Embrace the Wobble

DSC_0135I don’t know how much I have described my quilting style, except that if you follow me on this blog or other forms of social media, you may know that I work in a liberated form of quilting. Slow quilting for sure. Making parts and pieces with design decisions along the way. Generally no patterns (there are exceptions occasionally). I also work from a design wall. Putting up bits and bobs and leaving them there as I work, sometimes for weeks, or months. OK, usually months.

special pieces

Truth be told sometimes I take stuff down because I get tired of looking at it and working on it. I’ll put up another WIP or start something new then come back to the original. Or not. As a result of this method what I am working on typically does not travel well. Taking it off the wall seems like too much effort.

When I travel to my quilting bee at friends’ houses (we rotate who hosts) it can be difficult to know what to stitch. Last fall I grabbed a bin of overflowing strings with the intention of starting a series of log cabin experiments. The first would be a single log cabin block, worked in the round. Some people would call this improvisational. I don’t. Whatever.

DSC_0137Traditionally, the center of any log cabin quilt block is red. This represents the hearth and center of the home. The light and the warmth. What we love to gather ‘round. I added skinny strings at first with no sense for color placement. There is no measuring. In fact, the strings were not measured when initially cut. They are not straight widths, some have bias. I trimmed them with scissors when I got to the end of the row. Early on I pressed only every few rows. As it got big, then bigger, I had to press after every round to keep it “manageable.”

IMG_0005I started this quilt without an intended recipient. Quilting for quilting sake. No rules. Embracing the wobble. It was quick stitching. About 2.5 feet wide in one night.

But life throws you curveballs.

In early January my aunt was diagnosed with lymphoma. Overnight this quilt had an intended purpose, no longer relegated to giving me something to do as an entremet to my main project.

The beauty of this type of quilt is its meditative nature. Each string is attached in the round with stitches love, and hope, and strength into the seams. A prayer quilt (yes even non-believers pray sometimes). I worked fast to get it finished and gifted. Some things can’t wait.

IMG_0017It uses some coveted fabrics like fancy French cake fabric purchased in Tokyo. What is the point in hoarding saving these fabrics anyway? They should be used, and loved.

IMG_0010IMG_0025This quilt doesn’t lay flat despite my best efforts to press it into submission. And it is certainly not square. I actually thought it best to just trim it up freehand (sans ruler or measurements) on the kitchen floor after quilting since nothing else in it is square. It seemed the right thing to do.

DSC_0146Life throws us curveballs and sometimes all we can do is make a quilt and embrace the wobble.



Title: Embrace the Wobble (Log Cabin #1)

Size: I forgot to measure. Big enough to wholly wrap up in. Likely about 65” X 75”

Materials: 100% cotton strings. From stash processing, from friends, from other friends, from the floor at retreat. Cotton thread. 100% cotton batting (three big pieces frankenbatted)

Started: September 2014 Finished: January 2015

For Pammy.

Quilting the New Classics–Modern Bear Paw

Have you heard?


Quilting the New Classics by Michele Muska is #1 quilt book at Amazon. BOOM!

Michele and I have known each other for years, back from the days in my former life as an editor. I was really excited and intrigued when she pitched to me her idea of a book based upon favorite classic quilt motifs and pairing modern and traditional quilters together to interpret those motifs. More than a pattern book, it would incorporate a historical reference for each quilt type. Would I be interesting in participating? Absolutely. Would I work with Darlene Zimmerman on the Bear Paw block? Are you kidding me (duh—#fangirl).

DSC_0054 Continue reading

Breaking Amish

MBD_bloghopWelcome! I assume if you are visiting you are here for the Mirror Ball Dot Blog Hop. If not, well, “Hi Mom.” I’m kidding.

I got really excited when Mark contacted me to participate in this hop since I’d been a fan of his for years and well, I love a good challenge. My mind started racing just thinking about what to make. I formulated a plan, deciding to make something off The List, thinking I would use some of the new issue fabrics plus MBDs from my stash.

I emailed my fabric order to Mark telling him my plan. His response, “Sorry Elisa, I am making this very rigid in that I would like to use only 4 Mirror Ball Dot colors – all of which are current – and the 3 solid colors Michael Miller Fabrics Couture Cotton.” The idea here being we want to show a range of what can be done with a very limited palette.

For those of you who are good at math that is 7 fabrics. Seven. I don’t really count but I would say I typically use at least 20 fabrics in a quilt. Back to the drawing board.

Continue reading

A Change in Plans

Remember back several months ago when I had grandiose plans for my EZ Dresden Quilt Challenge project? Yeah…and then summer happened.

Never fear—I still have plans for that quilt. BIG PLANS. In fact, I have issued myself a personal challenge—finish the quilt by this time next year and then enter it in the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival (yes that is the real name). It is a HUGE juried show and making it in would be 1) an honor and 2) a fantastic excuse for another trip to Japan, don’t you think?

But…back to the challenge. I was feeling—how shall I put this delicately—well, like a total loser for not finishing. So last Friday I put my big girl panties on and said to myself, I can make something small, and achievable, and useful. And so I did.

I’ve wanted a cushion for my sewing chair for a while, and well, I have plenty of stash to choose from and I already had the foam. Plus, I’m always tearing out inspiring color stories from magazines like House Beautiful and Marie Claire and I’ve had one which caught my eye hanging around. (Remember what I’ve said before about combining items on my list—mental or otherwise).

Sample fabrics. Some used, others ditched.

So I pulled some fabrics from my stash—one from New York, two from Japan, a Kaffe Fassett, vintage kimono silk, a black/off-white print (a signature of mine), and some linen I had lying around. I picked a great Alexander Henry geisha print for the back. I made the cushion all from stuff I had on hand—the foam, two scraps of batting to wrap the foam, and muslin to seal it all in.

My plan evolved as I worked. First it was fussy (ick). Simplify, simplify. Ultimately I ended up using the EZ Dresden Ruler just as it is intended (blasphemey!) in an inspired color palette that I’ve used before. And. I. Couldn’t. Be. Happier.

Be sure to check out what others made for this fun challenge.

And look out Tokyo—I’m coming for you…

Charlie’s Wobot

I am Auntie to a sweet curly-strawberry-haired boy named Charlie. He turned three in December and it seems like yesterday that I was at his birth. I had been working on a quilt for him for ages, that I was going to “boomerang” back to his momma, my SIL. Needless to say, I’ve never finished it (but I do have plans), and instead decided two weeks before said  birthday that this boy needed a “wo-bot” quilt to go along with his robot OBSESSION.

Fortunately for me, Boo Davis has a smashing robot quilt in her (self-described sickeningly cute) book Dare to Be Square Quilting. You need this book. Trust me.

Unlike most people who as of late are obsessed with orange, and Tangerine Tango in particular, I hardly have any orange in my stash.You see, I am a stash quilter, meaning what I make is inevitably scrappy, in fabrics of various age and type, and not bought and used as part of an entire line. It’s not an approach for everyone, but it really works for me. This pattern called for YARDAGE of orange. Me, yardage of orange? Not. So I opted to make this quilt following my new rule of thumb–use what you have. Continue reading