31. January 2017 · Comments Off on Bee Sewcial – January – Resuloutions · Categories: Bee Sewcial, Quilting · Tags: , ,

If you’re anywhere around the modern quilting world you know the Bee Sewcial gals.  In my futile attempt to properly describe these ladies, I’ve erased and rewritten this sentence a dozen times now.  So I’ve decided not to try.  They’ve been quite inspirational to me in my modern quilting journey and always always leave me wanting to push myself and reach the next level.

If you don’t know what a quilting bee is (I’m sure I have a few stragglers from my food satire blog days – yes, you read that right) . . . well, a group of ladies get together and make a block or two chosen by and for the “queen” each month.  Every month is a new queen.  You end up with a quilt made by numerous hands.  It’s super interesting to watch these quilts come together in the traditional sense and absolutely revolutionary in the modern, improvisational category.

Bee Sewcial is a select, special group of ladies who focus primarily on improv and solids, but they highly encourage their groupies to play along. This month’s theme, Resolution, was crafted by Stephanie of Spontaneous Threads.   Feel free to check out the link and then come back.  I have no intention of rewriting Stephanie’s words here, she did an excellent job in her post.

First thing I had to do was watch a Ted Talk.  My notes were as follows:

  • size
  • grandeur
  • vulnerability
  • big picture
  • transition
  • future

I don’t make sweeping resolutions each year.  This year we are attempting loosely to save money (so we bought a couch, oooops) and I started the Whole Food 30 in a desperate attempt to reign in sinus issues and perhaps actually feel decent for a change.

But my quilty resolutions are quite another matter.  Here’s the vulnerable part from above.  I struggle with wanting more.  It’s a pervasive issue in the quilting world and one no one seems able to fully escape.  Yes, quilting requires materials and not cheap ones.  There’s fabric and batting and thread and patterns and needles and notions and rulers and cutters and scissors and mats and sometimes long-armers and don’t get me started on the price of a halfway decent sewing machine.  The worst of the want, however, is the fabric.

When I was young I always told my mother that quilters were the nicest people in the world.  I stand by that.  Most are friendly, helpful and oh so very generous with their time and talents and especially their finished products.  But they also hoard like no other.  Yes, hoard.  They hoard.  We hoard.  I hoard.

Fabric lines come out all.the.time.  They are pretty and shiny and new and we must have them.  If we don’ have them we desperately want them and covet those who do.  So often we buy them just to hoard them because once they are gone they are gone forever unless you want to pay ridiculous rates on Etsy and even then you might not find what you want.  We must have them now in case we want them later, whether we use them or not.  Don’t get me started on The Tula Troops and their addiction to Tula Pink fabric (I have a similar, albeit slightly cheaper because she’s a less prolific designer, addiction to Sarah Jane fabric – I buy it, pet it, stare at it, barely use it because it’s too pretty and I have a finite stash of it.)

I don’t want to want.  I really don’t.  As I type this I’m Jonesing so hard for the new Alison Glass Sunprint and the new Cotton & Steel, especially Bluebird and Sleep Tight and Black and White.  Oh and Heather Ross Sleeping Porch even though the colors aren’t totally my jam and I’m NOT a huge Ross addict and the new Friedlander is out and it’s okay but her stuff is so popular that if I don’t get some now I’ll never be able to get it in the future and oh there’s this cat attitude fabric that’s so freaking cute . . . did I mention I’m a dog person? and Sarah Jane has a Christmas line coming out and I don’t love it but it’s Sarah Jane so should I get some just in case and Tula Pink has the most ridiculous fabric coming out with cans of cat food and I should totally get it because despite the fact that it’s freaking cans of cat food and I completely don’t understand it, in five years I can sell one can for like eight bucks and make a fortune.


Yup, that sums up how I feel about this issue nicely.

My quilty big picture is I want to want less.  Use what I have, no matter how small or seemingly irrelevant.  Transition to a new way of thinking, a long term way of thinking.  Enjoy the process of using up every small scrap and finding fabric in unconventional sources.

Case in point, this fellow.

Bee Sewcial Jan Garage Floor

It’s an old belt from an old sweater.  I found it on the garage floor.  I have no idea how it got there, the sweater is long gone.

I washed it.

Bee Sewcial Jan Wash

Pulled fabric scraps most people would have thrown away.

Bee Sewcial Jan Scraps

Made an improv panel.

Bee Sewcial Jan Scrap Fabric

Drafted a pattern.

Bee Sewcial Jan Template

The first take at a pattern, my son commandeered and colored in the mountains.  I adore that kid.

I knew the tippy tips of the mountain needed to be the old garage floor belt.  It just had to be.


Photographed the finished blocks in front of my fabric “stash”, which for the record is meager compared to most.  As much as I would have loved for this to have been a real photo shoot with my fancy camera in a cool location, my stash on a dark morning with my camera phone is real life.

Block Stash

Block number two is the little round fellow up top and my first six minute circle.  I’d been wanting to try one.  It means nothing more than that.

Thanks for stopping by.

If you want to send me any of the above referenced fabric lines for free, I’m in the market to accept.

Clearly I still have some work to do on that wanting less part.

–  Joanna

P.S.  Email me! I’ll send you my address!

Yes, lots more work to do.

24. May 2016 · Comments Off on No Scrap Left Behind · Categories: Sewing · Tags: , , , ,

I’ve adopted a new philosophy when it comes to sewing . . . no scrap left behind.

Now I’m not all into the “Scrap Vortex” quilts that were making their way across the quilty world a year or so ago that kinda made my eyes want to pop out.

Scrap Vortexscreen shot of the images that popped up when I Googled scrap vortex

These scraps are just toooooo much for me.  Way too busy.  No place for the eye to rest.

I have instead decided to deal with my scraps on a per project basis.  This way there’s fewer fabrics to deal with at one time and theoretically they should all go together nicely.

The project I’d like to highlight today started with a four pack of Marimekko napkins I bought at Target.


I decided to turn them into tote bags for my son’s preschool teachers.  Nevermind the fact I later learned there were actual Marimekko tote bags available as well.  Harrumpfh.  Handmade is always better anyway right?  Right.  I used a free tutorial by Noodlehead for the Madras Tote Bag.  I made a few changes:

– skipped the canvas as interfacing

– skipped the pocket

– added fusible fleece and quilting to the napkin exterior panels

– lengthened the straps a bit

I shared these bags on my Instagram account but here’s the gist for those of you not on that space:

IMG_7951 RW

IMG_7952 RW

IMG_7947 RW

I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out thank you very much.

This project left some random scraps.  Lots of long scraps from the interior fabric as well as the finished edges of the napkins.  Most people probably would have chucked the pile and moved on to the next project.  Not me.

I started by cutting one inch strips off the Marimekko napkin leftovers and two inch strips of the teal and pink.  I used my bias tape maker to fold the pink and teal in on themselves to make one inch finished strips.  This was the result, a woven mini quilt that my son has already claimed for his room:

DSC_0762 RW

DSC_0761 RW

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It measures roughly 8″ x 15″ and I washed it when I was done to help roughen up the edges of the raw edge Marimekko fabric.

Next up was another woven panel, this time nothing was measured or cut or folded and it seriously used bits of fabric that otherwise would have been chucked.  The folded over finished napkin edges I had cut off.  The pink and teal whose edges had frayed when I prewashed the fabric.

DSC_0755 RW

DSC_0760 RW

The pieces are not uniform.  The panel isn’t square.  I love it.  It’s raw and organic and completely unique.  I’m too lazy to go and measure it but it’s bigger than the mini and maybe destined to be a tote bag of its very own one day.  I haven’t decided yet.

Both panels were made using the Wefty weaving needles that my pal Tara sent me.  You can check her and the weaving process out here and here.

Next up are improv blocks, which are more the style I usually go with when busting scraps.

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These blocks will be added to my improv block collection which will someday be its own project.  Except the little guy.  He may want to be a mini mini quilt.  He’s super tiny and adorable.

All together now:

DSC_0751 RW

There are officially no more of these scraps left.  Not one.  Wahoo!

Thanks for following along on my sewing journey with me.  Till next time, whenever that might be . . .

– Joanna

04. March 2016 · Comments Off on Improv Feathers for Andee · Categories: Quilting, Sewing, Swap · Tags: , , , , ,

Hi there.

I’ve been sewing.  Not blogging.

I have a really old and slow computer.

Plus sewing is more fun than blogging.

I just wanted to pop in and share a mini quilt I made for my friend Andee on Instagram.

Andee is an artist and I am swapping her these lovely feathers for a drawing of my beloved dog who passed away last November.

Feathers RW

Andee asked for greys, blues and oranges and said she loved feathers and birds.

Can.  Do.

Feathers on Step RW

I LOVED making this mini.  It was all improv and, aside from the curved feather, used very few pins in the piecing.  That’s my kind of project.

I was a little sad to see it go, but I am so very happy it will be loved in its new home.  I have a generous pile of scraps from this project that I will most likely turn into another mini for myself.

The title of this piece is “Orange You Glad We Swapped? I Yam.” and runs about 15 x 22 inches.

Feathers Corner RW

Thanks for swapping Andee.  I can’t wait to see my precious Koi (The Snoops) again.

– Joanna


It’s Le Challenge time again.  I won last time (thank you, thank you very much) so of course I had to enter again!

This time the theme was “Wilderness.”  Only one thing popped into my mind when I thought about the wilderness.


Happy, pretty, frolicking little deer.

Deer RW

The funny thing about deer is that when you see them on vacation . . . they are happy, pretty, frolicking little deer.  When you move to five acres and see them everyday . . . they are annoying.  They eat your Hostas.  They eat your Day Lilies.  They eat your tomato plants.  They eat the tops off every dang thing you try to plant.  They poop in your yard.  They don’t move when you are jogging down the lane and you have to play a game of chicken over whose gonna veer off first (this actually only happened once to me, but I’m adding it to the list anyway.)  They carry ticks (we haven’t had a issue with this yet, but I’m sure the day will come.)

Once the wilderness theme was announced I rushed right out to the LQS and picked up 3/4 yard (on clearance too, wahoo) of the above deer fabric.  I decided to make another mini quilt, this time to reconcile me with my previous love of deer.  Happy, pretty, frolicking little deer.  It only half worked since I decided to use the deer on the back of the quilt and nowhere else.

I did use it as color inspiration for my fabric pull though and finally landed on this:

Wilderness Full Front RW

I’m calling it “Camp Snuggly.”  I’ll explain that more in a minute.

Side Front RW

These prints are all Cotton & Steel fabric.  I seem to be a one trick pony these days.  It’s just that I have a ton of it, I really like it, plus all the colors go together.  So.  Yeah.   And the lions?  I cannot get enough of the C&S lions!  Makes the perfect happy, pretty, frolicking little tent side.  At least something got to be happy, pretty and frolicking on the front of the quilt right?  Not that this lion has his “frolick face” on or anything.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Lion RW

This was only my second time doing applique and I learned something.  If you plan on dense, matchstick quilting, you don’t actually need to applique.  The quilting holds it all together just fine.  So I ripped out all the applique stitches as it seemed to busy with the quilting over them.

I love that sun.  And the clouds?  It’s one of the few purchases (and by few I of course mean a fat quarter pack, two yards and 7 half yard cuts) I’ve made from the NEW Cotton & Steel lines.  Most of my stuff is older and speaks to me more than the new lines do.  Talking fabric, now that’s WILD.

Wilderness Clouds RW

The trees were completely improv and my absolute favorite part of this mini quilt.  This is my second attempt as I wasn’t wild about the first try.  I’ll post a pic of it later.  My mom liked the first try okay so I’m considering a mini mini quilt for her.  Otherwise it’ll just be an orphan block.

Inspiration for the fabric on the tree trunks came from here, a lovely mini quilt called Winter Trees by Cassandra at The Not So Dramatic Life.  If you like mini’s check her out for sure.  She’s doing an awesome year long series where she makes a new mini once a week.  Plus, she’s super good at what she does.  Way better than me.  So hop on over there (once you’re done here though, mmmm K?)

Tree Trunks RW

 I’ve had several people tell me the trees looked like fireworks.

Trees RW

 I love the binding too.  It’s fun.  And who doesn’t need more fun in their lives?

Binding RW

Doing stellar with my corners still!  If you are thinking that binding looks big . . . you’d be right.  I use three inch strips to make my binding.  I sew to the back, turn to the front, and machine sew down the edge.  I started this for several reasons.  One, I don’t hand sew anything.  It’s just not my thing.  This way the bottom thread from sewing on the binding ends up on the back, not the front. Two, it gives me plenty of room not to catch the back binding when I’m sewing down the front.  Yes, when I first started, I was that bad I did catch the binding a few times even with three inches.  I’m much better now and have considered making smaller binding tape, but I’ve decided I like the larger size.  I think it adds a hefty frame to the piece and since quilts, whether mini or not, are ART, it just makes sense.  You frame ART!  You just do.  It always looks better that way.  It does mean I often have to add borders or leave a little batting showing when I trim down in order to save points so it’s not a perfect solution.

Binding Corner RW

Happy deer frolicking on the back.  I totally forgot to add triangles to the corners for hanging though . . . . grrrrrr.  My new friend Renee from Quilts of a Feather (yes! I have made a few quilty friends!!)  suggested just hanging with clear tacks.  This girl is AMAZING at free motion quilting!  You should check her out too.

Back RW

They can frolick as much as they want, so long as it’s not through my Hostas.  Or my Day Lilies.  Or my tomato plants.

Deer and Binding RW

That fence?  It does not keep deer out.  Not out of my Hostas.  Or my Day Lilies.  Or my tomato plants.

Fence RW

I promised I would mention Camp Snuggly, didn’t I?  Camp Snuggly is the nickname my husband gave to our two person dome tent that we used before the kids.

Camp Snuggly RW

I realize my quilted tent isn’t a dome tent (also, there is clearly no giant lion head on the side of the real Camp Snuggly), but it was a free pattern off Craftsy so I went with it.  This post has a link to the tent pattern if you want it.  Also, Renee crafted a free dome tent pattern (after I sewed this one up, harrumph) which you can find information on here if you’d like.  Fabric is expensive enough, I’m all about the free patterns.

Here’s another pic of Camp Snuggly from this same trip, all rolled up on the back of Rocky (that’s the motorcycle).  Also, my super hot husband.  Swoon.  Rocky has been sold and we don’t travel this way anymore since we had kids.  But I have some fond memories of these trips.


– Joanna

P.S.  I keep comments here closed.  Thanks for understanding.  I caved and started an Instagram account, so you can catch up with me there if you’d like.  I use it sparingly to keep up with a few quilty inspirations and post the occasional duck picture and WIP.  I probably won’t follow you back though.  Just keeping it real.  Have a great day!

Linking up with Le Challenge, Blossom Heart Quilts for Sew Cute Tuesday, Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social, Quilt Art Designs for Paper Piecing Party