Monday, April 25, 2016

White Fences Quilt

I started this quilt in 2012, the same year I started quilting. I sketched it out all cute on a sheet of graph paper.  I still remember waiting in line at my local quilt shop with the two bolts. I cut out about half the quilt. I even started sewing.

I had some notion of this quilt being inspired by those beautiful horse fences you see in Kentucky, I think.

Then I got distracted by something shiny.

The pieces sat in my work in progress box. Every time I saw them I thought about getting back to that quilt.

The years past, so much changed. I made lots of quilts. We grew up a lot. I looked at this quilt in my sewing room and thought about finishing it. I think we all have seasons in our lives where we look back and realize that we passed some developmental stage during that time. Between 26 and 30 I feel like I became an adult. Not in the, now I can pay my bills kind of way, or even, the I can't be goofy and have fun kind of way. I mean my priorities shifted and my outlook changed. I was looking for a place in the world, I stopped waiting for "real" life to happen and started living my life.

That whole time I would occasionally look at the pieces of this quilt up and think, I will finish this someday, not now.

Then, in my 30th year,  everything changed again. We bought a house. We moved to another town. We reached another life milestone.

New years eve of this year, I was cleaning my new sewing room in my new, much loved house (actually it is a really old house) and I saw the pieces of this quilt and I knew it was time to finish it.

I finished it that night while drinking champagne (no joke).

I quilted it the next day.

It was time finish this quilt. I just didn't know that I was waiting until I was home.

Quilt Stats:
Name: White Fences
Size: 67" x 68"
Pattern: Designed by a 2012 version of me
Quilting: Organic grid with Aurifil thread
Finished: January 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Softest Quilt.

I seem to only find myself in this space when I am procrastinating or I have abandoned my daily routine. I could apologize for that, but I think you all get it. So pull, up a chair, I am drinking a pot of tea and ignoring chores right now.

I am not going to say, "I am just so busy." I reject that generally for myself. I have made choices that keep me away from this blog and I am okay with that. I could make different choices, but, for me, just coming here occasionally is the right choice for now.

I have a new house that is tons of work. I have full time job that is more than just a day job, it is a career that requires me to invest myself in it physically and mentally. I have a husband that deserves some of my time. I like to eat. I like to sleep. It is a good life.

Anyway, enough of your complaining Sarah! This is a quilting blog.

I still sew almost everyday. I still like blogging and sharing. So, I still have a quilt to share!

This quilt. Is the most comforting quilt I have ever made.

Last summer was not a good time for me. I had a huge deadline at work. We were buying a house that was under construction. And oh, our lease for our rental ran out and we had nowhere to live. Now, do not feel sorry for me! We have tons of lovely friends and family and the means to rent something short term and move our stuff into storage. It was stressful, not catastrophic.

At the end of July, we had to move out of the tiny house we had lived in for the past five years and move everything we owned into a storage unit. Then move ourselves (and very cranky cat) into a coworker's house (aside: the very best coworker in the whole entire world!). Then the next day I had to leave for a business trip.

It was a tough time.

Like many people, I lost all of my inspiration. I just did not have the energy to think (also, most of my supplies were packed away in a storage unit). Before I moved I put all of the double gauze I owned into bag and then I started this quilt. This is the softest quilt I have ever made. It is not complicated. I didn't plan it out, I just started making hearts (using this awesome tutorial). Then I cut a bunch of squares 5.5 inches tall and random widths. I knew that I didn't want to worry too much about aligning seams or keeping angles perfect, because double gauze is shifty stuff and it would be futile.

The fabric is a mix of Cotton & Steel, Nano Iro, and some random Japanese brands. I didn't worry about matching or even trimming selvedges.

Then it was a quilt top. I backed it in this perfect soft cotton lawn with some fun hot pinks, because I love hot pink. Quilting was simple and relaxing too, just random straight-ish lines. It was the first quilt I basted and quilted in my new house. It felt like magic.

Before I washed it, I noticed I had a fray in a seam (double gauze...). I didn't want to worry too much about that so I used some fray check and an awesome patch with some visible mending.

This quilt was therapy. Now it travels with me when I go on work trips and I can snuggle under the softest quilt.

Friends. Thanks for bearing with me on this long post. Sometimes the words just need to come out.

Love ya.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Softest Quilt
Size: No idea, small throw
Pattern: Simple patchwork with lovely hearts from Cluck Cluck Sew's tutorial
Quilting: Simple grid with Aurifil thread (white)
Fabric: Primarily Nano Iro and Cotton & Steel double gauze, Heather Ross Tiger Lily Lawn on the back.
Finished: September 2015

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Northern Flicker. A Quilt and a Bird.

The Northern Flicker. 
(Colaptes auratus)

photo by Kent Keller (

"Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground. It’s not where you’d expect to find a woodpecker, but flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly you’ll see a flash of color in the wings – yellow if you’re in the East, red if you’re in the West – and a bright white flash on the rump." - The Sibley Guide to Birds

Hiking in the mountains of Santa Fe, my husband and I heard the noise of flickers knocking on the trees. Two male flickers were fighting about something just above the trees. They are beautiful birds all spots and stripes with bright flashes of red.

Flickers are Derek's favorite bird. They are one of my favorites too. When Derek and I were dating we were both living in (separate) off campus houses with friends while we were undergraduates at the University of Denver. The houses were only a few blocks from each other and I remember many walks between those houses in the residential neighborhood around DU. In the early morning and in the early evening the flickers would come out to hunt.

Walking in the New Mexico mountains with Derek ten years later, the flickers were still fighting, hunting, and scavenging. Derek and I are still walking.

Sometimes you see something and you know it needs to become a quilt. I knew my flicker quilt was not going to be a literal bird quilt. I wanted to try to capture the colors and movement in the birds feathers. I just started cutting fabric and sewing it again. Triangles and circles, to make stripes and dots. I wanted the quilting to be irregular and organic. 

I gave this quilt to Derek and he promptly wrapped it around himself. Later I found it in his office. I think he likes it. Flickers are his favorite bird.

Quilt Stats: 
Name: Flicker
Size: Approximately 65" x 70"
Pattern: Improv, with lots of straight lines, but no pattern.
Fabric: So many scraps....
Quilting: Organic lines with the walking foot using Aurifil thread
Finished: January 2015

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why I quilt and #quiltconreject

Why do we quilt?

Why cut up fabric and sew it back together? Why do we do elaborate things with fabric when we could just sew together simple squares and the final product would be just as warm?

Quilting is a meditation for me, a meditation about creation. It is something I devote time and energy to because the craft makes me feel good.

I was reading Uppercase Magazine (January 2015, Issue 24), editor Janine Vangool interviewed Denyse Schmidt. In this interview Schmidt discussed why she started quilting, "The tangible record of time and effort I held in my lap, versus the ephemeral nature of what I produced day to day was a revelation."

That is it.

Sometimes a quilt is not designed or pieced, it is built block by block. I feel a little like a mason building a brick wall. It is not improv, per se, I used rulers and traditional blocks with precise point. It was a journey, I did not know what the finished project would look like until the end.

I chose traditional blocks to reference our heritage as quilters. I am so proud of my quilting fore bearers and I like to think they stitched up beautiful designs both for the practical and aesthetic reasons. Just like me, beauty was created for beauties sake. The quilting is done by both machine and hand. It felt important to make this personal quilt even more personal by adding handwork.

It also felt important to take my time. Quick quilts and easy patterns have their place (I personally love them!). A quilt that takes time is special, it means something when you stop and contemplate your work. We don't have to do this. If I needed a blanket, I could sew some squares together (something I have done and loved), but devoting oneself to a project gives it more meaning. It is almost like I stitched part of myself into this quilt.

I put my name on the front of this quilt. It felt so permanent and personal. It is also a statement on the art and craft of quilting. Quilting is an art that generations of women have perfected and loved, it is also an art that has often been ignored and under valued (I am sorry men, not trying to leave you out, but quilting has been long considered women's work and has been undervalued in the way that tasks considered "feminine" often are). Stories of finding intricately pieced antique quilts with no name or date are so common. On a quilt that is all about the maker and the process of making should include placing the person on the front with the design.

This quilt was rejected from Quilt Con 2016.

I am not going to lie and tell you I was not disappointed. I poured my heart and soul into the construction of this quilt. It was a passion project that took me weeks and months to complete. I do not, however, make my quilts for showing. I made this quilt because I had something to say, I needed to make this quilt.

I know that many fantastic quilts were accepted and rejected from the show at Quilt Con and I try not to derive self worth from a jury decision. Sure, it still stings. I am writing this here in case you were rejected from a show. I think it is okay to admit to being bummed. We want to be cheerful cheerleaders for our buddies who are showing quilts and the craft that we love! You didn't submit a quilt unless you loved it and believed in it. It is hard to hear a "no".

The good news is, this quilt lives in my house and I still love it. I am happy with my concept and design and I would not change a thing.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Why I Quilt 
Size: 65" x 70"
Pattern: my own, many traditional blocks included...
Fabric: Many stash fabrics, mostly from the scrap bins (as an aside, how do these bins never look smaller!)
Quilting: Straight lines by machine with Aurifil and hand quilting using Finca thread and some Aurifil Floss. 
Finished: August 2015

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reunited and Happy 2016.

Dear Blog,
I am writing this letter because I miss you. I miss posting my finishes. I miss checking in with my works in progress. I miss being connected. I am writing this letter because I didn't know how to come back after being gone for so long. I didn't know how to catch up with the months that we missed. There have been ups and downs. Incredible things have happened and then, I didn't blog. I am so sorry. I am writing this letter because I want to come back to you.

Let me start with a bulleted list of the THINGS that have happened in since I have been gone. I do my best work in lists.

1. I turned 30. This is a big milestone. I am out of my twenties. Time to adult like a pro (higher level amateur?).

2. We bought a house. It is nearly a hundred years old and was under renovation when we bought it. That all means that less than two weeks after my 30th birthday Derek and I moved out of our rental and into a storage unit/friend's house. The friend's house was nice, but the experience was simultaneously the worst and scariest thing I have ever done. The house is pretty much done now (if a hundred year old house is ever really done). It is now glorious and feels like one of the best decisions we have ever made since we decided to get commit ourselves to each other (5 years ago this year!).

3. My job got so stressful. It also got more rewarding. Probably related.

4. I have the best sewing room in the world now. Sorry other sewing rooms out there. Mine is the bomb (also sorry it is not pictured, might need to be the subject of another post and some camera time).

5. I finished some of my favorite quilts ever and then, just like that, I lost all my creativity. I think the energy went straight into the house and the job. It took several months and some real work to find my creative fire again. I only have photos of six finished quilts from 2016 (mostly terrible photos), but I think upon my current count I have actually finished at least ten. That is certainly less than last year, but pretty decent for a year where we moved and I have had been more busy at work than ever before. The real shame is that I have only blogged about three of these! I am so sorry blog.

I am going to stop my list there. I feel like a I need a fresh start. I might try to blog about some of the missing finishes, but I know you will understand if I let them go and free myself from that burden. It is a new year, we are finally living in our new house, and it is time to come back together.

Reunited and it feels so good.

Love and kisses,

PS - No resolutions or words right now. I am just so happy to be here and I just want to enjoy this year and see where this trip around the sun takes me. I know you understand.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It is August.

I know I should just hop back into blogging like I was never gone, like it is totally normal. No biggie, here I am.

I feel I need to say something.

We are still buying the house I mentioned shopping for a couple of posts ago. It is a long process because it is under construction. I don't want to talk about it too much because it just feels unreal. We are completely thrilled with the house and honestly can't believe we get to live there when it is done.

It is a journey, a journey full of sawdust and paint, inspections, rapid progress and then disappointing news. We are expecting to be living there in a couple of weeks (pinch me) and once we are there I will give you all a tour. My sewing room is going to be particularly epic.

At the end of July we had to be out of our rental of five years. Now we (my husband, our Max cat, and my two sewing machines) have moved into a coworker's house (whilst she is out of town) until our house is done. We are doing alright, but I feel like today was the first day I have sat down in weeks.

Wait, Sarah, WAIT a second, did you say TWO sewing machines? Yes, my friends I did.

This July my dearest Juju (Jukie TL 2010q) and I welcomed our newest team member, a (new to us) Bernina 165 Activa.  Her name is Bebe (get it?!) This machine is just exactly the opposite of Juju in pretty much every way except that both of these machines are heavy duty, all metal workers that sew beautiful stitches. Bebe does all the fancy zig zags and buttonholes (heck, she even has an embroidery module I have not touched, see above for why). She is smaller, quieter (not much lighter) and will probably become my go-to travel machine. I still love Juju and would recommend her to most serious quilters in a heartbeat, but I think most sewers need to have a Bebe for those other projects.

I snagged Bebe in a pretty killer deal (I felt good about it) from a fellow Triangle MQG member on our listserv. She is not brand new, but she sews beautifully and, honestly, I can't stomach new Bernina prices. I know they are great machines, I would recommend them in a heartbeat to anyone, but house buying me could not be in the market for one of those new machines. Bebe is an amazing team member though and we are happy to have her!

So friends, this is me. Right now, in a new town, living out of a suitcase. The bacon clan is holding it together and waiting for our dream home to be ready for us. I am trying to find my love of sewing after weeks of exhausting packing. Also, an edited selection of my sewing projects are living in boxes in our temporary living room. I already miss my stash.

It is not bad. Transitions are part of life and adulting is hard stuff.

Love you all, no promises on when I will be back, but I am here and I will come back.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear Baby, You are Loved.

Dear Gwendolyn,

I had a hard time starting this letter; there are just so many things I want to say to you. I know you are just a little one and it will be years before you can understand these words that I type.

Let me start with the easiest thing, you are so special little one, so loved, and so precious.

Your parents are pretty great. I mean, you are a pretty lucky little one. I know they will be there for you forever. I know this because I know them. I have known your mom many years before the beginning of your time. She is the best. I have known your dad for some smaller number of years before your time, but he has proven to be a pretty awesome guy too.

I know your parents probably have many hopes and dreams for you little one, but let me add a few. I hope that you have a happy childhood, full of tire swings, time machines, daydreams, and fairy tales. I hope you experience sledding down hills at top speeds, climbing mountains, waking up to clear bird calls in sun filled tents, and hearing echoes. I hope there are flowers, mud, and bugs. Eating warm wild strawberries, dandelion necklaces, mosquito bites, bicycles, macaroni and cheese.  Mud puddles and rainbows, tree houses, story telling, legos, and cold mountain lakes.

I dream that you will grow up confident and happy. I dream that you will have convictions and beliefs and that you will keep them and change them as you find you need to. I dream that you will be a girl who knows she is strong and woman who knows she is stronger. I dream that the world you live in accepts you for who you are and treats you as an equal.

Most of all, little one, I dream and hope you turn out a lot like another little girl and woman I admire a great deal, your mom.

Sending warm love and kind regards. May the force be with you.


PS - I am sorry if this is a little cheesy, but real like can be like that.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: A combination of paper pieced pattern set at random. Strawberry by Sew-ichgo, paper crane by Kitten’s Mittens, mushroom and gnomes by Artisania, and paper airplaine by Quiet Play.
Fabric: Assorted stash fabrics, Heather Ross, Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander, Joel Dewberry, Bonnie and Camille, among others…
Quilting: Shell pattern with white Aurifil
Size: approximately 40” x 40”

Finished: March 2015