Category Archives: Quilting and Sewing

Halo Quilt Top

A few months ago I noticed an Instagram post about a sew along for the Jen Kingwell Halo Quilt.  I started one – back in 2016 at a quilt retreat!  After a little digging, I pulled out my blocks… all two of them.  I thought one or two blocks a week would give me a finished Halo quilt top.

I turns out that the chaos of so many scraps was a little too much for me.  Sometimes I can handle messes in my sewing room, but this one made me tense.  So I plowed ahead and finished the blocks in a month.  The only rules I had for myself were a fussy cut center square and attention to value.  Beyond that, I simply pulled fabric, cut and sewed.  

I have a word of advice if you’re thinking about making this quilt.  Buy the acrylic templates.  Jen Kingwell is the designer of the pattern, and the templates do two things:  improve accuracy, and speed up the cutting process.  I didn’t have the templates, so I made my own from plastic and hand cut every piece of fabric in this quilt.  After I’d finished about half of my blocks, I was really regretting my decision.  But here we are, in 2020, and I had no idea how long it would take to get templates shipped so I kept going.  It all worked out.

Most of the time I love the process of making really scrappy quilts, like my January quilt.  Though I did not enjoy the process of making this quilt top as much, I realize it had a lot to do with the pandemic and instability of life at the time.  Still, it was good to keep sewing even though it felt complicated.  And now I have a finished halo quilt top to show for my efforts, rather than a box of pieces and a couple of blocks.

Next comes the quilting.  It’s tempting to hand quilt this like so many others have done, but I am so slow with hand quilting.  I also have a long list of hand sewing projects in various stages.  I’m leaning toward machine quilting this one just so it doesn’t take forever to finish.

Either way, I have a finished Halo quilt top!  Hooray!

Liberty Dresden Quilt

It always feels good to finish something, and finishing my Liberty Dresden quilt feels great!  I started this quilt in a workshop with Kathy Doughty years ago, then put it away.  Eventually I finished the quilt top and immediately proceeded to ruin in when I quilted it myself and it puckered.  So this quilt has become a lesson in failure and endurance, because I had to pick it all out and start over with a new plan.

Every dresden blade in this very large circle is a Liberty of London print from a collection on cotton years ago.  I was lucky to have some long, skinny scraps and made good use of them.  One of my favorite things about this Liberty Dresden quilt is the background.  I chose to do something unexpected and used this dramatic Mostly Manor stripe by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  (I will admit here that it’s one of my most favorite fabrics of all time, and that I hunted it down in every colorway.  It’s that good.) 

Additionally, I used this

Although it’s unexpected, the bold purple and navy stripe complement the feminine florals of the prints in the dresden.  Purple is also a good neutral in many cases.  On the second round of quilting I quilted a different design in each blade, starting small at the center and making it bigger as I got to the edge.  I continued each design to the edge of the quilt.

In three of the blades I added big stitch quilting in a bright yellow 8 weight floss by Sue Spargo.  You really can’t see it at a distance, but it’s a nice touch up close and it adds interest.

I finished the quilt with a red binding – another unexpected choice that makes me smile!  I also added a yellow center.  It took forever to finish, since I quilted it twice and did a LOT of unpicking, but it’s done and in the family room for my kids to use.  That feels good.  

Trinkets from the Beach Quilt

I want to share a quilting moment I’m thankful for this year:  my Trinkets from the Beach quilt visited the ocean.  Just typing that makes my heart clench a little in my chest.  

Each block in my Trinkets from the Beach Quilt represents a specific memory, image, or tradition from our annual visits to Newport Beach, CA.   My grandpa bought a beach house there when my mom was a little girl, long before Newport Beach was a popular destination.  My mom played at this beach, and then my parents took me and my siblings there, and now my children have been there every summer of their lives.

I’m so grateful we were able to go again this year, in spite of everything.  The house, the sand, the egret I love to watch in the mornings, were all more dear because of this strange year.

As for the quilt, I turned the paper pieced blocks into economy blocks, and arranged the fabrics in diagonal rows.  I only made one of each block and I enlarged the pattern.  The economy block setting allowed me to make a larger quilt without duplicate blocks.  I also wanted to emphasize the blue.

I quilted along the seam lines on my machine, and added big stitch quilting in each trinket block.

These Tula Pink Zuma fabrics make my stomach hurt, they’re so pretty.  Just like the beach.  I couldn’t choose just one, so I made a scrappy binding and it’s perfect.

For the backing I used a Moda bouy print, combined with solids and a Rifle Co stripe. I like the mix.


My grandpa lived in this house for many years.  It’s precious to me, a place I will never tire of.  Taking photos of my quilts in front of it give me hope that someday, when the house isn’t ours anymore, the quilts will help with the ache.  I hope they will keep Grandpa close like the house has.

Taking this pattern, making it in this way, trying to sew my memories, was a creative exercise I loved.  I’m trying to do more storytelling, to put more of ME into my quilts.  It’s exciting to try.

This place has my heart.  And I hope my kids will treasure this quilt.

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