Finishing projects makes me so happy these days!

new york beauty mini quilt

In addition to my larger quilt this week, I finished up my smaller, but still pretty work intensive New York Beauty mini quilt project. I suppose overall that the majority of the work was done in the paper piecing itself, but I decided a project like this deserved to be hand quilted as well.

hand quilting

I really do love to hand quilt. It’s such a relaxing hobby, more so than anything else that I’ve found for myself. The closest thing that I’ve come to enjoying hand quilting is sewing binding by hand, but even that’s not quite as nice. That being said, this little quilt was TOUGH to hand quilt neatly. There were so many layers of fabric pieced together that is was hard to get my needle through neatly and and without A.) puncturing my finger every time I made a stitch and B.) really more importantly, getting the stitches even on the top and back of the quilt. I noticed after I was finished that there were a few places that I don’t think the needle actually punctured the backing in spots. I tried not to worry about it too much since it was just a project for me.

new york beauty mini quilt

I know it’s not something that can happen a lot, but it’s really exciting to be able to finish two projects in one week! I have a few other things that I’d like to get started soon, but shows are going to start taking priority for the next few weeks for now. I’ll do my best to share how those projects go though!

blowing in the wind

It’s been TOO LONG since I’ve finished a real quilt. I’m so happy to have finally finished this one!

I bought this quilt kit from the crazy talented Modern Quilt Studio duo of Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr last August at the American Quilter’s Society show in Grand Rapids. I was so busy through the fall and the holidays last year with my shows that I didn’t begin working on it until January. I spent a few days cutting everything out and beginning the piecing, but then I lost my stamina and hung it over the door of my sewing room where it stayed until the beginning of this week.

blowing in the wind

In the past month though, I’ve really been excited to make quilts again. I have a big project that I’ve recently begun cutting out, but with shows starting again soon, I’m not sure how long I’ll have to really give that my full attention. I have a few other projects that are started as well, but I knew I’d be able to finish this one up and finally have a project that I could wrap up in a few days.

The remainder of the piecing was very quick. The technique for making the improvised strips was super easy and took little planning on my part. I was able to finish off the remainder of the top in one day, and I was quite happy with that speed.

blowing in the wind backing

I had initially planned on using a solid yellow backing, but both of the yellow Kona cottons at the store had less than I needed on the bolt. I took a chance that I would be able to find something at JoAnn’s and in the end I was so happy my first choice didn’t work out. I used a Denyse Schmidt print (which is pretty much the only fabric I buy from JoAnn’s now) and it worked perfectly. I love the all over brightness with the subtle design so much.

Quilting is always my toughest challenge, but this time I stuck with a tried and true stippling pattern, and I did okay with it all. Not perfect, but I’m getting better. One of these days I’ll branch out, but I wasn’t in the mood to pick out stitches when new attempts didn’t work out with this one.

The kit also came with enough of the same gray fabric from the front of the quilt to make the binding, but I decided that I wanted something with contrast. I chose a much lighter gray and white, Michael Miller polka dot print. I think it really finishes the whole quilt off nicely. The design of the whole quilt, despite the dark gray, feels very bright and fun. I’m so happy with it!

are we done with this yet?

And of course, here’s the necessary quilt and dog shot. Hudson wasn’t in the mood to look at me, since I had just woken him up from his job (nap) to take photos. I think though, since he was previously sleeping on the quilt, that he approves of my work.

new york beauty block

I get so easily distracted. Quilt and sewing books, Pinterest, and other people’s blogs should be banned when I have projects that are already started that need to be finished. Thankfully, nothing specific was on the books as a “must-finish” project this week, and I went where my distracted little brain wanted to take me yesterday and today…to paper piecing!

paper piecing

Earlier this summer I bookmarked this tutorial for paper piecing a New York Beauty block by In Color Order. I printed off four of the templates found here, hoping that I might find some time this summer to give them a try. This, like most quilting projects in the past year or so piqued my interest, but fell to the wayside while I worked on getting ready for craft fairs and keeping up with my business sewing.

So, I guess here’s where I get a little distracted. A few weeks ago, a friend and I decided to check out the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild. I was a member of another modern quilt guild several years ago, but that one folded, and since then, I’ve been guild-less and feeling less and less interested in quilting. I know I incorporate quilting into my bags and pouches and things that I sell, but I haven’t made a real quilt since, oh, maybe last winter. Like winter 2012. But that meeting invigorated me, and I left wanted to do some real piecing and real quilting again. So over the past few weeks and days, I’ve been playing around with fabric again, working on some stalled projects.

new york beauty block

So now that I’ve figured out how wonderful paper piecing is, I think I’m going to let those other projects continue to hang out a while longer. The process challenges my brain to think, and I’m in awe of what I made in the past day and a half. Tonight, after I finished piecing it and took it out to photograph, I sandwiched it up and debated how I wanted to quilt it. I know I could finish it faster on my machine, but I really feel like this quilt is bringing back my love to quilting, and I’d like to spend a little more time with it while I hand quilt it.

I think it’s alright to be distracted by what you love.


I’m constantly trying to rearrange my sewing room. I tend to think that I can never find a perfect setup because the room is small, but logically I know it’s just because I have a lot of stuff. But, since I’m not getting rid of anything major anytime soon, a reorganization was necessary.


My sewing machine table is, for me, the best part of the room. Not only does it house the actual machine, but my husband, Ben built it for me with his mad woodworking skills. It’s even got cherry inlays on the top to look patchwork like! The problem, however, has been where I can put the table comfortably in my space, without sucking space away from my large cutting table that takes up one whole wall when completely opened. Before, it sat at a 90° angle from the cutting table, and I felt like it wasted a ton of space in the corner. Now I’ve got my sewing machine across the room for the cutting table (with my small sewing machine set up in one corner of that) and my small ironing board in between on the third wall.

There’s not really much room on the fourth wall. The closet takes up most of that space, and due to our house’s original furnace chimney that snakes up behind the wall next to the closet, the remaining part of the wall has an extra corner that’s not very useful. On that wall, I placed two sliding drawer bins that I use for fabric storage for pieces that are less than 1/2 yard cuts.

fabric stash

For cuts of fabric that are at least a 1/2 yard, I store them in Ben’s childhood bookcase. Five of the shelves are tall enough to use comic book cards to wrap my fabric and the top shelf I use for leftovers. I’m actually at a problem here, because 1.) I’ve run out of comic book cards and 2.) there is no more room anywhere on the shelves to put anymore fabric. I have a pile of fabric that won’t go anywhere else, so for the time being, it’s going to camp out of=n my cutting table. Maybe I’ll cut it up, maybe I won’t. I sometimes wish that I could make the bookcase a little larger, but it fits well there, and I probably shouldn’t buy much more fabric until I use what I have anyway.

cat.  comes with the room reorganization whether I like it or not.

Also, I can’t find a place to put the cat. I should work on that next.

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I-Art Festival 2013

For the past two weekends I’ve been set up at semi-local craft fairs. For a number of years, I pretty much exclusively did summer shows like these with my friend Amie of enamor. We’ll still do shows together when we can, but every now and then, it’s nice to do shows where I can spread out and have the whole tent to myself. Sometimes I miss having someone to talk to all day when it gets slow (or weird…and no, I don’t sell potato sacks thankyouverymuch) but I’m really excited with how my individual set up is taking shape.

I-Art Festival 2013

Earlier this spring I had an idea to find a used ladder to incorporate into my setup, but after talking to Ben about what I wanted to look for, he suggested that he just build me one that fit the dimensions I was looking for. Not only does it fit perfectly, he built it so it will lay flat with the shelves inside it for transporting it. I can use all the help I can in that department since I have a very small car that’s not the best for always fitting everything that I need inside.

craft show sign

Finally, I had picked up this super inexpensive Ikea chalkboard last year (I had figured I’d make one of those too, but found this one for less than $15 and couldn’t pass it up), but I was never happy with how I was making it look. This summer I invested in some chalk pens that really made a difference in how I could make it look. I loved how easy they were to use and when I needed to do so, the wiped off without any problem. For instance, when I first wrote out the sign and spelled my name “Hip To Piece Sqares.” No one’s going to notice that or anything.

And aside for weathering my first show all zipped up inside my tent during a severe thunderstorm warning in the second weekend (all was okay, but good grief, the rain!) I had a fantastic two weekends of craft show fun.