When I first saw the email announcing the Riley Blake Fabric Challenge, I said to myself, “nope, not doing that.” Then I read an excited email from my sister saying, “hurry up and sign up, we can do a joint project.” So I did, and we came up with a plan while we were at QuiltCon (which I haven’t written about yet, oops). Then a week after we got home again she emailed me and said, “sorry, I can’t do the Challenge thing after all, too much else on my plate.” Or something to that effect. I could have dropped out too, but by then ideas were racing through my head. Once I have an idea I have a hard time not diving in and starting it. (Finishing is another story, hence the fleet of UFOs flying around here.) After too much time spent comparison shopping online, I bought a Fat Quarter bundle of every fabric in The Cottage Garden line. My sister had bought a yard each of three prints at QuiltCon and shared them with me. Those plus the six 8th yard pieces Riley Blake sent out provided the material for the quilt I made: front, back,  binding, sleeve and label.

After all those ideas I’d had, and when I ironed the fabric (after washing, which I always do) I had another – wouldn’t it be fun to make nests with the red/pink flowers inside instead of eggs? I cut out the flowers in rough ovals, cut a whole bunch of random width strips, and made nests sort of log cabin style. I kept sewing strips on until I started to run out.


I pieced a background to use the blue flowers, also using a yard of birds in the trees print, cut and pieced to provide the shape I wanted. The nests, after several days of playing with arrangements, were appliqued on with a narrow zigzag stitch. For the back I used the rest of the prints, mostly pinks, which I had played with to try a Ricky Tims Convergence style quilt. I wasn’t pleased with the outcome so using it on the back was perfect. I made it big enough with the last of the FQs, saving out one for the sleeve. I’d had free-motion quilting in mind as I pieced it but by the time I had it layered and basted I’d decided to do something easy with the walking foot. The walking foot and I are old friends, but I hadn’t done any free-motion work in months and knew I was rusty. The tangled branches in the background fabric inspired my improvisational intertwined zigzag quilting.

The quilting part took twice as long as I had scheduled, but I got ‘er done before the deadline. Then mis-sewed the sleeve and had to rip out the seam. I nearly ran out of thread for the binding, but didn’t, and IT IS DONE! YAY! No new UFO here.


You can see all the entries here. Mine is number 206 or so.

 July 31, 2015  Posted by Abby at 12:14 pm Challenges Comments Off

I made a travel pillow for my upcoming trip to Austin for QuiltCon.


I’d been thinking about making one but left the thought in the back of my head without doing anything about it, until I saw the Project Quilting email with this week’s challenge – to finish something with orphan blocks or UFOs. Right up my alley! But with less than a week to  make something I thought, hmm, something small – oh – the travel pillow!

A quick google search found plenty of patterns and tutorials, and I downloaded a template from The Cottage Mama at www.thecottagehome.blogspot.com. A quick search of my UFO bins turned up a pile of leftover 4-patches – perfect. After playing with layout I decided to find a background fabric to use with the 4-patches to round out the shape needed. I choose a leaf-print brown from my fat-quarter stash. I figured brown was a good color for a travel pillow – it won’t show the dirt.

My 4-patches were 4-inch (finished), so I cut the following pieces from the FQ: 2 rectangles 4 1/2 by 6 1/2, 4 rectangles 2 1/2 by 4 1/2, and 4 strips 2 1/2 by 8 1/2. Here’s the layout for all the pieces, top shown but I also made a patchwork bottom (so I can use either side).


I sewed the pieces into columns first then sewed those together until I had this panel:


Next I layered with scrap cotton batting and light-weight interfacing on the bottom (pieces about 11×17 inches), and quilted the sandwiches. I kept it simple, about 1/8th of an inch to either side of the seams. I also worked fast – don’t look too close.


Once quilted I place the two sections face to face, pinned them after some fussy alinement, then pinned the cut-out pattern on top. I had to modify it slightly because my panels were a hair too narrow.


My pattern was for half the pillow, which I used as is, but if you do this you could trace it onto freezer paper and iron in place. I pinned it down, stitched around the edge leaving a couple inches along what becomes the back of the pillow. Then I unpinned and reset the pattern for the other side (yes, right on my sewing machine bed with the needle down) and stitched that, stopping about 2 inches from the end of the pattern. After unpinning, I stitched the seam again.


I cut out the pillow about 1/4 inch or so from the seam, then notched the seam allowance.


I wasn’t sure how well this thing would turn given the several layers in the seam, but it was fine. My only problem was the approximately 4 inch opening was not quite enough to fit my hand inside, but it turned okay anyway. The seam, once pushed into place with my fingers, was fine. If this were going to be a knife-edge finish on a quilt, I’m sure I’d be swearing at it, but for a pillow it worked.


I stuffed it with leftover poly batting (I have years of trimmings saved up) and stitched the opening closed by hand. I had folded in the edges and ironed them down earlier to make this easier but it still isn’t my best example of hand workmanship.


It’ll do – and – TAH DA – it is DONE!

 February 8, 2015  Posted by Abby at 9:13 am Uncategorized Comments Off

Looking for a stash-buster challenge? What about a UFO finishing challenge? How about BOTH at the same time! Well, look no further, Quilter’s Club of America has a joint challenge starting Feb 1st, there’s still time to join. You’ll need to sign up with the club if you aren’t already a member but it’s free. (They’d love to have you buy the premium membership but you don’t need it to join the challenge.)

Read more about it here: The Great Stash-Down.

 January 29, 2015  Posted by Abby at 10:00 am Uncategorized Comments Off

My sister, Stephanie Serrano of VenusdeHilo.com nominated me for the Around the World Blog Hop. I’m not sure how many times this hop has been around the world, but it just hopped from Hawaii to Idaho.

The first question I’m supposed to answer is “what am I working on?” The answer is – my garden! Ha ha, no quilting done at all this month. So, maybe you’d like to see what I am SUPPOSED to be working on. Oh yeah, and I did make something last month, a quick mini you can read about here. The post about it was written kinda quick too, hopefully someday soon I can write up a longer one.

I have two WIPs I need to finish for QuiltCon, plus a couple xmas gifts, and a challenge quilt for QuiltCon that isn’t even started yet.

First up is Twister, which is basted and ready to quilt. I almost started on it tonight until I remembered I needed to write this post. (Guess I can blame my sister if I don’t get it finished, heh heh.) I was inspired to play with a variation of Stacked Coins – what if I put the “background” in the middle and made it the focus? (Sorry for the crappy photo, I was in a hurry.)

Next is Eyelash (working title, I need something better), which I had Marcia of  Marcia’s Crafty Sewing and Quilting (www.craftysewing.com) quilt for me (and she took this photo). Being all quilted means – in theory – that it won’t take long for me to finish it. I need to add some bias-strip applique, and the binding, sleeve, label. The inspiration was an image I “saw” as I woke up one morning. I thought it would make a neat quilt idea and sketched it out before I forgot. It evolved from there.

Eyelash quilt quilted

This airplane quilt, which I started quilting then set it aside earlier this summer, is for my Dad. It’s been a UFO for about 15 years, so I thought maybe I should try and finish it before he dies (he’s 80 now but should be good for a few more years, having had a triple bypass a few months ago).Dad's quilt top
And somewhere are pieces intended to become a table runner for my mom. Plus the one I haven’t started yet but have all the fabric.

So that’s what I should be working on. I can’t believe it’s almost mid-October and I have done nothing on any of them. The QuiltCon entries are due by the end of November!

How my work differs from others and why I create what I do sort of tie in together. I started out as a traditional quilter, as nearly all quilters were back then. It gave me a solid foundation in the mechanics (and math) of figuring out how to put a quilt together. With rare exception, I’ve always done my own designs, others patterns are boring and were scarce when I learned quiltmaking. But it took me awhile to branch out and start working improvisationally. The airplane quilt was one of my first attempts, and reached the point where I didn’t know how to pull it together and put it in a bin. I must have learned something in the years since, as my only problem once I pulled it out again was running out of fabric. That’s why the border is kinda different.

I like to think I’m an eclectic quilter – I try anything that looks like fun and usually give it my own twist. Traditional, improvisational, scrappy, Art, Modern, or anything in between, it’s all fair game in my studio. Although making a Modern quilt has been a challenge for me, and I’m not sure I’ve pulled it off yet, as the part of Modern quilting I like best is “no rules.” That’s great, except if you have no rules, who decides what is Modern and what isn’t? I’ve read over lists of characteristics and try to fit within them, but the quilts tell me what they want and I keep straying outside the lines.

Like with this one, which I finished back in June. What do you think, is this Modern, or Art? Or something else? latest quilt

What’s most important to me is to have fun. And finish some UFOs. The best projects are the ones where I can have fun with my UFOs, even if the end result is not what I started out to make.

And now I’m going to spin the globe and send you to Jan Quigley over at Molly’s Meanderings, who will post on the 20th (right Jan?). She’s a crafty Aussie who likes to quilt, check out her blog here.

 October 14, 2014  Posted by Abby at 7:36 am Uncategorized Comments Off

Here it is, my mini for Project Quilting’s September challenge. When I read about the challenge for this month I thought “perfect, I can use up the scraps on my cutting table and finish this in no time.” (Hmmm – note to self – define “no time.”)

I finished it yesterday and am writing this blog post in time to get it linked up just under the wire. In fact, I will need to come back later and write a bit more about how I made this one, because I took a pile of process pics that I don’t have time to edit tonight. All I’m going to say now is it started with some scrap strips leftover from another project (not yet done). I sewed, I cut, I sewed, I cut, I played on the design wall. Then sewed some more.

It is quilted in simple spirals all over, with a variegated thread (Superior Rainbows) that doesn’t really show except on the green portions. The binding was a leftover bit in my “scrap bindings” box.

It finished 15 1/4 inches wide and 20 inches long. I named it “Sprawl.”

 September 30, 2014  Posted by Abby at 7:47 pm Uncategorized Comments Off

Jean of Layers of Hope – Quilting 911 is collecting quilts for people who lost their homes in the recent Eastern Washington fires. For details, see her post here: http://layersofhopequilting911.blogspot.com/2014/07/please-help-spread-word-quilts-for.html.

I’m off to my sewing room to finish up something fast.

 July 30, 2014  Posted by Abby at 4:21 pm Uncategorized Comments Off

I managed one finish this quarter. Yep, just one. I spent most of my time in my garden this quarter which left little time for quilting. I just barely finished this Modern quilt in time to submit it for a special exhibition. I’ll know in August whether it was accepted or not.

Looking back, I see I had hoped to finish 5 quilts – man, was I dreamin’!

Quilt #1 is now a finished top, and I need to get it to fully finished by July 10th – 10 days from right now. Gulp.

Quilt #2 “Yellow Squares” is the one I finished, now called Golden Hour.

The others have not been touched. And I doubt I will touch them next quarter either. In fact, everything I need to finish next quarter is unstarted except for the airplane quilt.

 June 30, 2014  Posted by Abby at 8:44 pm Finish-Along 1 Response »

OMG, how did it get to be May already? I never did get a post up for a finish for April. Not that it mattered, since I didn’t finish anything in April. But I am making 80th birthday gifts for my folks and I need to get them finished this month. One I plan to send out to be quilted, so the other one is my intended finish for May.

I wrote about it here for NewFO, since it was my only new start last month. A table-runner for my mom, to go with the napkins I made her for her birthday last Fall. Small should finish up fast, right? Well, it might if I knew what I was going to do with it. I’m figuring out the design as I go along, which sometimes works fine and sometimes not so fine.

Spring is here, and that means lots of time spent preparing and planting my garden. And lots of time in the garden means not much time for sewing. That will have to change if I am going to get these gifts done on time!

I posted this image last time but I’ll put it here again so it will come up for the linky thing.

 May 6, 2014  Posted by Abby at 8:12 pm Uncategorized Comments Off

This month’s project focus was to make gifts for my parents, who turn 80 this year. Originally I planned to make one art quilt as a gift for both, but then I discovered a UFO that I had started for my dad about 15 years ago. He got something else for a gift that year, as I only managed to get half the top put together before my lack of improvisational experience caught up with me and I couldn’t figure out how to put the rest together without more flying geese units, and I had no more fabric for them.

By the time I pulled it out again I had forgotten whatever rules I was following at the time, and, with some cutting apart of segments and rearranging, I pulled a top together. I had just enough WoW for assembly and not enough to flesh out all the corners to 90degrees. But improv quilts don’t have to be square, so I called it good and sewed on a light blue inner border, using that to fill out the corners first. It still needs one more border. I hope my stash holds something that will work.

For my mom, I decided to make her a table runner (small projects finish quicker) from the fabrics we made her some napkins with, last Fall. That’s my NewFO for this month, and here’s some of the pieces.

This is not the planned design, just the focus blocks and some of the fabric strips I’m working with. I had in mind a colorwash style background but I don’t think these fabrics will give me the desired effect. I’ll save that idea for some other project. I’m not sure exactly what I will do, something with strips because I have a bunch all cut, but not log cabin.

 April 30, 2014  Posted by Abby at 2:33 pm Quilt Alongs 1 Response »

As many women do, I decided to make a quilt when my son was little. If I remember right (always an iffy proposition) he was five at the time. I’ve liked quilts since I was equally little, being fascinated by the vintage quilts my grandmother had on her beds. Exactly why I thought making a quilt might be a good idea I don’t know. I think I had this vague idea that I could make money selling quilts and quit my day job. Ha ha ha! I’m still trying to figure that one out, although the day job is long gone.

While I hadn’t made a quilt before, I had made a patchwork potholder for my mom in 6th grade, as a sample to go with a term paper I wrote about quilting. This was back in 1968 (don’t you dare do the math), and there weren’t many quilt books out there (none I could find) so my research was done at the New York State Historical Society, which happened to be in the town we lived in at the time. For the potholder I did a star, possibly an Ohio Star, and I can’t remember if I had a block pattern to follow. No step-by-step instructions, I had to figure it out, and I used scraps my mom had. I have no photos of this early masterpiece (or of my first real quilt, for that matter).

I also made a patchwork blanket for one of my model horses, from sample bits my mom gave me. No batting so technically it isn’t a quilt. I still have it around here somewhere, but the horse is long gone.

So I had a little bit of piecing experience when I set out to make a quilt, and a treadle sewing machine my dad had given me for my 16th birthday. I might have made the model horse blanket on it. (It’s not like I had any interest in sewing clothes or home decor.) I needed the treadle because we lived off the grid and our itty bitty solar power system couldn’t handle a sewing machine or iron. I sewed at home, then took the pieces to my mom’s house to iron them. The work got done in stages.

For a pattern I went shopping in my mom’s craft book collection, and found a Quilt-in-a-Day book by Eleanor Burns, complete with cardstock template pieces to cut out. The book was for a sampler quilt, but I chose one block (a pinwheel variation) to use for my first quilting venture. And yes, I cut out the templates, layered fabric, pinned the template in place, and struggled to cut through four layers of fabric with my mom’s old sewing scissors (read: dull). (I discovered rotary cutters soon after that first quilt.)

Once I had all the pieces cut, I learned real fast how to fudge a seam! My memory has faded over the years, so I don’t know how I managed to get it all put together, but I did. Then I had to figure out how to quilt it. First I basted the layers with straight pins and tried to sew a simple quilting line on my machine. Didn’t work. The pins didn’t hold and everything moved around.

After ripping out those stitches I resigned myself to hand quilting. I may have rebasted it, or I may have struggled with the straight pins, I’ve forgotten those details. Maybe I’ve blocked it out. All I remember was doing the bare minimum to hold it together, and my stitches almost qualified as Big Stitch. And somewhere along the line I lost a needle.

Eventually I finished it and gave it to my son, who loved it dearly. About 8 months later, he called me in to his room soon after bedtime, and said, “Mom, there’s something sharp in my quilt, it pricked me.” He showed me where it was, and I felt around and worked it out, thinking one of the straight pins had ended up inside. Nope, it was the missing needle. Sure made me feel like Mom of the Year for that one!

What I don’t understand, looking back, is why that wasn’t my last quilt as well as my first. I guess I’m a slow learner, because I’m still making quilts 25 years later. Although I’ve stopped leaving needles in them.


This post is my entry in the Blog it to Win it Contest sponsored by Interweave. If I win I want the following prize package:

Enhance Your Quilting with Digital Surface Design Techniques: Creating Brushes in Photoshop Elements DVD by Margaret Applin

Digital Imagery in Fiber Art: Using Textured Backgrounds for a Painterly Effect DVD

Digital Collage for Quilt Design From Start to Finish DVD by Diane Rusin Doran

Digital Surface Design: Simple Techniques for Hand-dyed Fabric Effects and More with Diane Rusin Doran DVD

2013 Studios Collection CD


 April 14, 2014  Posted by Abby at 4:40 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »