Hands All Around Part 1

What does patriotism look like in a time of rising fascism?

I have been thinking about my great grandmother’s Hands Around the World block – a ten inch block with over 50 pieces = because someone saved one of her quilts that was badly damaged and I’m contemplating mending it.  I’ve found several variation of the pattern but her scale seems to be unique and that doesn’t surprise me since her quilt is a depression era design probably drafted on boxboard.  I have her daughter’s double wedding ring block drafted the same way, so I think she must have mailed the DWR to my grandmother. I have evidence of this in some letters and envelopes she sent to my paternal grandmother than include Nebraska newspaper clippings and patterns in newsprint and boxboard. The first block I made is in modern fabrics and palette but veers off the pattern so much I don’t know how I will fit 8 of these together to repair a badly harmed quilt.  But in the meanwhile I can share a baby quilt I made in 2019 from scraps and put on Hands All Around on the back.


I used a lot of Cotton and Steel prints I’ve been unable to stop collecting over the years, but the front is mainly scraps of solids brought together from other projects.  The improvisational piecing was therapeutic in the “before time.” My kids have repeatedly suggested time stopped existing when the COVID pandemic began almost exactly a year ago…but this quilt was made when time still existed and I was very very nervous about our incompetent, narcissistic president and his cronies in the Senate.


I hand-stitched in the center of the Hands All Around block and then echoes that at regular intervals followed by a grid quilting.  I even marked most of the grid.  I’m showing off the detail where clearly the result isn’t “Square” but its even and gives an overall impression of regularity.  Everything is fine, move along. I made some little asterisk-like “stars” at some grid intersections. I can’t wait for an excuse to quilt like this again.  It was fun and easy and I also just love the orangey pinks in the C&S palette combined with my coral solid.


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.

Summertime starts (and finishes)


My quilt gnomes had much more fun running around like ghosts under the quilt rather than modelling for photos, but hooray for finally photographing my red and white star quilt! 5 of these blocks were from quarter 3 of the Flickr 3×6 swap last year.

But as you can see, we are finally getting some time to enjoy the Laurelhurst Beach Club.  My little Crane is so happy she passed her “ones” swim test so now I can sit in the sun and bind this puppy:


I may get a lot more blogging done if I can do it by phone from the beach!

5 Things about me

I’m posting to the Modern Quilt Guild Quiltcon Link Party, and here are 5 things about me:

1) I am not Chinese. I changed my last name to Wu in 2001 two weeks after my first daughter was born. I had been studying Chinese and was interested in women’s names since I had just named my first baby, and she got her very own last name too. We celebrated the lunar new year last night, where this photo was taken (this is not my baby, but he is super cute, eh?).

2) My greatgrandmother was a quilter and every other woman I am directly descended from is a sewist of many sorts. I have a pincushion made from a mason jar lid that my maternal grandmother made and gave to my paternal grandmother and it is this beautiful treasure I keep on my thread table and it makes me happy every time I touch the velvet.

3) I love modern quilts and folk-improv styles of quilts but I didn’t really get into the modern quilting movement until last year when I finished getting my teaching degree. Now I am catching up with this great phenomenon and its emergence through social media, but I’m kind of on the fringe of relevant. I give away nearly all of my quilts to new or recently new babies, and have rarely documented with photographs until recently. In fact this baby I’m holding above received the Citrus Triangle Baby Quilt. I hope he learns his quadratic relations early! I make up for my under-blogging by being a nonprofit volunteer overachiever – currently in my local Seattle Modern Quilt Guild.

4) I just joined a gym on February first and have been trying to go nearly every day. I need something to fight the effects of my upcoming 40th birthday and I am feeling much healthier since I started, even if I have the reddest face in my Tabata class. I like to follow the #sweatnsew tag on Instagram even if I don’t post to it very often.

5) I would love to be a full-time dilettante fiber artist but I do not knit. I love my procion dyes, my silk screens, my cotton embroidery thread collection, and my fabric stash, and I even know how to crochet. I feel spread pretty thin already and this is by far my most prolific year in a while. How do you awesome mommy bloggers and photographers pull it off? You all amaze me and I look forward to meeting so many of you in two weeks.

Citrus Half Square Triangle Baby Quilt

I finished this quilt! I love the colors my stepsister chose, even though she changed her mind and wound up choosing different colors, it was too late for me because I was already running away with the “citrus” theme. And ironically she also wound up being into gray and turquoise too, so I think this was a fun blend of lots of modern prints in those colors. You may notice that I changed the top and added a thin grey border to the bottom block to square it up better after I split a seam. The blocks are from the 3×6 flickr block swap, but two blocks are missing, mine and shimmyblisster‘s: I packed them away somewhere during our move and I have yet to relocate them, but the quilt had to go on so I have resolved to do a second gray and yellow quilt sometime soon that uses our blocks too…
The back has two angel blocks and a scrap of the Outfoxed print I included as an odd-shaped panel on the front, both because it is so cute and it coordinates with my sister’s diaper bag.

Those are my mom’s cutey booties helping to walk the quilt out in this Seattle sunshine, and she was reading over my shoulder earlier when I started posting and I know she was asking about buying fabric online, so there are some links for her down below. I think she is about one of 3 or 4 readers of this blog! The backing fabric is an adorable Jim Carroll print I got through a fabric coop a while ago.

I also really overachieved great things in September, even though revamping this blog did not make the list. I made a pillowcase for Hopeful Threads’ September project for troops deployed overseas:

I think I got the cuff fabric from a new local Seattle fabric store, but I can’t remember if it was Pink Chalk fabrics or Dry Goods Designs, both of which I’ve been delighted with since we relocated to Seattle. Fabric is cheaper here!

I made 3 cell phone cases from the Modern Patchwork magazine for the baby shower prize draws with some more of that cute Outfoxed print by Lizzy House. Now for October I plan to finish my swap blocks, my blue January quilt still needs to be bound, and I have a strange baby quilt top to piece and complete before Halloween. As if there were no Halloween costumes to sew…

The Halloween Quilt

Strange that I finally got started on a Halloween quilt for my dear Inlaws two years after their Halloween wedding and voila, they announce they are having a baby!

Even though she’s due soon, I kind of still consider this am itsy bitsy late wedding quilt, so baby quilt to come soon.

I have lots in the works now and will have to ask for a new digital camera for my birthday.


A year without sewing or fabric-buying

…has just come to a close. I’m welcoming myself back with my first public plug in other blogs, the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, even though this blog is a bit threadbare.

Free-pieced sample quilt, front 14"x19"

This quilt represents a lot that I have let go and yet embodies my thrifty and sometimes random compositional aesthetic. It has served as a sort of placemat on my highboy dresser for a number of years now. Every once in a while I clean and de-clutter my dresser and maybe flip it over – the second side was pieced in black thread that serves as the undulating horizontal quilting on the front.

Free-pieced sample quilt, back 14"x19"

I created most of this in a one-day class on free-piecing with Gwen Maxwell-Williams when I worked at In The Beginning so it must be about 8 years old. This would have been at the height of my fabric collecting when I still had a house in Seattle with plenty of space to store my hoards.

Oh Seattle me, I wish I could go back to all that luxurious storage space sometimes! But Vancouver me has learned how to let go and this quilt was about letting go and using an awesome fabric ripping and fast curvy piecing technique.

Last year I finally gave up a lot of my fabrics because we were moving and I was going back to school. I sold fabric, my SLR camera, and two sewing machines: my great-grandmother’s 1910 White treadle and my  grandmother’s 1964 Touch n Sew.

I chose this quilt because after I attended a Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild meeting two weeks ago, I’ve caught the quilting bug again. The pumpkin is a link because the link to the button is currently broken. I was supposed to be running errands on my day off and instead I found myself free-piecing half square triangles last week in an attempt to save a UFO I packed into one of the tubs I kept in the move. In fact I have been sewing every day and now must revive this little blog that never really got off it’s feet. Thanks for supporting this initiative with your visit!

I made my daughter a Doctor Who Bowtie today which was also an awesome excuse to dye some torn bedsheets red. Paring back and going without so much helps me appreciate more than ever my own small(er) stash and I have been attacking it all week while I ponder what can be quilted from dyed bedsheets.  Apparently some Gee’s Bend Quilters were giving a Vancouver Workshop this past weekend and that also partly inspired this choice for the festival. My own financial scarcity these days has me looking back at this quilt and all the richness of the fabrics and realizing there was a lot of clutter back there I am happy to now be without. I can look on this project with a whole new level of love. I smile every time I clean my dresser. Today I dusted it and photographed it just for the Blogger’s Festival because I am just happy to be back at my sewing machine again!

Continue reading

Moving and revisiting

I am about to start up a whole new WordPress blog with readership greater than one and a focus on my pursuit of my secondary education certification.  However, here is some past work that never got posted here but might be representative of my quilting and crafting.  We just moved to East Van and I was so proud of myself for getting rid of over half of my stashed fabrics and UFOs but that just seems to mean I can’t wait to start sewing again.  And of course, now that I’m busy back at school I am also starting to think about teaching a class or two at this awesome new place I found that is in walking distance of our new apartment!

They are especially interested in machine quilting and quilt construction, AND they have a “modern quilt guild” of about 50 members that meets once a month.  It may be small and sporadic compared with Quilter’s Anonymous but I’d welcome anything at this point that seems to suit my style and isn’t all about knitting!  So without further ado, here’s a few samples of the last 10 years of quilts that I just happened to properly archive. Hopefully I’ll uncover more soon. I have been terrible about documenting my works.

Drunkard Path variation of my own design

Moons For Zoe 2002 - Drunkard Path variation of my own design approximately 24x40 inches

In the corner of this quilt which I both hand and machine-pieced in an effort to discover which was the best way to sew curves on 3 inch Drunkard path blocks (hand is a little better, but most of these were actually machine-pieced), is an experimental paper-pieced sunshine with rays, I enjoy paper-piecing but a lot of the pattern reversals make it hard to anticipate the size of patches needed and wasting even small selveges drove me crazy. If you are going to paper piece, be prepared for a lot of snipping and don’t skimp on seam allowances!

“Piece O’ Kaffe” – I made this quilt as a less stash-intensive variation of a large taupe bedquilt I made for my sister, and inspired by Japanese taupe quilts (where did I file that photo, I wonder?). I also love the fabric and design choices in Piece O’ Cake applique quilt designs – I really loved how this turned out. It was an in-store sample at In The Beginnging Fabrics in 2004 and was entirely sewn on a Viking Designer 1. And of course, showcasing one of my favorite fabric designers, Kaffe Fasset. The quilting is a large all-over stipple borrowed from an In the Beginning fabric used in the background.

Piece O Cake Applique pattern adapted to my own design, with Kaffe Fassett fabrics and embroidery design.Made from NIblet's internet 9-patch swap

Chloe’s quilt was the second baby quilt I made and machine quilted on my grandmother’s Singer Touch n Sew, which I finally sold last week on craigslist because I couldn’t justify moving 4 machines into our new apartment. But it proves that with a little preparation and patience you can machine quilt on nearly any machine. I also found a happy new owner for my great-grandmother’s White treadle machine, congratulations Jade, let me know if you ever do any quilting with it!