Backyard summer

This is what I love best about summer…

Working on a project…outside

El Dorado? 1

Looking around the yard to see what’s blooming…

El Dorado? 2

I love lavendar…note: plant more!

El Dorado? 3

This is the best this coreopsis has looked since it was planted!

El Dorado? 4


El Dorado? 5

Project almost finished…

El Dorado? 6

And then we fire up the grill! Yummmmm!

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Filed under Art Quilts, Beading, Life

Easy improv 3

Aaaaand we’re headed for the finish line!

Each block needs to be squared up. Now I don’t mean each block has to be a square, but they do need to have ‘squared up’ sides. I do not try to make them all the same size right away unless they are very small to start with. This group is quite large–the block on the right is about 16 x 20.

Scrap improv 3-1

You can lay them out close together or spaced out to help you plan where you might want additional background “space” as you go along.

Scrap improv 3-2

Oh–I think this post is going to get long! It just ocurred to me that maybe you don’t have a clear idea of how to square up those blocks. If you do, skip to the bottom to see the final layout!

So…it’s easiest to start by picking one edge to be your base line–the straight edge from which everything else is measured.

Scrap improv 3-3

It doesn’t matter which edge you use–I picked the left edge in the picture above and the top edge in the picture below.

Scrap improv 3-4

The lines on my cutting mat become really important to me now. I line that base edge up along one line and use my ruler to determine how wide a strip I will need to attach to the side to be able to square it up.

Scrap improv 3-5

You can see that this would probably work well with a 3″ strip.

Scrap improv 3-6

Better to have it a bit too big…sew it on, press it and line it up again to trim it square. Sometimes you get lucky and you can use what you trimmed on another, shorter side!

Scrap improv 3-7

Continue on until all those blocks are square. You don’t have to add a strip to your base line edge. I kind of like to leave that until I start putting the rows together. It’s easy to measure and cut to fit at that point.

Scrap improv 3-8

Where to start with final assembly? As you can see, each block can be a different size. Select what will be your widest (or longest) row and trim or add fabric to each block to make them fit together. Adjust as needed, but it can be wherever you wish in the row!

Scrap improv 3-9

Then make every other row to that same width or length. Make the blocks in each row the same height/width by adding/trimming strips and then add/trim strips to make it the same as your first row. I added some blue to some of my base edges and did not for others.

Again, do the same for each row and then sew the rows together!

Voila! A finished improv quilt top!

Scrap improv 3-11

I never had any intention of adding a border, but the question needs to asked for any project! The only border I might add to this one is a bit more blue all around…maybe!

Does anyone see the irony of this project? It started as a way to use up a pile of blue/green scraps that I had. It’s finishing with a pile of…

Scrap improv 3-10



Filed under Art Quilts, Quilt Design, Quilting, Use Up the Stash

Time out

I want to finish my scrap improv project, but I ran out of scraps. Isn’t that always the way? Actually, my decision was made to go for the easiest possible finishing technique and I didn’t have the fabric I needed.

I’m going to add enough fabric around each block to make them all the same size. It’s a bit wasteful of fabric because a lot gets trimmed off, but it’s sooooo much simpler for assembly! However, I do not have large pieces of fabric. For years I have been buying and dyeing smaller pieces, so when I want a larger piece, I either get to go to the fabric store or dye a big chunk.

Fabric store didn’t have a color I was happy with, so I have a pile of fabric sitting in a dye bath right now.

Scraps for 12 dye

This is not always the smart way to go, though, since this fabric may not turn out to be a color I like either, but it’s worth a try!

In the meantime, a couple of scraps fell off the shelf and I used the very last bits of the blue-green scraps I had out and built a little 12 x 12. Not sure of the orientation and I’ll probably add some beads!

Scraps for 12 Scraps for 12 rotated

Dyed fabric processes tomorrow, so I should be able to finish my Scrap Mover quilt!



Filed under Art Quilts, Color, Dyeing Fabric, Fabric, Quilting, Use Up the Stash

Easy improv lesson 2

After making sure that each starter block had a complete frame of the blue-ish fabrics, it’s time to start adding the peach-ish family of colors. However, I still had a few of these strips left and I think this round is the best time to use them up. I added them to blocks randomly until I used them all, but not all the blocks got a second strip like this.

Scrap strips 6

And then I started adding the peach strips. Some of them were long enough to ‘chain piece’ and I pieced together some leftover chunks just to add more variety.

Scrap strips 7

At the end of this round, each block had a blue-ish frame and a peachy frame around each starter piece. They are quite large for the most part and delighfully odd shaped!

Scrap strips 8

It’s time to head for the design wall again and play with placement.

New improv piecers always want to try and fit the blocks together as in traditional piecing. And frankly, it’s a good first choice for experienced improv quilters, too.

Scrap strips 9

It would be very easy to seam together anything that happened to be the same size and/or add little peachy slices to each block to square them up and then sew them together. Making them all square and the same size is pretty easy also.

Another option is to spread these out and fill in lots more space between the blocks.

Scrap strips 10

I could spread them out even further if I wanted a bed size quilt, but I’m thinking couch throw size on this one. Okay–fabric and color options come into play now. Do I want to fill in all that area with peach—or with blue? What I have available in scraps is quite variable, since they are hand dyes. Or do I want to go with a single solid color that could set each block off a bit more? Maybe white? Or something dark and dramatic?

This is the point where you need to ask yourself what you see as the ultimate use for whatever you are making and act accordingly. I am still undecided if this will be a bed quilt or a couch throw. I think it will be a class sample with a solid color background. Easier to show how to make it, and small enough to transport to and from classes. That means couch throw size.

Whew! Decision time is never easy for me, so it feels good to have those decisions made. Now all I have to do is find the time to finish sewing it up and get it quilted. I’ll show it again when it’s totally finished!


Filed under Color, Designing Quilts, Modern Quilts, Non-traditional Quilts, Teaching, Tutorial, Use Up the Stash

Easy improv lesson

I decided that I had been away from my sewing machine for waaaaaay too long and needed some machine therapy! I’ll show you what I’ve done and perhaps you can play with some of your scraps the same way.

You might remember this pile of scraps from a while back. A large pieced block, a few dyed and painted blocks and two colorways of hand dyes that coordinated with it all.

Scrap strips 1

Took the big pieced chunk and I cut it into strips and then 4 print pieces that I stacked and cut into uneven quarters. Those were my basic building blocks. And because most of my scraps were strips, that was what determined how I would construct my quilt.

Each block quarter had a pieced strip sewn to one edge. Press and trim–the method on this is to always have a straight edge to sew on.

Scrap strips 2

The next step was to sew a strip from one colorway onto one side of the block. Didn’t matter which side and didn’t matter what the width of the strip was. Press and trim again. And a little tip: have your ironing board and cutting surface away from your sewing machine. That way you have to get up and move around a little while you’re working. Helps to keep you from getting too stiff!

Scrap strips 3

Guess what the next step was! Yep–sew a strip from the other colorway onto one side of the block. Again, didn’t matter which side or how wide the strip. Then I chose the blue/green/turquoise colorway and added strips until each block had a complete frame in that color.

At that point, it was time to put the blocks up on the design wall and take a look at what I had.

Scrap strips 4

Oh, yeah–liking it a lot. I ran out of time to complete the next step, which will be to add a complete frame of the other colorway around each block. I’ll show you that and talk about connecting up these odd shapes next time!

Scrap strips 5

It felt really good to spend some time with that sewing machine again!



Filed under Art Quilts, Color, Designing Quilts, Quilting, Use Up the Stash


Right outside my door…

Hosta 3

Iris leaves

Hosta 2

Hosta 1


Filed under Color, Life, Thinking About Quilting!

What to do, what to do…

Seriously, now, WHAT am I to do with fabrics like this? That I only have a fat quarter of? That are absolutely unique?

dyed fabric alt dyed fabric correct

I like them whole. I think they would look cool cut up into not-too-small pieces. They look similar in color in the photos, but are not really compatible. They don’t really match any of my commercial fabrics, either. And I have lots of dyed fat quarters for which I need to ask the same questions!

So I procrastinated a bit more and played with the lighting and exposure on my camera. I am NOT a knowledgeable photographer and my new camera does lots more than I know how to control, but I’m learning a tiny bit at a time. Here are three shots of the fabric as I played…

Too dark

Too dark



Correct color

Correct color

Maybe I’ll eventually be able to take photos that I’m happy with…while I’m trying to figure out the best way to use up some dyed fabric!

And this is all to avoid any really hard thinking about these dyed fabrics. My brain is just too dead to make creative decisions today!


Filed under Art Quilts, Color, Designing Quilts, Quilting, Use Up the Stash