New Life

Sunshine Quilt by rarebird detailGoing to try to breathe some new life into this old project. The truth is, my life went through many changes since the day it was conceived — and so quickly seemingly abandoned. It wasn’t,  in my head anyway.

The last time I wrote I showed you my bionic gear bag, which has become my very best traveling companion. I made it to take on a trip to the northern redwood coast of California. Little did I know that a year later, I’d find myself living in NorCal with light, cheerful sewing room and much more time to run the needle through fabric. I haven’t been here long so don’t expect too much yet, but let me catch you up on some projects:

The Sunshine Quilt

Sunshine Quilt by rarebird

Right before we moved, I finally finished this quilt-as-you-go medallion. I absolutely love the color. It just reminds me of sunshine and hopefulness. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake on the green border. Those are quarter square triangles instead of square-within-a-square blocks. QSTs are super stretchy and it took me a while (and several more borders and quilting) to realize why the quilt was puckering in the center. The QSTs had over stretched and were causing it to bubble. I guess I could have taken it all apart and started over, but I prefer to keep it as a reminder of a hard lesson learned.

Abby’s Birthday Quilt

Abby's birthday quilt by rarebird

A dear friend’s daughter just had a baby girl, so one of the first things I made in my new studio/home was this baby quilt. It’s Zig Zag Love by Hope Nelson.

Gypsy Queen

Gypsy Queen wk 5

And now I am working on the Gypsy Queen Mystery Quilt along on Cora’s Quilts. I learned about this quilt-along from an old SoCal friend that I recently reconnected with. After we both moved away, we ended up in neighboring states but lost touch for some time. This past summer we both moved to opposite coasts, reconnected (now that we are farther away than ever), and realized our mutual love of all things quilty. So late though we are in the actual quilt-along, we are both working on the Gypsy Queen. Should be interesting to see how they turn out; her quilt is in wonderful green & purples whereas I am all about the hot oranges and pinks still.

Stay tuned for the progress!


The Bionic Gear Bag Takes a Test Drive


My family and I took a long road trip at the beginning of August to northern California to see some tall trees and wet our toes in the cold, foggy Pacific. It was a looooong drive to the coast and back from our home on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Of course, I had to take something along to entertain me on the really long days of driving across Utah and Nevada and inland California. My EPP stars project was a natural choice. Problem was — on past trips, not all my notions, fabric, basted pieces, and finished stars fit neatly in the plastic box I’d made into a sewing kit. I found I had to have a bag to hold multiple pouches and spools of thread (even bobbins of thread). Also, I hated the way a plastic box would bounce around on my lap in the car when the pavement got rough or we had to stop. My scissors or needle holder would slide around under fabric, etc and it seemed like a balancing act to hold all this stuff on my lap. I guess I’m just not a light-travelin’ EPPer.

I figured that somebody out there had to have designed a sewing kit or pouch that was super functional. A quick search of Craftsy landed me on the Bionic Gear Bag. There are a couple versions of this bag out there, but this particular one really appealed to me because of the tray feature in the front. I can keep scissors, my needle threader, thread, and pieces on the tray while I am working (top picture taken in the car with the Western slope sunshine pouring in). But everything tucks back nicely into a zipper pocket or one of the pouch spaces between each zipper pocket. This thing holds so much– my Clover needle threader that I can’t hand-sew without anymore, my Clover needle dome, a bobbin box, 8-10 spools of thread, tiny scissors, EPP papers, a hunk of beeswax, lip balm and eye drops, more than enough cut fabric tucked way in the back, and a pair of reading glasses. Still seems there is room to spare. The only thing it doesn’t hold well are finished stars, but I carried a zip pouch for those. The whole thing zips up into a secure roll with carrying handles.


I love this bag! It’s not too tough to make, though the directions are a bit unnecessarily chatty. I also found that my stitching was less than perfection on some of the thicker areas, but I can live with it. The bag traveled easily and securely on my lap and I could even set it open on the dashboard at rest stops without stuff sliding out and around. For me, this the perfect EPP travel sewing kit.

Here are the stars I got done on the trip:


Sure doesn’t look like much for all the hours we spent in the car, though….

Stars on the Lawn


While my orange medallion sits on the wall and stares back at me just waiting for that next burst of inspiration, this is another project that keeps me busy. I’ve been following Jessica over at Life Under Quilts for a long time, and got inspired by her love of English paper piecing. Actually, I’d tried it out myself years ago, making a small pouch that I saw in a Japanese quilt book. I enjoy hand sewing and it turned out well, but cutting out all the pieces of paper seemed like waaayyyy too much work to make it a regular thing. Then I learned from Jessica that you can buy paper or plastic templates for EPP. They make it so much easier (I want to sew, not paper craft!), and I have become a full on convert.

Stars EPP

I started these stars on an overseas flight to Japan last summer. I work slowly on this (as with all my projects), when I am on the move somewhere or watching the news. I have a few chunks put together, but it’s mostly a growing stack of stars. We leave on a long road trip next month. Wonder how many I can get done?


Starting Out Stuck


 I started this quilt some months ago. There are a lot of new techniques in it for me–liberated piecing, quilt-as-you-go, and a medallion style.


The center of the medallion is a piece of 60s Hawaiian bark cloth that I found years ago at an estate sale. I always pictured it as the “cheater” center of a quilt. Last winter when I was going through a hard time, I picked it up and began quilting it without much thought as to where the quilt would go next. But then I dug out a bunch of orange and blue scraps and added the borders. The orange radiated happiness and it lifted my spirits. The freestyle piecing was so quick and satisfying. But since then, I’ve been stuck.

Every time I head into my studio, I just end up folding yardage and pinning it to the wall in various configurations. Sometimes I piece a few blocks and arrange them. I drink a glass of wine and stare, rearrange, and repeat. I’ve done this endlessly. I can’t figure out what or where to go next. Here is how it looks at the moment:

photo 1

The fabric on the left is another vintage find which has a terrific bold print that is reminiscent of the center medallion yet quite different. The top has a couple of border auditions of Kaffe Fasset fabrics. I think I have to decide if I want to do another intricately pieced border–or several and “busy it up”–or if I’d like to let bold fabrics do the talking. One thing I want is to keep the vibrancy. In my head, this is a happiness quilt and I don’t want to lose the gift it gave me last winter by dulling the palate. I also don’t want to fall into an orange blue orange blue pattern.

Any ideas most welcome!