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.}

Bucket List item: Bow Ties

by Stephanie on October 7, 2016

in Quilt and block designs

Do you have a quilty “bucket list” of patterns or design methods you’d like to make when “someday” eventually rolls around?


“BowTies” was an item on my quilty bucket list, deep down in the “maybe someday” section. It’s far more traditional than I am, and never getting to it would be no big deal, but from time to time I’d see a super-scrappy one and think “I could make one of those from the scrap bin.”

Although that’s not the way it happened. What happened was my parents got themselves a big new bed. A bed that Mum told my sister, Abby (also a quilter), needed a new king-sized quilt. The only sensible thing was to split the effort and make something together. We needed a simple pattern, preferably something traditional to suit Mum’s taste, that we could each make a pile of blocks for and combine into a complete top. After tossing ideas around, we decided that BowTies would be a good choice.

Personally, I like bow-tie quilts made from little blocks, like these (I think those are 4″ blocks). Ask your calculator how many of those you’d need to make a 102″x102″ quilt, and you’ll understand why we chose to make 8″ blocks instead. At king scale they work just fine.

Abby and I each did a deep stash dive for assorted florals in medium/darks for the “ties” and whatever lights we could find for the backgrounds. We each made half the required blocks, then cleverly scheduled a few days together here in Olympia in late summer to put the layout together.

We divided the layout into three vertical parts. Abby took the blocks for the fat center part home to assemble and quilt, and I did two narrower sections for either side. We decided on a simple diagonal cross-hatch quilting, to make the final logistics as manageable as possible.

When Abby’s piece was done, she mailed it to me, and I put the whole thing together using this method. The finished quilt was way too big for me to photograph in my current tiny home, so the only pics I have at the moment are the ones my Dad sent me. Here’s the back:


It was fun collaborating on this project with my sister, and now that bow tie itch (which was on the feeble side to begin with) has been thoroughly scratched. I’m crossing it off that bucket list.


Domestic Bliss

by Stephanie on August 15, 2016

in Strips and Squares

Post image for Domestic Bliss

Hey there! {waving from the far side of summer} Didn’t mean to be gone so long.

Although the second quarter finishalong didn’t see much action, the sewing machine has been humming away over here. Mostly I’ve been making some new summer clothes, and if I ever get photos of them I’ll share and discuss.

Quilty activity has been sparse, partly due to wardrobe distractions, partly to general busyness, and partly to a lovely late-July trip to visit my parents in Maine. Oh, here’s a wardrobe pic: Tunic #1, layered over a long sleeved T for an afternoon sail on the good ship Heron. That’s my Dad, on the left.


The big reason for going to Maine was my brother’s much-anticipated marriage, which was celebrated with great delight by all his siblings. Congratulations Sumner and Lisa!


As quilters, you all know what a wedding in the family means: a quilt reveal!


You’ll likely recognize this as a “Scrap Vomit” quilt, and yes, I did complete the top some years ago back when SV mania was sweeping the interwebs. I can attest that this pattern is a great way to use up scraps, especially if you’ve already got a pileup of 2.5″ squares or strips looking for a purpose.

The top sat around for quite some time (as most of my finished tops do) waiting to be quilted. I found a lovely chicken tile fabric for the back, and quilted it in a simple diagonal grid last spring, while still in Hawaii.


This was one of those projects that I make for the pleasure of the process (and to use some scraps!), and don’t feel so attached to that I need to keep it for myself. When it was quilted and bound, I decided that it would make the perfect wedding present for either my nephew (paired up but still single) or my brother (actively looking for bride #2), whoever got to the altar first. Feeling rather smug that I had a hand-made wedding quilt all ready to go ahead of time (and hoping that wouldn’t throw a romantic jinx at anyone), I folded it up and put it away until needed.

My brother announced his engagement and summer wedding plans this spring, but my smug satisfaction at having a quilty gift on standby wilted a bit when my nephew announced his engagement a few weeks later. Fortunately, nephew isn’t tying the knot until next summer, so there’s time to work on something new.

In the meantime, since “Scrap Vomit” is officially the worst quilt name ever, I have renamed this one “Domestic Bliss.” My new sister, Lisa, threatened to hang it on a wall until I explained that the biggest thank you she could give would be to use it and wear it out.


Scrappy Hexies Pillow

by Stephanie on May 8, 2016

in 2016 Finish-a-Long,Hexies!,Pillows

Post image for Scrappy Hexies Pillow

This is the pillow cover I made last month from the panel of random scrappy hexies described as item #5 on my Q2 Finishalong list. I did a very quick “quilt-as-you-go” thing, by centering the hexies on a large piece of batting with a square of an old sheet for lining. I quilted diagonal lines across the hexies, then did stitch-and-flip skinny green and purple borders before adding the red Kaffe chard print. There are few top-stitching lines, but otherwise very little quilting. I’d planned to do something in the red border, but was in speed-finish mode and decided not to bother.

I considered listing this in the VdeH Etsy shop, but would’ve had to price it insanely high to cover all the hours of hexie handwork. Instead, the pillow ended up nestled on my desk chair, and I’m now too fond of it to let it go. Plus, Halo sleeps on that chair for at least as many hours a day as I sit there, with the effect that it’s now thoroughly dusted with fine white cat hairs. I guess we will call this one hers. I’ve got plenty of others to put on Etsy, just as soon as I take some better photos.

That catches us up with the 2016 Finishalong progress for April (four finishes in total, beating my entire Q1 tally already!). I’ve also completed adding hand-work details to several more minis, which are queued up for finishing in May. Let’s ignore the fact that it’s a week into May already and none have been touched yet this month.