New vs. Old

Can you tell which fabric was bought for 50 cents from the thrift store and which was bought for $9 at the quilt shop? 

Lecien vs. Thrift Store

I thought not.

I am in love.

I'm so in love with everything Sally Nencini makes that I can't concentrate on anything else except clicking around her website and her Etsy shop.  Really, I should be sewing up orders for my own shop, or at least cooking up some yummy Christmas fudge.  But  no, I must gaze upon the hand-embroidered sofa cushions.  Or stare at the matching cowboy/cowgirl knit pillows. 

Sally Nencini.  Knit Genius.

Aaaaahhhh, so much goodness.  There are hearts where my pupils should be.

Learning: Fat Thread Quilting with Mary Mashuta

I've been wanting to take Mary Mashuta's Foolproof Machine Quilting class for awhile, and finally, the stars aligned, my Saturday was free, and the class had a couple of empty spaces.  I've been adoring Mary's quilts for a long time.  I had her Cotton Candy Quilts book continually checked out of the Berkeley Public Library for months at a time until I finally found my own copy, so I was really excited to take a class from her.

She uses a process of quilting that doesn't involve marking your quilt top.  Instead, you use contact paper cut-outs to create designs that you then stick onto your quilt and quilt around.  She also uses very thick threads, and I love that look!

Here are a couple of my class samples. 

I can't wait to use this technique on a bigger project!

Let the Cuteness Begin!

I'm an auntie!!!  My sister has a new baby, so I feel like that gives me a good reason to go gaga for cutesy.  Right?

Here's the stack I'm starting with, some thick cozy flannels.

Jumpin' Monkey flannels from Cathy Heck Studio

And when I've worked my way through that, I'm moving on to the cutest of cute featuring LOTS of PINK!

Emma, also from Cathy Heck Studio
Where did I find this hot off the press fabric?  I just happen to be in the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild with one of the design team!  Thank you so much, Ellen!

Learning: Indigo Dyeing

I don't knit.  Or crochet.  So, I don't let myself go into yarn stores too often...or I might start a new bad habit.  Recently, however, a new yarn store called A Verb for Keeping Warm opened and they figured out a way to drag me in.  Back behind all the gorgeous yarn and wonderful spinning wheels, is a section filled with a beautifully curated collection of quilting cottons.  And, wouldn't you know, I go in for the fabric...and come out contemplating taking a weaving class

A couple of weeks ago, to celebrate their one year store anniversary, Kristine Vejar, the owner, opened up access to her indigo dyeing pots for anyone with a skein of yarn or a bit of fabric to come and use.  So generous!  And, of course I showed up with a little linen.

Pots of Indigo.  Yes, they smell a bit and live outside.
Kristine dyeing my linen.  When it first comes out of the vat, it's bright green!
I have to say, there's really nothing more beautiful than a drying rack full of recently dyed indigo yarns.
Once the dye gets more oxygen, it turns from green to blue.
You can see a video of Kristine explaining all about indigo and indigo dyeing on the Ysolda blog.  I don't think it mentions the little tidbit that she told us the night of the dye demonstration about how, long ago, in order to get the ph levels just right, the indigo pots were fed with a strange mixture of mashed bananas and pee.  Yes, urine, specifically from a young boy???  (Maybe that's because they'll pee just about anywhere...go ahead, ask me how I know.)

And, here's my linen!  It turned a beautiful soft French Blue.

Now I just have to figure out how I want to use it!  Any ideas?

A Gorgeous Give-Away

Head over to the rikrak studio for your chance to win some lovelies (including a Peppermint Pinwheels baby play mat!).  And don't forget to check out her Handmade Community Holiday Gift Guide!

It's that time of year!

Holiday shopping has begun!  I've already been going through my Etsy favorites to find some great handmade presents for the lucky people on my list.  (I say they're lucky because I only buy things I would want myself!)

Rik Rak Studio is making it easy for me to find wonderful new items with her Handmade Community Holiday Gift Guide*.  Each week, she picks a category and lets readers post their favorites in each category.  Check back each Tuesday to see what the latest category is, and be sure to add your favorite gift ideas of the season (so I can check 'em out!).

the rikrak studio

A Quilt Block for October.

I had so much fun making this block! 

Happy Halloween!

Teaching: Improvisational Confetti Class

A couple of weeks ago, I taught my Improvisational Confetti Quilt class for the first time.  Because I often work in an improvisational way, not planning before I cut, or worrying too much about how I sew it together, I forget about how hard it can be to step away from "perfection."  I always have a great time in class telling people to "just cut it!" and yelling across the room, "put down that seam ripper!"  (I promise, my classed ARE fun - not scary...right?!) Sometimes my students listen to me, but sometimes, they struggle with being afraid to go "off pattern" and letting wonderful things happen organically.

Making a Confetti Quilt Class - October 2011
Confetti Quilt Class at New Pieces Quilt Shop, October 2011
In this class, some may have had a bit of a struggle, but look how beautifully the work came out! 

Ah well, I might be more comfortable with improvisational quilting, but I bet all you perfectionists that think ten steps ahead would kick my butt at chess.

Making: I Love 30's prints!

I have an entire shelf devoted to 30's prints, but I rarely get to use them.  Now they're off the shelf and have made it up onto the design wall! 

Basketweave Sweets Quilt - In Progress

Pacific International Quilt Festival 2011

This year, I only had 2 hours to spend at PIQF.  Definitely, not enough time.  Here are a few quick pictures of quilts that caught my eye as I ran past.  You can see more detail over on Flickr.

Some pretties from PIQF 2011

Amazingly, the first quilt I saw at the show was created in my Split Log Cabin class!  It turned out great, Barbara! 

I think I only got through about half of the show before it closed and I had to run to my Hawaiian applique class with Jean Brown.  It was a hectic afternoon, but I had a great time!

Learning how to make a quilt. Please help!

Lately, I've been making some major changes to my sewing studio.  But, I'll talk more about that later - I'm not finished with it yet!  The reason I mention it, is that while re-organizing all of my things, I found this picture:

My first quilt
My First Quilt!
Pictures of the very first quilt I ever made!  I didn't even remember that pictures of this quilt existed!  I made it back in 1994, when I was in my last year of college. It was for the first friend my own age that was having a kid.  (It took all my other friends a LONG TIME before they had any off-spring!)

I don't even remember who's sewing machine I used to make this, but I do remember that although I didn't have much trouble with the piecing (yes, I'm sure I cut this out with scissors!), I really struggled with the over-all quilting.  I know I originally thought I would hand-quilt it, but decided on machine quilting, so I'd have it finished before the kid was in college himself.  It almost didn't happen!  The batting was a puffy polyester and I hadn't ever heard of a walking foot before.  It was so frustrating and such a struggle to get it finished.  The lines weren't straight at all and the stitch lengths were all over the place.  I was annoyed and disappointed and I don't think I made another quilt for about 4 years.  (The next one took years to finish as it was all hand-quilted!)

Now I quilt all the time.  And I just wish that back then, I had someone telling me all the tips and tricks to make sewing and quilting more fun and not so frustrating.  With that in mind, I'm starting a new class, held here in Berkeley (sorry, it's not web-based) called Home Ec 101 to help new quilters, or anyone struggling with sewing.  It's also for anyone who just wants some dedicated quilting time and some fun peeps to hang out and quilt with!  It starts next Tuesday, October 4th and will be held on the first Tuesday of every month at New Pieces Quilt Shop

Here's where I need HELP!!!

What I'm wondering is, if you're a new quilter, what are you struggling with?  And, if you're an experienced quilter, what are your words of wisdom?  I would LOVE it if you would leave comments and let me know! 

If you'd like more information on Home Ec 101, you can check it out here:

Peppermint Pinwheels Give-away!

Head over to the uber-cute Bloesem Kids blog and leave a comment for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate good towards anything in my Peppermint Pinwheels Etsy shop. Good luck!

I pulled an all-nighter!

Well, I didn't actually stay up all night, but it was close!  I'm a big fan of sleep, so you know it's important if I'm staying up late and waking up early.  I'll just come out and admit it, I went on vacation, over-committed myself, and fell a bit behind on my obligations. But, although I'm a bit sleepy today, I'm happy to say, I finished!!!

Confetti Quilt
Confetti Quilt

Here's my new Confetti Quilt.  It's totally scrappy and lovely and I'll be teaching a class on how to make it in October!

Confetti Quilt
You can see more pictures on Flickr!

A trip to the Virginia Quilt Museum...and then shopping.

While I was visiting in Virginia, my sister and I took a road trip.  The intention was to visit the Virginia Quilt Museum as well as whatever quilt shops we could find along the way.

Virginia Quilt Museum
The Virginia Quilt Museum
The museum itself was a bit of a disappointment as most of the quilts on exhibit were contemporary and made by the same woman.  They just weren't my cup of tea.  I would have loved to see more antique quilts.  The museum did have an interesting library where I could have spent a lot more time, but we had other things to see!

Our next stop was Patchwork Plus, which claims to be the largest quilt store in Virginia.  I picked up a couple of fabrics from the sale table, as well as a sweet little strawberry print that I just couldn't resist.  I have a thing for strawberry fabric.

Adding to my hoard.
After that we hit just about every thrift and antique store in North-Western Virginia.  At least, it felt that way!  I have got to say, the thrift stores were amazing!  I could have come back with a shipping container full of furniture, but alas...I only had suitcases to fill.

Since I hadn't gotten enough of antique quilts from the quilt museum, I made sure to pay special attention to the quilts at the antique stores, plus, they didn't mind if I took pictures!  The best over-all selection came from my favorite antique mall of all time, The Strasburg Emporium.  I literally grew up shopping there and they always have wonderful things to look at.
Vintage Dresden fan quilt
Dresden Fan with really fun fabrics

Vintage embroidered quilt
This quilt had hundreds of these little hand-embroidered campfires.  What is that about?

Antique signature quilt
This antique signature quilt baffled me.  What were all the signatures for?

But, my favorite two quilts of the day were found at Vilnis Antiques, also in Strasburg. The fist is attributed to the Mennonites of SE Pennsylvania and dates somewhere between 1880-1920 (this, according the tag attached to it!).  I just adore the colors of this quilt.  ADORE!!!

Antique striped quilt
"Joseph's Coat" quilt
Each stripe in the interior is quilted differently.
Antique striped quilt
Detail of the hand-quilting
But, the one that came home with me...all the way back to California, is this one:

I'm calling this my God's Eye quilt.  The top is made from double knit jersey - cotton mostly, but with just a few bits of polyester thrown in!  The binding is a polyester stripe fabric that is wonderful.  The backing is a hideously ugly flannel print of fruit, but it will never see the light of day as I never intend to look on the reverse side again!

I ♥ Virginia!

I may live in Northern California, but I'm actually a Virginia girl. When the cold, Bay Area summers start to get to me (seriously, I have to heat my house to get the temperature above 65 degrees), I jump on a plane and visit hot, humid Virginia. Here's why I love it!

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Hartland Orchard in Markham, Virginia

Fresh tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes from my sister's garden.
Fresh blue crabs
Blue crabs, caught and cooked by my uncle. Yum
I picked a peck of peaches!
Fresh peaches, picked by my sister and me.
And so many great antique stores, flea markets, and thrift stores.  But, more on that later!

Going down the Drunkard's Path.

It's not what you might think.  I haven't gone round the bend with a bottle of whiskey.  But, I  have wandered a bit on the Drunkard's Path recently.   I have this wonderful solids charm pack from Robert Kaufman that needs to be made into a quilt.  So, I started drinking thinking, and that's when I got involved with this tricky little block.
The Drunkard's Path Die (makes 2 blocks)

A friend lent me his new toy, a die-cutter for fabric called the Accuquilt Go Baby.  One of the die cuts is a 3" drunkard's path block.  The coolest thing about the Accuquilt is how fast it can cut up a TON of fabric.  The not so cool thing, is that I cut up a bunch before I really thought about what I was doing.  Wah, wah.

It took about 5 minutes to cut up my Kaufman charm pack with the Accuquilt.
What a beautiful scrap heap!  I can't bear to throw these little strips away.

Now I've got all these little bitty curved blocks to piece and arrange.  So far, I'm struggling.

As usual, I turn to Google images for help.  Here are my favorite arrangements.  As it turns out, my most favorite is a Gee's Bend quilt.  Go figure.
Lucy T. Pettway "Drunkard's Path" Variation (Snowball) ca. 1950
Ripple Quilt by Dan Rouse
Drunkard's Path by Nora Lehmann at Painter's Progress
Drunkard's Path Block by Kate at Needle and Spatula

And then, I started designing some myself.  Here are a few of the designs I'm considering.

1. Drunkard's Path: circles, 2. Drunkard's Path: vertical lemons, 3. Drunkard's Path: quartered, 4. Drunkard's Path: dark and light, 5. Drunkard's Path: crash dummy circles, 6. Drunkard's Path: mosques

Which one do you like best?

Teaching: Classes, cake, and more classes!

This first official week of summer has been so busy! My son's out of school, so summer camp has begun, I have had great friends visiting from out of town, it was my birthday (I love yummy birthday treats!), I took a class, and I taught a class. Whew! Just typing that makes me tired. So, with all that going on, I haven't had much of a chance get any real sewing done...but the ladies in my latest Improvisational Basketweave class did!

Improvisational Basketweave Class at New Pieces Quilt Shop
I never get tired of watching people create.  It's wonderful to see the different color and fabric combinations that people bring to class.  This was a great group, and we had such a great time!  If you'd like to see the pictures in detail, click on over to my Flickr set!

I went shopping.

So, I bought a couple of things.  It was kind of an know how it is when you start looking around on Etsy.  And, I ended up just HAVING to have the antique green trim from Maison Maudie shipped to me. (From France!  Don't you just love the Labrador Retriever stamps that were on the package?)

And then, the day before it came in the mail, I found this "Fleur d'Paris" by Henry Glass fabric on sale.  How could I say no?  Now they live on the shelf above my work table.  What to make!?!

Quilting Small.

This week I finished three mini quilts...otherwise known as "pillows."

Quilted Pillow Fronts

I might even like the backs more than the fronts.

Quilted Pillow Backs

If these pillows look awfully familiar to you, maybe you've seen these pillows, which I made a couple of years ago.  Like the first set, these are also made with designer sample book fabrics, but just a bit smaller (each pillow is 18" square).  I LOVE working with designer sample books.  It's like having the most gorgeous charm packs.

Thank you, Heart Handmade!

Thanks to Mandie for featuring me today on her blog, Heart Handmade.

Completed: Another Improvisational Quilt!

I started working on this green, white and red quilt during one of my improvisational quilting classes.  I was inspired by this quilt made by Martha Jane Pettway.  You may remember a similar green and white split log cabin quilt I made last year, inspired by the same quilt.  Well, these two are similar, except that they're completely different!

Green and Red Split Log Cabin Quilt

I used a combination of cottons and linens in this one.  The off-white cotton I used on the front is Robert Kaufman's Kona Crush, which is fast becoming my most beloved fabric of all time. 

Green and Red Split Log Cabin Quilt

The backing is pretty simple.  Some really silky feeling blue chambray, a panel of home dec. weight pink floral, and more of that lime linen.  The quilting shows up so well on the blue chambray!

Green and Red Split Log Cabin Quilt

The lime green linen is from a towering stack of linen banquet table cloths that I purchased from my favorite local re-sale shop.  I just picked up a couple more yesterday, so be on the lookout for more work using dark khaki green, mustard yellow, and purple linen. (Don't worry too much, it probably won't all be in the same quilt...but you never know!)

Green and Red Split Log Cabin Quilt

By the way...this one's for sale!