Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge 2015


I always love this time of year when Umbrella Prints announces their annual Trimmings Challenge. I had the opportunity to be a judge one year, and last year I submitted this quilt. I thought I might just watch from the sidelines this year, but purchased two trimmings packs just in case.

I haven’t felt super inspired lately, but after opening my trimmings packs and finding this one filled with soft peaches, pinks, light blues and beiges, I thought I might see if I could put something together.


As soon as I saw the one larger square on the cream background with the little blowing seeds (ha! I’m sure it has a much more appropriate name than that!), I thought I could use it as the center focal point with the other trimmings pieces surrounding it. As it turned out, my packet had several pieces of a few prints, so I was able to use those pieces to radiate out from the four sides of the center square, keeping it nearly symmetrical (substituting in a couple other similarly-colored pieces where needed!). The tiny extra pieces were put to use in each of the four corners along with some coordinating solids in partial log cabin blocks.


I felt it really needed some circular quilting to draw focus to the center square, so I did a somewhat tight spiral from the center. I started out with white thread for the center, then switched to blue for the rings over the blue Umbrella Prints fabrics, then orangey-peach, and then a pale pink and then back to white. It’s kind of subtle, but I love the extra little touch it adds.

It was so fun to make up this quilt and to be inspired by these little trimmings. I always love when the fabric itself inspires a quilt, so I really appreciate this challenge. Be sure to follow the Umbrella Prints pinterest board to see all the submissions. (There’s even an audience prize this year, given to someone who comments and repins!)

Posted in [search] Other Quilts, Fabric, Finished Quilts, Posts about Quilts, Quilts | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters – a review + giveaway


Hello, hello! I’m pleased to be participating in the blog tour for Sherri Lynn Wood’s amazing book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. Mine is an unexpected stop on the tour, as I didn’t get my act together to respond in time to make the schedule, but I couldn’t not tell you about this book. It really is amazing!

What sets it apart for me is unlike other quilting books which provide a pattern to replicate the quilt shown, Sherri’s book provides only a score, with guidelines rather than specific steps. Your quilt may end up looking similar to the one she’s shown for that score, or it may look completely different, depending on how each individual interprets the score. It also leaves plenty of room for experimentation, so you might make the same score more than once and still end up with completely different quilts. A wonderful aspect of this book is seeing how quilts from a particular score can vary – Sherri put out a call for people to create quilts from the various scores and included several test quilts in each chapter, and it’s so interesting to see the variations.


I was really intrigued when Sherri asked me to try out a score. I love improv quilting, but find patterns written to replicate an improv quilt to be challenging. I decided to give this one a try simply because it wasn’t a pattern. I got to test the Floating Squares score, which is the first score in the book. And indeed, it was so fun that I made three variations! (this one shown here was included in the book, and I previously blogged about my Cascading Pools quilt here) I love that from the get go I had a place to start (sometimes it can be hard to know how to start, especially with an improv quilt) – in this case, I knew that I’d be using squares from three different fabrics.

(unfortunately this one doesn’t photograph very well, but it’s really beautiful in person, and since the majority is made up of Nani Iro double gauze, it’s also incredibly soft!)

I liked that limits were set but love that Sherri encourages you to adjust your limitations if they’re not working for you. When I ran out of one of my main fabrics, I felt free to grab another that seemed similar and continue on working with that one.


Sometimes I feel like I fall back on my favorite way of sewing fabrics together – that place where I’m most comfortable – and I love that this book gives you a little push out of your comfort zone. I think it’s ideal for those new to improv and for those who feel quite comfortable with improv. I think the framework and structure for each score would appeal to those who are just starting out with improv, while the variety in scores, the variety of types of improv and the permission and encouragement to veer off course would appeal to those who want to push themselves a bit. I know that I’m inspired to try out Sherri’s Bias Strip Petals scores – something I’ve certainly never experimented with before.

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Ok, ok! You definitely need a copy of this book! Want to try winning a copy? Please leave a comment here to be entered. If you’d like, I’d love to know how you feel about improv quilting – do you feel comfortable sewing this way? is it intimidating? why? I’d love to hear your thoughts! US only, please, per the publisher. I will select a winner on Friday afternoon.

Update! A winner has been selected! selected comment #166,

jill gm says:

this is the second post that I’ve read highlighting this book and I’m really excited to read through it for inspiration. thus far, I’ve only experimented with improv for small personal projects but I’ve been gearing up for quilt-sized experimentation. unless I have something specific in mind, I find that it can be difficult to know where to start. it sounds like her approach could be just the kick in the pants that I need. thanks for sharing.

Congratulations Jill! Look for an email from me shortly!

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Follow along with the rest of the blog tour! (and of course catch up with Sherri on her blog, Daintytime)

May 2: Sew Mama Sew – Score for Floating Squares Gallery
May 4 STC Craft – Score for Rhythmic Grid Gallery
May 4: Plaid Portico – Score for Strings Gallery
May 6: During Quiet Time – Test Quilter Amy Friend
May 8: Wise Craft Handmade – Score for Get Your Curve On Gallery
May 11: Studio Notes – Test Quilter Penny Gold
May 13: Quiltville – Score for Modern Block Improv Gallery
May 15: Peppermint Pinwheels – Test Quilter Stacey Sharman
May 18: Quirky Quilts – Test Quilter Kim McPeake
May 20: PoppyPrintCreates – Score for Patchwork Doodle Gallery
May 22: The Last Piece – Test Quilter Sara Fielke
May 25: Cauchy Complete – Score for Layered Curves Gallery
May 26: Diary of a Quilter – Score for Bias Strip Petals Gallery
May 28: Getting Stitched on the Farm –Score for Improv Round Robin Gallery
May 29: Spoonflower – Score for Showing Up Gallery
May 30: Fresh Modern Quilts – Test Quilter Rossie Hutchinson

Posted in Uncategorized | 180 Comments

two shirts in (the same) double gauze…

You might remember somewhat recently when I showed a photo of some lovely double gauze fabrics I had picked up at Jones & Vandermeer. Emily of J&V provided me with this  Sevenberry anchor print, and I love it, but couldn’t decide if I wanted to see it in a quilt or as clothing.


When I was asked recently to test Rae‘s new pattern, Beatrix (coming soon!), I thought this print might be perfect. I know it’s usually a good idea to test a pattern using muslin, but I have such confidence in Rae that I knew that I could go ahead and use the good stuff! (As it turns out, I picked the wrong size (my fault, not Rae’s!) so mine’s a bit large and you can see that the darts aren’t hitting correctly, but I’ve already made a few minor adjustments and it fits well now)


I saw Rae’s first prototype in the Cotton + Steel booth last Quilt Market showing off their lovely Bespoke double gauze. I loved everything about it, especially the curved hem and that fun back button placket. I may have bugged Rae about turning it into a pattern, so then when she asked if I’d be a pattern tester, of course I had to say yes!


This is view A, and is a great quick sew, despite having some great features that make it look super professional. My sewing machine only makes half a button hole, so my top is still sporting the safety pins, but I hope to get that remedied soon, as I’d love to wear it out!


Not only did I have fun sewing up this top, but I also loved seeing how thorough Rae and her team are about making sure the pattern is as perfect as it can be. I like purchasing patterns from designers who take this kind of care to provide a great product.


But back to this fun fabric! After sewing this top, I discovered that I had just enough left over for a little something else. I’ve been wanting to try out the Linden sweatshirt in a double gauze and this seemed perfect, as it was already washed and ready to go! I made my usual size and went with short sleeves for the summer as well as a split hem. The only thing I’d change next time would be to cut the neckline a bit higher so it’s not as wide. I wore this one all day today and found it to be really comfortable, and indeed I smiled every time I looked down and saw that fun anchor print.

I still kind of want to see it in a quilt though, so perhaps a little restock is in order? You can find it here (it’s a great price for double gauze at only $13/yard!)

Also, Jones & Vandermeer are having a Memorial Day sale on these prints - save an extra 20% with code Memorial20.

Other Memorial Day sales:

Lady Belle Fabric. No code needed! Moda Fat Quarter Bundles starting at $90.00, all fabric bundles and quilt kits on sale, all pre-cuts 15% off, sale half yards starting at $2.95. Sale ends Wednesday May 27th 2015

Sew Modern. Take 20% off all regularly priced fabric in-store and online with code MMDAY. May 22nd-May 25th

Posted in Fabric | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments