Happiness is a Bowl of Hexies

by Stephanie on April 18, 2014

in Hexies!

Post image for Happiness is a Bowl of Hexies

You might think, given the unfinished state of my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, that I’d easily be able to resist making more of these.

You’d be mistaken. The batch in the bowl is mostly from Kaffe Fassett Collective scraps, and OMG, they are so irresistably pretty!

These are the 1″ size. I’ve been pretending to clean up the studio by cutting lots of little scraps into hexie fodder. They fit so nicely into Talenti gelato containers. (Gotta love a good ‘reuse’ plan!)


Since this photo was taken I’ve filled up the second jar. I’m going to stop there, for now. These will be my portable project for some time to come.

Don’t know yet what they’re going to become. There’s been some talk, among my local sewing friends, of some kind of 1″ hexie swap. I’ll be ready, if it happens.

If it doesn’t, I might just leave them in this bowl on my coffee table, as decor. I could claim that’s healthier than having a bowl of candy around, but given the gelato jar component of this project that might not fly.



Post image for Spring Challenge top is done

Some of you may have seen this one over at the 15 Minutes of Play blog. My Spring Challenge top, first peaked at here,  finally came together, mostly in a five-minutes here, ten-minutes there kind of way.

Couldn’t be happier with that green Kaffe Fassett print chosen for the outer border. I think I spent as much time auditioning border fabrics as I did piecing the center.

Wanted to use some lovely Amy Butler prints from the “big scraps” bin, which means nothing even close to enough for a whole border, even for a small piece like this (it will finish at around 38″ square). I came up with  a clever plan for using random chunks and pieces, but when tested it on the design wall it didn’t rate any higher than “meh.” So more fabrics were pulled from the stash and auditioned and not one of them popped in the way that says, “yes! use me!”

So I went shopping.  Three half-yard possibilities came home with me, and the one you see was the winner by a mile.

Here’s a closer shot of the center.

improvisational flower block

I love how the angular scrap-pieced blues are so spring-like, but with a hint of frozen winter hanging around. Not that we experience such things here in the tropics, but I grew up in New England, so I know what March and April can be like.

When I made the flower blocks they looked to me like tulips. Now I’m thinking crocuses, maybe?

No idea yet how I’ll quilt this, and it’s a few projects down in the next-to-be-quilted pile. Sewing time is scarce for the time being, so eager as I am to call it done it’s likely to be full summer by the time I show it off again.



Post image for Quilting with the Oracle

I’ve been wanting to make an I Ching quilt since discovering Sherri Lynn Wood’s I Ching Modern Quilt-Along a year or so ago. It neatly addresses both my decades-long enthusiasm for the I Ching and a recent fascination with rule-based art. Early this year that wanting turned into an insistent itch, so I came up with a plan and pulled some fabrics and sewed up my first block.

The Plan

An I Ching reading delivers advice as a hexagram comprised of two stacked trigrams of 3 horizontal lines, either solid (yang) or broken (yin). There are 64 possible hexagrams, one of which will deliver feedback on your question. Unless there are changing lines. Any or all (or none) of the 6 lines might switch states, from yang to yin or vice versa. When a changing line appears in your reading, a second hexagram provides additional commentary.

Sherri Lynn has explained all of this ably in her very detailed steps, so if you’re interested in more details and her step-by-step process, click here.

My first step was to start keeping better records of my I Ching readings. I used to use coins and refer to any one (or several) I Ching books, but now I use an I Ching app. And it stores my readings in a journal with just one tap, which is super-handy, too.

Turning I Ching readings into a quilt means translating the hexagrams into a fabric code. My approach was slightly less literal than Sherri Lynn’s, but overall quite similar (if you leave out the radical differences in our color and fabric choices).

The Fabrics

I chose warm (pink, orange, yellow) fabrics for the yang (solid) lines, and cool (blue, green, purple) fabrics for the yin (broken) lines:


Nine fabrics for each set provided a good amount of variety without too much duplication. Rather than aim for value contrast between yin and yang, I decided to include mixed values within each color group. Whether this made the finished quilt more interesting or just more chaotic is an opinion that is likely to vary with the beholder.

The Method

I cut two 3.5″ x WoF strips from each fabric, and jumbled them up in two Priority Mail boxes repurposed from the recycle bin, so I could pull a fabric randomly from the appropriate set when constructing the blocks.


Each line is represented by a 3″x6″ rectangle, either one fabric (unchanging lines) or a Flying Goose (changing lines).

My original bold plan was to code 36 readings/hexagrams into a lap sized quilt, but I’m leaning more and more to smaller/faster projects these days. This finished quilt represents 12 readings, and measures 36″x36″. It’s quilted with a spiral centered on each triangle point, with echo-quilting to fill in the background:


The quilting shows up nicely on the back.


Don’t strain to read that label; here’s a close-up:


Yep, this quilt was finished a month ago, and I only just now got around to taking final pics and getting a blog post up.

A leisurely pace of bloggy communication will persist for the next little while, as I have enrolled in Marie Forleo’s “BSchool” and it’s going to keep me busy. (Super awesome program, BTW. Registration is closed for 2014, though, so you’ll have to wait for next year.)

I’ve not given up sewing! It’s just happening five or ten minutes at a time, and that means not a lot of progress in any one day or week.   I’ve already made a second I Ching top — different fabrics and slightly different coding from this one — and will probably make more, although when I’ll get to actually quilting them is unknown. I’ll also have a finished Spring Challenge top to show off soon.

Are you quilting up anything special for Spring? Do you consult any kind of oracle (I Ching, Tarot, tea leaves…) when you can’t find clarity or direction on your own?



Post image for Spring Challenge: making fabric

There’s a new Challenge underway over at the 15 Minutes Play group (it’s open to everyone, so jump on in!). Victoria posted a simple block to use, or adapt and use, incorporating “made fabric” in some way to celebrate Spring.

I’ve got a plan and have made fast progress (otherwise known as avoiding something tedious on my desk by disappearing into the studio for most of the day).

My favorite part of this challenge is that it’s using some bonus HSTs left over from making Flying Geese blocks (I’ve got an entire small bin full of those, so nice to use a few of them!), and some pale blue HST blocks that I sewed up a long time back and then decided not to use in the project they’d originally headed for.

Lots of slicing and dicing, and new blocks of made-fabric blues are taking shape. It’s a messy process, but fun. I’ll be setting my blocks on-point. So far I’ve got a stack of half-blocks:


… and a growing heap of blue scrappy awesomeness, as seen above, to go with them.

Greens are next.

Clouds that bite

by Stephanie on March 3, 2014

in Art Quilts & Wallhangings

Post image for Clouds that bite

This cloud bit me, and I’ve got a bandaid on my thumb to prove it. (What really happened is I got my fingers too close to the moving parts, and a sharp corner of the FMQ foot took a teeny–teeny, folks, nothing serious!–divot out of the side of my thumb.)

This is just one of several projects not ready for prime-time viewing that have been keeping my machine busy and the blog neglected. The top was basted and ready to quilt at least a week ago, and has been sitting around waiting for me to get my brain around how to FMQ something that would look like a Chinese cloud motif. It had to be something that could be done in one continuous stitching line without much (or any, preferably) backtracking over a previously stitched line because doing that neatly is a skill I do not yet and may never have.

Several Google image searches and many balled up pieces of scrap paper later, and I’d sketched out something like this. These little clouds (this one’s maybe three inches long) are now stitched in gold metallic thread here and there over the background of the top. Next I’ll fill in around them with a thread that matches the background, in some kind of simple pattern I haven’t decided on yet.

This has been a fun project, and I’m loving how it’s turning out. More show and tell to come when Sherry Lynn Wood’s improv book comes out, but that’s a ways off yet.

Hang in there: I do have another finish to show off as soon as it’s photographed. (Which isn’t likely to be today, as it’s gloomy and rainy here and I’ve got to tear myself away from fabric play and get some desk-work done this week!)