Get your copy of the pattern here or here.

We’ve only just begun…

mx baby quilt 2

Karen Carpenter would finish that sentence with the words, “to live”, but I’m going to finish it with ” to sew along.”

And, while I’m beyond excited to sew along with you, I’ve had a project or twelve that have prevented me from preparing today’s post the way I’d like. So, rather than give you schlock (hey that must be a real word because auto correct did not react), I’m going to ask your indulgence and set a date to meet back here next Wednesday for sew, sew much sewing-along.r

In the meantime, something pretty (hopefully) to look at and one of the reasons I’m not making Klee’s Trees blocks today.

mx baby quilt 2

Klee’s Trees Sew Along::The Very Beginning

full view of quilt

It’s a very good place to start. Sorry, I just couldn’t help the Sound of Music reference.

Also, I think that if Maria wasn’t so busy making the Von Trapp children play clothes from the curtains, she’d want to make each one of them a Klee’s Trees quilt.

For those of you not aware today I’m hosting the first installation of a sew along focused on making this quilt:

full view of quilt

If you want to participate and haven’t already purchased a copy of the PDF for your self, you can do so here or here.

For those of us who have the pattern, let’s get started. The first thing I would do is to print two copies of the template sheet. That’s because there are three templates and two of them overlap on the template sheet. You’re going to want all three. Also, I like to trace my templates on to a sturdier paper than copier paper, something like card stock or even old manilla folders. You can buy plastic sheets specifically meant for templates, but I’m way too cheap for that and the templates don’t need to be see through, so why?

Color/fabric-wise this quilt is basically constructed out of a series of colored stripes pieced together with a neutral or white stripe and background triangles also cut from a neutral or white fabric.

klees trees on wall

In the original version I used a white fabric. Incidentally,the pattern includes a list of the exact fabrics used in the top. I added this not because I think it’s the only way to go, but because some folks like having that information.

In fact, I’m going to make my sew-along version using these fabrics:

fabrics for sew along

and possibly even these:


They’re the leftover strips from the original version.

The dark gray in the very right-hand corner of the first fabric image is going to be my “background” fabric.

The pattern only calls for 11 solids other than the white/cream “background” color, but I like having lots of choices. If that’s not your thing, then limit yourself to the number of solids listed in the pattern or even fewer.

As for cutting all those solids, I’d cut some of the strips, but not all. I’m not a production type of sewer and I want the flexibility to change my mind. If you feel differently then grab a ruler and rotary cutter and have at it. Same thing goes for the background triangles. I wouldn’t cut all that are needed in one sitting, but if you’d like to get that step out of the way, then…

My goal for this first post is to introduce the pattern, chat briefly about the templates and fabric, and get us cutting enough to get started piecing on Wednesday. So, friends, let’s meet back here then and make our first blocks.

Also, if you have any questions about the pattern, fabric choices, or what you should have for dinner, feel free to leave those in the comments section and I’ll respond there.