Monday, April 6, 2020

feelin' groovy

Hello friends! I hope this week finds you well. I am pleased to share a couple of finishes with you today. First up, my feelin' groovy quilt made with blocks from my Solid Seven friends...

Blocks for this quilt began arriving last November and I finally put the last borders on last month. As we were just beginning to shelter in place, I turned to my stash to build a back for this good sized quilt. I had some extra blocks and pieces that had been sent to me that I used on the back too.
I dropped it off for my friend Diann of Happy Quilts to quilt for me (no contact, handed through her door. Normally our exchanges involve Dairy Queen. I look forward to returning to that tradition!) Diann found some awesome groovy flowers to quilt it with.
Another finish is my God With Us quilt. I had shared the quilt top with you before. I quilted this one myself on my domestic machine. Simple linear quilting with my walking foot. It works!

So two quilt finishes, two things checked off my UFO list!

Monday, March 30, 2020

finding joy

Hello friends! How are you doing? I hope you all are well and safe and finding ways to enjoy yourself despite these crazy times.  Last year my word of the year was Joy. Well, just because the year ended, that doesn't mean I ditch my word. So, I thought I'd share a few ways I am finding joy during these days of social distancing.

First off, FAMILY! Today hubby and I did a group FaceTime with all three of our adult children. Our kiddos live in three different states and the nearest one is a 4 hour drive away from us. They all stay well connected, but to have them all on the screen at the same time was a real treat...
Hubby and I even checked in on separate phones, adding to the fun. Oh and I'd say 2/3 of the time we were looking at Malibu, not Ally....
Another thing I find helpful is to get outside. Today hubby and I went for a drive to find the blooming Texas Bluebonnets! Our favorite field of bluebonnets was in full bloom and there were very few people around.... score! We took lots of pictures...

They really are a sight to see! On the way home, we drove through the McDonalds drive through and got milkshakes...
yes, I had a shamrock shake. don't judge me!

Of course I am doing lots of quilting and weaving to stay occupied. While I'm busy in my studio, I like to listen to podcasts that lift me up. One real favorite of mine is Andy J Pizza's Creative Pep Talk. Andy is a graphic designer/illustrator and public speaker who is so much fun to listen to!

A new favorite podcast is Brene Brown's Unlocking Us. Brene is a well known social worker, author and public speaker who I have admired for a long time. Podcasting is new for her and her timing couldn't be better. She has some incredible insights for living in these turbulent times. 

When I'm not listening to podcasts, I'm often listening to music on Amazon music. My favorite station is the Colbie Caillat station.

What are you doing to keep joy in your life? Do share!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Solid Seven Update

Every month I look forward to the latest Solid Seven prompt in my mailbox. These gals never fail to come up with fun and challenging blocks. In February, Sarah challenged us to use "improv maximalism" to make monochromatic blocks. I had to do some serious research to understand what she was going for! Turns out improv maximalism is basically an intense use of saturated color. Got it! My first block was very oddly shaped. When I asked Sarah if she wanted me to square it up she said "no way!" so this is what I sent her....
Block number two used my favorite aquas & teals with some triangle and curves....
And block number three was pink pink pink! lots of quarter circles and a pieced stripe.... 

I can't wait to see how these play with the blocks my beemates sent to Sarah!

March was Nicole's turn. She reminded us of the loopy flowers we all drew all over our notebooks in middle school.... remember those? Nicole really put me to the test. She asked us to needle-turn appliqué large versions of those doodly flowers. Yikes! I persevered and she seems happy with the two blocks I sent her...
What a happy garden her quilt promises to be!
For April, Laura asked us to make churn dash blocks in bright, saturated colors. Can do! I know it's still March, but today I started pulling colors to audition for her blocks. Next thing I knew, I had them all made!
I'm not sure when I'll be allowed to head to the post office to mail them off to her, but as soon as the coast is clear, they are ready to go!

Guess who is up for May? Me! I have an idea in mind, now I need to make some sample blocks and get my prompt ready. I have plenty of time..... Meanwhile my Feeling Groovy quilt from last fall's 70s prompt is at the quilter and as soon as it arrives home I'll be putting the binding on it! Fun Fun!

What are you working on these days?

Friday, March 20, 2020

Patchwork Tea Quilt

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to have the opportunity to test out Jessica's newest pattern, the Patchwork Tea Quilt. I made one block, which was lots of fun! I plan to make more blocks to add to it down the road.
One clever part of this block that I love is the addition of some bits of selvage stitched to each tag. I had a blast digging through my selvages deciding what to use on mine. Then I found this one and it was perfect!

If you're looking for a fun pattern I highly recommend  this one! Jessica is including her Teabag Wallet pattern with each purchase which is a terrific bonus. I plan to make a bunch of those to use as Christmas Gifts next year. Might as well start knocking them out while I'm stuck at home!

Happy sewing friends!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Well the world sure has turned upside down these past few days, hasn't it? I'm normally quite content to stay in, hanging out in my studio making things, but tell me I CAN'T leave the house? Suddenly it all feels very confining. But enough of that nonsense, we're all in the same boat, aren't we? We'll get through this together.

Our pastor at church reminds us every single week that "Wherever you go, whatever you do, God goes with you" and I love that. Several weeks ago I drew the above quilt top in my sketchbook, thinking "one day I'll stitch that up". Well, today felt like just the right day to do that. I can't wait to quilt up this little quilt (24" x 34") so I can hang it as a constant reminder. 

I seem to be on an improv star kick lately. I made this Stars over the City mini a couple not weeks ago for a class I plan to teach at Not Your Mama's Quilt Store. The background fabric in the two quilts is actually the same, I blame poor lighting for the variation you see here. 

So it appears I have the beginning of a series going here.... we'll see if that continues!

I hope you are well and finding creative things to do in these unsettling days. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

learning something new

I've always been that girl who tries every new hobby she comes across. Some of them stick for life (quilting, weaving, embroidery) others are a fail for me (painting, knitting) but hey, I tried! Quiltcon classes are an excellent opportunity for me to learn something new. This year's adventure? Korean Bojagi. What's that, you ask? Great question. I'll be honest, when I signed up for the class with Daisy Aschehoug I didn't have a clue. I only knew that it was being held in the hand sewing room so it had to be good, right?

my first attempts at Bojagi
It was better than good! It was awesome. The cool thing about Bojagi is that it is finished on both sides. The Korean's often use the finished pieces as gift wrapping. I have seen pictures of them hung in windows (so beautiful when the light shines through), incorporated into clothing, bags, etc. So many possibilities! I am working with Kona cottons for mine.
Daisy suggested making this a 100 day project, adding pieces every day for 100 days and watching my progress. I decided to do exactly that. Here's where I stand at day 15 of Bojagi...
My stitches are getting neater and neater! Do you want to follow along? I'm using the hashtag #ellynlearnsbojagi on Instagram. I also plan to teach this technique to others as I improve. 

What new thing have you learned lately?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Improv triangle sew along

Ever since I received  Nicholas Ball's book, Inspiring Improv, for Christmas I've been intrigued with his techniques. So when he announced his improv triangle sew along on Instagram, I was gently nudged by friends and decided to join in. With Quiltcon smack dab in the middle of the sew along and other commitments I had made, I decided to join on a small level. To start, I made 30 triangle units to assemble into a mini quilt.
I made these all from my scrap bins, using solids and prints that read solid in pinks and aquas.

By the end, I had this awesome mini and and a new triangle technique under my belt...'
I quilted it on my domestic machine with a walking foot, horizontal lines 1 inch apart and 30 degree angled lines coming from both directions, which forms a lovely triangle at the bottom, hard to see in the photos but I rather like it...
Thanks for the great opportunity, Nicholas! I'm so glad I joined in. If you want to see more of the sew along check out the hashtag #improvtrianglesewalong. Many made large and gorgeous quilts!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Quiltcon Miniquilt swap

Hello Friends! Here I am fresh out of the car from Quiltcon..... laundry going and ready for a nap. Seriously. This was the most exhausting, crazy fun weekend I've spent in a long long time. There is much to process and share, but today I thought I'd talk a bit about the mini quilt swap, which I entered for the fourth time this year. And look at this incredible beauty I brought home with me....
Tish from Toronto made this for me and boy did she hit the nail on the head! I love it so much. And.... she gave me a huge bag of treats from Canada; a Starbucks mug, some adorable fabric, a jug of maple syrup and more! Thank you Tish! Here's the mini I made for her...
It was wonderful to meet up with her and swap in person...
Wouldn't this be a great day to reflect on previous quilt con swaps? Last year I was paired with Julie....

Julie's amazing improv mini hangs right over my ironing station and I think of her often when I see it! The year before I was matched up with TziTzi ....
clearly we love the same colors! TziTzi was a newish quilter when we swapped and it's been fun to watch her evolve into a very accomplished quilter. 

The first year I swapped, I did not go to Quiltcon, but swapped in the mail. Back then they were not pairing us off. I made this for Sandi....
And received this gorgeous quilt from Jane...

This one hangs right by my front door. Jane and I have since met and become dear friends. I was delighted to spend a good bit of time with her this year in Austin.

Have I been a lucky girl or what? I can't wait to swap in Atlanta next year.

Monday, February 17, 2020

inkle weaving

Because a girl can never have too many hobbies, I've added inkle weaving to my list. Several months ago, my friend Chris introduced me to these little band looms. Off we went to the weaving store where I acquired one of my own (for the record, I also talked Chris into buying another for herself.)

Here's my inkle loom loaded into the car. We went straight back to my house where Chris helped me warp it up....
This is the first band I wove, about 1 inch wide. The selvages are a bit wonky but I am otherwise very happy with it. So I wove a wider band, in the colors of the MCKMQG logo....
I intended to make it into a lanyard, but alas, I misjudged and it is MUCH too wide! No worries, I will find a purpose for it.

Most recently I have begun weaving shoelaces!
This is my first pair and I really love them!
I have several pair of converse and I suspect they will all have hand woven laces very soon!

Friday, February 14, 2020

juggling act

My friend Jayne over at Twiggy and Opal introduced a new pattern today, and I must say it's a winner! I was lucky to get to test it out. Here is my version of the baby quilt size, ready to be quilted and bound.....

I used all Kona solids for my quilt, Kona Jade, Pool, Turquoise, Ice Frappe and Chartreuse.  The background is Kona Silver.  Hop on over to Jayne's blog to see lots of different versions, including some great scrappy ones! Then head straight to her shop to purchase the pattern, so you can make a Juggling Act quilt for yourself.

Thanks for letting me test your pattern, Jayne! This is a winner!

Monday, February 10, 2020

gifted quilts

There have been lots of happy occasions to gift my quilts lately! In December, friends of ours got married. We gifted them the improv string plus quilt I had begun in Sherri Lynn Wood's workshop in 2018. My pal, Diann, of Happy Quilts quilted it for me.
Then the babies began to arrive! Dear friends welcomed their first grandchild, a girl, in January. Knowing she was coming, I had made my final 2019 fifth Saturday challenge especially for her....
I assure you the quilt is square! Apparently I had my phone at an angle and this is the best photo I got of the quilt.

Another baby arrived in January, this one a boy, a great nephew for us. I hadn't made a Line Dance quilt (pattern by Kathy Mack) in years. This one came entirely from my stash...

Another great nephew will arrive in March. This quilt is ready to head off to his family for a baby shower this month...
These were block lotto blocks I won at a McKinney Modern Quilt Guild meeting last year. I knew they would make a bright and happy baby quilt.

I love gifting my quilts and knowing they are being loved and used.

Friday, January 31, 2020


I mentioned in an earlier post that my word for 2020 is Intention. One tradition I have is making a quilt with my word on it each year. Here is my quilt for this year...
This is my tenth word and quilt. All of my quilts are the same size (18x20") and I plan to hang them up near the ceiling around the walls of my studio. In fact, that is one thing I INTEND to do this year!

I'm happy with this quilt. I think it reflects who I am, or maybe who I am evolving into? I originally thought I would make it purple BUT I had this blue grunge in my stash and I INTENTIONALLY used what I had on hand rather than spending money on fabric. I'm working on a special project that involves improv log cabin blocks, so this is an extension of that. I have also recently experimented with inserting tiny strips of stripes into my blocks. I love the effect! You can see a tiny strip of black and white peeking out of this block.

I was able to be very intentional in January, with my time (lots of studio time!), my money and what I've been eating. So far so good! Let's hope I can keep it up.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Solid Seven catchup

I haven't updated you on the antics of the Solid Seven Bee in a while. We've been busy bees as usual, making pretty solid blocks for each other. A couple of months ago, EA gave us a pretty color palette and asked us to make "our favorite blocks". Her finished quilt promises to be interesting! Here are the blocks I made......
a woven block
an x & + block 
and an arrow
 Linda wanted a bit of sunshine in her winter so she requested these awesome blocks....
And then Jessica asked us to make these blocks in blues, teals, greens and purples.....

I had already assembled my strip pieced blocks from last year into a quilt top before the holidays. My friend Diann from Happy Quilts had worked her longarm magic on it and it was just waiting for binding. This week I got that done and now I present to you, Fruity Lemonade!
finished quilt is 48x60
I had to show you the awesome swirly quilting!
I still have my 70's Feeling Groovy blocks from the gals waiting to be puzzled into a quilt top.... I'm thinking they will be taking over my design wall this coming week. Hopefully I'll have some progress to share with you soon. 

Meanwhile, if you want to follow along and see what the Solid Seven gals are up to, you can follow us on Instagram at #thesolidseven.

Monday, January 20, 2020

January reads

In addition to quilting and weaving,  one of my favorite things to do is read. I read a wide range of books, from nonfiction to fiction. I thought I'd share some of my favorite books with you here from time to time. This month I've already read two great reads, both nonfiction.

My first finish of 2020 is The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.
I picked this one up from the library on a whim. I'll be honest, I didn't know quite what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. In this book Melinda, wife of Bill Gates, tells her story working with the philanthropy foundation she created with her husband. Much of the work they do encompasses the rights of women around the world. She tells detailed stories of women she has met, mostly in Africa, and how they have been able to impact families through women's health, education and services. Maybe because of my own recent travels to Africa, I was able to understand clearly the challenges these women face. This is a five star read in my opinion. It left me thinking and wanting to learn more.

My second finish of the year was a Christmas gift from my hubby ( umm yes, it was indeed on my Amazon list which I provide him a copy of every year. Please tell me I am not alone). It is Find Your Artistic Voice, by Lisa Congdon. I have been a big fan of Lisa for a long time. If you want to follow her on instagram, you can do that here.
Lisa is an artist/illustrator with a very distinct style or voice. In her latest book she helps other creatives find their own voice. I found this to be very inspiring. Again, I was left thinking and exploring which is always a good thing! I recommend this one to ALL of my creative friends. Again, five stars!

Are you on Goodreads? I track all of my reading there. You can follow me here.