It is an exciting time to be a quilter! – Book Review

I don’t do many book reviews, but I may start doing more because it is an exciting time to be a quilter given what is available to us in this day and age. There are so many really great quilting books out there to help teach techniques and skills from beginners to advanced quilters. I am not claiming to be advanced, but I know a few things and I am comfortable with my skill level. I would be lying if I said I didn’t go back to a few of those books to brush up on a technique or two. But now I am at the point in my quilting journey that I don’t want to be told how to quilt as much as I want to be inspired to create. Today’s review will focus on just that. Two books that have inspired me to be a better quilter!

First up is Modern Quilt Perspectives by Thomas Knauer. I have mentioned Mr Knauer from time to time because his thoughts on quilting and modern quilting are so f*cking amazing! Excuse my language, but I get worked up!!!


Most people know him from his “In Defense of Handmade” quilt that was shown at QuiltCon. It was amazing on a technical level, but the thought and message is what was what set it apart. In his book Mr Knauer delves into having meaning behind the quilts. He challenges quilters to create something meaningful to them and to the world around us. Does he have patterns in the book, yes (12 to be exact). Are the patterns awesome, YES! But more importantly is the message behind each quilt. He is taking on subjects from the quilting community, quilting tradition,  including social commentary (domestic violence for example) in a project, and how to include our own identity in your work.

This book has inspired me to do my own quilt with the subject of women, what is considered beautiful, and skin color. I excited and scared and all sorts of emotions are going through me about this particular project, but this book has encouraged me to take that next step with what I am making and make it meaningful to me and my world. I want to make something that makes people talk – even makes them uncomfortable – but beautiful at the same time. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to take their work to the next level. I keep saying this, but it is an exciting time to be a quilter!

The next book that has blown me away is Quilting with a Modern Slant by Rachel May.


This was not what I thought it was when I got it and I am so happy about that!! There really isn’t a lot of patterns to follow – a few projects (don’t let me diminish how fun the projects look – I will be doing a few) and some tips (including a tip about pressing four patches that has changed my world), but this book focuses on community. The modern quilt community has been growing by leaps and bounds. This has caused some tension on some Facebook pages, blogs, and even a few quilt gatherings I have attended about what makes a quilt modern and what is a modern quilter. This book embraces so many different types of modern quilters and shows how big and varied the community has become that the arguments can stop. We are all over the world, we are men and women, we are all ages, we get our inspirations from all over, and we are all obsessed with quilts! This is one of those books that I will take with me  for a trip. Something that I can flip through and find a snippet of inspiration here and there. Something for a lazy Sunday spread out on a quilt in the sun. Seriously – check this book out!!!

I will say it once more – It is an exciting time to be a quilter!

Springtime in Japan

Yes, the cherry blossoms are blooming!! It is a beautiful time of year here.


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Not the best photos, but you get the idea:)

I also thought it would be a great showcase for my new quilt. I think of it as my “Craftsy” quilt. The blocks are from the 2012 Block of the Month (free class), the backing was from Elizabeth Hartman’s modern backs class (free), and the quilting is from Leah Day’s free motion sampler class (I had to pay for that one). This quilt was a huge learning experience for me and it was a lot of fun!



I added a sating binding as an ode to my favorite blanket growing up.

A few of my favorite blocks:

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I am going back to enjoy the blossoms while they are here and soak up every bit of inspiration I can!





A Little Zen Moment

I have started a memorial quilt for my brother-in-law’s family. He lost a his sister a few years back. The family gave me two of her saris to make some kind of quilt. It took me some time to work out what would be the best way to go about this project and I finally decided to keep it simple.


I am doing simple paper pieced square in a square blocks. I know there must be a million names for this block. If you can think of them comment below:)


There is something so zen about this project. The blocks are turning out perfect and the material is not being too difficult. I hope the family is pleased with it. It will be a wall hanging with four 6″ squares across and 8 down. I just ordered some YLI silk thread and some silk/bamboo batting, both are a first to me.

I have this piece from the tunic. I am not sure what I will do with it, but I think it may go on the backing with some embroidery on it.


I will keep you posted on my progress.


I’m Back!

Hello, It has been a while since I posted anything. I broke my ankle and was busy recuperating. The whole process was draining and I was depressed for a lot of it. But I am out of it and ready to party with you all again. I have been very productive the last few weeks. Oddly enough, the first thing I will share is not quilt related, but fabric is involved!


It’s a postcard I made for the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap! I am stepping outside my preferred medium to challenge myself. This just seemed fun and no judging was involved! The front is washi paper with colonial knots (pearl cotton) in the centers of the diamonds. I used a scrap of old kimono fabric to make the flower and a cute button to finish it off. It is an ode to my new home.

Here is the back:)


Sorry, the lighting is poor – but I promise to get better. I will be sending this bad boy out tomorrow and I look forward to getting mine in the mail!!

And I promise not to run off and abandon you all again.

Roller Derby Quilter

So I went and joined a roller derby team! Introducing one of the newer members of the Yokota Scary Blossoms – LOW DOWN DERBY SHAME!!!! You can call me low for short.


(picture taken by JP Smith Photography)

I have always thought roller derby was cool. How can you not? And since I like to be part of the cool people, I had an eye out for a team. That didn’t happen until I came here and found they had a flat track team and they didn’t require any experience – and I have that (no experience, that is)!!!! So a little over two months ago I joined the team, picked a name/number, and now I am slowly learning the ins and outs of derby. I love the game, I love smashing into people, I love the names, and I love that I dropped one pant size since joining the team.

My other favorite thing about derby is that most derby folk are crafty. We have bakers, knitters, crocheters, embroiderers…embroiderists??, and sewists. You can imagine how happy I was when some of the girls suggested we get together to make something.

We started with a quilted cape (One could argue it is a quilt with ties, but I will get into that later) for Summer’s Eve (Eve) who was having a birthday. Dublin Rolla (Dub) brought over three solids (black, pink, and white) for the team colors and and idea that we would have the team logo on it in some way. After some discussion and snacks we decided on doing a stencil technique that I learned from Dan Rouse‘s class.

I will not go into detail on the technique out of respect for his intellectual rights.

I will post that I git to use on of my favorite pair of scissors….I call them my whale scissors and sometimes make whale noises while I use them….did I just admit to that?


Anyway, they are the prefect tool when you just want to clip on layer and not both. Dub took the scraps home to do a color blocked backing.

At the next get together Sweet Action Sally (Sally) came by to help us baste and quilt. Each of the letters were done in a wavy grid to imitate fishnet stockings (a staple of derby) and the rest of the background was done in a triangular stipple pattern. Neither Dub nor Sally had free motion quilted before and they both took to it wonderfully!! Below is Sally quilting a letter.


At the end of the second day the cape was just about done. Dub took it home and finished it up. She even made a machine embroidered label:)

And here is the cape!! You can see Dub’s feet below:)


And some detail pics (taken with my phone, they aren’t great…sorry) I really love how the backing turned out.

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So why is it a cape? I have a quilt that I added ties to so it could be rolled up and would be easier to travel with. I thought it would be cool to add them so she could travel with her spiffy new quilt. Sally and I agreed that she would probably make it into a cape and how great would it be to see her on her skates trying to fly in her cape. Then we gave it to her….


Not in her skates, but the season is young. She loves it, we love that she loves – there was a lot of love!

I will leave you with this….


A double sided baby quilt. I made this Dropkick Nikki (Nikki) who is having a baby soon – and no, she is not skating while pregnant.


She is having a girl, but I didn’t want to go pink. Her husband, Man Coach (MC), was appreciative:)

I love little projects like this that I can do in day:) My advice to her was this – DO NOT CHERISH THIS, USE IT!!!

Be sure to support your local derby team!!!!

Dia de Muertos (this is a long one)

My apologies for not posting sooner. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to post on, I am just still getting use to my new life in Japan and I was working on a super-duper-shmooper secret project….ok, it wasn’t that secret…whatever, I’m lazy and sorry! I will do my best not to go this long again!!!

Allow me to go on.

Before I left California, Aunt Marie asked me if she could commission me to make her a quilt. She wanted a Day of the Dead quilt to go on her bed and something she could hang up during the Day of the Dead celebration.  I don’t often take commissions. This will sound obnoxious, but I don’t want to work on what people want me to work on. This is why I will never make money from selling my quilts…I just want to do what I want. But I took this commission for three big reasons.

1. I love Aunt Marie. She is one of the many people who are a blessing in my marriage. She is technically Dave’s Aunt, but who cares. She is fun, interesting, and always willing to help us. I can’t say no to someone that important!

2. She gets the creative process. She is an artist herself (her main media would be painting, but she dabbles in others) and she put very few restrictions on me – just the size, a deadline, and a theme. She saw a few glimpses of what I was doing and then said she would rather wait and see the whole thing when it was done(which is why I called it my secret project). It is nice for someone to have that kind of trust in your abilities.

3. Her theme is amazing. I love Day of the Dead. It’s is one of the happiest, morbid holidays out there. Where Halloween is meant to scare, Day of the Dead is about celebrating loved ones who have passed on. It is a nostalgic holiday involving skulls…I don’t need to say anymore. I knew right away that this would be “folksy” quilt with bright colors and frayed edges…my mind almost exploded with ideas!

So I got started by picking out the border fabric first. My goal was to find a border that said festive without being too kitschy or novelty”ish”…does that make sense? The border fabric I found is “sloane”. I pulled the solids from that and stuck with mostly warm and bright solids with a few cool colors.


I knew I wanted to do sugar skulls, but what else could I include?? Time to do some research!!! In the quilt I included the following:

1. Papel Picados – These are the intricately cut tissue paper banners that decorate everything. I found the templates here.


2. Hearts and Crosses – This is a holiday about deceased loved ones. I kept seeing hearts on everything. I had to put them in!! The holiday is also linked to the Catholic holiday All Saints Day. The two holidays are not really related at all, but when the Spanish came to convert the Aztecs to a more “civilized” way of life they introduced All Saints Day as an alternative. The result – Day of the Dead has a catholic spin.  Silly Europeans!!!


3. Marigolds- I went silly with the marigolds. I had to!! The marigold is the “flower of the dead”. People sprinkle them everywhere with the notion that the scent of the flower will lead the dead back to the alters. (sorry about the crappy picture)


4. SUGAR SKULLS!!! – This is probably my favorite thing about the holiday, the elaborate sugar skulls that are created to decorate the alters. I decided to hand embroider my “icing decorations”. The process was simple.

First,  I found a skull shape I liked and traced it onto a piece of fusible webbing ( I am a wonder under girl myself).


Next, after fusing the webbing to the fabric I cut out my skull shape and fused it to my background. (yes, I cut out all the teeth individually!)

Then, using the skull shape, I created an embroidery design that I printed on  Transfer-Eze and placed over the fused skull.



Last, I embroidered the skull using mostly split stitches (which are my favorite) and bright colors! I also blanket stitched around all the skulls. The Transfer-Eze came off with a 5 minute soak in water. I did 6 skulls in all.


(and yes some of the teeth fell off before I was able to stitch them down…I went with it)

This was my first fused, raw edge applique quilt and the biggest quilt that I have free motion quilted. Talk about stepping out of your comfort zones!!!

I used a wide backing fabric so I didn’t have to piece anything. The quilting on the applique was done with Gutterman thread. The black quilting was done with Aurifil (which is my favorite to quilt with) as well as the lines on the border (except I used a light grey Aurifil so the black lines didn’t compete with the print. I made bias binding with the border material, and embroidered a label using a Sublime Stitch skeleton pattern. I also included a hanging sleeve so Aunt Marie can hang it over an alter if she wants.


So without further adieu, here it is!!!


It measures 80″ x 80″. Over time, the edges will fray and create a very cool tattered look to the skulls and other appliqued parts. This just makes Day of the Dead theme pop even more! Here are some close ups…The black is attracting lint like crazy, but since Aunt Marie has no pets or kids…it will be fine.




I will leave you with this…My husband made the calendar!!!!


That’s right ladies, this manly piece of beefcake is the new QSMASBC Mr. February 2014….and he is all mine. Seriously…check the link, give these men a bighand for being awesome, and buy the calendar…it makes a great stocking stuffer!!!

A Project a Day Keeps Frustration Away!

I am still working on Aunt Marie’s Day of the Dead quilt and it is kind of amazing, but I need a rest. I often find myself working so much on a project that I end up hating it. Then I put it away for a year and then I drag it back out and try to remember my original plan. Since I want to get the quilt to the recipient before Day of the Dead (Nov 1) I need to work breaks into my schedule. Last week was one such break.

I took the week to a project a day for five days. The first project I already discussed was my apron and headband. I was pretty happy with it so I started looking at pinterest for some more ideas.

Day 2 was a needle book:



I like needle books. They are a great use of scraps and they are just cute. And since I have taken up embroidery I always have needles laying around. I also like to keep my old machine needles so my boys can practice sewing on their paper templates. I fussy cut a little drunk elephant from some Michael Miller fabric for the cover and used scraps for the rest. The inside is craft felt. I got the idea for this one here.

Day 3 was a zipper pouch with key fob.


Last April I visited my sister and to keep myself busy on the plane I embroidered this bison design on a scrap of denim.The free pattern is available here.


I had been wondering what to do with it and finally came up with a lined zipper pouch from a free Craftsy class by Kristen Link over at Sew, Mama Sew. The class is called Bag Making Basics: Reversible Tote and Zipper Pouch.  I added a key fob which makes it easy to carry and holds my keys. I used the same material on the key fob that I did on the lining. The easy tutorial I used is here.


I added some embroidery to the front including my signature. It carries all my essentials for zipping around base.

Day 4 was a quilted ironing board cover.


This was one of those projects that I never thought I would tackle. It ended up being very easy, but it is not for beginners (in my humble opinion). I used some fun Echino fabrics that feel sturdy to me. I also used a layer of cotton batting and a layer of Insul~Bright. I also kept the old pad on it. I used several different tutorials for this, but mostly this one (yes, another Craftsy link).

Day 5 was a quilted camera strap.


I got a new camera so I needed a new strap. I mean, what kind of sewing blogger doesn’t make her own camera strap. After looking at a few tutorial I decided to go out on my own. I wanted a small width and I opted to use the strap that came with the camera for the ends. This was my first time using fusible fleece and I must say it was pleasant:)  I also included some magenta suede fr the attachments.


It felt great to have something new at the end of each day and I encourage all of you to take a break from any big project to do something little. It will give you a sense of accomplishment:)

I leave you with this:


My Japan essentials kit: wallet, lip balm, hand lotion, mirror compact, fan, phone, pen, and small coin purse for yen. Most of this is a given, but I want to point out 2 items. On is the coin purse. Most Japanese money is coins and few places take credit cards. I was not prepared for this as someone who rarely carries cash in the US. I have not made the coin purse yet (which is why it isn’t in the picture) but I will probably be posting it soon. The fan is the next item I want to discuss, I got it at the daiso (100 yen store, 100 yen is roughly one US dollar depending on the exchange rate) and it is very necessary. You would think in a country as hot and humid as Japan they would be silly with A/C…you would be wrong…trust me on the fan.

Follow me on Pinterest…lhungler.

My Turn:)

I love quilt bees:) I love that I live in a day and age that allows me to participate in quilt bees even with women scattered across the US. So I was excited that as my  stash bee wound down one of the members started a new one. This is an all improvisational bee and I am loving it!!

So, I am posting this early to give everyone time to prepare. We all have busy lives and the more lead time the better. My month is October and for this month, I have chosen an improvisational gentle curve:)

To start, you need a 16.5″ square of grey fabric (any shade) and a pile of scraps at least 16.5″ long (varying widths) in bright patterns (maybe a few bright solids) that contrast with one another.


Cut the strips a little wonky, or a lot. Go with what makes you happy. I just don’t want them straight. Press the seams open or to the side (again, follow your bliss). Then cut the sewn strips to a 16.5″ square .


Now stack the two squares. It really doesn’t matter which is on top or bottom.


Now comes the fun part. Cut 2  very gentle, rolling curves. You can make them in whatever shape you want. I like to draw a guideline, but I don’t follow it. Do not over think this part!!


Separate the two and rearrange so that there is a positive and a negative.


Okay, deep breath…here come the scary part. I will admit that the first time I did this I got midway through and just knew that I had messed the whole thing up. Some type of black magic happened and it was fine…so don’t stress if this feels weird.

You are going to put right sides together and very slowly and with a 1/4″ seam sew the two curves together. I would start with the grey fabric on top (I didn’t in the picture, but I should have). There will be lots of stopping and rearranging the fabric (make sure the needle is down) so don’t stress. Somehow, it always works out:)


Here is what you will end up with:


Don’t worry if your ends don’t match up…they most likely won’t.


Press the seams open and do it again to the other side.



And your block is done. If you are not too anxious, do the other block:) You will have a positive and a negative!!! Don’t worry about trimming them down to size. I have an idea and so leave them long.


I will leave you with this:


My inspiration was a block called Candyland that Alyssa Lichner did on her skill builder BOM at Pile o Fabric. She has a video tutorial that may explain the sewing together better than I. I enjoyed quilting this one:)

Aprons and Headbands

So,  I have been getting a  lot done in the weeks since I got my machines set up. Some of it is catching up with my multiple bees and BOMs (which I will discuss in another post) and some of it has been working on my super secret project…ok, not really super secret. I was commissioned to do a Day of the Dead quilt for Aunt Marie and she told me that she would like to be surprised. Don’t worry, I have been taking pictures and will be ready to post by mid October. It’s kind of a BFD, if you know what I mean;)

In between these moments I am doing little projects that I can do in a day. One of these was an apron and matching headband. Back in April I gave my sister an apron and headband for our birthday. I got the idea after she told me she would be doing cooking demos for Loudon Veg (a group that is promotes plant-based diets). Marla’s demos are in lower income areas to bust the myth that healthy eating is expensive. She has had a great response and looks legit in her new outfit. (The fabric is from Michael Millers “Tine Vegetables” collection, I pieced 4 different colors). I also made a couple of potholders and a trivet, but she rarely uses that at her demos.


I liked how it looked so much that I decided to make on for myself. Shortly after arriving in Japan I stumbled across this ridiculous fabric.


Yep, floating kitten heads!!! With doilies and french writing (translates to “cute kitten” and “dream kitten room”)!!!  The fabric was in a kit for a bag and included the polka dot fabric and too cute/ridiculous to pass up. I knew this would be my apron (especially since I couldn’t read the bag pattern in Japanese). I also found some very soft cotton webbing.  The find was bittersweet since it was in Shibuya at a shop called Marunam that is closing…a moment of silence for another fallen shop…


The apron pattern I used is free at The Crafts Dept at Martha Stewart Living. It’s a really easy lined apron with a pocket. I would definitely recommend it for a beginner:)

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It came out super cute.


Next was the head band which was another free tutorial at Sewn Up by Teresea Down Under. I was lucky to have the exact scrap I needed:)


Yes, that is a rhino beetle on my head. We are in rhino beetle season and this area is silly with them…my boys are in heaven.

The whole look:


Now that’s cooking with gas!! I  will leave you with this…


That’s my man on a quilt, shirtless, and holding a spicy burrito. In case you are wondering, check out this link at The Bitchy Stitcher.


Hello everyone!! I know you were all holding your breath waiting for my next post so you can all breath now because I am in Japan and ready to sew:)

I will not lie, the last few months have been stressful, but the move went smoothly, none of my stuff was broken, and I have already found several stores here and online that can provide me with all the stuff I could ever want…so amen, God is good:)

I hope to be posting more frequently starting this fall with lots of new projects. I plan to sew everyday, even if it only a few minutes. I will be expanding my skill set to more advanced quilting techniques and even garment construction…I know…exciting stuff!!!

Anyway, I will leave you with this, a view of my new sewing room.

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We are in a 3 bedroom “garden” home on base. I am making my kids share a room so I can have this space. My husband agrees that this will make me easier to live with;) It’s a bigger space than what I had before and it has better lighting, I am loving it!!!!