Post image for On the Design Wall, Jan. 2017

It’s been quite a while since I did a Design Wall post. Not promising it’ll be a regular thing, but it is nice to share the lovelies-in-progress from time to time, so here we go. This is not a layout yet: I’m showing off 25 completed 11″ “outlined plus” blocks, which are being stored in random order on the design wall while I make some “low volume neutral” (LVN) pieced sashing/background to space them all out more.

There is a pattern out there for a quilt that uses a similar block. Of course this project was inspired by pics on Pinterest and Instagram, and yes, plus quilts were all the rage a few years ago and I’m slow to catch on, so it’s a good thing I don’t give a hoot about being “on trend.”

Other than visual inspiration, I’m doing my own thing with this one, as usual. Starting with a good think about best construction method to deliver the result I’m looking for, and then drafting my own block for the size and proportions I have in mind, both of which are not quite what other folks have done.


This entire project was sparked by some generous strips of fabric leftover from cutting a backing for something else. If you’re a Kaffe fan, you’ll recognize his classic “millefiore” in a black colorway that is utterly captivating. I looked at my fat strips of leftovers and immediately envisioned this: a quilt of dark plusses, each with a different bright solid outline. I’m in love with the effect. That black print to me looks both like a portal to an interstellar galaxy, and a microscopic view of something intriguing brewing in a petri dish. Either way, it’s like there’s a swirling brew of ideas and inspiration going on in there.

I’ve been thinking about this quilt for a long time, and started stashing LVNs last spring sometime. And then promptly raided that stash for some other things, and then had to stash more. I had a general idea of overall yardage needed, but maximum variety is the key to this kind of thing, so now I’ve probably got enough LVNs on hand to make two of these. Such is the life of a quilter.

This is a for-me project, and has a special meaning that I’ll tell you about at some future point as things progress.


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Post image for A New Project for the New Year

I don’t recall when I first came across this idea, but it’s a good one. And especially tempting when one variation or another popped up in my social media a couple of weeks before the end of the year. With New Year close enough to make the idea of embarking on a year-long, one-block-a-day project seem like a good one, I jumped in and started prepping a project box, ready to go on Jan. 1.

The plan, as as adapted to my inclinations and stash, is to applique a free-form circle — no template, just cut with scissors from pretties in the scrap bin — onto a 4.5″ blue background square every day in 2017.

I’m calling this project “Pebble 365.” Here’s Pebble #1, stitched up on the morning of January 1st:


Pebble #2:


I am in love with the wonky imperfection of these circles. Enthusiasm is high. Perhaps recklessly so, given that this plan overlooks the fact that my track record for following through on any kind of something-a-day is abysmal.

I’m telling myself that even if I only get a few of these done they’ll come together in a lovely way. And now, if you’ll excuse me, Pebble #3 awaits my thread and needle.



Holiday Star Pillows (new pattern!)

by Stephanie on December 8, 2016

in Patterns,Pillows

Post image for Holiday Star Pillows (new pattern!)

I’ve had so much fun  sewing up Octagon Star pillows from cute holiday fabrics!


Want to make some of your own? (there’s still time before XMas!) The Octagon Star Pillow pattern is now available on Etsy and Craftsy, and there’s even an expanded “pattern + tutorial” version for those who want ALL the details in illustrated step-by-step format.


Click here for all the info and links to purchase.

I’ve got waaay more pillows than space in my house, so these (and a few more, not-holiday ones) will be listed for sale in the VdeH Etsy shop very soon…


I just need to edit some pics and get them up there.


Oracle V finish

by Stephanie on December 4, 2016

in I Ching Quilt,inspiration and the lack thereof

Post image for Oracle V finish

I finished another “Oracle” quilt just in time for the 2017 QuiltCon deadline. It’s been on my mind to catch up with sharing more of this series, and I’ve got plans for a dedicated gallery page, although finishes and photos have been scattered and far between lately. Oracle I is such a long way back I don’t remember if I blogged it or not; Oracle II is wrapped up with some paintings that we decided not to bother unpacking post-move as there’s no room for them in this little house (you can see a pic of it here if you scroll down); I still don’t have a good picture of Oracle III; and Oracle IV is in the studio closet, waiting for me to get around to quilting it.

This one got quilted first because so far it’s the most “modern” of the series, and the Big Move interfered with submitting anything at all to QuiltCon 2016. Having something accepted into the show is out of my hands, but making the submission deadline for next year, that I could take a shot at.


The sequence of I Ching readings that this quilt illustrates date from the summer of 2015, when Mr. de Hilo and I were deciding to move from Hawaii back to the mainland. We didn’t know where we’d end up, or how we’d get there, or what we’d do in the interim, but we knew in our hearts it was the right thing to do.

It was a rush to get this done and photographed by the deadline. It needs blocking, but there wasn’t time for that, which will require moving some things out of the studio to spread it out on the carpet to dry.

Quilting is a mix of walking-foot and FMQ, which I had fun with. This little cloud window is one of my favorite parts:


The other fave parts don’t show up in the pics, but the beige panels at upper left and lower right are a fabric reproduction of pages from Vincent van Gogh’s journals, which makes me love it in spite of the color. I FMQ-ed phrases from the I Ching readings’ commentary in those sections, including the line that I’m using as the subtitle for this piece:

“Opportunity comes to those who persist in their dreams.”

The quilted words and phrases are not intended to be a “text” and are marginally legible at best.


Good luck making any of it out if this gets into the show and you happen to be there to get a close look at it. I like knowing the words are there, though, as this quilt represents many important things to me, most of all listening for and trusting in the voice of intuition.


Post image for “Make Do” sidetracked

A few months ago, Sherri Lynn Woods’ “Make Do” challenge came along just when I’d amassed a big heap of mostly linen fabric scraps from sewing up some summer tops. Those scraps could be the beginning of a quilt!

Thinking to add some variety from the quilting scraps, I dug out a bin of random leftovers and orphan blocks and came across a stack of 10″ squares and some smaller ones that I’d cut (and then abandoned) eons back from a blue print and some white solid. As I began to play around, the linen scraps fell by the wayside and the project became about giving these simple fabric squares a purpose.

I don’t remember what the original plan was (possibly some kind of “broken dishes” thing, but maybe not). Faced with sets of squares with good color and/or value contrast, my mind often turns to half-square triangles, so I started by making some of those. Rather than tidy “half” squares, I varied the seam placement, and sewed freehand, no pencil line, to produce a variety of sizes and, in some cases, slightly wonky HST blocks.


These milled around in various configurations on the design wall, joined by smaller/similar bits and various playmates from the “small solid scraps” bin.


Eventually things settled into form. It felt incomplete, so I expanded it on all sides by raiding an assortment of low-volume neutrals I’d stashed for another purpose. Technically you could say I added a border of sorts. This part of the quilt is also an improv design, although cut with rulers for straight lines and crisp edges.

By that point the name “Rescue Mission” had come to mind, so I pieced the dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot morse code for “SOS” into the top and bottom sections.


I was still within the guidelines for a “make do” project, as everything had come from my leftovers and scraps bins, or from previously-purchased stash intended for another project. No new anything.

Even the batting could maybe qualify as I used half a queen batt from stash, but really, this turned out to be a stash quilt rather than a repurposed-materials one. And I did buy thread, of which this quilt used a lot.


All the quilting was done with the walking foot: several spiral sections and lots and lots and lots of straight, serpentine, and organic lines, which produced a staggering quantity of thread ends to bury. Thank god for podcasts. Without something interesting to listen to, those thread ends might have done me in.


“Rescue Mission” is the first of two new quilts finished just in time to submit to QuiltCon 2017. The other one is coming up …

{edited to add: for those of you who haven’t seen a post from me on social media somewhere, I’m thoroughly pleased to report that this quilt will be in the show at QuiltCon 2017! Yay, that’s a bucket list item crossed off, right there.}