Homeward Bound Quilt Top

Way back in January I posted about some blocks I made for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Swap and how they inspired me to start a new quilt. After that, I got busy making the individual blocks for the quilt.

Homeward block 1

And I loosely grouped them together.

Homeward blocks

After a few months, I had made 42 blocks and considered that enough for a quilt. So I laid out the blocks on the dining room floor.


And the first bits of doubt started to creep into my mind. Hmmm. That wasn’t how I thought it would look. It’s hard to explain, but I thought the patterns made by the white and gray fabrics and the green fabrics would be stronger. It just didn’t look very cohesive.

But I went ahead and sewed it together. Then I draped it over the upstairs railing and let it sit. For about a month I looked at it and tried to figure out what to do next. Add a border? Maybe two? Leave it as is?

As luck would have it, we were asked to bring projects we were stuck on to the April meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. The plan was to break into small groups and brainstorm ways to help each person along with her project.

Since the quilt top was technically done, I held it up for show-and-tell and tried to explain my misgivings. It was kind of hard to be down on the quilt given the enthusiastic response of the guild members. People seemed to genuinely like it. Maybe it was just me.

Later we broke up into our small groups and talked about the quilt again. It was there that a couple of ladies held the quilt up for me to see from a distance. It was the first time I could really stand far back and look at it.


OK, maybe I could see the patterns better than I thought. During show-and-tell, one woman described it as “sun-dappled,” and I agree. The patterns are there, but they are getting broken up a bit with lights, like it would be on a sunny day.

Then, we happened to notice that the quilt was being reflected in the window of our meeting space. From that point of view, the patterns were crystal clear! I guess it all just depends on your perspective.

So, I’m going to go ahead and finish the quilt as is. Right now, I’m thinking I’ll use orange thread for the center areas and then maybe gray for the rest of it. But I could also see myself taking it a step further and using green thread in the green areas. We’ll see.

Several of the women in guild suggested adding an orange binding, but I’ll make that decision once I get that far.

For the most part, I’m a solitary crafter. I’ll ask Greg’s opinion on things, but I don’t usually go out and solicit feedback. In this case, though, I really needed outside points of view. I was too close to it, both literally and figuratively, to see it clearly. So a huge thank you to the women of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild for their support, ideas, and encouragement! This one might actually get finished because of you!


Happy House Swap Block

HappyHouse1As I mentioned last week, April is my month to bring a block to share in the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Block Swap!

It was kind of a lot of pressure to think of a block that people in my hive would like making, that wouldn’t be too hard, that didn’t need to be super accurate, and that I would like to work with later to make a finished project. I searched online for what others had created for block swaps and searched through my books of blocks trying to get ideas.

For some reason, I kept getting drawn to house blocks. I’d never made one before and never really thought about making one before. But there were a couple of house blocks that repeatedly turned up in my searches. I finally decided on this block from the Bloomin’ Workshop blog that she calls Manor House. She had made it for a random sampler quilt-along, and I liked that it was simple and yet still cute.

So I made up the block above by pulling fabrics from my scrap bin. It was fun looking for bits that were large enough for the house and still went together. In the process of making the block, I was also trying to figure out the parameters I wanted the members of my hive to use as they made their blocks. After making this block, I decided I wanted everyone to use a low-volume fabric for the sky.

Next I decided to make a block with a more monochromatic house.

HappyHouse3Surprise! That house turned out to be orange. With this block, I decided that the members of the hive could use some solid fabrics, but I didn’t want any house that used only solid fabrics.

I was having so much fun making these, that I tried another one.

HappyHouse4This time I used a sky color that wasn’t gray. So with this block I decided that I wanted the sky fabric to have a white background, but it could also have any low-volume color with the white.

And, honestly, I just couldn’t stop making the blocks. I found that it was easy to find pieces for the house and chimneys from my stash bin, but I needed to cut into my yardage for the sky and most of the roofs.

HappyHouse2When I looked at all my blocks together, I realized they were all just really happy looking. So I decided I wouldn’t restrict the hive members to any colors for the houses; I would just ask that the houses look cheerful.

My final instructions to my hive members are:

Please make one Manor House block from the Bloomin’ Workshop blog. Click here for link.
Follow her instructions for creating the block. I found it very handy to print out the block illustration with measurements that she includes in her post.
Special requests:
Use a white background low-volume print for the “sky” pieces.
Use prints (or prints and a few solids) for the house that result in an overall cheerful look.
HappyHousesI hope everyone has as much fun making this block as I did. I’ll get the blocks from my hive at the May meeting, and I’ll show you what they came up with then!

Orange Peel Swap Block

OrangePeelswapblockThe Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Block Swap continues! At the March meeting, Abby asked the members of my hive to make an orange peel block. She provided the template shape and asked that the peels be orange and the background be low-volume grays. And, in her words, “the scrappier the better.”

Abby instructed us to first piece together our four background squares. She suggested that we cut them to 5-inches, but I accidentally cut mine to 5 1/2 inches. But that just gives her more wiggle room for squaring up.

Then we were to trace the template onto the orange fabric and onto a piece of lightweight fusible webbing. With right sides together (meaning the pretty side of the fabric and the sticky side of the fusible), we were to sew around the entire shape with a 1/8-inch seam allowance. Then we were to cut a hole in the fusible, turn the shape right side out, and iron it to the pieced background.

I hadn’t done this type of appliqué before, so it was pretty slow going. My biggest problem was that my fusible was so thin, it kept tearing, especially as I was trying to poke out the ends. I also found it tricky to keep the fusible from showing on the sides of the shape (in fact, I wasn’t entirely successful with that).

I ended up having to re-position a few of the shapes, so while Abby left stitching down the shapes as optional, I did because I didn’t want them to fall off. Plus, I already had my orange thread in the machine.

I love this swap because I’m getting to use techniques I haven’t tried before and make blocks I wouldn’t have made on my own. My block isn’t perfect, but hopefully it goes with what Abby had in mind.

April is my month to be Queen Bee of our hive, so next week, I’ll show you the block I’ll be asking the hive members to make for me!

Hand-Quilted Mug Rug

hand quilted mug rugAt the February meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, Dana presented an education segment on hand quilting. I have hand quilted before, but it was good to get her take on hoops (which I’ve never used but got to try at the meeting), thread (including pearl cotton, which I’ve always wanted to try), and needles. Our challenge was to try hand quilting and bring our work to the March meeting.

I didn’t get on it until just a few days before the March meeting. So I went through my pile of orphan blocks and found this one that I had made at the Heather Jones workshop last year. It’s small (about 8″ x 8″) so quilting would go quickly, and I really like the colors and wanted to finish it somehow anyway. Perfect!

Less perfect was the fact that I didn’t have any pearl cotton or a quilting hoop. So I just quilted it like I’d done in the past: in hand, with my regular sewing thread. It turns out that holding it in hand while quilting causes the piece to bunch up a bit more (a hoop keeps it flatter), but for my purposes, the bunchiness was fine.

My stitches are nowhere near the “ideal” of ten stitches per inch. Mine are about five per inch, occasionally six. But I certainly didn’t see a need to go smaller for a mug rug. And I’m not entirely sure I could go much smaller anyway. Ten stitches per inch is a lot!

hand quilted backOn the back, I just used a piece of pin fabric that I’d had for a while. It was surprisingly confusing—a couple of time I actually thought they were pins as I was working on it.

I have to admit I didn’t get the sense of relaxation that many people do when they hand quilt. Maybe it’s because I wanted to finish it by the meeting date. But I do still want to try pearl cotton sometime—maybe even tackle a whole quilt with it. We’ll see . . .

Spring Paper Crafts

Chrissy egg2

We had out-of-town visitors this weekend, including two sweet little girls ages six and two. So, of course, I had to plan a craft project. I looked around Pinterest for a while and came upon a craft I remembered fondly from my school days—the old opening egg with a chick inside. Perfect!

I went to Target to supplement my stash of supplies. I picked up a pair of safety scissors, the paper fasteners (they had them in silver and gold!), and some springtime stickers.

Abby, the six-year-old, is a born crafter. She jumped right in. Like any good six-year-old, she included her last name on her egg, so I ham-fistedly covered that up.

Abby egg edit

Marin, the two-year-old, made one, too, with the help of her mom and dad. She kept telling them to add “art,” much of which she then covered with stickers. But you can’t beat the upside-down chick placement.

Marin egg

Abby and I just kept at it once our first eggs were done. Abby made another one that she mounted on a piece of paper. The egg top still moves, though. She knows what she’s doing.

Abby egg2

And she made this pocket and glued it to a background. She used a hole punch to make the frame and then added paper behind some of the dots. Crafty!

Abby pocket

I asked Abby what else would come from an egg, and she immediately answered, “Dinosaur!” So I asked Greg to draw the dinosaur of his choice for my next egg.

Chrissy eggI borrowed Abby’s hole-punch technique on the bottom half of the egg.

I love sharing crafts with other people, and these two girls were great fun to make stuff with!


Latest Charity Quilt

Each year I try to make a few quilts to give to charities. I’ve made quilts for Ronald McDonald House, Project Linus, and Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky. If you’ve noticed, there’s a bit of theme there: I make quilts for kids. These quilts normally aren’t huge, and I can use my stash of brightly colored fabrics.

But 2016 is the year I’m going to make a quilt for Quilts of Valor. This organization gives quilts to veterans and service men and women around the country. The quilts need to be about 60″ x 80″, appropriate for an adult, and preferably in a patriot theme. To me, that translates to large, not girly, and includes reds. You can see why I have been dragging my heels.

Last week, my green, orange, and gray quilt hit a roadblock as I waited for an online fabric order to arrive. So I started going through my stash for fabrics appropriate for Quilts of Valor.

Somewhere along the way, I purchased several yards of this star fabric, especially for this purpose.

QofV star fabric

And I bought a few yards of this navy and white checked fabric, too.

QofV navy block

I looked around online, and found this quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew. She used a simple star pattern, and I really liked the way she mixed up her fabrics.

I pulled some blues and grays from my stash, removed the flowery ones, and made a few blocks.

QofV blocks

So far, I really like where it’s going. I do think it needs a little red to punch it up, but I haven’t decided how I’m going to do that yet. And I have all that star fabric that I might decide to use in big pieces around the blocks. We’ll see . . .



Neutral Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope neutralThe coloring hasn’t stopped! Here’s one of my latest palettes. I tried some more neutral colors, and I really like the way it turned out.

I think BB-8 likes it, too!

Kaleidoscope BB8

Quilt Bee Blocks and New Quilt Idea

At the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, we’ve started a new fun swap called a Bee. Participants are divided into “hives” of 10 to 12 people. Each month, one hive member makes a block request, showing a block she’s made as an example. The next month, all the hive members bring a block for that member to use in her quilt. That same month, a different hive member shows a block, and it keeps going until all the hive members have received blocks for her quilt. Fun!

Janine was the first hive member to request a block for my hive. She asked for a block of any size that is made with only squares and rectangles and uses only solid fabrics. Easy enough.

I was in between projects last weekend, so I decided to work on my bee blocks. As usual, I started paging through my books for ideas. The first block I decided on was one called Homeward Bound from The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt book. The blocks in that book finish at 6 inches, which is a bit small for me, so I enlarged the pieces for a 9-inch block.


I picked colors that I thought would go with what Janine showed at guild. But they weren’t really my colors. So I made another block. This one is from the book Pillow Pop. I reduced the size of it by a row or two, and it’s definitely my colors.

Bee 1

As I was working on those blocks, I was thinking about my next quilt. And it’s pretty ridiculous how straightforward my train of thought was. First block pattern + second block colors = new quilt!

Homeward block 1 I was intrigued by how the corner blocks for Homeward Bound would make a secondary square once more blocks were put together. So I made a few more blocks to see if I liked it.

Homeward blocks And I really do like it! My plan is to use teals and greens for the large squares; pinks and oranges for the corner squares; and grays for the rest. I’ve got six blocks done and a bunch more cut out. I love the excitement of starting a new quilt!

Christmas Tree Wall Hanging

Christmas trees 4Every year when I unpack the Christmas decorations, I wish I had a new quilted wall hanging to put up. I have a few that I’d make years ago, but neither fit my current style. So this year, since we stayed home for Christmas instead of traveling, I decided to finally make a new one.

I wanted to keep it classic, without getting too fussy. After a bit of online research, I found the Lovely Little Forest Quilt pattern at Purl Soho. The pattern was simple enough, and I certainly had the green fabric I needed. So, I got to making trees!

Christmas trees 1It was so much fun picking out the greens from my stash that I couldn’t stop! I made so many trees that my wall hanging ended up being a bit larger than the one in the pattern.

While I liked the simplicity of the design, I wanted mine to be Christmas-ier. I tried adding some red embroidery, but that looked a bit messy compared to the clean lines of the design. Then I decided to check my ribbon stash, and there I found some large red rickrack.

Christmas trees 2I tried putting it in a few places and ended up liking a single length on a few of the trees. The rickrack was so thick that simply folding under the ends wasn’t going to look very clean. So I decided to unsew the side seams of five of the trees, slip in the rickrack, and sew them back up. Easy! Or not, as it turns out. My seam edges got a bit wonky on those trees (not that they were all that great to begin with), but the overall effect was what I wanted.

Christmas trees 3For the quilting, I echoed the shape of the trees, extending the echos into the white spaces. In retrospect, I should have stitched in the ditch to anchor the fabric first. Instead I started at the bottom and worked my way up, which shifted the fabric a bit as I went. So a few puffy spots but nothing too bad.

Christmas tree finalI thought the piece needed a bit more red, so I dug through my very, very small red stash and found a red print that had a solid red backside. I didn’t have much of it, though, so I used the double-sided binding technique from String Quilt Revival and used the red on only the front.

Christmas tree backThe backing fabric is one that I must have bought a million yards of. I used it as the backing on a large quilt a few years ago, and I still had enough for this piece, and the binding, and the corner hanging tabs, and I still have some left.

Christmas trees 5The finished piece measures 18.5 x 25.5 inches. Now that it’s done, I’ll pack it away with the rest of the Christmas decorations. And when I unpack things again next Christmas, I’ll have a new wall hanging to display!

Coloring Kaleidoscopes


I’m obsessed with coloring. I just can’t get enough of it. Any idle time in the evening is spent coloring. Wind-down time at night is spent coloring. Weekends? Coloring. I even thought about taking a coloring break during the work day but decided that was a much too slippery slope to go down.

I first blogged about coloring back in February 2012. After a few months, my interest waned, and I put away the colored pencils for a few years. Then this whole adult coloring craze got me thinking about coloring again, and I picked up my old coloring books a few months ago.

What really kicked my coloring into gear, though, was a gift Greg gave me for Christmas: Kaleidoscope Designs by Martha Day Zschock.

Coloring book

Since my other coloring books are color-by-number, I wasn’t sure if I’d find coloring my own designs as relaxing. And I’m not sure if it is as relaxing, but coloring these kaleidoscopes is a ton more fun. What I’m really enjoying is coming up with color palettes for each piece.

My process is to pick a color and use it in three spots in a design. Then I pick another color and use it in three spots. I keep going like that, without a real plan of what color I’ll pick next. Here’s my sequence for a recent design.

*Note: I tend to color in places where the light isn’t very good. And often at the end of the day when my eyes are tired. Plus I’m usually really excited to lay down the color and move on to the next one. All this is to say the coloring itself isn’t that great. Be kind.

Coloring 1

Coloring 2

Coloring 3

Coloring 4

On this one, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with a light purple or a darker one next, so I tried them both before going with the darker color.Coloring 5

Then I went back and used the lighter purple.

Coloring 6

The finished piece (with a different camera in different light).

Coloring 7

As you can see, I’m a bit of a kaleidoscope coloring minimalist. Coloring the whole thing doesn’t seem fun to me. I like my white space.


For this one, I challenged myself to use more contrasting colors (my other contrast challenge piece is the one at the very beginning of this post). I intended to start with an orange, but I accidentally picked up blush instead. So the piece went in an unusual (for me) direction right from the start.


And here’s my latest work-in-progress. My challenge for this one was to use colors I don’t normally use. I’m not sure what color I’ll try next—I guess I’ll see tonight!


If you haven’t picked up a coloring book recently, I highly recommend you give it a try. You just might have hours of fun in store!


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