The Seamy Underbelly

quilting 24×7

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Feel the cheer

This is my idea of a very cheerful quilt for spring.


It’s not a cheerful day, weather-wise, so the lighting doesn’t show the full extent of it’s cheerfulness. In person, you’d  immediately feel like it was a sunny day with flying citrus fruit overhead.

This was a mystery quilt from a class. We got the instructions one at a time and didn’t know how the final quilt would look. The two borders on the outside are additions I made to frame in the flying fruit and to tie the borders back to the middle of the quilt. When it’s quilted, I think I’ll use it on days when I feel especially grumpy.

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Oakshott idea

I stayed up until 3:30 last night playing around with Photoshop. That was fun! 


Someday I’ll read the manual and know what I’m doing, too.

At any rate, this very rough picture is an idea for what I’d do with the Oakshott fabrics bundle Lynne is offering in her Made with Oakshott feature on Lily’s Quilts. I’d like to pair each of the fabrics in the fat-eighth bundle with another fabric in the same color but a different value. This should be possible because Oakshott fabrics are shot cottons woven with a different colored thread for the warp and the weft. They have fabrics with white and grey warps, for example, which result in colors with a white or grey cast to them.

I don’t want the quilt to give anybody a headache, so I’d keep the optical illusion fairly subtle. This picture just shows the general concept. (The white lines and specks and the places where the colors don’t line up? Not part of the general concept. Part of the Photoshop learning curve.)

It would also be fun to do a tumbling blocks design with three values of each color. 

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Make everything busy

This is a rough mockup of a new project I started sewing yesterday:


It’s applique, to provide variety from all the English paper piecing that’s been filling my quilting hours. The design is Whirligig, from Sarah Fielke’s book Quilting from Little Things. This is turning out to be one of those books I could happily work through for years, never wanting anything else. It showcases lots of techniques I haven’t tried, and most of the quilt patterns fall into my “I want to make it immediately” category.

The quilt in the book uses dotted fabrics for the center medallion, the flowers, and the stems. I was going to do the same. I’d picked the fabric on the right in the picture below for the center medallion, but when I tried the fabric on the left, the quilt seemed to snap together and feel all warm and cozy. Whirlygigfabricchoices

It also looked busy, a trend that continued. I kept thinking plain fabrics would stand out best on the complex background pattern, but they looked wrong, like a crayon drawing had been placed on a detailed, realistic background. 

Crayonflowers copy

Finally, I went the opposite direction and tried making the flowers and stems just as busy as the background. Florals seemed right at home.


Writers sometimes say their characters take on a life of their own, and I guess this quilt is the same way. It’s going to design itself, and I’m just along for the ride.

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Lone Star growth

Rows 7 and 8 of the Not So Lone Star quilt are completed


One more row of the star’s body to go, and then it’s time to start forming the points.

Also, I’ve developed an allergy for the first time in my life, and the culprit seems to be fabric sizing. I figured it out when I wore a new shirt without washing it first and had a big allergy attack. So apparently my position on the question of whether to wash fabric before using it is now decided. Washing it is!


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A Step Down

See this?


That’s an entire quilt that I made in the last few days. It helps that it’s 15 inches square. Still, this counts as my first completely finished quilt, and I’m happy about it. 

This design is called A Step Down and is from Sarah Fielke’s book Quilting from Little Things. Sarah shows how to make a similar quilt in her Craftsy course Big Techniques from Small Scraps, and I watched that too. The pieces of this quilt are sewn together in an unusual way, and watching Sarah demonstrate the technique made it much easier. 

I really like how this turned out. The big squares are from some of my favorite Jane Sassaman fabrics. She has such striking designs. I like how she’s not afraid to put things that aren’t typically seen as pretty or soft, like thorns and spiders, on her fabrics:




Although my quilt has more of a cute feeling, with the bee and the pink, and that’s fun too.


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More big star

The Not So Lone Star quilt is now done through row 6:

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As Kaffe Fassett said, “…With this quilt, I wanted to both meld patterns and colors as well as create dramatic breaks in flow.” He didn’t actually say it to me, of course. I read it in his book. At any rate, that’s what I was trying to do with the magenta/blue rows followed by the gray/white row.

Row 8 will be the darkest row in the quilt, very similar to the background in tone, and it was hard to find a fabric for row 7 that I thought was a good bridge between the lightest and the darkest rows in the quilt. I think I got one that works–I’ll show you after I sew the next two rows.

As a bonus, here is an outtake from the photo shoot for this blog post:

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It involved a story about Kaffe Fassett’s and my souls meeting on the artistic plane, and this was his reaction. Yes, it was very realistically staged using finger puppets. And no, I’m not going to include it, because I’m trying to keep the crazy to a reasonable level this early in the blog.

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What’s behind door #4?

I’m sewing away on the 6th round of diamonds in my Not So Lone Star quilt. The method I’m using is English paper piecing, where you baste fabric onto a paper template for each piece and then whip-stitch the pieces together. This vastly increases my odds of having diamonds that look diamond-shaped when they’re sewn together, since the paper template keeps its exact shape. The pieces are all sewn by hand, though, so it takes a while.

While we wait for a good point to show you some progress on the main star, here is a glimpse of what the four small stars will look like.

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As you undoubtedly remember, the Not So Lone Star quilt has a friendly companion star in each corner, to keep the main star company. What will the fourth one look like? Not even I know yet. But the middle part will be made of the fabric you see in the question mark.