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.”

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!

Ruby Star and Bainbridge Island Quilt Show


Here’s my Ruby Star hanging at the Bainbridge Island Quilt Show today.  I think this is the flattest image I’ve got!


And here’s Anna next to her quilt ‘Refresh!’ We volunteered for the same shift as members of the quilt patrol, but she was actually assigned to the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild section. I’m sure both of her quilts generated a lot of discussion. 


This was probably my favorite quilt that I hadn’t seen before and it was in my section…it was also quilted using embroidery thread and large stitches. I think I will try this modern approach on my next hand quilted project instead of the tiny ones I’m sewing on the ferry.


There is nothing like a quilt show to feel inspired to create, so I’m glad I’m on the ferry home where I hope to get a couple hours to sew today and play with my new fabric from Esther’s Fabrics.

Monogram baby quilt

So my attempt at an outdoor backdrop for hanging quilts has sorta failed me, and I am now at a loss for easy ways to document my work. So far every effort just distracts me from sewing and feels pretty underwhelming compared to some of the lovely photoshots I see out in blogland…


So maybe I’m really not meant to be a blogger, but I did want to get at least one more shot of this quilt before I mailed it off to the baby receiving it…I learned a lot in the process of putting this together, including that all those little tiny crazy pieces can be really time-consuming!

Also!!! I found my notebook from Quiltcon and now I can credit the following contributors to this Improv Round Robin from Sherri’s workshop, just as fellow Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Members Martha and Deb and I begin our own version to pass amongst ourselves!  My original Quiltcon contributors included:

Martha Peterson, Seattle, WA

Kim McPeake, Charleston, SC

Judith Dollar, Houston, TX

Mary Jane Orsburn, Houston, TX

Maria Renna

Sarah Bialene (sp? sorry the handwriting was kind of tough on that one!) Spencer, OH

and Felicitas Kiayer who I believe was from somewhere in Europe…she left an email address so I will try to reach here that way as well.  I would love to hear from any of you if you get a chance to share yours as well!


And here is one more attempt from my makeshift photography studio on the porch, this is better quality than my last, so I guess there was some improvment!


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!

Sea Town

Sea Town

My Sea Star for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild Challenge charity quilt is done.  I am not really a paper-piecer but I wanted to challenge myself and I have always liked this pattern from Six White Horses.  I am relieved I tried this Lone Starburst instead of Anna’s Star Seams, I don’t think I’m precise enough.  I  love this city so much and I love being local again!

How great is it to celebrate another local business, Clothworks, who sponsored this block challenge for our guild with their new Everyday Organic solids line. These fabrics handled so well while I paper-pieced, even though I have issues and consistently want to pre-cut my pieces to the right sizes before stitching blind through the paper. I did a lot of pinch and flipping and seamripped several 1.5 mm stitched seams!  And this fabric didn’t distort at all…but, my block did.  That would be the seamstress, not the pattern or the fabric. I will keep the paper on until after I finish the last seams next time. I can’t decide which part of Seattle this block makes me think of more: the space needle or the Supersonics.  Regardless, I’m happy this block will go into a local charity quilt that also furnishes new beginnings for Seattlites in need of comfort.

I have this new Macklemore single running through my brain all week and I think I subconsciously wanted to honor the Space Needle.  If you haven’t seen the video, the Space Needle is prominent at the end. I love that Heist flag too and all the Pacific Northwest imagery…if only it were chevrons instead of waves I might piece that flag!  I first heard Macklemore on KEXP a little over a year ago singing My Town and it was when we’d first gotten the news we might be moving back to Seattle and it still makes me tear up. And now I’m in Seattle, so happy to celebrate this new city and to be binding a quilt to display at Folklife, right under that needle. We went to a Mariner’s game last summer when I first got into town and Macklemore was playing at WaMu for $11 and I thought about taking the kids but I was afraid they wouldn’t know any of his songs.  Now they know all the words to “Thrift Shop” and I’m the fool. There is some controversy lately about some new Paul Allen development blocking the view…I am torn between loving the way Harbor Center and the Fairmont Hotel are buried in the Vancouver skyline (modern!) and understanding the desire to preserve the view, the distinction that makes everyone recognize Seattle.

Speaking of popping tags…I just cancelled my old domain this morning, so this is my new home on the internet (whee, I’m FREE!).  I also did my taxes yesterday, Canadian and American.  So now I’m going to work out and celebrate this beautiful sun and head to the Angels game tomorrow night at Safeco.

I know, I need to get back to my other “star” projects…time is precious.

Madrona Road Finish and Start

Snip Stitch Sew!I really do work much better with deadlines than I used to. When my beloved Pfaff started to heat up 2 weeks ago I immediately realized that my delays in the Madrona Road Challenge were about to cause me to fail: the post-Christmas backlog of machine servicing put “Pam’s” return date at February 6th. A full two weeks without a machine, and its not like I have the spares I used to! Fortunately my friend Toni rescued me, but I wasn’t going to machine quilt with the Threadbanger, so I hand-quilted my sewing machine cover (ironic isn’t it, I just wanted a pretty one) for the Michael Miller sponsored Modern Quilt Guild Challenge. And I even borrowed a camera and did the photo shoot on my mom’s quilt while it was still daylight on January 31st…this is progress!

I am thinking of putting a little eyelet in the “needle” eye at the top of this cover so my upright thread spool can poke through.

And the best part is, I got a call on February 1st that Pam was ready to come home, so now I have a proper picture with the cover over the hard plastic case instead of the Girl Guide Cookie box I used in the other photo.

I was so happy to have the machine, that I started the second Madrona Road top that I just completed this morning. I’ve been wanting to piece consumate V’s for a while, and this is the first improvisationl block I’ve done that didn’t leave me having to work out any math halfway through piecing the top. Although I did have to supplement the original 1.5 yards of the Kaffe Fassett shot cotton background with an additional 15 inches for the interstitial blocks. If I can baste it after my trip to the gym (I finally joined a gym and have discovered that half a workout can be done while reading a kindle – so I already look forward to 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading on the elliptical!), I’m hoping to be quilting the day away with a view of the Superbowl and not one but two lap quilts to run Pam all over.