And so I went on retreat... (I guess this is #SBSI)

I made an impulsive almost-last-minute decision to attend a quilt retreat this weekend sponsored by a sorta-kinda-LQS. I went on her first retreat two years ago--horribly sick, had to go home at night to sleep in my own bed, didn't get a lot done. Couldn't go last year as I'd only recently gotten home from my international jaunt. I'd put my name in for this year but waffled for months over whether I'd be able to go. Finally decided I really needed some friend-time and quilty-time so about 10 days before the retreat I contacted the LQS owner and was able to send in my deposit. I'm so glad I did.


My home away from home... It was a small enough retreat that several of us got rooms to ourselves. That's my "Quilt I Saved from Almost Certain Destruction" on the bed (episode 17 and this blog post). The armchair was convenient for getting some class reading done here and there as well.


Our weather. 

Unexpected, but pretty. (Drive 10 minutes in any direction and no snow. For some reason, our retreat center was right in a blizzard pocket.)



The way we ate. All freaking weekend. I don't even want to know how much I gained/ 


Oh...and did I mention the desserts? Yikes.


My friend surprised me with a little gift on the table space she'd set aside for me (I arrived a few hours after most others). Adorbs! 


The retreat started Thursday morning but I didn't go down until after work Thursday, which meant I got there right about dinner time. Thursday evening, therefore, after getting my stuff all set up, I decided to just go for a little embroidery Zen. I got one more patch on my crazy quilt block done. 

I wasn't keen on the way the feather turned out (my markings kept disappearing on me, urgh), so I used the Rule of Distraction. Put enough beady-bling on there and you don't notice anything else!


By Friday morning, I was ready to rock n' roll. This was a guild BOM from 2008. Got all the blocks finally pieced a couple of years ago. I'd put fabrics for the sashing, inner border and outer border in the bin with the blocks so at least I knew more or less what I'd intended to do back then. Now the top is done--woo!  

This is just for me so I'll probably just do an all-over FMQ on my DM. So we'll see how long it takes me to get it REALLY done.


Saturday's job was my second UFO of the weekend. This is a jelly roll quilt from Jelly Roll Sampler Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott (a gift from listener Carolyn of the U.K.--thanks!). Started it around 2012-ish. Finished the blocks in maybe 2014. Took it to an LQS Super Bowl Sale this weekend and amazingly found sashing and border fabrics pretty quick despite the crowds. That burgundy stripe between the two borders is a flange--first one I've done, and I love it. Just the right amount of accent for the burgundy in the blocks. I'll probably use that same fabric for the binding. Haven't decided if I'll do it myself, or maybe rent time on a long-arm to do it myself that way, or send it out. I'm giving myself another week or so to think about that. It's going to someone else so there's a little more at stake than with that other one.


As a small, fast project for a break between the two UFOs, I fused this kit. It's most likely from an Edyta Sitar BOM quilt* but I bought just this one block at an LQS so I don't actually know for sure: The block kits were in an unmarked basket; there were only three months' worth there; and no picture or information available about the completed quilt. I thought this one would make a great background for some fun embroidery and beadwork. All the pieces were pre-cut and pre-fused, so it was basically just putting together a puzzle. I mostly followed the picture on the package but I moved the bird from sitting on one of the leaves at the top to sitting on the basket--I thought that made him far more prominent and we all know how I feel about pudgy birds.  

*Later edit: I did some googling and yes, it's Edyta Sitar, Seasonal Silhouettes.

I also traced another embroidery design on some linen using a big picture window and the last remaining light of the afternoon, but didn't take a picture of it. Not terribly exciting anyway. 

Finally, I had some time left Saturday night and Sunday morning, so I made another little zipper pouch. This one is the Ditty Bag pattern from (The pattern has three sizes; I made the medium-sized one.) Wasn't too hard to do, other than the usual annoying fiddly bit sewing around that curve on either side. Zippers are going pretty easy for me these days. Yay. It's got some nice structure but if I use the pattern again, I won't bother with the binding on the inside--it was a pill and doesn't really add much. Finishing the seam with a zig-zag would be good enough. 

Oh, and I got a decent amount of class reading done. So there's that too.

All in all, a good time. And now, for the rest of #SBSI, now that my week's assignments are done, I'm going to hang out in front of the TV with my man and four-leggeds and do some more embroidery.

(By the way--I realize I didn't draw the name for the Quilty Resolution challenge yet--I'll take care of that manana!)

Crazy Quilt Slow Stitch-a-Long: Second Crazy Quilt Block


I'm actually not being as slow on my stitch-a-long at the moment as I'd thought I'd be. I figured I'd get several blocks done now before I start school again--that way I can just work on embroidery in the pockets of time I get once I'm back in class.

So, to whit: I've now got my second crazy quilt block pieced. It sat for awhile because there were some gaps that I had to fix and I had a couple of other projects I needed to knock out first. When I got a random few minutes earlier this week, though, I was able to fix those gaps and call the block done. Well, almost done. I still need to stay-stitch the outside edges so it doesn't drive me nuts while I'm embroidering

I don't like this one nearly as well as my first block. Partly, I tried to get more adventurous in the fabrics and I'm not 100% behind my own choices, but that can probably be fixed with some clever embroidery. The other part was simply my struggles with filling those gaps that appeared. I've decided I'm not a fan of this particular method.

For those of you playing along at home, this is the second block style in Allie Aller's Crazy Quilt class on Craftsy: curved piecing using templates. The curved piecing wasn't a problem at all, but some of the fabric pieces just weren't big enough to fully cover the places they were supposed to cover, somehow. Again, the nice thing about crazy quilts is you can just throw some more fabric on--it's just a little harder to work that out with the curves than it was on my first block that was all straight lines. I tried to keep paying attention to balancing color and design as I was adding extra fabrics to cover gaps, but I still think it would've looked better had I not had to add three extra spots of fabric. Oh well--again, in the grand scheme of things, when I put several blocks altogether, this probably won't be an issue at all.

Her next block style doesn't include templates. Yay! I'm looking forward to digging into that one, but I'm giving myself a few days before kicking it into gear. 

Don't forget to check out the progress of other folks who have joined the Stitch-a-long. You can join the Flickr group even if you're just a lurker!

Crazy Quilt Slow Stitch-A-Long: My first crazy quilt block done!

I poked away at this a little bit off and on all weekend in between working on my paper. (Makes a nice change of pace.) The only thing that actually took any time was choosing my fabrics as I was trying to pay attention to which ones looked good next to each other, balancing color and design across the block, etc. Once I got everything cut and ready to go, the piecing was super-fast.

The picture doesn't do justice to the fabrics, of course. You really oughta see it in person. The cool thing to me is that this is a very international block:

  • The solids are, for the most part, cross-wovens from Indonesia that I bought from a vendor in Houston a few years back.  
  • The one with the diamonds in the lower right is a cross-woven scrap that the tailor in Myanmar had given me--it's green and purple cross-woven. It's gorgeous in person.
  • The textured in the upper right is also from Myanmar.
  • The dark bronze solid towards the upper left is a scrap from fabric I bought in Thailand. (The camera made it go all moire-like but it's really another crosswoven of brown and gold.)

The piece of lace is not the antique lace I've been talking about in my podcast. I wanted to use something I didn't care as much about for my first try, so this is a scrap of a hand-dyed lace whose origin I don't remember--it's either lace I bought at a sewing guild rummage sale and tossed into a dye bath just to see what would happen, or it's a dyed lace from a scrap bag I got a year or so ago from an art quilter who was destashing some of her experiments. In any case...I thought the mottled color was interesting with the rest of the fabrics in this block, so I spray basted it to a background silk that I'd stabilized with lightweight woven fusible interfacing (as per Allie Aller's method). It's pretty solidly basted down but I'll still be embroidering it down to be sure. BTdubs, I have a lot of that lace, so it may well be showing up again.

The four long pieces around the outside are insurance. The block came a bit short of 8 1/2" square even though I thought my printed pattern matched Allie Aller's measurements. But that's the wonderful thing about crazy blocks--just slap some more fabric on there and call it a day! Most of those strips will be buried in the seams (it's an 8" finished block), but even if part of them shows it just becomes part of the overall design.

Can't wait to dig my embroidery needle into this puppy!

Are you doing the Crazy Quilt Slow Stitch-A-Long with me?

My first block deadline is this coming Saturday (forasmuch as we're even sticking to deadlines). I got mine done a bit early. Yay for me. Don't forget to join QFTRUcrazyquilts group on Flickr and post a pic of whatever block you're working on!