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!

The Art of the Brick

I love the traveling exhibits that come through the Cincinnati Museum Center. Thanks to them I’ve seen real mummies, ruins from Pompei, memorabilia from Princess Diana (twice), and artifacts from the Titanic. And having gone to the latest exhibit, The Art of the Brick, I’ve seen a ton of really cool Lego art.

All the pieces in the exhibit were created by Nathan Sawaya. The pieces at the beginning were re-creations of artwork done in other mediums. While some were completely flat, others had a bit of dimension to them.



Many of the pieces used typical Lego shapes and colors, but this mask included some specially made tan people around the outer edge.


The exhibit included re-creations of larger, three-dimensional pieces of art, too. I love how he interpreted the necklace on the piece below.



Some of the pieces were really, really big. The Easter Island head was as tall as a person. And it was created with layer after layer of Lego bricks.



The exhibit also included some of the artist’s own sculptural pieces.


I liked how you could see all sides of the bricks in the piece below.




At the very end, the artist pulled an element for another artist’s photography and re-created it in Lego bricks. This was my favorite piece of that group. Who would have thought you could make a Lego towel?





Shark Wall Hanging

Shark front quilted

My first Christmas gift for the year is done! This shark wall hanging is going to my shark-loving little niece Stella. As you may recall, I gave her a shark skirt a few years ago. And since she’s still into sharks, the shark-themed sewn gifts will continue to come her way.

This wall hanging is a result of the traveling quilt/round robin exchange I participated in last year for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. I started my traveling quilt with this shark block.

Shark blockThen each member of my group made a block or blocks to go with it.

Shark top Ellen made the fish, and Teresa made the Shark Teeth blocks at the bottom. On the back I used Kim’s Saltwater Taffy blocks and some more fish.

Shark top back

I had originally planned to make a boy’s charity quilt with my blocks, but that was going to take a lot more paper-piecing on my part. So instead, I reworked my block (taking off the borders) and some of the other blocks I received (some of the fish were sewn together), added some solid ocean-colored fabrics, and pulled it together for this 18 x 21-inch piece.

With the top and back pieced, it was time for quilting. I quilted around the shark and his features to make him stand out as much as possible.

Shark detail quilting 2

Then I just quilted wavy ocean lines over the rest of it, including over the fish.

Shark detail quilting

I used the same light blue thread for the quilting on the front and back, so the back looks a little weird. But I like that you can see a ghost shark coming in from the right side.

Shark back quilted

Since the back is almost as designed as the front, I didn’t add a hanging sleeve yet. But if my sister would like one, I’ll sew one on after I give it to Miss Stella.

Shark front quiltedIt was fun to manipulate the different elements to make a cohesive piece. Thanks to all the CMQG ladies who contributed blocks!

To check out the original shark paper-pieced pattern, click here.

Completed Pirate Quilt

PirateQuilt_FinishedOne more quilt done! This weekend I finished my pirate charity quilt, which the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild will donate to the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky. The quilt is twin size, so it’s big for me (and for my quilt holder, who has requested smaller quilts going forward).

According to my blog records, I’ve had the top of this quilt done since July. I started quilting it in September and finished up in November. Not too bad. The quilting is very simple and definitely not dense, but it should hold the quilt together.


The back is a little more plain, in case the boy who receives it gets tired of the front.


Here’s hoping the quilt brings someone a bit of comfort.


Giving the Sawtooth Stars Quilt

Aummy with quilt

Not only is my Sawtooth Stars quilt finally finished, it’s now in the hands of the person I made it for: my aunt, Mary Ann Doyle.

Aunt Aummy, as we call her, has been a special aunt to me and to many of my sisters and cousins on my dad’s side of the family. She remembers all of our birthdays, made Christmases at the farm extra special, and takes care to know each of her nieces and nephews—and great-nieces and great-nephews—as the individuals we are.

So I wanted to make a quilt just for her. Blue is her favorite color, so I used that as the background. Then I made 18 large stars, one to represent each of her nieces and nephews. Each star is made from a different fabric.

Sawtooth finished detail

Around the large stars, I placed 27 small stars, one to represent each of her great-nieces and great-nephews. Again, all the fabrics are different, for a total of 45 star fabrics.

Sawtooth finished 4

I didn’t have enough boy-looking fabric to assign one star to each person, but I did make the two yellow stars at the top with my two cousins who have passed away in mind. You can read more about the making of the quilt top in this previous post.

I did the quilting myself on my home machine. I sewed straight lines from the corners of the stars and did close wavy lines in the blue background. I struggled with the quilting, as I mentioned in this previous post, but it certainly serves its purpose. The photo at the top shows the quilt after it was washed, and the close quilting made it extra crinkly and cozy looking.

Sawtooth back

I pieced the back with two Amy Butler prints plus a few extra pieces to fill out the size, which ended up being about 67″ x 72″.

And I added a label to the back, of course.

Sawtooth label

The binding is a little different for me. I didn’t have enough of the blue on the front of the quilt for the whole binding, so I made a two-piece binding.

Sawtooth double_sided binding

I followed the tutorial in the book String Quilt Revival. It calls for two strips the length needed for the binding: one strip is  1″ wide and the other is 1.5″ wide. After some preparation, these are sewn together (which had to be the most boring thing I’ve ever sewn). It’s then sewn onto the front of the quilt and folded over to the back for hand stitching. I really like that the seam of the two strips sits right on the edge of the quilt, giving it a very nice finish.

This one has been in the works for about a year, so it’s kind of exciting to have it completely done and at its new home. Now, on to whatever is next!

Wisconsin Fun 2015

Hartman Creek

October is a beautiful time of the year to go home to Wisconsin, and last week, I did just that. The main purpose of the trip was to spend some time with three friends from high school. We met in Appleton on Saturday, went to the farmer’s market, the Trout Museum, had a tasty lunch, got some cupcakes, and did a little shopping at the mall. It was a lovely time.

I have photos of none of that. But I did take a few shots of some of the other fun I had while I was up there.

On Sunday, Jenny and the kids came to Mom and Dad’s to visit. It was a warm day, so while I was waiting for them to arrive, I got out the sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk

My design looked even better with the addition of a cute girl.

Sidewalk chalk 2

Mom and Dad were feeling under the weather, so Jenny, the kids, and I decided to check out the changes that have been made at South Park. They’ve really fixed it up nice, with new shelters and a great playground area. We spent some time on the fishing pier, too.

Shadow Lake

Back at Mom and Dad’s, we did a little painting and dyeing using some dark sunflower seeds Jenny had gotten. The seeds looked black, but when they got wet, they were actually purple. Jenny soaked them in water, and I used the color as a wash behind my doodle.

Sunflower wash

Mom was feeling a little better on Monday, so we took a walk at my favorite park, Hartman Creek State Park. The hike around Hartman Lake (aka Turtle Lake) was windy, but pretty.

Hartman beach

On Monday night, Mom didn’t want to spread her cold germs around at the quilt guild meeting, so we stayed home and did some improv sewing. Mom gathered up a pile of scraps, set up two sewing machines and an iron, and we just sewed.

Improv with Mom

Mom made an improv cross block.

Mom improv

I started making an improv Log Cabin to get loosened up.

Log cabin improv

Then I decided to make a piece that said “Mom fabric” to me. Her scrap pile has more reds and blacks than mine ever will.

Mom fabric improv

Finally, I wrapped up my session with the beginnings of an improv Halloween wall hanging. I’ll cut out a silhouette of something spooky and put it in the middle.

Halloween improv

Next week, I’ll share the last big event of the weekend: gifting my Sawtooth Star quilt to someone very special.


Wisconsin Wall Hanging

WI finished

As a girl who loves her home state, I was super excited when a member of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild brought in a paper-pieced Wisconsin block for another member who also happens to be from Wisconsin. I had no idea such a block existed.

So when I had a little down time last week, I found the pattern on Craftsy and dreamed of all the Wisconsin-themed gifts I’d be giving this Christmas. Then I made the pattern. It turned out to be the most difficult paper-piecing project I’ve attempted. So, FYI, those Christmas gifts aren’t going to happen.

I played it safe with my fabric selections, choosing one solid that looked the same on the front and the back. And I colored the pattern pieces so I could easily see which sections were to be state and which were to be background.

WI colored pattern

As is always the case when I’m paper-piecing, I tried to skimp on fabric, using my smallest bits for the small sections. And as is always the case, I regretted it when those small pieces didn’t quite fill the area needed and had to be taken out. Between that and just messing up the pattern, it was rough going. Especially for the southeastern part of the state.

WI take one

Nothing really matched up the way it should as I struggled with putting the large lettered sections together. And I accidentally used a different green for the large triangle in the middle. But I could see where I could do better, so I tried it again.

This time did go more smoothly. In addition to coloring the state sections of the patterns, I stitched the perimeter of each section after I pieced it. This made sewing those sections together so much easier because the edges of the fabric weren’t flopping over.

WI take two patterns

I still made a few of the same mistakes that I made the first time through, but overall it was much easier. And it turned out looking nicer, too. Although southeastern Wisconsin still has its struggles.

WI take two

After a bit of thought, I decided to turn the block into a wall hanging. I added a gray and white polka-dot border and then added a wider border of Amy Butler Violette fabric.

Before I started the quilting, I decided to locate Waupaca, my hometown, on my newly pieced map (and I had Greg verify it so that it would be reasonably close). I made a red French knot there (per Greg’s suggestion) and then sewed a free-motion spiral out from there. As with my mug rug from last time, my circles are nowhere near perfect, but I just wanted them to be fun.

WI quilting

I used a piece from the same Amy Butler collection for the backing. The finished piece is about 16 inches square.

WI back

WI finished

Despite its imperfections, I kind of love the way it turned out. I really like the colors. Now I just need to figure out where to hang it. Somewhere that’s in my line of vision during the day. To remind me of home.


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