What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Fact is, the question is really “What did I DO all Summer?” because it feels like Summer 2015 was gone in a flash. It was actually a delightful few weeks, but with a whole lot of time and psychic energy going into family-based stuff, travel, hugs, etc. Wonderful.

Without pictures I’d think I did no sewing at all, but it turns out that wasn’t the case! I’m sharing my “slides” of Summer vacation today, and will endeavor to explain what was going on over the next few days.  The basic categories are, 1) piecing with die-cut shapes (Accuquilt Go! Baby), 2) playing with surface design,  3) Delia’s birthday book , and 4) simple piecing that looks harder….

Hope your Summer remembers well, too!

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Feeding Matters Logo – just for fun!

 My daughter now works for an organization in Scottsdale, AZ, called “Feeding Matters” —  a group dedicated to resolving the kind of pediatric feeding issues that can influence or even control entire families in which one, or more, child is effected.  I’m delighted that she’s found them, and that they feel lucky to have her. 

 Now. Having said that, I confess that for all the months she’s been with Feeding Matters, I’ve been trying to figure out how to recreate their logo, a simple design of overlapping circles representing the various “pillars” of the Feeding Matters mission (education, advocacy, research, treatment and – in the middle – support).

So I took a shot at it.




All of the circles are done with a freezer-paper, inset method I first read about in Dale Fleming’s book, Pieced Curves, So Simple.  I have found the method many other places since, and mentioned it previously in my Circle Quilts post, here on SewBerkeley.

Ironically — perhaps true to form, I bound the piece before finishing the echo quilting, and learned lessons (translates to: made mistakes) on the binding, from machine issues with quilting which appeared and disappeared at random, and remembered why one doesn’t iron echo-quilting. The pancake flatness is not an asset.

The pictures are not a full tutorial, which I’ll do someday, but they give you an idea of the problem I set out to solve… and mostly did. I’ll also add a “finished” photo before putting it in the mail to Kate, this week, to hang in her cube-ical.

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Proofing My Piecing

This morning I worked on a stack of blocklets that have been knocking around for a couple of months. They’re getting a bit frazzled on the edges from all the dealing and shuffling they’ve been through.

  The blocklets were initially cut in stacks of four different batiks, each. They were then quartered, resorted, and reassembled with Xs of 1″ Kona cotton strips to restore them to their original 6 1/2″ dimensions, more or less. I made a lot of mistakes (and learned a lot) at this stage. As usual, it would be easier next time…. Will be easier,  if there is a next time.  

 I pull them out every week or two and poke them to see if they’re still viable; then I push on them a bit and set them aside again. It’s like making a very slow loaf of bread…. and today was the end of the second rise. By evening I will have finished the grid of medium grey sashing. 
   The Steel grey strips are randomish. The medium grey strips are a little wider, and meant to be an intentional lattice. I had to stop just now, because I get impatient with making things even and flat. The blocklets won’t go back in the box this time, but they will rest awhile before I go any farther.

I am so grateful for multiple projects, and the space to leave one or two out to proof on the table….


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What a morning! Sun painting, Gelli printing, and three new Thermofax screens! All before 1:00pm! Boom. The beauty of having “a room of ones own” is the potential to let supplies and space to sit, poised, for that sunny, still morning when there’s time to do more than usual. Trying not to jinx things by mentioning it, but can’t take it for granted.  


There are other things to get done, this afternoon, and that’s not to be take for granted, either. Life is a balancing act — a good thing.

I just found the pictures below, of the place out back where I get to work sometimes. Sometimes I get to work with friends and sometimes alone. The pictures are a few weeks old, but the space is still calm and uncluttered. That’s makes it unique in my universe.

The stunning quilt on the machine, front and center, is Kristen’s.


The blessed beagle at right — Rocky — just left us for the comfy chair in the sky, last week, and we miss him. His decline was sudden and sad, but his death actually has very little to do with my ability to work, today – Were he here, I’d be waking him to go into the house…now, or 4 hours from now.  The absence of food out here really helped him relax. Beagles are ever-vigilant to the dangers of food-invasion crimes, which interferes with their rest.  Good Dog, Rocky.

There have got to be crumbs in dog heaven. And sunny, still days.  

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Dye-Na-Flow Paints for Sunpainting

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Awhile back I got to do sun painting with Dye-Na-Flow paints from Dharma Trading. They work like the Setacolor (use diluted with water, paint with foam brushes) but are more brilliant, both wet and dry. I love the pictures above, which could be blown up into poster-sized abstract art. The picture below has too much detail for that purpose, but it does let you know how the process works. I need more stencils for this process… but am quite fond of the ones I have — cut outs from foam and tyvek, stickers, paper punches, pasta of various sorts, screening and plastic mesh. Leaves and pressed flowers would be great, too. What else????

In a moment of sheer brilliance, I set the fabric to dry on my work table, during the part of the day when it’s too sunny to work there. The prints “developed” perfectly, even inside the sunny window. That means the process can be done inside on breezy days, or outside when it’s sunny and still. Dye-Na-Flow is a paint that works almost like a dye. For pennants like these, the slightly stiffer hand of the fabric is not an issue. Because the colors were so saturated, it might be better to control the number of colors used, if clear bright color is the goal. I will post a picture of these finished banners when I find one. Both kinds of heliographic paint were easy to work with and gave lovely results. I think I will have to try each several more times to decide which is better.


Posted in gifts, Just for Fun, Prayer Flags, Sun painting, Sun Prints, Surface Design, Upcycling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

February Birthday


Something cheerful for a February Birthday.

Just a couple of pictures of a birthday present I need to get in the mail today….  so it arrives only 10 days late. My beloved mother-in-law is one of the better things about this month, and I wish I’d learned to make Kanzashi blossoms in time to get these there on time. The blossoms, traditionally made as ornaments for the headgear of Geisha, are surprisingly simple, and Clover Kanzashi makers make it foolproof. I haven’t included a link here, because the online pictures don’t capture how simple the process is. YouTube has many videos, and the template comes with simple directions.

Since my present is already overdue, I made a bag last night, too. The directions are from a free Craftsy.com “mini-class” too, to which I’ve been meaning to pay attention.  Craftsy does great online classes, and lets you watch their videos at different speeds, making them both educational and amusing. This bag is as easy as promised, and has a little pocket inside.

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The fabric for the bag and lining are ones I’ve had for awhile. The solid is Kona, Avocado.

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There’s more to say, as usual. I have 3 more Kanzashi templates on the way from an Etsy seller. The ones I currently have are a small “pointed” petal and a medium orchid. For the record, the little ones are VERY little, so I’m getting bigger ones now. For those of us awash in scraps, this is a really fun hobby. If you don’t have a button box in the drawer,  with hundreds of buttons, beads are traditional, too. If you have a hot glue gun that’s meant to help, too, but it isn’t necessary.

I wouldn’t think twice about making these with an interested kid 10 years old or older, if I had one… Happy February, friends.


And for you…





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Building Blocks Puzzle

Yesterday was the monthly Quilters Meet-Up at the Albany library with Angie Woolman. We discussed a range of “show and tell” items folks had brought in, and got rather animated trying to figure out, as a group, how best to piece a version of the block below.  A quilter  named [I think!] Sylvia had used the pattern in a lovely baby quilt, in shades of blues and greens.

IMG_1520When I got home I went looking for directions — which almost always starts with Google Images (a Google Image = 1000 words of blog?). The picture above was one of the most beautiful examples. I followed the link to a blog called  Quilt Ohana. The quilter and I seem to both belong to East Bay Heritage Quilters. Her name is Arlene, but I don’t know her….yet.  There is a picture of the complete and completed quilt on her blog.

Her method was to piece hexagons, each made from two half-hex trapezoids. That’s one way… of many….

IMG_1519I found a simpler representation of the block that makes it clear that either pieced hexagons or half-hex trapezoids work well — as long as you don’t mind one or more Y-seams, per unit. I rejected instructions for either paper-piecing (too tedious) or fusing the half-hexes in place (it’s almost cheating, and it’s just an experiment, anyway!).

So, instead, I cut my half hexes of light, medium and dark, using some 2 1/2″ strips I had on hand and a hexagon template for reference. For these blocks and anything with Y-seams, marking the stitching lines (and corner points) accurately makes stitching the triangles simple. I also learned that a “soldier pin” is the vertical one that keeps the corner lined up, so two other pins can be placed on either side of it to anchor the corner. Nice image.

IMG_0005_2 IMG_0003_2The photo on the left shows the marked stitch lines (pink), but I’ve already begun ironing, so the heat-sensitive Frixion pen lines have vanished where the heat hit them, like in the picture on the right.


So far only two blocks to show for today’s puzzle – and they aren’t even sewn together, since I will be using other fabrics and may want to mix and match. What they ARE is very flat and the same size, sort of surprising for me.


More pictures as the project proceeds, but for now I need to go sew some more! Thanks for everyone who had hints and solutions to share.

UPDATE: 2/12/15

So…this is what I have so far. Pretty rough, and a lot of fun but best for someone who craves order and likes to follow rules. The green is how I will transition from the building blocks to whatever comes next.


After I set in the green hexes at the bottom I realized they were backwards, and took them out and turned them around. It wasn’t too awful to do, but was way too fussy for me.  I have also promised myself not to do this pattern again without a half-hex template. Perfect marking is sufficient to make the Y-seams work, but perfecter cutting would make piecing it more fun. It would be easier the second time, because designing as you go makes for tricky seams. The Frixion pen still appeals to me in general, but for this project it would have been better to be able to iron as I went. A pencil would have been fine for this.

There will be another update, but not until the top tells me it’s done. I’m currently planning to add interesting borders until that point.

Posted in Baby Quilts, EBHQ, Puzzle Quilts, Tools and Notions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment