Turkey Tracks: Quilting: Improv Quilts

Turkey Tracks:  April 3, 2017

Improv Quilts

I love this book!

This book is a slam dunk for the Mt. Battie Modern Quilt Guild.

We are making “traveling” quilts now.  Each of us started a quilt in some way, then it “travels” to another Mt. Battie member for work.  Quilts change at the monthly meeting.  So I am working on another member’s now, and I’m having so much fun doing so.  Working on these quilts is pure play.

Here’s my own “start.”

Can’t wait to see what happens next to it at the end of April.

Alphabet help came from Mary Lou Weidman and Melanie Bautista McFarland’s OUT OF THE BOX WITH EASY BLOCKS.

I’ll go back in with pearl cotton to give the exclamation point it’s bottom circle, etc., when the quilt is layered and ready to quilt.

Turkey Tracks: February Quilty Update

Turkey Tracks:  February 14, 2017

February Quilty Update

I love winter because I have lots of uninterrupted time to sew.  Plus, I love snow.

I am ticking along with all the various projects and having fun seeing them come together.

Here’s Katja Marek’s EPP millifiore quilt in progress.  I have almost finished a large section at the bottom left  and will be adding it soon.  It’s in shades of blue.  And the addition of the blue will make the left edge complete.

Yes, this quilt is very funky, and I have no idea how it will look when it’s done, but…  I am having fun.


You can see the piles of completed blocks of the Farmer’s Wife–each a column–above the millifiore.

That top was finished last night.


I liked the zig-zag setting, but it requires cutting four of the blocks in half on the short rows!!!  I thought the quilt too long and skinny, so added two columns and used the five extra blocks I had on the upper left (2) and lower right (3).

I got a little OCD–ok, a lot OCD–about setting up blocks for one of Willyne Hammerstein’s quilts, “Valse Brilliante.”  Hammerstein is Austrian, and her colors are very European.  I’m doing my version in brights and neutrals, and each block will have some text fabric in it.  I got a bundle of “pearl bracelet” fabrics that are bright and colorful, so I ironed them all, and I can’t bear to put them away again until I’ve finished.  There are also some bright Japanese daisy prints I like–as you can see below.  It actually takes a while to set up one of these blocks, but now that I’ve used up all the red wonderclips, I’ve slowed down.  I try to sew EPP with matching thead as much as is possible.


I have these fabrics left to cut and glue:


Some of us here in Camden, Maine have formed the Mt. Battie Modern Quilt Guild, which is in addition to our venerable Coastal Quilters, which is a chapter in the Pine Tree Quilt Guild.

I am so drawn to the “modern” fabrics and the graphic nature of the modern quilts.  And, there is a strand that is modern/traditional, or some such title.   So, we are going to have even more quilty goodness.

We are going to do a “traveling” quilt and will turn in our initial pieces on March 2nd.  I have made this piece as my offering and look forward to seeing how it comes back to me.  I’m not thinking this piece will be a center medallion that gets developed.  And I will go back in with pearl cotton when the quilt is layered to embellish such as the exclamation point at the end of the “Love.”  The “blue moon” and the back side of the sliver moon were cut with one of those rotary circle cutters–which I learned from our workshop with Timna Tarr.


My alphabet was modeled on the one I found in Mary Lou Weidman and Melanie Bautista McFarland’s OUT OF THE BOX WITH EASY BLOCKS.

We had a major snowstorm starting Monday night and ending Tuesday night–a blizzard.  There was a near complete “white out” and lots of high wind.  I have about 2 feet of MORE snow on the ground now.  As the storm abated, I made my way down the steep drive to my mailbox and retrieved the first Cotton+Steel fabric club package from Pink Castle fabrics.  Isn’t it pretty?


I’m already thinking about making the next set of Tula Pink’s 100 City blocks.  Some of us are doing 8 blocks a month.  (You can see an earlier post on that challenge.)

I hope your winter is wonderful!

Enjoy it.  Slow down.  Hibernate.  Spring with all of its energy will be here in due course.

Turkey Tracks: Play Quilting

Turkey Tracks:  January 15, 2013

Play Quilting

I’ve been working really hard on sorting through my quilting stash–all the fabrics a quilter starts to accumulate–and cutting up all the smaller pieces into useable, accessible strips, blocks, or rectangles.  Those of you who follow this blog know that getting my stash under control has been going on for over two years now.  It’s just way too easy to keep buying new fabric for a new quilt without using up leftovers from previous quilts.

I am now using Bonnie Hunter’s coping strategy of keeping only large pieces for the stash and processing everything else.  Out of the greens, I’ve already made a gorgeous green scrappy top and backing–using up a ton of fabric that was just sitting around.  That top is ready to go on the long-arm, so I’ll return to it here when I’ve finished it.  I LOVE it.  It’s a green version of Bonnie Hunter’s “Blue Ridge Beauty” that I’m calling “Green Camden Hills Beauty.”  You’ve seen pieces of this top in earlier posts, and Bonnie’s version is on her web site, quiltville.com.

So, the green part of the stash is under control–dare I say?  And, I’m making good headway on the blue now.  I had already been working at the blue fabrics over the past two years, but I’m astonished how much of it I still have.  So many small pieces that are just lying around doing nothing but taking up space.

Yesterday, I could see that I was close to finishing cutting up the blues, so I let myself “play” at the machine for two hours–jointly working on two different types of projects.  I made myself quit about 8 p.m. last night because I could have gone on and on…

First, in Bonnie Hunter’s system–which you can explore in her four books and on her excellent web site, quiltville.com–NOTHING gets wasted.  The small bits of fabric she calls “crumbs.”  She throws them into a basket and uses them to “make fabric.”  Here’s an example:

Making fabric

These 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 strips will make really cute borders on a quilt when I have enough of them.  Bonnie Hunter uses old paper–phone book paper is the best as its thin and easy to tear away–as a backing.  It’s so much easier and lighter than the muslin I had been using for string-pieced blocks.  You could also use used printed paper from your printer, though that is heavier.

This “making” of fabric is growing in popularity these days.  In addition to Bonnie Hunter’s work, you can see the fun of making and using fabric in OUT OF THE BOX WITH EASY BLOCKS:  FUN WITH FREE-FORM PIECING, Mary Lou Weidman and Melanie Bautista McFarland and 15 MINUTES OF PLAY:  IMPROVISATIONAL QUILTS, Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  Weidman and Wolfe both have blogs as well.

I had some string-pieced blocks left from projects last year and have been throwing strips into a basket for when I wanted to make more of them.  I had only been throwing in strips that were at least 1 1/2 inches.  BUT, after making the border strips above, I can see that strips just under 1 1/2 inches are useable in both the string-pieced blocks and with the crumbs.  Really, the clear 1 1/2 strips should go into a separate box to be used for, say, nine-patches with one-inch blocks.  Or, piano keys borders.

Here’s my string basket, which is getting alarmingly full:

Basket of strips

Only there is a twist:  I’ve been tearing away also selvages with writing or colored dots with a little extra fabric in the strip.  I LOVE writing in a quilt and have become more and more intrigued with thinking how one might use selvage edges that are interesting.  So, here are examples of the kind of strips sith writing and/or dots I’ve been saving:

Basket of strips 2

Here are two blocks I made yesterday, hanging with one I already had.  I was playing with using the strips with writing on them:

Strip Piecing 1

Here’s a close-up:

Strip Piecing 2

And what the blocks might look like if I put them on point with sashing between…

Strip Piecing 3

Bonnie Hunter has lots of ideas of how to combine blocks when you have enough of them.

Meanwhile, it was really fun to let myself have a little “play” time–even though I have a quilt loaded on to the long arm and the BIG green quilt ready to be long-arm quilted.