One of the things that I really enjoy doing is stargazing, especially while traveling. I love to go on road trips to some dark sky parks around the west each summer with my husband and teen. We usually just have a blanket, some snacks, and maybe a pair of binoculars.
During a recent quilt retreat, I started working on blocks for a stargazing quilt. The pattern is called Nocturnal Sky by Natalie Crabtree for Gingiber. The quilt has a modern feel with curved pieces representing the moon and clouds.
There are two types of traditionally pieced blocks for the stars, and the composition of these blocks in the quilt remind me of looking at twinkling stars at night.
I finished all of my “A” star blocks, and I’ve started working on my “B” star blocks . Some nights after work, I can only manage to sew part of a block and other nights, I can sew two or three blocks. I’m taking this quilt nice and slow, while working on other projects.
Here’s a look at my “A” star blocks all pieced. The inner squares are light green.
Do you see my little helper? He couldn’t help inspecting these star blocks as soon as I tried to photograph them.
I’m thinking about backing this quilt in a cozy flannel so that it can be a traveling quilt when we go on a road trip or go stargazing.
I needed a fun and useable container to place all those little threads and small fabric clippings that seem to pile up while sewing. Fortunately, I happened to come across a swap for a quilt-as-you-go thread catcher on Instagram recently with a fun group of quilters called @modernpalooza.
For this swap, each person created a thread catcher using a free pattern by The Sewing Chick. The swap organizers matched us up with a secret partner, and sent us some hints as to their fabric likes and dislikes.
I decided to pull some Libs Elliott fabrics from my stash as my modern, bright fabrics to use for the patchwork scraps. I changed up the pattern slightly by deciding to add a black and white border to the top and lower edges of my colorful patchwork strip. I then added a smaller width of a dotted gray fabric for contrast.
I also didn’t have duck canvas on hand as called for in the pattern. Instead, I fused some Pellon Shape Flex to my lining fabric before adding the quilt-as-you-go fabric pieces.
For the binding, I used the same black and white fabric to echo the borders. I took my little completed thread catcher basket on a hike to central Oregon, and I think it looks great resting on this old juniper tree.
We were also asked to send a favorite treat or snack along with the bucket. I sent some Moonstruck chocolate made by an Oregon company along with some fabric and other little goodies. I didn’t think to take a picture of the complete package before I mailed it.
In return, I received a wonderful thread catcher basket from my partner!
My partner made me this super cute basket using Tula Pink’s Daydreamer fabric! Isn’t it bright and cheerful? She also very thoughtfully included some super rare out-of-print Tula Pink fabrics that I do not own. I’m very excited to use them in a future project just for me.
What I really loved about this little thread catcher basket swap is that the project was pretty small and not too time consuming. Sometimes, swaps can be overwhelming for people because they try to make something too complicated or underestimate how long it might take to make a larger item like a mini quilt. I do enjoy swaps because it gives me a chance to try new projects, learn new skills, and make new friends!
It’s no secret that I’m a cat lover! I’m currently owned by three cats, including one special foster kitty named Gracie. The three cats take turns playing musical laps, rotating on my lap so that each one gets some special petting and snuggle time. When I saw a new pattern by Elizabeth Hartmann called Cats in Space, I just knew that I had to make it as soon as possible.
I had a short quilt retreat recently with my sister and two of our quilting friends. I tossed this pattern into my bag along with some fabrics to make one cat block. Usually, I like to precut pieces for a quilt retreat, but I didn’t have time with this project.
I started by cutting out each section according to the pattern, and I labeled the sections with these amazing little plastic squares called Alphabitties. I take each label and clip it to the fabric piece using a Wonder Clip. These Alphabitties labels are game changers for patterns with tons of little pieces that can be easily confused with one another.
I did notice a possible pattern error related to the diagrams. If you look at the picture on the pattern cover, the space pack on the cat’s back is higher than in some of the pictures inside of the pattern. The pattern pieces (V, GG, and HH) are sized so that your space pack comes out shorter than the pattern cover photo. I adjusted these few pieces so that my kitty’s space pack is the higher version.
Here’s a close-up view of the space kitty:
Isn’t the background fabric fun? It has little fireflies, shooting stars, and constellations. It’s called Night Sky by Dear Stella. The other fabrics are from my stash. I used some Alison Glass pink fabrics for the space suit details, some sparkly Essex linen for the helmet, and Kona cotton solids for the kitty.
Once I had created my kitty block, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it as-is or go ahead and add the three stars surrounding the kitty. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to turn this block into a mini quilt so I thought that the three stars would just up the cuteness factor.
Here’s a look at my finished block:
Swoon! This block is so adorable. The kitty looks like she’s coming in for a hug with her favorite human. I love it so much!
I’m still leaning towards keeping this space kitty as a mini quilt to hang in my sewing room. If I decided to make the small size quilt, I’d need three more space kitty blocks.
Earlier this year, I participated in the annual MQG mini quilt swap. This swap event is an open swap, meaning that you and your partner are making mini quilts for each other. In contrast, most swaps are not open but secret, meaning that the person you are making a mini quilt for is usually not the person who is making a mini quilt for you. It’s a surprise when you get your mini in the mail.
For the MQG swap, many participants plan to attend and swap their mini quilts in person at the annual modern quilt show called QuiltCon. For those who cannot attend, you have the option of swapping with your partner via mail. That’s the option that my partner and I selected this year.
I received my partner’s name and quilt preferences via email from our “Swap Fairy,” who is the person assigned to a group of swappers to ensure that everything is running smoothly. My partner listed her favorite colors, fabric designers, and preferences so I could take those into consideration when making her a fabulous mini quilt.
I decided to do a modern traditional feel for this swap. I designed a mini quilt using the traditional churn dash block, but I made it feel modern by setting it on-point, elongating it slightly, and then added little color accents in each corner. My partner’s favorite colors are jade, green, turquoise, and yellow.
Here’s a look at the finished mini quilt:
I took the mini quilt with me on a short hike to Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge before mailing it to my partner. My teen did the honors of holding it up while I snapped the pic. He’s such a great quilt holder!
I used a variegated Aurifil thread to quilt the spiral on the mini quilt using my domestic sewing machine. The background fabric is a light-colored Spectrastatic print by Giucy Giuce, the churn dash fabrics are Kona cotton solids, and the yellow and green accents are from my scrap bin.
I usually like to make a small extra gift to go along with mini quilt swaps. For my partner, I made a Woppet bucket, pattern by @cleverwoppet.
Isn’t it a cute bucket? I made the little charm pull and added it to the pink handle. You can pull the fabric handles up to carry it like a little bag.
I sent my little mini quilt and bucket off to my partner, and received a package from her in return. She made me this fun rectangular shaped mini quilt with bright colors, a low-volume background, and black and white pinwheel blocks!
I really enjoyed the mqgswap this year! If you want to see more pics from this swap from other quilters, you can browse Instagram using the tags, #mqgswap2022 or #makeaminimakeafriend .
My husband and I found a little table a few years ago while antiquing that we use to have our breakfast. The table faces a sliding glass door, looking out on our background. It’s relaxing to watch the birds flitting about while sipping coffee before starting work for the day.
However, we don’t want to scuff up the table’s surface more than it already is so we’ve been using various items like kitchen towels and coffee coasters as protection. Last weekend, I decided to make a table topper for this little table, but it also reminds me of a giant mug rug! When it gets dirty, we can just toss it in the wash.
Here’s what the table looks like without any topper:
I had some fun fabric in my stash with an outdoors theme that I thought would work well. The colors match the kitchen, and we love to be out hiking! I measured the diameter of the table, which is 25 inches. I selected 5 fabric prints, and cut out 5.5 inch squares that finish at 5 inches each. I placed them in a 5×5 grid, stitched them together, and then quilted this base shape.
The fabrics that I used are:
5130-15 (dark mountain print) from Smoke & Rust by Lella Boutique
5130-14 (gray mountain print) from Smoke & Rust
5135-13 (plus sign print) from Smoke & Rust
5131-16 (orange text print) from Smoke & Rust
55551-21 Timber Campsite Cream from Timber by Sweetwater
I quilted the project using meandering free-motion with Glide thread in Apricot Blush.
Once I had my square-shaped base, I took placed the table upside down on the back of the quilt and traced the circle. I drew a cutting line in about 3/4″ from the original tracing line so that my quilt would not extend to the edges of the table. I wanted a little peek-a-boo border of the table.
I choose the orange text print for my binding. I needed to use bias binding to get a stretchy binding that I can easily sew to curves. It worked out so nicely!
Now for the reveal! Did my quick table topper project work? Does the coffee taste better while using it?? Yes, it does, because I don’t have to worry about leaving water marks anymore.
We also have these 2 antique chairs to go along with the little coffee table. However, they are in sore need of reupholstering. I hope to tackle that project this year, and choose a new fabric that will go with the table topper fabrics.
I’m catching up on some quilts last I finished in December. I made several fat quarter friendly quilts last year to have on hand to give as gifts. The pattern that I selected is called Fourteen Squared by Hunter’s Design Studio, and it is a quick and easy quilt to make. I love it so much because I can work from my stash and find ways to use up some of my fat quarters.
The first one that I made is cat themed, of course! My quilt inspector practically demanded it. He was so happy with the cat fabric that he couldn’t wait to help me piece the backing!
For quilting, I did an easy all-over meandering with some free-motion hearts thrown in for good measure. My goal on these quilts is to use everything from my stash so I pulled a fun chunky stripe for the binding, again with the inspector’s help.
I used pinks, oranges, dark grays, and low volume fabrics for this quilt. The cat prints are from a variety of manufacturers that I’ve collected over the years.
I finished the binding just in time to get pictures of this quilt outdoors with a little snow that we had in December before it melted. My teen helped with the photo shoot while my outdoor quilt inspector lingered just out of view.
I have so many ideas for this quilt! A Halloween version is a must for me at some point. I plan to make a few more this year to give as gifts and to donate to charity. The pattern is such a great stash buster.
I’m participating in a couple of swaps that I will blog about soon. One is a block swap, one is a bag swap, and one is a mini quilt swap. Stay tuned!
I recently made a batch of eggless cinnamon rolls as a test run for Christmas morning. I needed to create a yummy, fluffy cinnamon roll without eggs because my sister is allergic to them. This recipe can be made vegan by substituting vegan butter in place of real butter and skipping the cream cheese in the glaze.
I used some spelt flour (an ancient grain) in this recipe for added flavor and dimension.
Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls
2-1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Spelt Flour
1 cup oat milk
3 Tbsp butter
1 packet instant yeast
1 Tbsp cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Ingredients for Filling
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
Ingredients for Glaze
3 oz. cream cheese
3 oz. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Heat the oat milk and butter in a bowl in the microwave in 30 second bursts. You want this mixture to be warm but not hot for the yeast to activate. About 110 degrees.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the yeast. Let it sit for about 8-10 minutes.
Add 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. Stir.
Add the flours gradually to the mixture and stir. When it becomes thick, remove from bowl and knead for a minute or so until it forms a ball. Do not knead the dough for too long.
Add the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled in size. (Hint: I have a food dehydrator that I set to low, about 95 degrees. I place my dough inside to rise faster).
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle shape, about 1/4 inch thick.
Optional: brush the dough with melted butter.
Combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon filling in a small bowl.
Spread the filling mixture across the rectangle.
Roll the dough tightly along the long edge. Pinch the edges closed.
Cut the dough into 9 equal portions.
Place the rolls into a buttered or oiled 8×8 inch square pan, with the swirls facing up.
Cover and let rise for 30-60 minutes until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the rolls are rising.
Optional: brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter just before baking.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Make the optional glaze by combining the cream cheese and the butter into a bowl. Microwave for about 20 seconds or just long enough that you can whisk the ingredients together easily.
Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and whisk together.
Use the whisk to drizzle the glaze on top of the cinnamon rolls.
I usually talk about sewing quilt blocks on my blog, but I recently did a project where I painted quilt blocks. Painted? Yes! Much like painted barn blocks are used to embellish buildings, you can embellish furniture with painted blocks.
In August, I got my son a different computer desk and so his old desk needed a new purpose. It is about 10 years old and was banged up quite a bit from years of kid, and then teenage, use. I cleaned up the desk, tightened up the screws, and repainted it glossy white. Pepper kindly guarded my work area from squirrel invaders!
I decided to paint 2 classic quilt block shapes on the left-hand side of the desk top: the churn dash block and the 9-patch block.
I used FrogTape to mask off the far left side of the table and the initial parts of the churn dash blocks. I used regular craft acrylic paints. Here’s what the first part of the churn dash blocks looked like after they were dried and I removed the tape:
For each section of the painted quilt blocks, I carefully used the tape to mask off sections where I didn’t want the back. I completed the churn dash blocks first before working on the 9-patch block. I applied 2-3 coats of each color so this process took about a week with drying time.
Once I finished painting my blocks, I let the paint dry overnight. I used a glossy crystal clear spray paint to finish the project and to protect the painted blocks.
Here’s a look at the freshly painted desk:
With some help from my teen, we transported this newly painted table into my sewing room. I thought my little Singer Featherweight would look cute on it!
I now have a fun table with brightly painted quilt blocks that I can use for years to come!
Have you heard about the Spooky Box from Fat Quarter Shop? Each year, they release a Halloween themed mystery box, filled with quilting goodies including a project with fabric and notions! You can still buy the 2021 box at Fat Quarter Shop with this link.
For last year’s 2020 Spooky Box, the quilt project was a fun Cat O’ Lantern mini quilt. I pieced this quilt last October, but then set it aside in my to-quilt pile. I was inspired to pull it out and quilt it recently as I was decorating my yard for Halloween.
I made a few modifications from the original pattern. I swapped the black and purple fabrics so that I could have black cat popping up from behind the pumpkin. I also changed the shape of the cat’s eyes and nose from squares into diamonds and a triangle. I knew that I’d quilt in more face details such as whiskers and the famous cat grin.
I did all free-motion and hand guided ruler work using Glide thread in Apricot Blush for most of the quilt and Glide thread in Black on the cat.
Here’s a look at a little spider that I added to each of the black triangles at the top and bottom portions of the quilt:
In the orange triangles, I quilted little ghost shapes. I did some basic fills in the background portion, and a swirly pumpkin fill in the purple behind the cat.
For the cat face, I added some eyebrows, whiskers, pupils, and grin. I later enhanced the pupils with an outline of black thread.
I gave the cat a little dimension by quilting some swirls on the forehead, checks, paws, and tail. For the pumpkin, I kept it simple with straight-line quilting to keep the emphasis on the sweet cat!
We went to pick pumpkins last weekend, and my son held the quilt up while I snapped a quick picture in between other pumpkin hunters. I love a striped binding so I used this black/gray/white striped fabric in my stash that I think really frames this little Cat O’ Lantern quilt perfectly.
Happy Halloween from the cat at the pumpkin patch!
I started working on hand piecing my Tula Nova quilt during summer of 2020 and just finished the binding in October 2021. I’m going to call my quilt “Tabby Nova” because I used a great deal of Tabby Road fabric by Tula Pink (now out-of-print).
This quilt is entirely hand pieced using a method called English Paper Piecing or EPP for short. In EPP, you use paper templates and baste them to fabric, using either thread basting or glue basting. I use the glue basting method because it is much faster. I used Aurifil 50 weight threads for the piecing, in colors to match the fabrics.
Once the pieces are sewn together and stable, you remove the paper backings. The advantage to EPP over machine sewing is that this method is portable so you can take your sewing with you. I often stitch while waiting for my son at sports or other appointments. I even stitched the initial center block while camping last August.
I decided to quilt my Tabby Nova using a combination of ruler work and some free-motion swirls. I used straight lines to echo the pieced shape out into the background 5 times. Then, I quilted swirls in the remaining spaces. I used a Rainbow thread called “Lilac Bouquet” by Superior Threads, which is variegated and beautifully accents the colorful fabric.
My backing is another out-of-print wide back fabric by Tula Pink called Free Fall with large dots and birds. I had this small piece in my stash for a few years, and I thought it went pretty well with the quilt top. The backing fabric is a purple Moda grunge, and I used Tula’s True Colors in Tourmaline Mineral for the binding with a small color burst of Citrine Mineral on the lower right-hand side.
Are you ready to see this quilted explosion of color?? Here are a few pictures that I took this weekend, with the help of some very special quilting inspectors and assistants.
I really enjoyed making this Tula Nova quilt. It is my first completed quilt using EPP. I have since started a second quilt called La Passacaglia using Tula Pink fabrics. This one is going to be huge and take more than a year to complete.