Silk sample sewing

photo 2 (2)

I have had a busy busy year.  I can’t believe that despite this, I started sewing Yoshiko Jinzenji blocks from her Modern Sampler after I picked up her book at Third Place books.  Although that wasn’t quite what happened really.  I picked up the book and longingly savored her minimalist composition, and then put the book away in my neglected new sewing room.

And then Debbie from my guild and A Quilter’s Table published her Block A on Instagram and I instantly recognized the pattern from the book I’d just bought.  I became obsessed.  I clean my sewing room looking for my Marimekko scraps from Pirkko.  Never found them, but in my newly cleaned sewing room I began cutting into all my silk selvedges and I cannot stop loving this project.

photo 1 (2)I even finished another assignment toward my Master’s degree yesterday (I passed, only 5 credits to go!) so that I could make my second block A as a reward.  And now tonight I’m making another “practice block” for Block B.  I may wind up foundation piecing the official one, but I am just loving this project.  Thanks again to Debbie and Salty Oat for hosting this quiltalong even if I never get past Block C (although I really want to skip to F…)and even my fabulous Seattle Modern Quilt Guild secret swapper Jonna (bespokeoutlaw) for inspiring me in this rainy November week.


Happy Times


I did have some happy time in the past year even though it sure has been a rollercoaster. This quilt was at the Bainbridge Quilt Festival two weeks ago and it is currently hanging at the NW Quilt Expo.  Update: Kathy Dwyer, President of the BIMQ took the above photo. It is actually really hard knowing that this is hanging in public.  It makes me feel really exposed as a weirdo, but I guess most of you already knew that!  I took this photo in the early morning shadowy light and I’d love a better quality photo if anyone has one.


This is a really strange quilt but it was really fun to make.  There are even some scraps on the front and one on the back that came from Noelle’s scrap bag at the fall retreat Seattle Modern Quilt Guild retreat last year.  Deborah Fergusson and Martha Peterson also pieced the center “medallion”  based on the Improv Round Robin workshop we took with Sherri Lynn Wood at Quiltcon and the Improv Bullseyes workshop I took with Amy Dame.


I got to try out long-arming on this behemoth quilt because I was never going to get a 90″ quilt under my home machine.  I learned that I love long-arming, but free-motion work is time-consuming so I can’t just leave this quilt parked at my cousin’s forever, so I did in in two 3-5 hour sessions.  This is pretty hasty for quilting but it was still really fun and now the quilting is just as eclectic as the piecing!  I rushed the binding on this as usual and it shows, but I used the new Alexia Abegg netting fabric from Cotton + Steel and the weight and the color worked out really well.

Another star sampler

I’m blogging from the doctors office!  Thanks android!


When Sukie called for a Block Along for the new Vintage Quilt Revival book, I couldn’t resist because I’ve had so little time to sew lately that a 12.5″ block a week suited me perfectly!


I made the Double Z block from the book and I also made the Aurifil block of the month featuring Zen Chic because I love spools and I can’t resist an opportunity to win more thread!


Now for that lone star setting I just need 5 more blocks, probably from the Vintage Quit Revival book, but I think one will be from the new Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Block of the Month!

So much in store for 2014


My last act of sewing on New Years eve was to put these blocks to finish up my year of hosting the Bee Biased block swap on Threadbias. I really enjoyed working with the monthly deadlines and some months it felt like the only sewing I had time to do.


Marsha at is so cheerful and communicative she reminds me of why online communities can be such an effective source of friendship and inspiration. I loved getting to know you Marsha and I hope you like your blocks!

2014 is shaping up to be a busy year for me but I’m delighted to realize that spending the last year with the Seattle MQG has inspired me to sew for myself rather than always starting quilts as gifts.  I am setting a goal to finish four quilts this year, all of which will be “keepers.”

Blueberries for Sal


For another new baby born last week. I was inspired to make this for the QNL Magazine Traditional to Modern contest but didn’t finish quilting in time to enter it.fortunately it is also a binary quilt, so I may borrow it back for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Binary Challenge.  So at least I finished in time for that.  Quilt time is scarce these days but I am happy.

Arithmetic Block – Everything Blue Block Hop

#arithmetic block +  (actually +,-, ÷, and x) and tutorial              `Do your math`- Erykah Badu


I drafted this pattern last spring, intending to write up a block tutorial in time for my July Bee Month at the Threadbias Bee Biased block swap, but it didn’t happen until now.

I was first inspired to make this block after President Clinton’s DMC 2012 convention speech on balancing the budget and trickle-down economics where he coined the Twitter trending hash tag of #arithmetic in a brilliant oral quip that still persists today in current discussions around Obamacare and balancing the budget today. I’d been contemplating a numerical operations type quilt block for awhile, I love mathematical and physical science expressions, and the juxtaposition of quilting with technology and social media. I’ve been really into letters, symbols and glyphs in quilts lately, so I just knew I had to make this block. The button below is a link to the Clothworks Block Hop this block is proud to be a part of!

Clothworks button

Clothworks has been asking some local community members to make blocks for a charity quilt and they gave out free fabrics from Marsha McCloskey’s new fabric line, “Everything Blue” when I realized I was finally going to get that tutorial written!  “Everything Blue” has several meanings for me:  first, McCloskey’s son and I went to the same school in the late 80’s and I remember her contributions to the school’s fundraising including a quilt the year I was there. I already loved patchwork and embroidery even though I didn’t finish my first quilt until 2000. But it was blue and white prints that I first began buying in the early 90’s and many of the florals I used in my dresses in the eighties found their way with those lovely blue calicos into my daughter’s baby quilt that I completed with pride. At the time, I lived near  In The Beginning, a heavenly quilt shop near my home that I eventually began to work at part-time, that hosted feathered star workshops taught by Marsha, and she published the “Blended Quilts” series with Sharon Yenter of In The Beginning. It was a great pleasure to make this block and practice some of my floral blending techniques on this block featuring Marsha’s Everything Blue floral prints. In the meanwhile, I came across this quilt last week in the Modern Quilt Guild flickr group! I had considered this same design before I decided to stick with the old fashioned division symbol, but if you want to skip the appliqué, there’s a possible option for you to modify my block. You could also draft circles for fusible applique.

I didn’t get to request this block of my swap mates in July, but now I might have to make another blue one for myself, and in fact, maybe I need a rainbow of them! Thanks to Clothworks for inviting me to blog about my block! You will notice I chose to hand appliqué my circles for the division patch, you of course are welcome to use a modern fusible technique, but if you are new to hand-appliqué, this is a really great way to try it out with out over-committing, I sewed these two circles in less than half an hour, so you might be able to sneak them in during a single episode of Doctor Who (or whatever you are watching right now, I am so open to any recommendations while I wait for the first episode of Whedon’s “Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D.” to air).

Here is the tutorial below, but I will make a separate page/pdf link to it shortly.

Arithmetic Block  – this is a FREE tutorial, enjoy and share photos at but please do not charge for any patterns which use this tutorial or any photos!

Finished Block size 12 inches, unfinished 12.5 inches:


Fabric required:  4 fat quarters, two lighter value and two darker values. This block can be made from 4 fat eighths (9″x11″ pieces of fabric) if you cut carefully, backgrounds use the most fabric. Numbers in () indicate the # of each to be rotary cut.

Light Background Fabric: Add – (5) 3″ E squares, cut one square into (4) 1.5″ C squares, Multiply – (8) 1.75″ J squares, (2) 1.5″x6.5″ D rectangles, (2) 1.5″x4.5″ A rectangles

Dark Background Fabric: Subtract – (2) 1.5″X6.5″ D rectangles, (2) 3″x4.5″ F rectangles, Divide – (2) 1.5″ C squares, (2) 3″x6.5″ G rectangles

Dark (+ Add and x Multiply Symbols): (2) 1.5″x2″ B rectangles, (1) 1.5″x4.5″ A rectangle, (4) 2.5″ K squares

Light (- Subtract and ÷ Divide Symbols): (2) 1.5″x4.5″ A rectangles, (2) appliqué circles

Arithmetic Block Diagram 


All seams are 1/4″ seams pressed open unless otherwise noted.  See diagram below for appliqué pattern and seam pressing. This is usually as far as I go on a pattern and then I just make up my own construction, pressing seams after I sew them, so do what works best for you!


(1) Add: Sew B to C and then attach E squares to each side, sew C squares to each end of the A rectangle and then sew the larger rectangles to each side of the narrow center one.

(2) Subtract: Sew each F rectangle to either side of A, and then attach narrow D rectangles

(3)  Multiply: Place J squares over opposite corner of K squares, sew down the diagonal (mark with a pencil if needed), trim seams to scant 1/4 ” and press open gently. When attaching these squares to each other, I pressed all seams open until attaching the A and D rectangles, when I pressed away from the center:


(4) Divide: Sew C squares to ends of A rectangle, then attach large H rectangles.  I wait to add appliqué (see step 6) until the entire block is pieced to help with placement.

(5) Trim inside edges of blocks if needed before sewing Add to Subtract and Divide to Multiply, press seams toward Subtract block and Divide block, sew remaining units together and press final horizontal seam open.

(6) Trace circles from thread spool end onto the fabric for the Divide (÷) symbol (see my photos for tracing and placement)

Appliqué  Directions


Trace around a thread spool end, keeping the pen vertical while you trace to keep the circle even and broad. I will cut around the line and turn under a scant 1/4″ as I go, use the alignment with the bottom “Add” seam above the top circle to center your first circle.


If you are new to hand appliqué, be patient with yourself and go back and look at my circles… they are definitely not perfect, but they are good enough! I bring up the needle as shown, right in the center of where I’ve finger-pressed the seam under, take one invisible backstitch and then come up again from underneath, right at the seam edge.  I am right-handed so I sew from right to left so I can see my stitches. I take little 1/8″ or smaller stitches, and try to keep turning the seam under every two to three stitches.  The biggest cause of stretching or shrinking circles seems to come from not pinning, or pressing the block as you go.  Some people take invisible stitches and some take tiny stitches over the edge of the pressed seam, I kind of do both depending on how my seam feels, just matching my thread and keeping stitches small. You can press over pins, but press the block and the pinned circle before stitching, especially if you stop and start again later after it has been folded or put away. I hope you like my first tutorial!