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.

….If a problem comes along, you must quilt it. If the fabric sits too long, you must quilt it. Now quilt it!

(Sorry. Sometimes I make up new words to songs about what I’m doing. This has been in my head for a while!)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I had a friend e-mail me asking me if I could make her a bag to give to someone as a thank you gift. She didn’t really have a whole lot in mind, other than that her friend liked the color purple and dogs. I decided that since she was giving me free range with the project that I’d attempt something new, and make myself the same bag as practice (in colors that I like since I’m not much of a purple fan).


I had played around last summer with the quilt as you go method on some pouches that I made, and I really loved the process. This time, to make the body of the bag, I used canvas layered with batting to quilt onto. The canvas’ weight along with all of the close line quilting gives it a fantastic, durable feel that I’m pretty much in love with. I want everything I make to feel this good!


When I sketched out the outline for the bag, there were a few design details that I didn’t think about the whole way through, such as the point where the bag’s body meets the strap. I cut the bag so the actual bag itself would slope, but after I made it, I wasn’t sure if I loved how it came together. Next time, I might scrap that plan to make the strap do all the sloping instead of the body. I’m not sure though. It was do-able to complete it as it was, but I just feel like it could do with some tweaking.


This, however, was not a design flaw. This was a, “It’s midnight, and I want to get this stupid thing finished so that I can use it tomorrow” flaw. It only sort of repels itself open. I’ll get around to fixing it at some point. For now, it’s usable, and I plan to use the heck out of it!

Or, maybe I should title this post, why I’ve lost my mind.


About a week ago, I started making paper pieced hexagons. It’s not really anything new; I’ve been sewing them onto bags that I make for several years now, but something must have broken in my brain because I couldn’t stop.

“I must make all the mini, half inch hexagons, and then join them into a fabulous quilt!”

Hexagon Blocks

So here’s my progress after about a week. It turns out that it takes a LOT of little hexagons to make a quilt. Even if I made it just big enough for my feet.

Hexies in a Row

And honestly, I knew that. I just thought it would be an awesome project to tote around all summer and help me to use up the scraps I’ve been hoarding keeping for projects such as this. (Oh the scraps. I’ve got too many, but I can’t bear to part with them. I’ll write about them soon.)

I’m a pretty quick handsewer, and I’m pretty neat too, but I’m surprising myself at how slow going they are. I figured I could whip out a few blocks out each evening, but to paper piece the hexies, then to sew the three rounds per block have taken more time than I thought it would. I just haven’t thought any of this out. The one thing that is helping me though, are the pre-cut hexagon papers that I purchased. I picked up a small package of them from Paper Pieces at an American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show last summer, but I blew through them quickly. I ordered a bulk pack of 1500 1/2″ pre-cuts and they’re so nice. Before, I always just made a template and then traced and cut out the hexagons myself. These are beyond awesome.

It looks like I've made more this way

This is the summer project that I started that will take me until I receive my AARP card to even come close to finishing it. In the back of my mind, I keep telling myself, “you know, if you hand piece this whole thing, you’re going to have to hand quilt it too.”

Nevermind. Push the finish date back until I’m 80 instead.

Hi. : )

As per usual, it’s been a little while. Okay, it’s been a long while. If you’re still reading, I’d like to give you a hug. HUG. Thanks for sticking with me.

I’ll do my best to catch you up. In the past 7-ish months of so, here’s what’s been going on at ye olde Hip to Piece Squares:

Yellow Door Art Market

By far, the most exciting thing for me was being picked to have my sewn goodies have a new home at the Yellow Door Art Market in Berkley, Michigan this spring. It’s a fabulous and well loved shop that has goods from about 60 Michigan artists on display, all the time. My spot is a cozy little green table near the register…just perfect!

Yellow Door Featured Artists

In March, I was Yellow Door’s featured artist of the week, and had a whole week dedicated to me and my work on their blog. I even had a spot in the store’s front window for the whole month. That may be the closest I ever come to being a celebrity.

back from the repair shop

In April, just as I was starting to get ready to start getting ready for summer shows and keep my table at the Yellow Door full, my sewing machine took a dive. I was without my machine for two whole weeks. I borrowed a friend’s machine, but it wasn’t the same. Thankfully, my machine feels like it’s in the best condition since it first came home.

crazy list

But while my machine was away, I went to crazy town and started making my patented, crazy lady, color coded lists. I actually lost it a little when I misplaced my orange pen (which was used to cross off checked items) and had to make a special trip to the store to buy one. Ben asked if I could just use another color, and I may have looked at him like he had two heads. OF COURSE NOT. ORANGE IS THE COLOR OF CROSSING OFF. I found my original orange pen two days later at work. Now I’m all set!

pouch stack

But all that crossing off with the orange pen meant that I got a lot done! I sewed what seemed like hundreds of bags and pouches this spring. Maybe it wasn’t hundreds, but it was a lot.

triangle pillows

Pillows were also on my to-do list this late this spring. I want to do patchwork projects, and they can be hard to fit in with my other sewing obligations sometimes. I’ve been in a half square triangle mood for the past few months, and I imagine it’ll continue. They’re just so much fun to piece and quilt.

Redford I-Art Festival

With the arrival of summer, also came my craft show season. I did A LOT of shows last year…12 total. I decided early on this year, and especially with the addition of the Yellow Door to my workload, that I would cut back, and only do my most favorite shows. This summer I participated in three shows, including Maker Faire Detroit and the Redford Michigan I-Art Festival. Great times were had at all, and now I’m looking forward to starting my fall shows.

Hudson is sleepy

The pets had a busy summer too. Hudson was a lousy guard dog most days at the sewing room door.

Audrey as a penguin

And Audrey pretended to be a penguin. They’ll have lots to tell their friends when they go back to school in two weeks. (Wait, that’s me. I go back to work at school in two weeks. Crap!)

Laura's wedding party!

I also was a bridesmade in my friend Laura’s wedding this summer! All four of us originally met at our now disbanded Brighton Modern Quilters group several years ago. The group might not have worked out as a whole, but I made some amazing friends there that I still continue to see and sew (or knit) with. It was a beautiful and fun (but hot!) weekend.

mistake pouch

One beautiful thing about 2012 so far is that I have felt so creative! I can’t fall asleep at night because I keep thinking of all of the things I want to make. New ideas don’t always work out, but on the whole, I feel like this has been one of the most creative years, ever. The discouraging thing is that I don’t physically have time to do it all, and that’s when I get frustrated. This pouch came out of an hour of pure sewing experimentation, and although I don’t think it’s quality enough to sell, it’s quality enough for me. Sometimes I like it when that happens, and I don’t feel bad keeping the items I make.

Chevron Pouch

So that, pretty much, is it for the past seven-ish months in a nutshell. Keeping this blog is by far, the toughest part for me. I love to write, I love to take pictures, and I LOVE to sew and make things, but it is SO hard for me to just say it. There are those who do it so much better than me, and it’s hard to compare yourself to that. But, I can look back over these notes and snapshots that I’ve taken over the years and know what I’ve accomplished for myself. I still have a long ways to go, and a lot more sewing to do.

I’ve been published in the Spring 2012 issue of Stitch Magazine!

spring 2012 stitch

At the advice of some wonderfully sewy friends, I decided to submit my Patchwork Lunch Sack pattern to Interweave Press’ Stitch Magazine last summer. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes of actually hearing anything back from them, but to my surprise, they accepted my pattern! Talk about being excited!

my published pattern!

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the new issue, and I couldn’t be any happier. It’s a beautiful issue, with lots of really great projects. And I seriously think that my bag looks better than I could have ever made it look on my own–the styling is fantastic. I am truly on Cloud 9.

it's me!

So, I definitely need to thank some wonderful friends for convincing me to take this step and do this. Andrea, Laura and Rebekah–thank you for believing in me!

Allison's Quilt

It feels really good to finish a quilt! Despite sewing my fingers sore over the past year, it had been since last March since I worked on a quilt. That was too long.

I spent a week after Christmas hanging out in my sewing room, going through my fabrics, and knowing that I wanted to start a quilt, but I just couldn’t put together in my mind what I wanted to make. I think I was overwhelmed.

Allison's Quilt

Then, after one day back at work (and feeling so frustrated that I hadn’t really done any sewing over my vacation) I knew what I wanted to make. The colors, the fabrics, the backing…I was so excited to get home and start.

It took me five days to make this quilt from start to finish. I’ve never finished a quilt so quickly before! And it turned out to be a perfect gift for my friend Allison. I’m ready to get started on another!

mini quilt madness

I’m starting to learn that good things really do come in small packages. Even small quilts are really, really good. In fact, it’s as good or even almost more gratifying than a large quilt right now.

I’ve been wanting to do more quilting for a while now. The problem is, I never seem to finish what I start. I have more quilt projects than I’d like to discuss that are sitting in the unfinished pile that just sit and wait for me to have more time to commit to them. But when I have so much other sewing to work on (I have three upcoming, two day craft shows that kick off next weekend). I just can’t justify working on my bigger projects. And I SO want to.

mini log cabins

Instead of pulling out bigger projects, I’m starting small. I can still quilt, but I can finish a project in a day, or, even better, a few hours. I’m planning on taking them to my upcoming shows, but I haven’t decided if I’m going to try selling them or not. I just think they’ll look great hanging above my table.

mini robot plus quilt

Now, instead of people coming to my tent and then walking away and then thinking to theirselves, “oh, look at all the mediocre bags and pouches,” they’ll say “oh, look at all the mediocre bags and pouches AND QUILTS.” And then they’ll walk away without stopping.