One more project for 2014

by Stephanie on December 26, 2014

in Fashion Sewing

Post image for One more project for 2014

Christmas morning is lazy and quiet around here, as we open our gifts on Christmas Eve. I’d planned to spend a few hours in my sewing room, and when I thought about what to sew next, just for myself, the answer was clear: a Sewaholic Gabriola maxi skirt, from this gorgeous rayon twill that’s been hanging around the garment-fabric stash for too long. It’s got beautiful texture and drape, and two of my most favorite colors:


I love maxis, and wear them at home all the time. When this skirt pattern came out I jumped on it: it’s fitted through the hip, then flaring and swoopy, and looks like my idea of skirt heaven. If it’s as perfect as hoped, I’ve got some other yardage in mind for second and maybe third versions.


Based on measurements, I passed over 10 on the size chart with a sigh, and circled “12″. Then I looked at my belly, and thought about the coming roast beef dinner, the sweet potatoes to be mashed with sour cream, the half-empty box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts on the coffee table, and the lilikoi cheesecake in the fridge, and went with the 14.

I considered checking PatternReview for fit insights, but was determined to have an entirely unplugged day (accomplished! it took some willpower to stay away from Instagram, but I did it). This morning I read a review that says the pattern runs large. Let’s hope I’ll need to trim a good amount off the side seams after a try-on… if not, I won’t be eating more of this for a while:

I had 3 yards of 56″ wide fabric, but the hem circumference of this skirt is so lavish that I had to fold out about 12″ of flare (spread across all skirt pieces) to fit the pattern on my yardage. It will still be plenty flowy and swoopy.

So far I’ve got the yoke pieces assembled and all the long seams for the front and back done. Further progress is on hold until I decide how to finish the seam allowances.

This skirt could turn out to be an all-time favorite; while I cringe at the extra work to finish those long seams with tape, this could the project that’s worth the effort. Stash candidate for that job is some lime green poly-satin lining fabric. It frays horribly and is awful to work with, but it’s the perfect color. If I starch the cr*p out of it and cut on the bias, maybe it will do the job without driving me around the bend?


Are you doing any “just for fun” sewing, now that the holiday rush is over, or aiming for one last finish before the new year?

* * * * * *


I did indeed starch the cr*p out of the poly satin, then cut several miles of 1-3/8″ wide bias strips. This tutorial advised what to do for a classy “Hong Kong” finish. My fabric is close to 60″ wide, and I cut the strips full-width (from a square, folded diagonally), so the strips are plenty long enough for just about anything.

I used a scant 3/8″ seam, lots of pins (I know: me, pinning! the world has gone mad). Then PRESS. Poly takes some convincing, but with heat and pressure it can be coerced into a crease. Even with starch both these fabrics are wiggly, and the poly is slippery, so although my Hong Kong finish is a little wiggly as well I’m happy with how it turned out on this yoke seam:


Most likely I won’t get more than one seam a day done this way, which is slow, but when it’s done the rest of the skirt construction will feel like a breeze.


Post image for My Salon des Refuses

I spent a good part of yesterday wrestling with disappointment that all three of my submissions were turned down for QuiltCon 2015.


rejected for QuiltCon 2015: “Trickle Down”

(57″x45″) (includes batiks and one free-form, faced edge; more on this one in a future post)

I have strong confidence in the value and quality of my work. My head knows that with 1350 submissions,  many good quilts didn’t make the cut. My head knows that my rejections reflect a style choice, not a value judgement. But my heart is more disappointed than I’d expected, given that when I registered to attend QuiltCon 2015 I didn’t plan to submit anything at all.

In this post today, Victoria Gertenbach eloquently stated a lot what’s been on my mind also, especially this:

“… I can’t help but observing, (from my sideline perspective) that the more folks wanted to come and sit around the modern camp fire, the more rules seemed to be required and after awhile a whole uniform has seemed to be adopted.”

I’ve been thinking about why I feel more disappointed than expected, and I think it’s because I’d hoped that one of my submissions would be recognized as an example of how the Modern Movement continues to expand and grow.  But it seems that my “modern” quilts remain more “how Venus de Hilo does Modern” than really “Modern” the way the Modern Movement gatekeepers continue to define Modern.  I’m fine with not being a close fit for the Modern movement: I’m going to make the quilts I want to make, no matter what that turns out to be or what categories they do or don’t fit into.


rejected for QuiltCon 2015:  “Anniversary” (detail)  deconstructed Double Wedding ring  (40″x40″)

(includes batiks, beads, a few tiny bits of glitter fabric, and metallic quilting thread)

It was a risk submitting quilts that include (gasp, the horror!) prints and batiks, metallic quilting thread, and even (cover your eyes!) one small little area of beadwork. What does it say about the current state of “modern” quilting that what seem to me to be interesting explorations of where Modern could go may be what disqualified my work for the show?

I’m especially disappointed at the shares I’ve seen on Instagram from people I consider “popular mainstream modern quilters with huge blog followings” who’ve had multiple quilts accepted for the show. Really? With 1350 submissions, the jury couldn’t find enough variety to show me the work of three different people, instead of three quilts from one person?

I get it that the jury has a vision for the show they want to create and are curating accordingly. I get it that some quilts maybe just didn’t fit into one of the show categories. I don’t have a problem — in spite of my natural feelings of disappointment — with the fact that my quilts aren’t what they were looking for. I do question how well the Guild is serving its members by not showcasing the work of as many different members as possible.

Little Island Quilting expresses this well here:

“From what I can see, ‘modern’ quilting is a broad church of styles. The MQG has chosen a definition so constrictive and narrow it’s almost like its own sect. Let’s broaden the definition and open ourselves up to a range of ‘modern’ quilting styles and in the process welcome more people and more ideas.”

(do read the comments on that post as well, if you’re clicking through)



rejected for QuiltCon 2015: “SunShower” (40″x60″)

lots of tonal batiks in this one

The bottom line is this: I am super-excited that I’m going to QuiltCon in February, but from day one I’ve been eager to go for the workshops (Sherri Lynn Wood! Victoria Findlay Wolfe!) and the lectures, and the chance to be in a big venue with lots of other quilters for the weekend, and the in-person meetups with blog friends, and the fact that my sister is also going and we can be roomies and catch up on top of all the QuiltCon fun.  My expectations for the show itself  (especially after the sadly underwhelming MQG Houston “Showcase”) are, frankly, not all that high — not in terms of quality, I’m sure the quilts will be good, and that a fair number will be  interesting — but will it expand and explore what “modern” is all about or just reinforce an overly narrow definition of “modern”? My hope is that I will be surprised and delighted. My fear is, no matter how many works I see that I love,  that I won’t see even one quilt in the exhibit that suggests my own aesthetic might be welcomed there next time around. I’ll let you know when I get there.

For budgetary reasons, I limited my submissions to three (one $30 entry fee covered up to three quilts; I’m deeply appreciative to the MQG that they kept submissions so affordable). I had a fourth that I’d have liked to include as well: a method-tester for Sherri Lynn Wood’s new improv book. When it came right down to it I balked at increasing the entry fee to $60-, and decided to only submit the VdeH original designs. I’ll show you the SLW improv one in a future post.

And if you’re going to be at QuiltCon, too, let me know; I’d love to meet up!


a Mini with a Purpose

by Stephanie on December 5, 2014

in Mini Quilts

Post image for a Mini with a Purpose

It’s that time of year when most of what I’m working on will remain under wraps for a few more weeks, but I can happily show you this quick little project.

We keep our kitchen towels in a basket on the counter, because in this humid tropical climate they quickly smell musty if stored in a drawer. It’s the perfect solution — or would be, in a feline-free houshold. A basket, filled with something cushy? Her Furriness naturally assumes this set-up was created with her comfort and pleasure in mind, and can so often be found napping there that the house rule is “never use the towel on top.”


This morning I finally got around to whipping out a project that’s been on the “someday” list for an embarrassingly long time,given how quick and easy it was to:

  1. grab two orphan blocks from the “scrappy odds and ends” bin
  2. trim one block down to size and add a few more strips from whatever was lying around on the sewing table to the other
  3. hack off a piece of some kind of batting from the “batting scraps” bag
  4. add some quick quilting lines (didn’t baste or pin, it’s only 12″x15″) until the thread spool ran out
  5. slap on a strip of binding leftover from something else

Didn’t take much more than a half hour to throw together.

And now Halo can sleep in the towel basket all she wants. Well, she already does that, but now Halo can sleep in the towel basket all she wants without getting cat hair all over the dish towels.


Thanks to Anne, from SpringLeaf Studios for inviting me to be next on this just-for-fun blog hop. Reading through her post from last week, it’s clear we are kindred creative spirits in many ways!

The ATW hop comes with some questions to answer, so here goes:

Q1) What am I working on right now?

Ummmmm…. truth is, I haven’t done any sewing AT ALL for a couple of weeks. Honestly, I’m getting a bit twitchy! Look at all the improvisational minis that are piled up, waiting to be quilted…

improv mini quilts

I made these MONTHS ago… and have only quilted one so far:

koi improv mini quilt

It still needs to be bound. Or maybe a faced edge… or it might end up as a pillow cover (it’s about 20″ square). It would look really nice on my desk chair…

As soon as I have a minute, I also want to get back to work on a possible QuiltCon piece, although chances of it getting done by the show deadline are shrinking daily. What I most want to get into is the new One Block Wonder I mention here. Playing with that is going to be my reward for getting my clutter program done!

And I have four or five finished lappish-sized tops that I’m eager to get quilting on. I do all of my own quilting, BTW, on my domestic machine, although I dream of having my own long-arm…

Why I haven’t been sewing lately

Something you may not know about me is that when I’m not having quilty fun, I’m a self-employed writer and training developer with a special interest in feng shui and clutter-clearing. The reason for lack of sewing time right now is I’m on a tight deadline turning a clutter-clearing program that was successful in paper into a new, online, video-based version. I’m super excited about it, and am having fun recording and editing audio and video sessions… but the no-time-to-sew factor is getting to me.

Plus, I live in the tropics, and the entire month of September was just too hot and humid to spend time in my studio. This happens for a few weeks in late summer every year.

Q2) How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

I don’t even know what genre to put myself in: somewhere between arty and modern and a long way from traditional. Like Anne, I think there’s a place for batiks and bold prints in Modern quilting, and I’m sure I’ll explore more of that.


Q3) Why do I write/create what I do?

Because being an artist and writer is who and what I am, to the core. The only reason not-sewing hasn’t driven me completely around the bend is that I’m putting so much creative juice into my desk projects. Although there’s that twitchy thing I mentioned, that’s getting worse.


Q4) How does my creative process work?

You can read all about that in Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s interview with me in the August, 2014 issue of The Quilt Life magazine… or poke around this blog. I ramble on about process a lot. I prefer to work intuitively, making things up as I go, but I do also have a strong left-brain that helps me organize and manage ideas and projects. I’m not afraid of a little quilt math, when it’s necessary.

Bonus Goody!

I was going to try to pull together some new stuff for the VdeH Etsy shop in your honor… but have run out of time. Etsy is awesome, but honestly, photographing and writing up listings and getting everything uploaded and tagged, is a huge time-sink.

So I have another idea…

Some of you may be neatnik quilters (I’ve never met one, but I’ve heard rumors). Chances are the rest of you are more like me, and living in a little too much creative mess most of the time. If that’s the case,I have a freebie PDF for you. It’s called “4 Key Mindset Shifts for Getting Rid of Clutter” and is available on my clutter website, here. (When you sign up for the PDF you’ll also get an invitation to a free video mini-course going live this week– it’s the first stage of that big project that’s been keeping me from sewing this summer.)

Next hop:

Finally, I’m passing the hop baton on to my sister, Abby Fuller, who lives in Idaho and blogs at Quiltiverse and who’s been quilting (and amassing UFOs) for much longer than me. In spite of being sisters and best quilting buddies, we have very different styles although we share the same delight in fabric adventures and broken rules.

Okay, I gotta get back to work. The sooner I get my clutter program launched, the sooner I can sew something!

Thanks for stopping by!


Slim Pickings

by Stephanie on September 5, 2014

in On the Design Wall,One Block Wonders

Post image for Slim Pickings

You might think, given the silence around here this past month, that I’ve been a busy little bee, sewing away at such a frenzied pace I’d forgotten to catch you all up.

Such is not the case. Hardly any sewing has been going on, and that means there’s hardly anything to show you (although I truly didn’t mean to be absent for quite so long here). In spite of almost-no sewing time this past month, I’ve managed to start two new projects.

The solids above are a WIP on the design wall, which I like to think will be completed in time for submission to the QuiltCon show. That may or may not happen, as even a quick sew like this one requires more than 5 minutes a week of attention. For now, I’m pretending there’s a chance it will get done in time.

The other is purely recreational:


Another One Block Wonder, this one in Kaffe’s “Cloisonne” in the turquoise-fuschia colorway. This one technically does not count as a new project in that I cut the fabric repeats for it about a year ago, and the rule for my sidebar count is that “new” projects are those for which the first cut is made in 2014.

So far all I’ve done is cut the wedges. I had to put a fresh blade in my rotary cutter before diving into the strippy solids thing, and the quilty part of my brain thinks “fresh blade” means “cut another OBW while it’s sharp!” So I dug this out of the closet and did just that. Apparently at some point I’d thought it would be fun to try the octagon OBW variation, because when I went to press the previously cut repeat sections I discovered there were eight of them in the stack, instead of six. Should make pretty blocks…

In any event, I’m calling this a WIP even though I haven’t worked on it in weeks already so it’s well down the slippery slope to UFO status.

Deskwork is keeping me in not-sewing mode these days, so it’s likely to be a while longer before I’m back to posting with any frequency. Didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten my readers.