Archives for posts with tag: east bay modern quilters

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.  🙂


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!

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.

Goodness gracious, where the time goes, I do not know!  Hello peeps, there are lots of busy things going on around here but not a lot of quilting now.  I did finish a quilt a few weeks ago, but still need to take photos.  Soon.

For now, I thought I’d share my new venture.  Sewing camp!  Yes, perhaps slightly insane, yet insanely fun.  I always thought it would be a great way to earn a little extra cash, keep my own children busy, and share my talent and love for sewing at the same time.  This year I finally took the plunge and offered a sewing camp to neighbors and friends of my kids.  Lo and behold, I filled up two weeks worth of sewing camp.  It may just be the end of me, but at least I’ll die happy.


Everything is ready!

Everything is ready!

We set up everything on our deck outside.  We have shade, tables, chairs, lots of extension cords and piles of fabric to play with!  The kids will learn to read a pattern, take measurements, adjust pattern pieces for length, insert elastic, and end with a complete pair of pj pants.  Maybe with a pincushion or needle book thrown in for good measure.  Here they are working hard.

Busy little bees.

Busy little bees.


I lied, I did do a little quilting recently.  I joined an improv round robin with my guild, EBMQ, and here is a photo of my contribution.  We used the Round Robin chapter of Sherri Lynn Wood’s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, as our guide for getting started.  June was the first month, and I was given the lower left block as a starting point.  I decided to play with other log cabins in a sampler type way as my response to the original piece.  The quilter of the original block also provided all the fabrics.  It was a good challenge for me.   I’m working on July as we speak — well, truthfully, after sewing camp is over…

Improv Round Robin June

Improv Round Robin June



I feel like there is something missing from these conversations about pattern adjustments.  I understand the theory, working parts and process of a Small Bust Adjustment (SBA).  But when making a garment, one pattern piece does not act alone.  It’s just one piece of the three dimensional puzzle. In making my washi dress octopi tunic I discovered two places that required some additional adjustments.  I don’t get around alot in the garment area of the blogsphere, so maybe there are detailed discussions in this area, but I haven’t come across any in my limited meandering.  Changing one piece really does affect how it comes together with the rest of the garment.  Maybe experienced sewists just fix it along the way, not really thinking too much about it – the adjustments are not difficult and are quite logical.  But in my mind, it’s worth clarifying for posterity and thoroughness.  Here are the supplies I use:  a roll of vellum, scotch tape, clear ruler and a pencil.

Cutting mat, vellum, scotch tape, clear ruler, and pencil.

Cutting mat, vellum, scotch tape, clear ruler, and pencil.

It’s nice to have a ruled/lined cutting mat underneath too but not necessary.  I have used pattern paper that you can buy by the yard from the fabric store before, and I like the grid lines on it, but it’s thick, and hard to see through.  This vellum is thinner than that, but sturdier than commercial pattern tissue, a good compromise.

First, I take a look at the newly drafted bodice pattern piece and find the horizontal (perpendicular to the center front line) adjustment and measure how much overlap there is.  You can also line up the original pattern piece next to the new pattern with center front together and notice the new draft piece is shorter.

Side by side comparison.

Side by side comparison.

If you measure this difference, it should be equal to the amount of horizontal overlap.  In my case, that is one quarter inch.

IMG_4217 Agreed, this is not much, but if you cut your pattern without fixing this, the front pieces will come up shorter than the back.  That is annoying to fix after the fact, so I’ll fix it now.  With the washi dress you could put that quarter inch back into the bodice or back into the lower skirt. Or, you could opt to take 1/4″ out of the back.  I like a longer tunic so won’t mess with shortening the back. I am also a petite person, and think the shorter bodice will be a better fit, so opt to add the 1/4″ to the skirt.  Just think it through and do what makes the most sense for you.

Commercial patterns typically come with a line marked “lengthen or shorten here”.  Indie patterns may or may not provide this indication.  In Rae’s tutorial for the washi maxi dress she recommends lengthening by the tunic line.  I cut a tunic, so have already cut my pattern piece at the tunic line.  Therefore, there are two ways to lengthen the tunic (a) extend the bottom by 1/4 inch and redraw the curved hemline (yuck!) (b) slash the pattern just above the tunic line and add 1/4 inch there, merely redrawing the short lines on each side (Yes! This one’s for me. The time-efficient, lazy, rather-sew-than-draw-hemlines, girl).  Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Draw a line perpendicular to the center line for the skirt, about an inch above the hemline.  I like to keep the pattern piece on my ruled cutting mat to keep things straight, and use my clear ruler to line things up.  Draw your line with your pencil, and cut with your paper scissors.  (You should never, ever cut paper with your fabric shears.)IMG_4219
  2. Cut a one inch strip of your pattern paper and slip it under the slashed pattern pieces.  Use the mat to keep them lined up at the center front, separate the two pattern pieces by 1/4 inch – measure at both ends to make sure it is even.  When you are satisfied that everything is lined up, tape it down with your scotch tape.
  3. Use your clear ruler to redraw the sides where the pattern piece was extended.IMG_4227
  4. Trim as necessary with your paper scissors. And you are done!

Silly me, I began sewing my tunic without any regard for further adjustments when I discovered one more place that needed some help.  This is what I love about being a maker – always learning something new.  New skills improve the outcome of the next project.  It’s brilliant.

When you look at the SBA bodice, you will see a vertical line where the pattern piece was overlapped.  In other words the width of the original pattern piece was shortened as well.  When the slightly narrower bodice gets stitched to the skirt front you need to make one more adjustment.  This you can do on the fly, it’s very easy.  I just like to be prepared, because sewing surprises are not always the fun kind of surprises. This is what you do:

Rae’s pattern includes these adorable pleats, two on each side of center front.  When you pin the bodice to the skirt (yes, yes, you should pin, it’s true) start at the center and work your way out.  Pin at center, pin at the two pleats either side of center and when you come to the last pleats, take in any excess fabric from the skirt.  Increase the size of the last pleat on each side until you get the sides of the bodice to match the sides of the skirt and pin that too.  This will make the pleats different sizes, but it is such a minimal amount, no one will notice.  It will be our little secret. 🙂  Heads up – if you basted your pleats as the instructions indicated earlier, you will have to un-baste (hello seam ripper!) the outer pleats in order to take in the extra fabric.  Now you can finish the rest of your dress or tunic as instructed.  If you have any questions, let me know.  I’ll try my best to answer them!

I suppose you might like to see the finished octopi tunic on me…

2015-02-24 I wore it to my quilt guild meeting.  We are the East Bay Modern Quilters.  So fun!  Now that the tunic is done, I have my sights set on some knits – leggings perhaps?  (yes, daring) and a cardi.  Looking forward to sharing with you.

xo MamaCat

Little Bluebell

quilter + sewist + maker

I want to cut you!

My unhealthy relationship with fabric.

The Plaid Portico

modern quilting, quilters, and quilt exhibitions

the quilted fox

quilter + sewist + maker