Studio Makeover

I started noticing that my ironing board cover started to look a little worse for the wear … sun faded in a few spots, and even a few holes starting to show through! I love my sewing studio because it is all windows, but it also means that fabric fades, especially in our 365 days of desert sun a year! I made the ironing board cover in 2011 – so it lasted three years! I also recently purchased a new sewing machine, and the cover from my old one didn’t fit the new one. Living in a desert is also very dusty! The wind somehow seems to blow sand everywhere, and a machine cover is a must!

PicMonkey Collage

I’ve also been dreaming of the flying geese quilt block, and I have been pinning flying geese quilt a lot on Pinterest! (I like to call the quilt block wild geese … makes me imagine birds migrating in a wide open blue sky …) I saw this awesome quick method to make four flying geese from five squares, so one day I just grabbed a few fabric scraps and gave it a whirl – and then was hooked.

IMG_2621-2Pretty soon I was was pulling more scraps and more scraps, stitching and stitching, until I had a nice tidy pile of geese.


I started to lay them out, playing with colors and arrangements. It was somewhere around this time that I started to think – studio makeover! I could make a new sewing machine cover and ironing board cover! At that point there was no stopping me. I had a plan.

IMG_8980Things got a little scrappy – I mostly dye in fat quarters, so I didn’t have any one color with enough to make the entire thing. So I patched similar colors together!

IMG_2629-2My first batch of geese was exactly the right amount to cover the front of my sewing machine. You might notice I changed my mind from my first layout, to having them flying in opposite directions.

IMG_8976I love the way the simple geometric pattern allows the color to pop and create the movement.

IMG_8989Then on to my ironing board cover. I made another set of geese, this time to run in a long stripe across the ironing board, leaving most of the board plain fabric for ironing.

IMG_8981Again, I got scrappy! But I like it. And since then, ironing my projects on the board has been a joy!


Studio ready for the next project!

Actually, I’ve been quite busy with Christmas crafting, can’t wait to show you after the gifts are delivered!


I have wonderful exciting news to share! Our mountain quilt was accepted into this year’s Road to California quilt show!

IMG_2283The Road to California Quilt Show will be January 22-25 in Ontario, California. Time to make travel plans!

10615982_10152505978488387_6138535904460096095_nWe were excited when our quilt won Best of Show at our local county fair. Now the excitement keeps on coming!

Here’s what the judge at our county fair said about the quilt: “Open spaces and mountain range clearly defined. Perspective well handled and attended to. Appliqued textures and beading add a sense of realism to overall piece. Quilting motifs are appropriate and natural to the piece. Facing is appropriate for art composition. Fits Fair Theme.”

Our Out of the Box (OOB) group is at it again! You may have followed along for our mountain quilt last year. This year, or to start this year off, we are sewing a quilt to donate to the Mono Basin Historical Society for them to use as a fundraiser.


We chose to use a stain glass applique technique, each of us choosing a theme from the Mono Basin. Here is our preliminary sketch on layout and size.


I volunteered to do the museum square. Here’s a picture Penny took for me to use as inspiration! Thanks Penny! I like that she caught the tree in fall colors, will be fun to add a pop to the square. And I’m ruminating on ideas on how to do the museum, with the red trim … Fun! The building that is now the museum was originally Mono Lake’s school house.


We met today to start working on our blocks. Our guild provided the same black for all of us to use. Nela started the morning explaining her stain glass technique. To loosely sum it up, it is applique leaving space between each piece letting the black show through. Here, Nela has her block already completed! She did the tufa at Mono Lake which is going to be the central block of the design.

IMG_8926Cathy is going to do brine shrimp. Here she selects fabric – yay for artistic license!


Margaret chose to do an image of the boardwalk out to the tufa.



We sketched, cut, ironed, and sewed all morning long!


Here’s my sketch, and the beginning of my pieces. We all brought fabric, and did some swapping, so a few colors would be similar to the other blocks. I think this and all of us using the same black will help unify the quilt! I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s blocks when we meet again in January.



Dyeing with Aspen Leaves

On our fall colors adventure weekend, day two, I started getting the itch to dye some yarn. I had seen in one of my natural dye books that yellow aspen leaves dye a yellow color. I wanted to give it a try!

IMG_8756Our second day adventuring in the mountains, we headed up to Bishop Creek. The color was just brilliant!


So I started collecting. The recipe called for a four to one ratio of leaves to fiber. And my family helped too!

tjp_1342_2459.ARWIt didn’t take us long to fill a couple of tote bags full of leaves!

IMG_8755Once home, the leaves filled a canning pot about half full, and their weight was six to one for the one skein of fiber I wanted to dye.


I started with two pots, one with an alum mordant for the fiber, and the second boiling the leaves. The timing worked really well. By the time the fiber was done mordanting and rinsed, the leaves were ready for the fiber.


I was pleased to see that right away the yarn began to take up a yellow color, always a good sign! I then simmered the yarn in the leaves for another hour. At this point, it was quite late in the evening, after hikng all day, bbq in the back yard with family, and lots of boiling. I turned off the heat, and let the yarn stay in the leaf water overnight.

tjp_1342_2481.ARWPulling out the yarn to rinse the next morning before I left for work, I was pleased to find the yarn a warm golden color!


Rinsed and dried, the yarn is warm, though not bright. It does have a hint of a dull tone to it, which I find quite nice.


I didn’t quite want to knit something all yellow – for whatever reason I wasn’t feeling yellow – so I thought something striped might be nice. I had some leftover pastel yarn from my last acid dye session, and paired the aspen yarn with that.


Here is the cowl further along. I added in some of my coffee yarn and some blue scraps I had left. I rather like how the yellow turned out paired with the other colors!

Thank you Treve Johnson and Aaron Johnson for sharing a few of your pictures with me to put on my blog. What a fun weekend it was!

DSC00664Each fall, the mountains turn brilliant orange as the aspen leaves change color where I live. We spent a fun weekend heading up to the mountains to go in search of color, taking pictures and enjoying nature’s beauty.


There was such a range of leaf color, from green to yellow to orange to red. I collected a few and amused myself by creating mini mandalas.

I found it very peaceful to make an arrangement, snap a quick picture, and then rearrange. Place, snap, change, place, snap, change …

IMG_2547-paletteI recently discovered this nifty program – palette builder – where you can upload a photo, and pull out colors. Fun! What color is your palette?

Recently, I purchased a book on Japanese inspired quilt blocks from the book store. I spent many evenings poring over their patterns, getting excited for using my hand dyed fabrics to give them a try. The pattern that spoke the loudest to me was one of a spiral. I knew I wanted to use my golden and turquoise fabrics from a recent dye session for this one.


The pattern was very small and intricate, asking for one inch strips, with quarter inch seams, meaning each strip would be half an inch. Thank goodness for my new machine and the good foot and spacing guides! I was quite pleased with my ability to piece as precisely as possible.


For quilting, I pondered for a while using regular quilting thread or cotton pearl thread. I had purchased some from our local craft store a while back, but hadn’t used them yet. I thought the simple stichery with big thread would nicely contrast with the bold simple design.


The result? In my opinion: beautiful stichery.


I liked the play of gold and turquoise together, and couldn’t quite ever decide if I was stitching the wave of a river, the bright blue of the rapid churning round and round, or the wave of the sun, relentlessly shining down. Which do you think?


I had a few scraps left over, and couldn’t bear to see them go to waste. So I stitched them together too!


Hmm, what could I make with two small squares? Pot holders!


These I kept for myself. The river wave will be for sale in my Etsy shop soon!


I think what caught my fancy the most with these little projects was the playful fun feeling I got as the piecing came together. I could sit down for ten minutes or a whole morning, and loose myself in the feel of the thread, the color of the fabric, and the texture of making. And they are portable! I took the pot holder to the local coffee shop, and in the time it took to drink my chai tea I had one quilted!


Here is a sneak peak of my next mini quilt on the left – to be featured in the next blog post soon! I am enjoying myself way too much.

Stitching the Waves

Almost every evening, I sew on my Ocean Waves quilt. I have it in a basket next to our couch, ready to pull onto my lap, with a little bag of thread, needle, thimble and scissors.


Right now, we are enjoying the show Hell on Wheels, and I stitch away while transported back in time. In about a 45 minute show, I can sew around nine triangles. Just recently, I switched to a new needle, as I noticed my previous needle started to bend and be curved from all the use.


I tried a quilting hoop with a stand, hoping it would help with my posture and back pain from sitting too much. I didn’t really like it, as it was awkward to use and move the huge quilt around. Instead, I’ve switched to a very small quilting hoop, which means I need to move it every three triangles, but the small diameter means I don’t hunch curved over it as much.


For every triangle, I am stitching a quarter inch triangle smaller inside. I can do about three triangles for each thread length, before I need to knot and re-thread.

IMG_1893 For the black squares, I chose a sashiko pattern from a Japanese quilting book I have, of three waves cresting in a circle. I made a cardboard stencil of the pattern to transfer it to the black fabric when I am ready to quilt.


The chalk holds up relatively well while sewing, not disappearing and staying long enough for me to quilt around all the lines.


I was somewhat shocked when I realized I hadn’t posted about my Ocean Waves since December 2012. Yikes! I thought it was time to share what I’ve been up to, and I was curious to get a sense for how much quilting is left to do. I hung the quilt on our clothes line and enjoyed taking some pictures today.


Every night, as I quilt only a few triangles, I wasn’t really sure how far along I was. I’m nearing the edge, and had the sense I was getting close, but how close? If you can imagine the quilt continuing to the top, instead of hanging over the clothes line, I have one row of triangles and black squares along the left long edge and top edge. Then after that, I have the black border to do. I think I can safely say I’m over half way there!

progress so far

It was also a treat to get to get a sense for how the stitching is going to look when it is all done. I picked the patterns with a specific hope and look in mind, and am just now getting to see their effect.


The circle wave sits simply in the black square, surrounded by swirling triangles.

IMG_8672I am happy with the look of the triangles too, the dense stitching creates a textured effect that is just wonderful.

IMG_8681Here’s from the back, I hand dyed some fabric, and I think the variation adds interest while still allowing the stitch pattern to shine through.









I still have two different sized small black triangles to fill, they fit in at various parts along the edge of the quilt. And to decide on the stitching for the black border. I have some ideas in mind! But that will be the next post. Time to get stitching!




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers