Maybe you get this feeling: when you have a new pack of markers, or crayons, or pencils, and they’re all just so perfect-pointy-beautiful and ordered that it’s hard to break into them and use them as tools. That’s how I felt about this fabric stack.

It was a bundle of 25 different peppered cottons, similar to oakshott or shot cottons, but in a quilting weight, and really noticeable soft. I bought them because I’d long admired others’ stacks, and when Brenda shared that the manufacturer, studioE, was having a quilt contest, I thought I had just the thing.

But then my idea didn’t work. It just didn’t. And all the fabric looked somehow purple. So, I put it all in color order and put it in a pile next to my sewing machine to just sit for some time. While I was giving the fabric the cold shoulder, I realized that what I really liked best about those gorgeous fabrics was the way they looked when ordered up next to each other. So why not keep the order instead or trying to force the color idea I had planned?

That’s what I did. And there is SO MUCH color. I mostly kept the order of my pile, but I injected a couple lines of flying geese in out-of-order colors, just to keep things interesting. It brightens up my corner.


eventual tulips quilt

by Dorie on March 3, 2014

eventual tulips quilt

A quilt without a reason can take a long time. I started the quilt “just because” back in 2009. I wanted to try working with a jelly roll, and I really liked the sweet little minny muu prints. On a lunch hour walk to Barnes and Noble (so picturesque, under the interstate), I found the tulips pattern in Pam and Nicky Lintott’s Jelly Roll Quilts and was smitten.

eventual tulips quilt

Since then I’ve worked on this quilt in bursts. I did some blocks, and put it aside. I cut all the pieces, and put it aside. I sewed all the remaining blocks, and put it aside. I cut the setting squares at my first A2MQG meeting, and put it aside, I sewed the strips together on the floor my new house, and put it aside, I pieced a back, and put it aside. And I finally decided to work on my free motion quilting and quilted the whole thing. Then promptly bound it.

So now it’s a quilt. I like it. It’s very cheery, so much so that I almost want to tell it, “Enough already! I get it – spring is coming, winter is not forever and you are tulips. Your symbolism is somehow a little aggravating.” Sigh. (I know I’m not the only one having warm weather fantasies.)

I don’t have a definite place for it. It’s a double, and I was going to put it on the guest bed, but the guest bed is now a twin. If it doesn’t look ridiculous I’ll do it anyway.


sew together bag

by Dorie on January 30, 2014

Sometime before Christmas I was seeing a lot of the Sew Together bag in my Instagram feed. It looked awesome – lots of pockets for stuff and ample opportunity for playing with fabric, but you know, everything that made it awesome also made it look a leeetle complicated. I gave it a go anyway.

The first one I made was for my sister. As I worked through the steps, pattern intimidation turned to that happy puzzle doing feeling.

Not that the instructions were puzzling. They weren’t, They were clear and even said things like, “you will need to sort of smash the pockets flat.” That is the kind of honesty I appreciate in pattern writing! Thank you for letting me know when it’s not pretty.

It comes together well, is fun to make, and in the end, a master zipper zips all the little zippers. This one went to Anna, my secret santa partner! I used some of Alison Glass’ sunprints fabric, and I thought about using all sunprint for the rainbow, but decided it was a little more fun to mix it up.

And in other news, it’s Kids Clothes Week. My kid is big, but I keep thinking I’ll do some nephew pants. I’m still building away at the site, though!


snowseeking shellseeker

by Dorie on January 8, 2014

This sweater is the best kind of warm—toasty and snuggly without being too hot. Wool sweaters are my most essential tool for successfully working out of a drafty house during a Michigan winter, and I am really pleased to be adding this one to my toolkit. I have worn it for much of the polar inversion!

The pattern is Shellseeker, which is styled to be like your best slouchy, at-the-beach-in-the-evening pullover. It has a sweatshirt-style pouch pocket! Mmm…cozy. I think the pattern yarn is a cotton-wool blend, but mine is all wool (Stonehedge Shepherd’s Wool Worsted). Less beachy, but definitely what I need now. I’m really happy with both the pattern and the yarn.

It feels like it took forever to knit (I started in March), but that’s only because I put it down for most of the summer. It wasn’t difficult. The stripes kept it interesting and the stockinette made for good TV knitting.

Stay warm!


testing before binding

Ladies, get your hatchets ready!

Do you remember who Carrie Nation, excuse me, Carrie A. Nation was? I can refresh your memory. She was the woman who famously took her hatchet into bars to smash up all the bottles full of demon rum. You’ve probably seen her depicted in old political cartoons looking both crazy and curmudgeonly. She was a woman doing outlandish things for her cause.

Carrie Nation Hatchet Quilt

The general public may have thought that she was nuts, but she was able to create a whole symbol for herself and the temperance movement. Hello hatchet. Hello branding. If you were a temperance supporter, you could get your very own hatchet pin or little “Carry A Nation” hatchet. The Grandmother’s Choice blog (very cool idea) has a good post with more about Carrie Nation and instructions for the Carrie Nation quilt block.

PS – Carrie Nation has a quilt block named after her.

carrie nation quilt

And that’s what I used as the base for this quilt. I took the traditional Carrie Nation block and laid it out in a zig-zag and pushed it toward the side edge of the quilt. I think the original idea of the block was to depict all the little pieces of the bottles flying (or maybe I am making that up), but my layout is meant to pick up the slashing of the hatchet.

Ah, the infinite options of this block. Carrie Nation.

I really like it, as a quilt. I used an old white sheet as the back, so it all very light and soft and snuggly. In the photos taken by the field, the color are washed out by the beautiful golden sunlight. The colors are correct in the other ones.

This is my second quilt in a modern exploration of temperance movement quilts. You can read about the first one, “T” is for Tipsy here.


an applique methods test

by Dorie on August 20, 2013

applique methods sampler

Hey everyone, I think applique is sneaking up on me. It’s moving from the “stuff I don’t do” category into the “stuff I might do” category. I blame you all.

Last week, I went to the AQS show in Grand Rapids, and I was really surprised that two of my favorite quilts (both by Timna Tarr) were both applique, and specifically, applique circles. I was at the show with Debbie (and Brenda and Ginia), who does really fantastic applique herself, so maybe that has something to do with it? Or maybe it was just being at a show with other quilters who can sum up your oooh-ing and ahh-ing into, “sounds like you might want to do some applique!”

So why not? I decided to do an applique sampler block so that I could do a side-by-side comparison of methods I have tried before. You know, I has hoping that I secretly found one of these methods to be great fun, and that I was also secretly very good at it. I made a petal shape, and executed it using needle turn applique, machine raw-edge applique, turned applique, and machine reverse applique.

one on

raw edge

Raw Edge Applique
So, I really should have fused my petal shape to my foundation fabric before zig-zagging over the edge. I think it would have come out better and the zig-zig wouldn’t have puckered the fabric the way it did.
Pros: quick
Cons: fabric is distorted from wrestling, how would it wash?

turned applique

Turned Applique
I don’t know if this method has a proper name, but Jenna does it for her applique quilts, so I thought I’d give it a go. I clipped my curves pretty well, but I still didn’t get a smooth edge. Maybe this would be better if I attached it using a blind hem stitch?
Pros: quick, potential for many/any shapes
Cons: bulk in seam allowance, very 3D, my topstitching is a mess

reverse applique

3 in

Machine Reverse Applique
I did what Rossie outlines here, but maybe it would have been cleaner if I used the 6 minute circle?
Pros: clean and fairly quick. cleaner if you do it the 6 min way without topstitching, at least if you’re me.
Cons: Reverse applique just doesn’t work in some situations, particularly layered, overlapping situations

needle turned

Needle Turn Applique
Many years ago, I did a doll quilt for Eva using needle turn applique and it hurt my neck and gave me headaches. I hear you’re supposed to drink wine before starting your project in order to combat this. My one petal went fine. It only took 10 minutes. It would have been better if I could have found my freezer paper for the template.
Pros: I like the look of not seeing topstitching, can be done on the go (handwork)
Cons: slower (but not that slow), getting a smooth edge is tricky.

So which one is best? I’m not sure. I think I’ll give the raw edge a try with fuseable web, and I’ll try the turned applique with the blind hem stitch. I’m not sure how to make my topstitching better. I asked my husband and daughter which they liked best, and they both really didn’t like the needle turned petal, but did like the raw edge. Before I did this little exercise, I thought needle turn would win and raw edge would lose. That didn’t happen. So confusing! I’m not ready to start any quilts yet, but a have a couple more methods to try.


knit doll shawl

by Dorie on August 17, 2013

doll sized simmer dim shawl

This shawl is for my friend’s doll, Fern. “Fern” was really Fern’s owner’s name a long time ago. She belonged to a great grandmother. If I try to tell Fern’s whole story, I am going to blow it because I forget the details, and the details are what make stories good. I’ll say Fern is about love in different family situations—I think that’s the gist.

shawl border

Fern wears the same outfit she has worn for generations. It may be a little worse for wear. My friend wanted something new for her, but I have to admit that I like her old outfit. What spruces up an old outfit? Why, a fabulous shawl, of course! I knit a shrunken version of Gudrun Johnston’s Simmer Dim shawl. It’s almost the same except I only did half the inner triangle rows and I didn’t zag the zig-zag lace at the edge. A little something for a doll who hangs around.



summer, kcw, and where the time went

by Dorie on July 14, 2013

KCW Summer 2013

Whole hog indeed! I didn’t have any one particular thing in mind when I wrote my last post – just the idea of doing and keeping on it. From that mentality sprang a month of pretty intense work on the Kid’s Clothes Week website, and I am so happy about where Meg and I have gone with it.

The next KCW (our first ever summer session) starts tomorrow. This is the first time for so many things… we have signups on the site with accounts, you can upload your project photos and link them to patterns. (There’s a walk-through video on the KCW blog.) There is just so much. I mean, we’ve done so much, but there’s still so much left to do. The big hunks are done, but some of the little things that we think will make the site really nice for you aren’t there yet. Summer season will be pretty beta, but Fall is going to be grand. GRAND. And I have to tell you, I’m really looking forward to putting in the interlinking details. That’s the magical part.

Besides working a bunch on a website, I took my sewing machine to the shop for cleaning (coupon!) and went on a beach vacation back to my hometown. So, you know, no sewing. The beach was wonderful, seeing family is the best, and now I’m back to the usual.


whole hog

by Dorie on June 11, 2013

Whole Hog, the one block quilt. #miniquilt

Earlier this year I finished a little quilt with words on it. I find that I look at that quilt a lot, and it’s actually helpful. And more than that, making the quilt was a good thing. Making a quilt about it is as good a way of dealing as any.

I like problem solving and figuring out how to make things work. Sometimes I spend time thinking up new solutions to the same problem instead of just staying committed to the solution I’ve started. While that can be a good quality, it gets old. Solutions are great, but they’re even better with follow-through. Hence, my reminder. I’m all in, whole hog, working to get stuff done.

That’s why I made this little mini quilt, but I totally love it at face value too. Pigs! Hogs! Text! Hand quilting! If I can find a place where it won’t get greasy, I’ll put it in the kitchen.


jorna dress

by Dorie on May 29, 2013

My friend Jenna had the 2013 goal to learn to sew knits, and being the opposite of a slacker, she made herself this and this. Then, she decided to draft her own pattern for a garment that would be easy, flattering, and comfortable. Or as she said, “I’m creating a pattern called the Jorna. It’s a dress or a jumper or a top. Want to test it?”

Heck yes, I’ll test it! Oh, wait this is a knit? Hmm… knits and I, well, we don’t hang around and sew very much. Sewing this Jorna dress was first time I sewed with a knit by machine since I made a very frustrating dress for my daughter back on 2006. But, the Jorna was not at all problematic. I bought myself a ball-tipped needle, sat down at my not fancy sewing machine using a regular old straight stitch, and I was fine. The Jorna only has four pattern pieces – a front, a back, and facings – so the sewing was straightforward.

The result is this dress, which I really like. The neckline is high enough that I don’t worry about gaping, the arm and necklines fit smoothly, and the skirt is all swishy jersey, which makes me feel quite dancy. With this long dress length, I felt like a needed a belt, but if I make the shorter, above-the-knee, jumper version, I wouldn’t wear a belt. And I will make one. This will be the summer of the handmade jersey dress.

Jenna has the pattern live now. My biggest feedback was that the top could have been a little more fitted in the front, and I know she’s adjusted for that. If you make it, I do recommend twirling like a five-year-old. It’s fun and the blur is quite slimming.

Good Jorna to all, and may your summer be full of comfortable dresses!