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.


That orange number

Yesterday was a gorgeous sunshiney day to take a walk through Fremont and Ballard – my legs even got sunburned!  Then I rushed home with the borrowed SLR to snap this finish.Image

It is a little too orange for me, but it was great to take my #scrappytripalong blocks into my exploration of modern quilt design.  These were supposed to look like transistor chips, and so I was really happy when my SIL looked at the quilting and her first comment was “Oh these look like circuits!” I feel like this was my first improvisational work in quite a while and I loved piecing the back, which once again took longer than the front.

I put together a design wall this past weekend and I can only imagine what a difference this will make: I was laying out quilt sections and blocks and strips on my floor before!

Bodhi Tree Skirt

I finished binding an old UFO (UnFinished Object – my friends at Threadbias.com have taught me these are also called “Phd’s” – Projects Half-Done) today! Made from charms I cut from several projects, including a black, green and pink “veggie” themed basket quilt- which I unfortunately gifted without photographing- this was simply a matter of sewing together rows and quilting.
Weird quilting. I pieced the back from a beautiful Joel Dewberry orchid print I’ve had around forever thanks to a fabric co-op I participated in from Canada. The stripe is a Lakehouse print I’ve loved forever that always makes me think of delicious candy, especially candy canes, and since I didn’t quite have enough length, the “Ginseng” filled in.

This is now under our lovely fake tree…we also celebrate Bodhi Day on December 7th when the Buddha sits under our “Bodhi” tree and sometimes presents are exchanged, so I unpacked him and set our Matreya Buddha on the quilt as soon as I finished photographing it. Quiltcon has already taught me something: quilts can be taped to the wall with painter’s tape: some is peeking out on the Dewberry side of the back.

One more thing, the photo isn’t great, but my mom took it today before sending the dress out to a friend in Japan who I know will love it for her 6 year old daughter. I made this for a friend of the family for her 5th birthday, she is 12 now and still a very good friend of the family. Her mother saved it the whole 7 years we were in Canada because she just knew it would be meant for someone special. It is very weird and strange colors, etc…what is the upside down horshoe applique all about? But it was made with a lot of love for a kid who has turned out to have just as much courage and weird fashion taste as this dress suggests. I know my friend in Japan will be delighted by the weirdness too (there is a bumblebee appliqued on the back because I just couldn’t stop, even after the 1″ wide piecing on the hem). Thanks mom, for the photo!


I’m barely keeping up with a one post each month goal, but I guess that is better than I was doing a year ago.

I submitted two quilts to Quiltcon last Friday, which feels like a wonderful accomplishment because I have never submitted a quilt for anything before…thanks to my friend Jamie for loaning me her awesome camera. I submitted the very unconventional Blue January quilt in the Small Applique category after really struggling to choose the best category.

I also completed the Dear Stella Maasai Mara challenge.

The Dear Stella top was really pieced in a week, and quilted and bound in two days. This doesn’t broadcast quality work, of course, but it did teach me some valuable project management skills!Needless to say, this is also my first photography of my own work with intention. Fortunately I had a white wall and decent lighting, but unfortunately by the time I photographed the Dragon Lullaby quilt for the fabric challenge, I had no natural daylight and the incandescence does sort of yellow the image. Hopefully it is still acceptable!

This feeling of accomplishment lead to an overwhelming urge to get up and start finishing yet another UFO from my recent past, so perhaps I will be posting another photo within a week here, I’m currently quilting it. I have been talking to some friends about celebrating “antiprocrastination days” and I have an upcoming exam for my teaching certificate. This blog desperately needs some updates and has been languishing for a while but I figure it was good to put something new up in the meanwhile.

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…

Finished: District Commissioner gift, memory quilt

This is a quilt made of contributions from the West Point Grey Girl Guides District in Vancouver, BC. There is a square from each unit, as well as some additional squares for various groups within the District network.

I really enjoyed putting it together and I love the variety in the squares. The “flat” side is a pattern from Hoffman Fabrics called “Izumi Pond” and I chose it for its relative simplicity and asymmetry that I though would compliment the variety of the group memory blocks arranged on the other side.

Flat side:

Flat side of DC Quilt

Memory quilt side:

Memory quilt side of DC quilt

Individual square photos are also available if you contact me to share with your unit!

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!