I threw my hat in

Meaning “Throw your Hat in the Ring”

To make or take up a challenge, or demonstrate one’s willingness to join an enterprise…. (The ring in question here is a boxing ring. These, of course used to be circular spaces in a crowd of onlookers, rather than the square, roped ‘rings’ of today.  Anyone who fancied his chances in a bout would throw in his hat – rather than try shouting over the noise of the crowd.  The expression dates from at least the early 19th century.)
Like many Modern Quilt Guild members, I threw my hat in for the Jay McCarroll Habitat Challenge, and tonight is the reveal at the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild of our completed challenge quilts/pillows, etc.   The parameters our guild set were a finished quilted item with a perimeter of at least 60 linear inches and no more than 120 linear inches.  Every fabric from our fat eighth bundle had to appear somewhere on the quilt top/front.  I had six of the fabrics in the photo above to work with, the peach polka dot in the background, and the five pieces at the center of the line-up.  I was particularly inspired by the fabric with the large, dark, polka dots against the soft floral background, the second from the left in the photo.  The soft floral aspects in a few pieces of this collection contrast greatly with the dark, bold, and in-your-face colors and graphics in the other prints.  I wanted to capture the softer side of the collection.
Here is what I came up with:

It measures 24″ x 24″, I used Kona Charcoal, Navy, Teal Blue and a Burgundy solid in the pieced ring, and Kona Aqua as the main background fabric.  The back of the quilt is a pink Kona cotton, scraps I had leftover from the edges of a large quilt back.

The flowers are made from long strips of three different pieces of the Habitat fabrics, and the petals are also three-dimensional, made from the peach polka dot.

I made the pieced color strips first, and envisioned this as a long narrow table runner, with flowers splashed across if diagonally.  But then at the last minute, I cut the strips in half lengthwise, to create the square ring, and used little scraps to free-piece log cabin “flowers” for the cornerstones. 

Colors and fabrics I wouldn’t normally pick out (other than the aqua blue!), which is what truly made this a CHALLENGE.  But in the end, I really like this little quilt…. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else created!  
Are you participating in this challenge?  What did you make?

One BIG bag

I finished this bag last night, and I’m working on a tutorial for the blog on how to make one.  It’s intended to serve as an oversize tote for carrying things to guild meetings or retreats, like show-and-tell quilts, your cutting mat, supplies, etc.  It’s HUGE.  The bottom insert measures 9″ x 24″, and the sides are approximately 12″ high.  I used a stripe from Kate Spain’s Central Park for the lining, and the exterior is an upholstery weight fabric from Hancock Fabrics.   I added the pocket to the outside to hold a pen/pencil and notebook/iPad/cell phone.

Tutorial coming soon. 

I also finished up my Modern Quilt Guild Habitat Challenge quilt this week, the big reveal is at tomorrow’s meeting, so just a sneak peek today:

Oh, and that chocolate cake?  Made for a co-workers birthday, with the best chocolate frosting recipe (from the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor Cookbook) and made healthier by substituting plain Greek yogurt for the oil, eggs, and water.  Seriously.  It works.  …and it tastes fabulous.  (I’ve used the applesauce substitute before, and the Diet Coke substitute.  This is better.)

Happy sewing,

Vintage View: X String Quilt

I swear, one day soon I will get some photos taken and have things to post about! Until then, I’ll share another vintage quilt with you, from the “flooded house” collection. This one is a little sad as it has been literally loved and worn to shreds. But there is still some beauty there, and one or two blocks I can salvage into pillows:
I am really into “string quilts” these days, and am working with my scraps to create some of my own. I like the simple “X-block” setting of this scrappy string quilt.
It’s difficult to date this one, but I’m guessing early 20th century, quite obviously a utility quilt…
You can see a lot of the fabrics are almost completely disintegrated…
But the colors must have really been vibrant when it was new! It appears to be made from clothing scraps, lots of plaids and stripes, and all sorts of colors.
I’ll be back soon to post about some of the projects I’ve been working on and completing. I joined Jacquie’s Spring to Finish challenge for the month of April…
Just the extra boost I need to get some UFOs done!