Dusting off the blog today after maaaaaany years!

I have been wanting to experiment with an indigo vat in my backyard for a long time, now. I finally decided that yep, it’s time. I ordered the supplies from Dharma and will have it up and running by Labor Day. Sounds fun, right? I’m a newbie dyer, so took the easy route and bought a kit that Dharma says is technically synthetic indigo. I’m okay with that, I’d like my first trial to be a success and this seemed to be a good way to begin. So, we BEGIN!

I was looking for ideas for what to do with said indigo vat. As a result of that search, I bring you the shibori inspiration round-up for your perusal. I bought enough to make two 5 gallon buckets worth, and supposedly that will dye a total of 10 yards of fabric!

  • Design Sponge has a post that describes some folding techniques for shibori beginners.
  • I also love these simple techniques with basic household items (alligator clips, paint stir sticks, chopsticks, wooden clothespins etc) from Alice & Lois.
  • This blog post from A Piece of Rainbow shows three different techniques for shibori that use needle and thread for resist.
  • Last but not least, I have personally fallen in love with the idea of MACHINE sewing resist. Kim Eichler Messmer has some examples of this if you peruse her website. She doesn’t give instructions, but I’m obsessed with the subtlety of the color and patterns created with this type of resist technique. I’m pretty sure the quilt on the left on her Home page is made with this technique. Check out her site, it’s a visual treat for all!

We could go on for days, but there’s other business to take care of. I think this list gives a quick intro to the various types of shibori resist techniques and I hope it inspires you as much as it does me. Enjoy!

This more of a show and tell post.  Here’s what’s goin’ on around these parts!

I finished a new bag!  It can be so difficult to source hardware locally.  I keep trying, but the one location I usually go to, this last time felt like they were phasing out their hardware stock.  Slim pickin’s there, so I went online.  I would love to hear your favorite online source for purse hardware – please do share.

So I picked the Checkered Shoulder Bag to make up – and proudly, did not buy any fabric.  Everything was in the stash. Maybe the stash is getting too big… nah, no such thing!  After my first pass through this book, Natural Patchwork, the Checkered bag was on my mental to-do list.  I have been wanting to make a cross-body bag, and needed a place to put my new Team Tiger patch.  Kill two birds with one stone!  Team Tiger patch is from Mokuyobi.


Last weekend our guild had a charity sew-in day during our quilt show.  Here’s some guild members getting busy! The East Bay Modern Quilters collaborated with another local guild, the East Bay Heritage Quilters.  Those ladies are super dedicated to the children’s charity quilts, thanks ladies!


Children’s Quilts sew day at Stitch Modern 2016

Here is my quilt hanging in the show.  It is called Sampler Quilt I – yes, I’m great at creative titles.


Sampler Quilt I – with blocks from Tula Pink City Sampler and The Farmer’s Wife

And lastly, here are some trimmings from my work on the postage stamp quilt that is sloooowly progressing.  Actually bad news on that front, my quilt math was wrong — I had to cut 140 more strips (and also sew them) AND add two side borders to make the final quilt the size I want it to be.  I was disappointed, but I guess this is as good a time as any to make that discovery.  🙂


Have you ever been so inspired that you nearly drop everything right then and there and begin?  I borrowed Gwen Marston’s book Liberated Quiltmaking (1996) from the library and combed through the book cover to cover twice in one sitting.  It was a revelation, and I could hardly quiet my mind until I got a project under way. This newfound energy propelled me along to complete the quilt top in one day.  The family doesn’t need to be fed freshly made meals, right?  There IS cereal in the cupbord, after all.  And let’s not forget the joys of microwave popcorn.

I’m normally not a mini quilt person, but I wanted to try a new technique and also explore color and value – a perfect pairing for a small project.  It just so happened this coincided with National Quilting Day (March 19th) so I felt further justified in not finishing something but starting something.  I’m an enabler, what can I say?


The well loved library book among one of my fabric pulls.  I chose to use Gwen’s half square triangle technique and made 9 shoo fly blocks – except I only found 8 colors that I wanted to use in my stash, so one shoo-fly was a non-shoo-fly.  I attempted to pull saturated colors for the center of each shoo-fly and build it’s half square triangles with a darker value to highlight the center. I succeeded at this to varying degrees, being limited to fabrics I had on hand.  The light green one ended up with two different hues, not quite what I was going for but it fits in.  I also toyed with adding one print, but abandoned that idea because it took center stage.  I used two fabrics for the background, and the darker grey “painter’s canvas” print was much lighter from the back so I used both sides to mix things up a bit.  Here is the complete quilt top:


A small quilt also makes a great hand quilting project.  I have currently worked pairs of stitching lines horizontally across the quilt and am trying to decide if I am done or if I want to repeat the stitching vertically too.  Or, maybe I want to add some stitches in color…  what do you think?



I spent a delightful 3 days/2 nights with quilt-y friends socializing and working like crazy.  If you ever get an opportunity to go to a retreat, I highly recommend it.  It’s inspiring to see others’ work, energizing to get a fresh new view out the window, and so wonderful to go a weekend without cooking or cleaning.  Woot!


The eating place


The walking place


The mossy trees place


I got lots of work done.  The baby quilt for Baby O has a completed quilt top, completed quilt backing and also completely basted!  The sewing place was big enough for me to put three tables together to baste.  At home, I’d be doing that on the floor and fighting off the kitties the whole time.  It was worth the trip just to get my quilt basted.


The sewing.

And then, with only a couple of hours left before we departed, my friend Mary and I decided to collaborate on a mini quilt.  I took the Heather block (upper L block in photo below) from the 1930’s Farmers’ Wife book and tried to draft it to a 6″ finished block based on a proportional drawing but without any indications of the size of the pieces.  It was a great brain exercise, trying to transpose the picture into cut pieces, and then into a quilt block.  An exercise I failed at miserably, most likely due to forgetting to add back in seam allowances.  My 6″ block came out to 4″ (not to mention a few wonky triangles) – oops!  Easy enough to add a border to it, but boy did I make my life more difficult than it had to be!


And more sewing…

I began my journey into free motion quilting a few years ago, and am getting serious about it again.  I have a sampler quilt with blocks made from mostly Tula Pink’s City Sampler book.  It is time for this quilt to get finished.  For one thing, it is first on my WIP list, (maybe that list WILL help me keep focused) and for another thing, I plan to submit it to my guild’s annual quilt show Stitch Modern coming in March.


The beautiful thing about quilting this quilt is, I can quilt  it in small 6″ sections at a time.  Today, I only had time to quilt 2 of them.  But I feel accomplished anyway by seeing a completed block.


Today: Many thread breaks = many tails to bury…. sigh.

Here in this blog space I share my troubles and successes, and I keep trying to improve as I go along.  Last week, I had no random thread breaks but my quilting foot kept catching on the thicker seam areas making smooth quilting lines difficult.  Today, I decided to lift my quilting foot a little (I have the Leah Day mod as described here).  Soooo, the quilting lines were smoother and easier BUT I was getting thread breaks.  Dang it!  It is so irritating.  The curious thing about free motion is, there could be more than one thing causing the problem.  My current primary suspect: tension in the quilter!  Plan: yoga stretches and deep breaths in between stitching.  Hey, even if it doesn’t solve my thread problem, it will make me feel better.  So that’s a win!

Just one more sharing moment for any new to free motion quilters out there.  I found that while I am quilting, I am intently focused on the mechanics of things (where my hands are moving, how fast the needle is going, breathe, where the bulk of the quilt is, is my bobbin about to run out) that I have very little room/energy /mojo for the creative left-brain design aspect of the quilting.  If I try to think up a quilt design for my block on the spot, my mind goes blank!  I’m curious if this has happened to others.  My solution to this has been, at night when the lighting is bad or worse, I turn on The Office (yes, binge watching it on Netflix) and then doodle and draw and play to come up with my designs.


The next time I sit at the machine, I have my designs ready, plus have already practiced it once with paper and pencil.  This way, I can give 100% to the quilting mechanics without sacrificing good design.  Hopefully, as I gain more experience, and my muscle memory begins to take over I can forget about the mechanics and focus on the fun part. Yay!

Random number generator picked lucky number 17.  Congratulations Cecilia, you are the winner of a Good Hair Day charm pack!


I’ll be in touch by email soon.  Thank you all for joining me here in this space, I hope you come back again to visit.   xo

In other words, I have HOW many Works In Progress???!!!!  Maybe it’s the beginning of a new year, and I’m feeling the need to be more organized. Or, maybe it’s because I decided to stop the delusions.  In either case, I wrote out my WIP list last night, in black and white, to quantitatively see how long that list really is.  In my world, fabric and projects are stored in numerous places because my dedicated space is not big enough to hold it all (that should be the wake-up call in and of itself).


So, that 9 on the list became 10 because I realized I left one off – my baby, my precious postage stamp quilt.  It might get done in, oh I don’t know, 2 years or so from now.  It’s the quilt I work on when I don’t have a quilt to work on, if you know what I mean.  Plus, if I’m really being honest the plaids quilt on the second list already has a stockpile of fabrics so it should be moved up to the list above.  Okay, now we are firmly into the double digits here.  Oh boy.  I challenge you to make your own WIP list, and if  you already do have one, do you maintain it regularly?

Before I leave you, I will share photos from my cat fabric stash, collected over the span of about 3 years.  Just this week I bought the navy fabric with the pink yarn.  I might have enough fabric to make multiple quilts, I’ve gone a little crazy with these.  Enjoy!




A giveaway, did you hear that right?!  I think this might qualify my tiny little blog as a real grown-up blog… how did that happen?  Well, I’ll tell you how. There are a number of super creative and talented folks in my quilt guild, The East Bay Modern Quilters. One of these individuals happens to be Kim Andersson, the fine lady of i adore pattern, and creator of Good Hair Day fabric with Windham Fabrics.


Floor Pouf – photo courtesy of Kim Andersson

I made a floor pouf for her from her exciting new fabric line, arriving in stores now.  It was a joy to play with her colors.  For me, there were a couple of unexpected pairings in her line, and they all got along together beautifully in the finished project. I loved stretching my color design muscles in a different direction.  The pouf has two large panels that were pieced, the top and bottom panel.


Playing with GHD fabric strips.

My biggest problem was deciding which panel should be the top because I loved them both so much. Kim said that’s a good problem to have – and really, she was right!  I used the Floor Pouf pattern from Anna Graham’s book Handmade Style.


Floor pouf in Kim’s gorgeous booth at Quilt Market.  Photo courtesy of Kim Andersson.

Everyone needs a Good Hair Day, and you can enter to win one charm pack by responding to my post.  Tell me, when was your last Good Hair Day?  It’s been a while for me… mental note, make an appointment with the hairdresser, STAT!   The comments will be open until  January 21st, and I will announce the winner here on the 22nd. Open to international and US entries.  Check below for the rest of the blog-hop lineup, there are some beautiful makes and talented makers!   Thanks for stopping by.



The idea got into my head last year that I wanted to make new stockings for the kids.  I just didn’t yet know what I wanted them to be, so last year it never happened.


Fast forward to last month, and I saw the cutest patchwork stockings ever on my meanderings in and around Instagram.   (My Instagram handle is @mamacatquilts in case you want to follow me.) Next thing I know, I am browsing through the blog at Sunny Day Supply, and reading the details of their stocking tutorial post here and part 2 here.  That was the inspiration I needed to get started. The project had simple patchwork, a little bit of handwork and adorable fabrics.  What’s not to love?!  The tutorial comes with (among other things) a stocking template, diamond template, guidance on piecing diamonds, a new-to-me quilting technique AND step-by-step instructions to get you through.


Whenever I see templates, I put the brakes on – I have to tell you, I do anything I can to avoid using templates.  I just don’t get the accuracy I want with them, and it feels like it takes so much longer to deal with them.  It never feels worth the trouble.  When I printed out the template, I realized if I placed two sides of the diamond parallel to the grain of the fabric, the height of the diamond was 2 1/2″ inches tall.  It’s brilliant, now all I need to do is cut 2 1/2″ strips of fabric with my rotary cutter and ruler.  If one doesn’t mind using templates as much as I, you could stop there.  Then, all you need to do is trace two remaining sides of your template onto the strip and cut it out.  But, I took it a step further.  When I measured the side of the diamond shape, I found that it measured out to 3.5 inches and the acute angle measured out at 45 degrees.  The entire shape can easily be cut by rotary cutter and ruler!

The height of the diamond is 2.5 inches.

The height of the diamond is 2.5 inches.

If you have it, it helps to use the section of the cutting mat that has half-inch grid markings, that 3.5 inch side of the the diamond will measure more easily and accurately there.  To speed things up even more, I stacked 2 or 3 strips together before cutting the diamonds.

Use the 45 degree mark on your ruler to get the angle you need.

Use the 45 degree mark on your ruler to get the angle you need. Put the 45 line even with your fabric strip as shown.

I added one other thing that the tutorial didn’t – it is a faux binding in the front of the stocking.  I cut a 1.5″ strip with the length trimmed to match the length of the top of the stocking. Then I folded it in half, and sandwiched it between the front piece and the lining piece. When I stitched that seam, it was sticking out on the right side and I just folded and pressed it down to look like binding.


I went to town selecting fabrics that were mostly Christmas colors, and mostly graphic shapes.  I was thrilled with how they turned out. Two stockings the same yet different, perfect for two  sisters. Next year I may make felt monograms to hand stitch onto the front.

With the kids’ stockings all done, I started to explore a different palette – soft and gentle with a hint of sparkle.  I like this one too!  Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.  Thanks for stopping by!



You could say that we are obsessed with everything kitty around here. Our felines have trained us well, we can open doors on cue, turn on faucets for the freshest water and sit still for lap cat naps.  We are good stewards of modern cat living.





When my friend Terri of The Quilted Fox asked for testers for her new I Spy the Alphabet Quilt pattern, the first thing that came to mind was C-A-T, of course! I wondered what I could make with only three blocks and did not come up with much.  But then I remembered Elizabeth Hartman‘s cat quilt, and voila – we have four blocks and a new tote bag!  I couldn’t stop with just one cat block, so I made four more for the back of the tote bag.  It was so fun to dig around in my scrap bin to create these cat faces.

Cat Tote Front

Cat Tote Front

Cat Tote Back

Cat Tote Back

Terri’s Alphabet Quilt is bold and modern and fun to make.  It is a paper piecing pattern, but don’t let that deter you from trying.  I am not experienced at paper piecing, and you can’t even see the little errors I made.  🙂  There are so many paper piecing tutorials on the internet, you’ll be a pro in no time.  Terri’s pattern also lends itself so well to fussy cutting, you could go crazy with different themes.   Maybe even a little cat-crazy…  My fussy cut cat fabric was manufactured by Michael Miller, and were scraps from pajamas I made years ago.  I suspect the fabric is no longer in print.  But don’t worry, I’ve done alot of market “research” and there are lots of great kitty fabrics on the market right now.  Whiskers and Selena approve.

Little Bluebell

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I want to cut you!

My unhealthy relationship with fabric.

The Plaid Portico

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the quilted fox

quilter + sewist + maker