Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rock Around the Block

"Fall Rocks"
Size: 61" x 70"
Pattern: Rock Around the Block by Beth Little
Completed: Early 2005
Made in: Bellingham, WA
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
This quilt lives in our living room.
The story: This quilt doesn't go with anything in my house, and it is backed in flannel. Not very practical in Hawaii, but I still love it. Back in the day when I was working and was able to just buy random fabric that caught my eye, I came across this bundle of fat quartes (probably 6 or 8 of them) that I loved. If I remember correctly it was at a little shop on the southern tip of Whidbey Island. I had no idea what to do with them but I couldn't resist the rich rusty-reds and oranges and deep greens and how they all looked together. A month or so later I came across the Rock Around the Block pattern at Fourth Corner Quilts in B'ham. Now, a word on the pattern - the picture of the quilt on the pattern is UGLY. I would never have looked at it twice, but on the wall was a completed one in some gorgeous colors and that's what struck my fancy. I brought the pattern home and Cory cold not get past the hideous picture. I told him to just trust me! I think I had to eventually take him to the shop to see the one on the wall before he would believe me that it was cool. Anyway, the pattern called for 14 fat quarters so I had to add to what I had in the bundle previously purchased. It was a pretty easy quilt to put together. I added a triple border, backed it in a flannel of Fall leaves (little did I know I would be moving to Hawaii in a few short months), and bound it with an orange and brown basket-weave print. I just quilted it in the ditch. I will definitely make this quilt again, regardless of how ugly the pattern is!

A close-up of some of the fabrics.

You can see the backing. I really wish my camera took better close-ups!

Here you can see the triple border and the binding.

Scrappy Stars

Photo courtesy of Fourth Corner Quilts, Bellingham, WA

"Scrappy Stars"
Size: 60" x 70"
Pattern: Catch a Scrappy Star Class at Fourth Corner Quilts, taught by Natalie
Completed: January 2005
Made in: Bellingham, WA
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
This quilt now lives on the back of our couch.
The story: This crazy quilt is yet another product of a wonderful class at Fourth Corner Quilts in Bellingham, WA. When I was choosing the fabric for this project I started with this gorgeous Asian print and tried to find other pieces that matched all the beautiful colors in it. I loved the Asian print so much I used it for the cornerstones as well. I added a double border and backed it with a purple swirl on white. The piecing technique for this was pretty wild. We had 9 fat quarters - 3 light, 3 medium and 3 dark - and we stacked them and cut through all nine layers. Then shuffled the layers and sewed the pieces together. Then made the next cut, shuffled and sewed. And so on until we had made five cuts. It was pretty amazing how it all came out. For the quilting, I just stitched in the ditch around the stars and the sashing and between each border. Here are some additional pics I just took today and some from the last 2 years. You can see how much it has faded from the original photo up top taken in January 2005 (and I look super young, too! Time flies!)

The print I started with.

I know I recognize that Daddy and that quilt, but not so sure about that baby! Can that really be Leif Kalama?

There's the Leif I know! Eating chocolate ice cream on mommy's Scrappy Stars!

And there he is eating, again!

Something Girlie

"Flowers for Fiona"
Size: 41" x 50 1/2"
Pattern: Yellow Brick Road by Atkinson Designs
Completed: April 2009
Made in: Hawaii
Machine pieced and quilted on a Janome 6600
Given to: Erin Giaretto for baby Fiona
The story: I just finished this one today. It is for my dear friend, Erin who is about a month away from welcoming baby Fiona to the world. Erin is Ronan's mum (Ro and Leif are best little buddies and have been since they were about 7 months old.) As soon as Erin announced her pregnancy I knew I would want to make her a sweet, girlie quilt. Erin picked the shabby chic look for Fiona's nursery and loaned me the crib bumper to take to the fabric store. I had a lot of fun selecting the fabric for this quilt - well as much fun as one can have fabric shopping with a two yeard old in tow - "No fabric store, Mama!" After one or two misses with the fabric selection I ended up with a pretty good balance of lights and darks and greens and pinks. I chose the pattern "Yellow Brick Road" by Atkinson Designs for this because I thought the it lent itself well to the shabby chic look. I had previously made this pattern two other times and it is quick and fun. I machine quilted it with a wave stitch every 2" all the way to the center and machine bound it with the green and pink stripe that I also used for the backing. I can't wait to see how it looks in the nursery!

Here are a few more pics:

Here you can see some of the three different blocks.

You can sort of see the quilting in the dark green.

Here you can see the backing and the binding.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Old vs. The New

This post is long and probably not very interesting to anyone but me. Sorry!
Now that I finally completed a quilt on my new machine I decided it was time to blog about it. But first, you need an idea of where I was coming from. I learned how to sew on my mom's Singer. Then, when I was 19, my mom got me my first sewing machine for Christmas - a Pfaff Hobby 301. Little did I know then what I would eventually accomplish on that machine. I dabbled in various projects over the years - mostly curtains and pillows and other things that involved straight lines. I did make a bridesmaid dress or two. But mostly it sat. Then when I started quilting in 2004 it started getting some heavy use. I had it serviced for the first time and started changing my needles regularly. I'm sure someone must have told me along the way to change my needles, but apparently I wasn't listening. I was under the impression that you only changed a needle when it broke. Oops! Needless to say, my machine's performance improved dramatically once I learned that little trick.
Anyway, once I started taking quilting classes I saw a lot of different machines in use. Mine was definitely one of the most basic. It's mechanical, not computerized and has the option of a straight stich and ziz-zag. It has a standard neck opening and cruises along pretty well (when it has a good needle). I did purchase a walking foot for quilting, but I never invested in a 1/4" foot, so I spent years eye-balling my 1/4" seams (they could have been better.) My proudest moment with that machine was when I quilted a king size quilt on it. When I tell other quilters that I wa able to do that on that little machine, they are impressed. It wasn't easy and involved tightly rolling it just to get it in the neck. I just quilted diagonally across the blocks and a little wave pattern (the closest to free-motion I could get) on the borders. Once I get some decent photos of that quilt I will blog about it, but for now you can see me pinning it in my profile photo.
Between January 2004 and March 2009 I completed 37 quilting projects on my little Pfaff. These projects included 15 wall hangings, 5 table runners, 2 sets of hotpads, 1 set of placemats, 6 baby quilts, 2 mini-quilts, and 6 large (throw-size or bigger) quilts. I also pieced 2 additional throw-size quilt tops that still need to be quilted. After all that work this trusty little machine now lives in the closet. I decided to keep it and it has come in handy as a spare machine when I teach my sewing classes and it will be a great machine to teach a child on. And that's the story of my Pfaff and all that it was able to accomplish. Thanks again, Mom, for a great little machine!
It's so small compared to my new one!
For the last couple of years I have felt that I had outgrown my Pfaff and knew that an upgrade would be in order at some point. I really didn't know what I wanted and thought another Pfaff would be good. After doing a lot of research and seeing what was out there (and a couple of crappy experiences looking at machines at a local dealer) I started focusing on the Janome 6600. Julia at Fourth Corner Quilts back in Bellingham had become a dealer and she had high praises for it. Then the owner of a local shop here purchased one last summer and I was able to see it in person at her shop. She also had great things to say. After confirming both of their opinions with a ton of reviews by quilters online, I decided that was the machine for me. The only problem - it was about twice as much as I had originally planed to spend. We started a money jar to save up for it, but it would have taken years at the rate we were putting change aside. Luckily we received a pretty hefty tax refund this year and Cory said it was for my machine. In March, we headed downtown to a different dealer who was considerably more knowledgeable and spent a lot of time going over the machine with me. I came home with my new machine and after reading the owner's manual cover to cover, I started sewing on it.
It is a huge step up from my Pfaff - computerized with a ton of stitches, built-in walking foot, needle threader, knee-lift, oh the list goes on and on and it weighs a ton compared to my Pfaff. I was a bit intimidated at first and still have barely scratched the surface of it's capabilities. I quickly learned that free-motion quilting isn't just about the machine, but the operator as well and I have a ways to go before I will be ready to free-motion quilt anything (it's a lot harder than it looks!) Needless to say, this machine will be with me for many, many, many years to come!
Just out of the box. Isn't it pretty? And look at all that space in the neck.

The extension table is so nice!

It sews like a dream and having a 1/4" foot has made my life so much easier!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Zoo Pals for Armando

"Zoo Pals"
Size: 28 1/2" x 32"
Pattern: original design
Completed: April 2009
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Desiree Diaz for her soon to arrive little one, Armando
Machine pieced and quilted on a Janome 6600
The Story: Finally a current project to post about! And the first quilt I've completed on my new machine. I just finished this one today and can take it off my list on the sidebar.
I made this for my friend Desiree who is about to have her second little boy. I wanted to do something fun and cuddly. I decided to make a cuddle quilt instead of a full-on quilt. I made a similar one for my friend Richelle's little boy, Casey, several years ago and she said he loved it! (BTW - I still need a pic of that one Richelle - if you're reading this.)
After piecing the top I just sewed the top and the backing right sides together and then turned it right-side out. This meant no batting and no binding. But I felt it needed something on the edge so I used a rainbow verigated thread and an "X" decorative stitch right along the edge. This also closed the opening I had left to turn it right-side out, which means I didn't have to hand sew it closed. Yay! For the quilting I used another decorative stitch just where I joined the strips. See below for close-ups of the edge, the quilting and all the fabrics. The green polka dot fabric is flannel and the rainbow fabric is an ultra-soft brushed cotton. Put it all together and I think it's super cuddly. And the perfect size for snugglng up with momma.

Aloha on the Beach

"Aloha on the Beach"
Size: 54 1/2" x 76"
Pattern: original design by Cory and Amanda Bennett
Completed: Summer 2006
Made in: Hawaii
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The story: Shortly after moving to Hawaii in June 2005 we headed to the Swap Meet. Now this swap meet is unlike anything I have ever seen or heard of before. It is mostly all new items and they are definitely geared toward the tourists. It is located around the perimeter of Aloha Stadium where the UH Warriors play football - so it is huge! There is everything from Aloha wear to soaps, crackseed, coconuts, toys, luggage, etc. Pretty much any kind of souvenir anyone would want. We get a fair bit of our clothes there and Cory got his ukulele there and we found a lot of the decor for Leif's room there.
Anyway, they also have, in the shops that sell the clothing, stacks of fabric squares of aloha print fabrics. So on one of our outings to the swap meet we picked out a stack of at least 100 squares. Once I finally got around to do anything with it, Cory helped me layout the squares in this diagonal fade pattern. Then I put in a border of yellow plumeria and a pieced outer border of more of the aloha fabric cut into narrow pieces. The backing is a soft blue hibiscus print that was originally intended to be a sling for the bebe and I bound it in another lighter aloha print. But the most ingenious part of all? The pockets at each corner on the backside. We fill them with sand to keep the quilt from blowing away. I would love to take credit, but I got the idea from a fabulous book of projects by Denyse Schmidt.

A close-up of the pocket.

Another one of the quilt with Leif playing in the background.

This quilt makes it to the beach at least once a week, if not more. We love it, but the fabric is definitely fading due to so much sun exposure. Luckily, I still have enough squares left to make another one!

Wow! I just looked at the pic I posted of this quilt a few days ago. That picture is at least a year old and you can really see how much it has faded when you campare that pic to the ones I took today. Ok, another project to add to the to-do list!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Little Bit of Aloha

As requested by Sharon, here is another pic of the Aloha Shirt Beach Quilt. I need to take some better pictures of it so you can see all of it. I will do that soon and post them along with the details and story behind it. It is definitely one of the most used quilts I have made. We love it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For Hannah

"Pretty in Pink "
Size: not sure
Pattern: original design
Completed: September 2008
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Hannah Hirose
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The story: I made this sweet little cuddle blanket for my friend Mary's daughter Hannah. It was her first birthday and I had some of this fabric leftover from the "Caitlynn" name I had recently completed. I put a satin binding on it and will never do that again! The binding turned out okay, but it was a serious pain to work with. Perhaps my new machine would handle it better, but I think it will be awhile before I even attempt it again.

An Experiment in Placemats

"Green Garden" Placemats (4)
Pattern: original design
Completed: January 2005
Made in: Bellingham, WA
Given to: Carrie Tolley
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The story: For her birthday and Christmas (they are a week apart) I wanted to make something for my dear, dear friend Carrie. I asked her if she would like a table runner, but she thought placemats would be more practical. So we went to the fabric store and chose the fabric together. After one failed attempt at 1" strips I decided to mix it up and just do a random piecing of different widths of the fabrics. I think it turned out nice. None of them are exactly the same. The funny thing is that when I was finished Carrie wanted me to put them together into a runner. I tried, I really, really tried, but I couldn't make it work - I already had the binding on and everything. I would have had to unpick all the binding and then find a way to join them without it showing. I'm just not that good so she got placemats!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


So things don't always go according to plan, right? I have spent all of Leif's nap cleaning the house in preparation for a playdate tomorrow. I finished with enough time to get started pinning one of the baby quilts I need to have done by 4/17. Well, I am 3 inches short on backing fabric!!!! 3 stinking inches! I could piece it together, but it's directional so that won't work. I am so frustrated right now. I pulled the two folding tables out to the living room and was all set to get to work and now I can't do anything. I won't have the car all week to go to the fabric store (and with construction right now it will take 15 min. to get there and over an hour to get home no matter when I go!) I have a sewing class on Saturday, I don't shop on Sundays and Monday I have plans in the other direction. So it looks like Tuesday is the soonest I might get over there. Not much time to piece the backing, pin, quilt and bind the thing before next Friday.

Update: Thanks for offering to take me to the fabric store Bethany! Luckily, Cory came to the rescue and stopped on his way to UH on Wednesday. So now I am quilting away. Should be done by Friday. Yay!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Secret Garden

"A Secret Garden for Sofia"
Size: 26" x 26" (I think)
Pattern: original design (used "Puss in the Corner" block from Marsha McCloskey's Block Party)
Completed: September 2008
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Sofia Herman
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The story: I picked up this kit at a wonderful shop in Canmore, Alberta in Canada when we were there for a Family Christmas in 2004. But after I got it home, I realized they had replaced one of the fabrics and I just could never get myself to make the project because I didn't think it looked right with the replacement fabric. So this bag of beautiful Moda fabric sat, and sat, and sat in my closet for years. Then when I decided I wanted to make a sweet little quilt for Leif's little friend Sofia, I knew I had just the right fabric for it. I scrapped the pattern (and the replacement fabric I couldn't get over) and started from scratch- with a little help from a book of block patterns.
I wasn't able to finish it before Sofia and her family moved to CA, but I sent it off to her a couple of months later. It is the perfect size for a little cuddle quilt, for a doll quilt or for the wall.
Here are a few close-ups so you can see the sweet fabric:


Size: 8 1/2” x 28”
Pattern: original design
Completed: September 2007
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Tatum Erickson
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The story: A little background first. About a month before we moved to Hawaii I saw my dad's cousin Marylou at a family gathering. She mentioned that her son Will and his family were also moving to Oahu that summer. He would be attending nursing school and they were hoping to live near his school on the windward side of the island, which is about an hour from where we were moving.
I hadn't seen Will in close to 10 years, but had spent some time with him and his siblings while were growing up - holidays, family reunions, etc. Well, I went to church on my first Sunday in Hawaii and about 1/2 way through Sunday School I realized that the guy sitting a few rows away was Will! Now it's not like my church only has one meeting house and on congregation on the island - there are tons - so the chances were pretty slim that we would run into each other at church.
After class I went up to him and he recognized me right away. Not only were they at my church, but they had moved into a condo on the same street as us and were literally minutes away. Crazy! Anyway, I met his wife Kristy and their 3 girls, Mariah, Brinlee and Asia. They lived here for three years and just moved back to WA last May. We miss them and try to keep up with them on their blog. Hopefully we'll see them again one of these Christmases.
Anyway, while they lived here they added one more daughter to their family, Tatum (and have since added another - yes, that's 5 girls!) So for Tatum's 1st birthday I made her this wall hanging for her room. Kind of hard to see, but it has the cutest fairy fabric. It was fun to make and I learned a lot doing it. It was only the second word I had done and I would do the "M" differently if I ever did it again and the "T's" turned out a little wider than intended. Oh well. It's all about learning and having fun, right?


Size: 8" x 41"
Pattern: original design
Completed: August 2008
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Caitlynn
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The story: This past summer my mommies group (honolulumommies.com) was holding a silent autction to raise money for a local charity. They were soliciting donations for the auction and I volunteered to donate a custom wall hanging of a child's name. The winner was Molly and she wanted one for her daughter Caitlynn. So, just knowing that Caitlynn's room was done in shabby chic and with a few ideas from Molly I went fabric shopping. I found these prints from Moda (one of my favorites) and thought they worked really well together. I finished it in about a week, including design time - should have only taken a few hours, but with a toddler everything takes 5 times longer!
Here are a couple of close-ups to hopefully see the fabric better. Sorry they are a bit blurry.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Little Bit Country

"Country Stars"
Size: 17 1/4” x 17 1/4”
Pattern: from a kit
Completed: December 2005
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Laurelyn Miner
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The Story: This was a kit from a very cool quilt shop in Fremont, NE (Cory's hometown.) It is a huge shop with an amazing selection of fabric. Needless to say everytime we go back to Nebraska, we have to stop by and I never get out of there without doing a little damage to the bank account.
Anyway, once again I decided to make a few Christmas gifts in 2005 and my friend Laurelyn was the recipient of this little wall hanging. It's hard to tell in the photos, but most of the fabrics have some kind of star pattern in them.

Sewing Class

A couple of months ago I started a little "sewing group" with my mommy friends from Honolulu Mommies. At the first class there were 4 mommies and we made backpacks. I found this pattern online and modified it a bit. We had a lot of fun and decided to do it again. At the second class there were 7 mommies and we made crayon roll-ups. They turned out super cute. Our third class is next Saturday and we have 8 mommies coming (I can't fit anymore in my house than that!) When I posted the date for this upcoming class it filled up within hours and we have a waitlist. Most of the mommies are beginners and it is so fun to share something I love with good company!

Here are some pics of our projects:
A sideways shot of the backpack I made for myself.

Leif and his McQueen "PACKPACK." Speed!!! It's perfect for him to wear to church with all his quiet toys in it. I made one for his best buddy Ronan, too.

Trish's crayon roll. This was the first thing she has ever sewn. She did awesome! And she chose the cutest fabric, too.

This is Jessica's. She was also a first-timer and did a great job.

Nicole and her project. This was her second class and it turned out pratically perfect.

We are making these cute little pincushions next week. I got the idea from a Moda Bake Shop Charm Pack Recipe. But I'm not sure the group is ready for half-square triangles so we're sticking with a small little four-patch block with little bit of quilting on it. We are also making the most adorable hanging book displays from Ohdeedoh. I'll post pics after the class.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


"Aloha Noel"
Size: 10" x 23" (I think)
Pattern: Original Design
Completed: December 2008
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Mary Bennett
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301

Size: 8" x 21"
Pattern: Original design
Completed: December 2008
Made in: Hawaii
Given to: Ric and Lori Packard, Mike and Billie Bennett, Mike and Stacy Bennett, Irene Thor, Jake and Maggie Liljenquist and one for us
Machine pieced and quilted on a Pfaff Hobby 301
The story: This past Christmas I decided to make quilt gifts again. Since I had done Leif's name (and a couple others) I thought I could do a Christmas word for our parents and siblings. Since I would be making 7 of them I needed a Christmas word that wasn't too long or too complicated. I settled on "Noel" and went fabric shopping. The top one was for Cory's mom, Mary, and we wanted to do something a little less traditional for her. She loves all things tropical so when I found the red and green print with turtles and palm trees I knew it was perfect. For the rest I just chose a simple subduded green and red with a tree-ish patttern. It was a lot of work to finish them all, but once I got going with an assembly line strategy it went fairly quickly. This was the first time I had made more than one of anything, and some definitely turned out better than others.