Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last week I wrote about Challenge week over at Amy's Creative Side. Well I'm a day late with my blog post, but I did meet the challenge. I had a dozen 12 x 12 inch quilt "sandwiches" ready to go along to Nashville with me on Friday morning.

As expected, the dog did prevent me from doing much quilting in the car, and the events of the weekend didn't leave much time either. But, the first square is nearly done. You may notice that the swirls in some of the fabrics I'm using gave inspiration to the quilt design. These curlicues are fun to work and random enough that no marking is required. I find that sort of quilting most relaxing - much like free-form embroidery. 
Hopefully I can devote some serious TV time to hand quilting the rest of the squares and joining them up. I'll try to remember to post a finished picture here when I finish.
Thanks to Amy for the challenge. This project has been trying to get started for a long time, so it feels good to have made even this much progress.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Challenge

Amy's Creative Side

Amy Ellis over at Amy's Creative Side has issued a challenge.
"You decide, what’s reasonable for you to get done in a weeks time, and tell me your goal in the commentsNext Monday, I will have a linky and you can link to your blog/flickr post, and show off your met goal!"
My goal? Put together the quilt top squares for a quilt-as-you go project I want to take in the car this weekend. We are headed up to Nashville, which is about a 4 1/2 hour drive each way.
The fabrics I've chosen for this project are actually pretty subtle shades of green, blue and gold, though this photo does not do it justice. My Pentax is giving me fits this morning, so I hope you'll forgive my worse than usual photo. I don't expect to finish the quilt, but if I can get the sandwich squares (12 inches on a side) ready, I can work on the quilting with a lap hoop in the car.
That is if our adorable 70 pound dog doesn't decide she needs to sit in my lap the whole way. The finished quilt will make a baby quilt sized throw for our living room. It will also double as a foil for Lady who thinks the leather chair near the window is the perfect place to watch for us to return. Her claws have already scratched the leather, so I'm hoping the throw will protect it from actual punctures and tears on those days when we rush out and forget to close the doors to that room. 
Either way, whether I meet my goal or not, I'll publish a post with a progress report when we return next Monday. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Summer Scarves

Keeping it up with the process pledge, this post isn’t about a quilt, but it is about something in process. Remember back in June when I was going on about an embroidered gauze shawl? Well what I didn’t tell you is that in the process of finding the fabric for the teal wrap, I also bought all of this...
Blerg! It’s a whopping total of twelve yards of bubble gauze fabric. How did that happen? I have piles of fabric in search of a project, and I think I’ve been here before.
This little summer scarf project won’t use up a tenth of it, but it’s a start. Maybe if I make one for me and one for a friend in each color?
They are a snap to make – especially if you have a sewing machine that does some fancy stitch work, and a well stocked thread drawer. Gutermann Natural Cotton is my current favorite.
I also love that this raveled edge is built in. That’s the selvage edge. I did hem the other side, top and bottom, but all together, this scarf took about an hour to make. If you like you can use a liquid fabric stabilizer and press the gauze to make it flat for stitching. Just wash it afterward and the crinkles snap right back into place. Just be careful about mixing with other laundry as they all run like crazy. What did you expect for under $4.00 a yard?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Process: The Beach Quilt

As I was rambling round the web this week I stumbled upon the rossie blog and her process pledge. The idea is to “chat openly and often about our works in progress, our inspirations, and our moments of decision”. Hmm. That sounds familiar. Seems like I said I was going to blog about works in progress rather than waiting until everything was wrapped up and pretty. Well today here I go.
It’s a rainy day in paradise. That may make it a good day for birds to be outside, but best for me to head to the studio. I need to get back to a project I’ve been avoiding for weeks: the dreaded beach quilt.
We've been visiting a dog friendly beach at Cape San Blas Florida for a couple of years now. Last year was quite hot, and as Lady drooled with her face in the sand, it stuck. Then of course she licked it off. End result? One very sick puppy tossing her kibble all night long on the condo’s white rug. Did I mention it was a rented condo? I decided then and there that I would make a quilt so large she could stay in the middle and never have to lay her head in the sand.
Oh, and it had to have a hole in the middle for the umbrella, because our Lady likes the shade. This picture from our first visit in 2007 was the inspiration for a quilt of large solid blocks in bright primary colors.
Which brings us to today. 
This quilt is a monster – supersized king quilt and a bear to work on. 
I’m really longing for my Aunt’s quilting machine and frame. But alas it’s just me and my sweet Singer 15-91.
Well not exactly. Just to get the quilt sandwich basted with pins was a nightmare, but as I tried to "stitch-in the ditch" around those blocks on my regular cabinet machine, the pushing and pulling had me sewing in big wrinkles. I was headed for a mess.
So I picked out what I had done so far and went back to my trusty 18 inch hoop, needle and thread. I'm going to have to do the quilting on this one by hand. Sigh. And next time I take on a project this large I'll try the quilt as you go method. Lots of information online about quilt as you go, if you aren't familiar with it. Andrea over at Welsh Quilter describes her method here.

We are headed back to the beach at the beginning of May, so I’ll post a picture and let you know how the project ends up.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quilting for Kids – a Roll-n-Go Blackboard

It’s never hard to come up with ideas for quilts and quilted items for myself. I could fill the house with bed quilts, pillows, throws, wall hangings, bags… well you get the idea. Sometimes coming up with an idea for someone else isn’t so easy – especially children and men.
More about men another time; my focus for the past couple of weeks has been on little boys. I have a great nephew and a godchild who have birthdays the same week. One just turned two and the other had his very first birthday this past weekend.
Though I always give books as gifts for children, I also like to include something more personal that I have made. This year as I was casting about for ideas, I remembered seeing a listing for chalk cloth on one of my favorite online fabric websites (
Chalk cloth is an oil cloth that has been specially coated so it behaves like a chalk board. I quickly ordered a yard and then set about trying to decide what to make with it. I posted a query on an forum and received a recommendation for a wonderful book by Chris Lynn Kirsch called Snuggle-and-Learn Quilts for Kids.
In the book is a pattern for this adorable roll-up mat with built in holders for chalk and erasers. The strings that attach the erasers tie up the rolled mat into a neat bundle that will fit in the stroller, or in mom’s all-purpose carry bag.
I found a really cute licensed Thomas the Train print for my grandnephew who is a bit train crazy, and for little Sullivan (we call him Sully) a dog themed print since he lives with three pups.
I suspect this toy may be a bit old for Sully, but of course we all think he is quite advanced (J) so I expect he will grow into it quickly. And I’m hoping both Mom’s will find the Roll-n-Go Blackboard a helpful management tool while they are sitting in a restaurant and hoping to get at least one bite of their meal before it is stone cold. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Modern Paintbox

Several months ago I joined the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild, one of a community of modern guilds across the country. The Atlanta Guild was formed in early 2010, so is still feeling its way, but the group has already attracted 35 members.
Modern quilting isn’t necessarily a radical departure from traditional quilting, but it is more free and open to improvisation than traditional. In some ways it is more about attitude than design.
We give ourselves permission to throw out many of the rules adhered to by traditional quilters. We use modern fabrics, modify traditional quilt designs, and make up designs of our own. The style may be as precise as the work found in a traditional quilt, but not at all symmetric or repetitive. The idea is to include quilters of all levels and styles, so that the most sophisticated art quilter can recognize what she has is common with the good ladies of her grandmother’s guild.
Before I even attended my first meeting I learned about a project the guild had undertaken and wanted to be a part of it. The Georgia Quilt Council is working hard to create the Southeastern Textile and Quilt Museum in Carrollton, GA.
This museum will house both old and new quilts and will serve as a educational locus for quilters in the Southeast region – much like the quilt museum in Paducah, Kentucky. Located in a yet to be refurbished cotton warehouse, there is a great deal of work yet to be done.
Toward that end, a “Friends of” group organized a special event at the Georgia State Capitol on January 31st. The goal was to bring attention to the museum, and to display over 50 quilts donated by guilds and individuals from around the state. These quilts will be auctioned off to raise money for the museum.
What does that have to do with my first guild project?  The Atlanta Modern Quilt guild was planning a quilt to donate, and they still needed someone to make blocks in a few essential colors.
Now gray isn’t a very exciting color for quilters, but I happen to work in black and white more than some, so I had a ready stash. The block I came up with was quite freeform as you can see, but it is hard to imagine how it would fit in with blocks of other colors until you take a look at “The Modern Paintbox”. I know that I am biased, but the finished quilt is remarkable, and showcases the many talented members of the guild. Simple white sashing and an all over quilting design don’t detract from the vibrant colors and creative design of the individual blocks. I hope that others will agree and this quilt will fetch a high price for our future museum.