Sunshine & Shadow – Best in Show!


Hi everyone! I know I said in my last post that this next post would be about Brandon’s baby quilt, but I had to share some exciting news. Brandon was almost as excited about our chicken trophy as we were, so I know he’ll understand…


Our Sunshine and Shadow quilt won BEST IN SHOW at the Queens County Fair!




NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and the Queens County Farm Museum pres(?) director(?) presented us with a trophy.


Not just any trophy. A GOLDEN CHICKEN trophy. 🐥🐓🏆 The whole thing was pretty darn amusing. Official photos were taken. I blinded the audience with my legs.


My quilter-in-training and I had originally made this quilt for Timeless, and it hung in the Quilt Market booth in Spring 2015. The pattern is by Castilleja Cotton.


It made an appearance in the Keepsake catalog too. This quilt has been around!


We had a lot of fun with the mad-science construction. First, you cut out 1200 squares. We did this with our trusty rotary cutters, and yes, I have since learned better methods for doing it. My “quilt mom” Anita also told me about a snazzy fusible grid for this kind of piecing. But you can’t really appreciate those methods until you’ve tortured yourself the old-fashioned way, am I right?

As Jorge would say…



So then you do this wild & crazy chain piecing technique that is so mind-boggling I’m not even going to try to describe it. It starts off as a little tree and then gets bigger and bigger until you have all the rows you need to assemble the layout. This picture was taken when it was almost done. The final tree was too big to even hold up!


You clip off the biggest row, and that’s the center. Then you clip off two rows at a time and sew them to the either side of center.


Just keep clipping, just keep clipping, just keep clip-ping clip-ping clip-ping what do we do we clip! (and sew. and press.)

I know, I should be ashamed that I don’t have a handmade quilt on our bed in this photo. The situation has been corrected since last spring, when this was taken.


Eventually you get a real pretty radiating square of colors.


And it’s time to trim off the points and add the borders.


We used skinny masking tape to mark the straight line quilting. I stippled the borders because, ya know. I stipple everything.


A little binding and labeling and it was done and blowin’ in the wind!





I made the jacket I’m wearing in this photo! It’s the Indygo Junction Swing Jacket pattern.


This was the highlight of my day yesterday, but I must say, the Queens County Fair (hosted by the Queens County Farm Museum), is SUCH a fun event and I look forward to it every year. Last year, we navigated their “Maize Maze” with friends — it was no joke! We took our moms this time around, and we all enjoyed carnival food, live music, performances, and the impressive work on display in all the competition categories.

We met Yogurt, the 60 year old tortoise that lives at John Bowne HS (right next door to our alma mater Townsend Harris). She was quite the lady.


During the award ceremony we met the best in show winner for the livestock category — she was the owner of this adorable mini-lop rabbit.


I participated in a corn-shucking contest (I can peel an ear of corn in 8 seconds, not bad!), and Jorge, Rosa and Kiki did the pie eating competition. Rosa put Jorge to shame.


I’m already starting to think about next year’s entry. This was the first time I entered a quilt into a public show and had it on display. Ribbon or not, it was so fun to participate in one of my favorite local events and share our work with the community.


News from Paris Quilt


Another wedding quilt! This one was made for my friends (and neighbors) Kiki and Roland in June 2014. It was a quick finish — time got away from me, and I started it just a week before the wedding.

I used Paris-themed fabric, because that’s where they got engaged. There’s a key print in there too, a reference to the since-defunct “love locks” of the Pont des Arts bridge, which they had visited and incorporated into the event decor.

Jenny Baker’s Giant Vintage Rose Tutorial is perfect for showing off big pieces of fabric, and it comes together SO fast — it’s just twelve half-square triangles and four squares. Perfect for when you look at your calendar and go, “Oh, SH*T!! The wedding is in a WEEK!?” 😱 😜

Here it is on the design wall, before all the blocks were sewn together.


I free-motion quilted with stippling.


The binding was all done by machine as I didn’t have time to hand-sew it to the back. The first time I tried machine binding (on a quilt prior to this one), the results were disastrous. I had since avoided it like the plague, but because of the time limitation on the one, I conquered my fears. The method that worked best for me was this one and I love how it came out.




The method I had tried before this was the one where you apply the binding to the front, then fold it to the back, clip, and stitch in the ditch from the front, the idea being that you will catch the edge of the binding on the back… blind. I do like how it looks when done properly, but my feeling is, whichever method you can execute best will look best. I had a much better time catching the binding when I could see it, and it allowed me to use a nice narrow folded edge (rather than making the overhang larger in hopes that it would catch more easily on the reverse).


I used clear thread for the binding because I don’t like using different colors in the top and bobbin, and I didn’t want the black thread to be visible on the light-colored quilt back.



I wash my quilts before gifting so they get soft and crinkly. This label was sewn in with the binding to save time. Tutorial from Sassafras Lane here.


Two years and a baby later (I’ll share his quilt in my next post!), I hope this gift still brings Kiki and Roland warm memories of that exciting time.


Retreat + Evan & Tiffany’s Wedding Quilt


My friend Evan got married!

We met in Kindergarten and grew up together in the background of this picture. Obviously, after 25 years of friendship, a quilt was in order.

A few months ago, I asked Evan for his and his fiancée’s favorite colors, and decided to make a two-color quilt for them with his response. I had been itching to try Accuquilt’s Hunter’s Star die and this seemed like the perfect excuse to give it a whirl.

Evan relayed Tiffany’s color of choice, saffron, while he chose grey. (Gold & silver!) I picked out two Timeless Tonga batiks and got to work.


I had a guild retreat in early June, so I ran all the fabric through the die cutter one afternoon in April. In the time it took me to watch two bad movies, I was done cutting! I made a single test block, and held onto the rest of the pieces until retreat time. My fellow mod Brian pointed out that I probably should have made my test block before cutting out the ENTIRE quilt, which is solid advice. I was just having so much fun cranking that die back and forth that it never even occurred to me!

These are all the pieces that make up the quilt top. Packing them for the retreat was cake; they barely took up any space. Which was good, since our carpool was jammed tight!


We had a BLAST at the retreat. There were lots of times my face hurt from laughing so hard. While Jorge and all the other guys were out in California for Evan’s bachelor party, I was zipping away at the wedding quilt.

This was our home away from home – Ladore Retreat Center in Waymart, PA.






This quilt is a chain piecing endurance test, but the payoff is hugely gratifying. I went for the 60″ x 72″ size, which uses 30 blocks comprised of four “mini” blocks each. So for three days, I was the quilting version of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, and my workstation looked like this:


I came home with 120 of these:


Once you get those baby blocks done, the rest goes quickly. It’s so exciting to see the stars come together at this point.


The coolest thing about this quilt is Eleanor Burns’ method for keeping the center of the star flat. Since so many points converge there, a typical 4-patch construction would create a lot of bulk. The pattern instructs you on how to get a nice flat center that looks like this:


Squashing and pressing those centers feels sooooo satisfying.

It only took me a couple more nights at home to finish the quilt top. Not long after, I had it basted, free motion quilted, and ready to bind.


I used my machine‘s lettering and decorative stitches for the label. I like playing around with those features that I hardly ever have a reason to use.


It washed up so soft and crinkly. Jorge helped me photograph it on the roof… and gave it a test snuggle.








Congrats on tying the knot, Evan and Tiffany!



P.S. Jorge made them a quilty wedding gift too! Check out his wall hanging. The pattern is from Heather Jones’s book, Quilt Local. So proud of my quilter-in-training!


The fabrics are Timeless basics (neutral Soho Solids + a dark Java Blender batik) and Liberty Lawn (from when a fabric store near my office had a bunch of rolls for $10/yd!).




Heather’s pattern was inspired by tile work, and Quilt Local is all about finding quilt inspiration in your everyday surroundings. As we headed down from the roof, we noticed this window in our building’s hallway resembled the quilt!


Love it. ❤


Birthday Throw Quilt for Rosa

This is the first quilt I ever free-motion quilted!

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I made this for Jorge’s mom as a birthday gift in April 2014. I loved these Dear Stella fabrics in my stash and thought a great way to show them off would be to cut them into big squares. I added sashing with cornerstones to liven up the design.

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I’d been trying to free motion quilt for a while before this, but had a lot of trouble with stippling. I kept backing myself into closed spaces. Stippling is my go-to quilting method now, but at the time I kept thinking to myself, “Why is this so often touted as a great beginner FMQ design?” because I just could NOT get it to work for me.

I needed an intervention, which came in the form of Cristina Cameli‘s book, First Steps to Free Motion Quilting. I picked a design from this book that was more straightforward than stippling. It’s actually quite linear to execute – a single loopy chain – but reads more textural when finished. The bubbles were so fun to quilt and I really enjoyed the process. It was a huge confidence builder.

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Side note: the thing that finally got me over the stippling hump was doodling, as recommended in this book. I filled up page after page with stippling doodles. Even though doodling is pen on paper, and quilting is “paper under pen”, it helped immensely, as it trained my brain to fully comprehend the design. Once I understood the shapes to make and where to take them, it easily translated to the sewing machine.

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Besides the quilting, the other most exciting part of this quilt for me was how perfectly I got the back to line up. It looks like a single piece, but it’s actually two widths of fabric sewn together. There’s a seam running horizontally right through the middle — but it’s hardly noticeable.

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Quilt sausage!


Poconos Birthday Quilts


More quilts to share! These two were birthday gifts for my dad and stepmom.

Dad’s quilt is a pattern from Heather Jones’s Quilt Local, and Bobbi’s uses blocks from Tula Pink’s City Sampler.

I’ll tell you about Dad’s first… it was supposed to be a Christmas gift. The top came together very quickly in December, but I didn’t get to quilt it in time. So it became a birthday gift instead! Both of their birthdays are in February, and mine and my brother’s are in March, so we all spent a nice weekend together at their mountain house to celebrate.

Fabrics are by Timeless Treasures. Soho Solids for the top (he likes purple so I picked a deep velvet color), Hydrangeas by Chong-a Hwang for the back. Dad passed his love of gardening on to me, and we have a mutual appreciation for this flower. It runs in the family – his father was an accomplished horticulturist.

I free-motion quilted the purple sections with stippling, and added some straight lines near the seams on the neutral sections. I don’t pre-wash my fabrics; I give the finished quilt a wash so it gets cozy and crinkly.



I got lucky with the perfect shade of Aurifil in my stash. Look how perfectly it matched!


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This was my first quilt using only solids, and only two fabrics. I love how it came out, and I keep thinking about how it would look in some other combinations. I love the one on the cover.


Now for Bobbi’s quilt. It was by special request. There was a small wall area in their weekend house that needed some love. She sent me references for color and design, but I couldn’t settle on any fabrics just then, so I kept the project in the back of my brain for a little while.


The February NYC Metro Mod meeting. We had a special guest, Usha Berlin of Handloom Batik. Her family has been making hand-printed fabrics for generations and she gave a wonderful presentation, showing her work and talking about their history and methods. It was totally awe-inspiring. Be sure to visit Usha at a show if you get the opportunity.

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I knew Bobbi would love these fabrics and the story behind them, and there were plenty available in the color palette she requested. It took me ages, but I managed to choose a handful of cuts after much agony and consultation with my fellow mods. The fabrics are soft and gauzy, and the colors are so vibrant. Many are made with natural dyes. One of the fabrics I chose was a floral print; Usha told me that the flowers in the design were actually mustard plants, and dye used for that fabric came from mustard seeds!


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The orange sanskrit print translates to “Finish what you start”. How perfect is that for quilters?

There is one fabric in there that’s not Handloom Batik, and it is the blue & tan print. Bobbi and Dad brought that fabric back from a trip to Singapore. I thought it sat well with the others.

I knew I wanted to use the City Sampler blocks to create an unpredictable geometric design that my stepmom would like, but wasn’t happy with how it was coming together on my design wall at first. The blocks are 6″, and with all the piecing, you couldn’t really appreciate the fabrics. I kept looking at that orange print… finish what you start. So I persevered. Once I cut up some 6″ squares and started arranging them between all the pieced blocks, the design opened up in a new way! I had a lot of fun deciding on the layout after that.


The weekend I gave them these quilts, Bobbi was on a mission to make one of her own. We gathered up the supplies and I showed her what to do. Check out her first quilt, a table topper for their sailboat’s nav station!


I think she caught the bug…


Cait & Pete’s Wedding Quilt

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It feels fitting that this should be the first quilt to chronicle on QIQ.

Jorge and I made it back in 2013, shortly before our friends Caitlin and Pete got hitched. As we chose the pattern, agonized over a color scheme, and prepared the pieces, I took tons of photos so I could share them after the wedding on my completely fictional “blog”. Obviously, the pictures sat on my phone, and then my computer, for years. Doomed to a life of solitude and loneliness, collecting meta-dust.

Until now!

It took me three years, but I have a blog now dammit, and hell if I’m going to let all this behind-the-scenes shutterbugging go to waste.

So, back to the quilt story then…

When I heard my friends were engaged, I knew right away I wanted to make them a quilt. Jorge, my quilter-in-training, was eager to help, so we made it a joint venture. I visited the bride’s Pinterest board, knowing she’d be collecting inspiration for the big day. Sure enough, I found plenty of images to inform the color scheme, settling on this succulent bouquet to translate into a fabric palette. Jorge and I agreed on a pattern from Sunday Morning Quilts.

We cut out the pieces, mixed them up, and got to work. All the fabrics are by Timeless Treasures.

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After lots of sewing, pressing, trimming, more sewing, more pressing, and more trimming, a pretty pile of blocks was born!

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We laid it out on the biggest section of floor we could find in our apartment. These were the pre-design wall days. We used an old sheet to prevent the blocks from sweeping the floor. Each block was lettered and numbered with a masking tape label so we could keep track of placement as we put it together.

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Here’s the top hanging out on our full-size bed at home, before basting and quilting.

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We opted for straight line quilting on a bias grid. Water soluble pen worked well to mark it up.

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At the time, I had never made anything larger than a throw size, and didn’t give much thought to the fact that this was a 90″ x 90″ quilt. And we were sewing on my little Janome Magnolia. If someone tries to convince you that you can’t quilt a project of this size on your DSM, just show them this picture. You can wrestle a monster through this thing if you’re willing to put up with the back pain that follows.

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The pieced back — Jorge had a lot of fun with this part.

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Bound, labeled, ready to wash.

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Washed and soft and crinkly, and no more blue lines!

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No quilt is complete without a label.

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It ended up matching the wedding colors – as well as Cait and Pete’s home decor – beautifully.

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I will never forget their phone call to us the night they opened the box. ❤

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Last year I made a throw pillow to match for Caitlin’s birthday. She sent me this ridiculously cute picture of Pete test-driving it at home later that day! Snug as a bug in a rug.


I’ll be sharing my past, present and future quilts (and rando sewing projects) here on the blog, so be sure to subscribe using that lil’ widget in the sidebar. See you again soon!