Spontaneous Decision on Which Quilt to Make Next

I feel like I’m not quite ready to start my second Ruffled Feathers quilt, and want something bright and colorful and less chaotic that the last two quilts I’ve made. So I’ve decided that I’m going to remake the Lucky Stars quilt that I made out of batik scraps earlier this year.

Here’s the pattern.

So I went in and made a mess of my sewing room and dug through my Kaffe Fassett Collective stash to find some fabrics that will be bright and colorful and saturated. This selection isn’t final, but I like the color combo.

The background is a batik that I’ve had for several years. I saw it used for a background on a batik quilt that I saw in a shop in Salt Lake City many years ago. The store sold out of the fabric immediately and it took a long time for me to see it again. So when I finally saw it in a shop in Haley, Idaho, I bought five yards because I knew I’d use it eventually and would probably never see it again. I need two yards for a lap size quilt on this pattern.

The black dots are a very free form spatter type thing. I think a light fabric like this is much more interesting than a solid white or off white background. Plus, I do love a graphic black and white with all these bright prints.

Tomorrow I’m going to finish two quilt backs so I can get four holiday gift quilts off to my long arm quilter. I have to get them done if I want them back in time! So I probably won’t start this quilt for a few days.

My friend who bought my Contrast Ruffled Feathers quilt sent me some photos today with the quilting done. It looks so good all quilted. She added borders to make it fit a bed.

I know a lot of people have a lot of trouble with seeing dogs on a new quilt, but it actually makes me really happy! I love to see that someone has incorporated the quilt into their life! No higher compliment to me!

Black Quilt is Done: Well This Went By Fast

I started cutting the fabric for this quilt on Monday night and just finished sewing the final seam at 11 pm on Friday. Might be one of the quickest makes ever.

I love these fabrics. These close ups of the blocks are so yummy!

The fabric for the backing arrived today. It’s Phillip Jacob’s Spiral Shells in Red. It’s so crazy amazing!!!

I’m putting a full fabric list here so I have a record of it.

Philip Jacobs Glory – Dark

Philip Jacobs Bearded Iris – Dark

Brandon Mably Pomegranate – Black

Kaffe Fasset Guinea Flower – Black

Kaffe Fassett Lake Blossoms – Black

Philip Jacobs Wisteria – Black

Philip Jacobs Spiral Shells – Red

Kaffe Fassett Shirt Stripes – Cobalt

Philip Jacobs Mable Stream – Cobalt

Kaffe Fassett Trefoil – Dark

Philip Jacobs Big Leaf – Purple

Philip Jacobs Shaggy __ Black

Kaffe Fassett Row Flowers – Dark

Kaffe Fassett Persian Garden – Black

Tomorrow I’m going to finish the back for my most recent Aboriginal quilt and the batik wedge quilt I made a month or so ago. They are both for holiday gifts. I have four quilts to get off to my quilter so I can get them back by the holidays.

I may start my new Ruffled Feathers Quilt on Sunday, unless I decide to do something different. I do have another idea brewing.

Late Night Sewing and Our First Dark and Wet Walk

I had a stressful day at work that ended late, so dinner was late, and so was our evening walk. But I put on my rain coat, reflective gloves, a cap and my head lamp, leashed up the dogs with their lighted collars and off we went.

That meant we didn’t get home until after 9 pm. And then I had a phone conversation with my friend who is also making this quilt pattern with similar fabrics.

By the time I sat down at the sewing machine it was 11 pm. I was able to sew the blocks on row three and four, but didn’t have the drive to assemble the rows. I’ll do that tomorrow night after our dog agility lesson.

The above photo gives you an idea of how I’ve laid out these pieces and assembled the blocks. I did it in a much more free form way than the pattern wanted me to. I just made sure that there was variation in how each block was laid out compared to the blocks next to it.

A friend today was asking how I went about starting a quilt and I explained to her the process I go through when I’ve selected my fabrics and am ready to start cutting.

I read the pattern to decide how much of it I want to follow or how I will alter it. And then I’ll calculate how many blocks I need and how many of each piece for a block. For this quilt, I need 30 blocks in two different layouts. One layout has five pieces, one has four pieces.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about what my notes mean because it will effectively give you the pattern. But I wanted to give you an idea of how I get prepared to start cutting. It’s a little peak into my brain.

This first sheet is my calculations on how many of each piece I need.

This next photo is the sheet that I used to keep track of pieces as I cut them. The number in the center with the square around it is how many of each piece I need. The hash marks are made as I cut those pieces.

Like I said at the top, we had our first evening walk in the rain and dark this evening. It really makes me sad to see the summer light leaving. It changes so fast this time of year. But I LOVE walking in the cooler weather.

I was surprised that we saw a coyote tonight on our first dark walk. You can see him in the middle of the street in this photo.

Rico smelled him before I saw him and that’s what made me look up the street. The coyote was very aware of us and paying a lot of attention. And we just kept on walking.

It’s not uncommon to see coyotes in my neighborhood. I live between two golf courses and there is lots of cover in the area for them to hide. I often hear them howling in chorus at night. I even had one in my back yard a few summers ago… inside a six foot fence. You see them all over Portland. I work with a woman who once tried to coax one into her car, thinking it was a stray dog.

We’ll be doing a lot of walking in the dark this winter, so we need the appropriate gear. And if you live in Portland, good rain gear is pretty much a necessity. I have many rain coats for different kinds of rain, several pair of rain pants, water proof hats with and without insulation, and a good selection of reflective or illuminated accessories. There are no sidewalks in my neighborhood so we have to walk on the street. It’s really important that people can see us! And you have to have really good water proof shoes.

I went on Amazon tonight and bought a new reflective vest for myself, a new red lighted collar for the dogs because this blue one on Bender isn’t bright enough, lots of AAA batteries for my head lamps, and a case of dog poop bags. We’re ready for a long season of dark and wet walks.

In the dead of winter here it’s totally dark at 4:00 in the afternoon. The rainy season typically starts in the first few weeks of October and continues through at least May. It often continues through June.

We’re ready for it logistically, but it makes me sad to see it coming. I just love the long summer evenings.

Cracking Along on This Blue/Black Quilt

I decided to omit the blue jumble from this quilt and I think it was an excellent decision. I replaced all the pieces with a mix of other fabrics that already appear in the top. It all feels cohesive now and those Jumble blocks aren’t screaming at me.

I started sewing the blocks together tonight and completed two complete rows. I’m going to continue to finish the rows as the blocks are made so when I’m done, I’m done!

As of now, one-third of this quilt is done.

Here’s a view of it before I started sewing the blocks together. This was taken in daylight so the colors are different. The whole thing seems flat to me.

I really hope I can get a good photo of this when it’s done.

A friend of mine is getting her fabrics together to make her own version of this quilt and she asked me tonight if the blocks were coming out the size they’re supposed to be. Here’s one on my cutting table and it’s almost a perfect 12.5×12.5 block, which is what it’s supposed to be. This has not been squared up.

I’m really noticing that my accuracy in piecing has really improved over the last few months. It’s really nice to have nice square and accurate blocks as they go together so beautifully. Granted, these are not technical and difficult blocks to make. Improved piecing technique might be one of the benefits of this pandemic.

My friend has selected some of the same fabrics as in my quilt, but she’s using more fabrics than I am. It will be really interesting to see how different our quilts look when they’re done.

Here’s a photo of my beautiful blocks when they’re sewn together. They’re so pretty!

Not Sure I Should Call This a Black Quilt

I had a very productive evening! I decided yesterday that I would make the black KFC fabrics top next. And tonight I got my fabrics all prepped and cut and this quilt is all up on the design wall.

I’m having a hard time calling this a “black” quilt. There’s just so much vibrant color in all those fabrics.

I still have some tweaking to do before I start sewing these blocks together. And, once again, I’m not sure I’m going to leave the large blue jumble blocks in the quilt. They really stand out to me. I have plenty of fabric left over to cut a couple more squares. I’ll give this a little thought, but looking at this photo… they will probably come out.

The pattern is by Sweet Jane and is called Flowers in the Garden. I purchased the pattern at a quilt store a few years ago, but it’s available on Etsy here.

Here’s a few more close up views of this gorgeous selection of fabrics.

There’s something very satisfying to me about the left over shreds of scraps from cutting out the pieces for a quilt.

Next step is to give it a really good look on the design wall, call it done and start sewing. The blocks are big — there are only 30 blocks in this quilt.

Clearing My Mind and My Design Wall

I’m really getting itching to start a new quilt, but I promised myself that I would finish this Aboriginal top before I start a new project. And today, I did it!

This is an almost exact duplicate of a quilt I finished a few months ago.

Here’s the first quilt.

I had so many blocks over that I only had to add a few to make another quilt top. The first one is for my brother and his wife and this new one will be a holiday gift for a nephew.

I really wanted to clear my sewing room of this project before I started a new one, but I also wanted to clear my brain so that I could embrace my new quilt.

And now I have two quilt backs to finish and get FOUR quilts off to my long arm quilter to get done in time for the holidays. Time is wasting!

I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to start the black Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics first. I want to do something new before I dive into a second Ruffled Feathers quilt.

I’ll probably start cutting tomorrow night.

Waiting to Start My Next Quilt

I’m kind of itching to get started on my next quilt. I’m just waiting for a couple more pieces of fabric to arrive and then I can get moving.

Here’s a generous selection of fabrics for one of my options. I will pare this stack down before I start cutting.

I’ve wanted to make a quilt out of black Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics for quite some time. The fabrics are pretty amazing and I just love those bright pops of color. I’m considering a couple of different patterns for these fabrics. One would be the Moss Garden pattern. You can see my recent Moss Garden quilt here.

Another pattern I’m considering is this one that I saw in a quilt store in Chehalis, Washington. It’s similar in it’s combo of larger and smaller squares. But it has a little more variation from block to block. This is probably the pattern I will land on for these black fabrics. It will really let those big prints shine!

Look at how gorgeous these fabrics are!!!

Here’s the other set of fabric that I’ve been assembling. I’m still waiting for two pieces to arrive to fill out this stack.

These fabrics will go into another Ruffled Feathers quilt. I really liked the one I made out of Kaffe fabrics in the contrast color way. I really want to make another one. And I’m going to use an off white background for the geese, which means that the geese will stand out more. With all that work in making gees, I’d like them to really shine. They were sort of muddy in the contrast quilt.

The off white is a Kona cotton that I found online. The color is “snow.” It’s risky to buy an off white fabric online, site unseen. But I lucked out on this one. It’s soft but bright and not too yellow. And it doesn’t get anywhere near beige. Those geese will really POP!

Look at this stack of gorgeousness!!!

Finally, after more than a week of terribly smoky air, it started to clear out yesterday, and a lovely afternoon rain storm pushed almost all of it away. We’ve all started tracking the AQI (Air Quality index) with apps on our phones. I’ve never kept track of this in the past.

Our air was in the “hazardous” range for many, many days. It was really a relief to see it drop into the “extremely dangerous” range. This screen capture was from last Sunday. This scale only goes up to 500! I can’t possibly tell you how incredibly oppressive this smoky air was. You just can’t get away from it. And at a time when we’re all isolated at home, the smoke took away the only respite we’ve been able to get… our twice daily walks. It was a tough week, psychologically, being cooped up, but the smoke also has terrible physical effects.

Here’s a screen capture from today!

It’s so amazing to have breathable air again! And it’s so nice to be able to get outside and walk! My poor dogs… they were going absolutely stir crazy. And me too!

It was a gorgeous day today. The skies of Oregon are really beautiful! Look at that gorgeous clear air!!!

Contrast Ruffled Feathers Fabric List

I’m putting the list of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics I used for my recently finished Ruffled Feathers quilt here so that I have a record of it on this blog. (I didn’t keep a list of the white/black fabrics I used.)

These are all Kaffe Fassett Collective Fabrics

Bali Brocade – Contrast

Macaroni – Chocolate

Tree Fungi – Contrast

Coleus – Contrast

Japanese Chrysanthemum – Contrast

Row Flowers – Contrast

Zig Zag – Contrast

Jumble – Gold

Tiddly Winks – Contrast

Lotus Leaf – Contrast

Jumble – Rose

Striped Heraldic – Contrast

Jumble – Duck Egg

Mad Plaid – Contrast


I was so happy to see a little bit of sky after work this evening. We’ve been socked in with smoke from the forest fires around Portland for nearly a week now. It made me feel some hope and really lifted my spirits. It’s amazing how oppressive this smoke has been.

Even though we saw a little of the sky, it’s still smoky out there and the air is not yet healthy. The photo above was taken looking due west from my patio. This next photo was taken in the street in front of my house, facing due north.

You can see that it’s still really smoky. They said on the news tonight that we’ll have smoke through most of this week, but may start to see some clearing starting Thursday. It will be so welcome to get rid of this terrible unhealthy smoke.

We did take advantage of the brief break in the smoke by taking a two mile walk after dinner. It did the trick and Bender settled in nicely after mauling me all weekend long!

Still Smoky and a Little Weekend Sewing

The air quality index in Portland is at hazardous levels from all the smoke from the nearby forest fires. This made it necessary to stay hunkered down in the house for the entire weekend.

The dogs thought this was a terrible idea and they’ve been driving me crazy pretty much all weekend… they just need some activity!

This was pretty much my weekend… keeping them supplied with chews so I could get some stuff done.

I did take them for a short, slow walk yesterday and we went out twice today. It helped a little, but they were pretty wound up today.

I was so nervous and stressed out about the fires around Portland and the terrible smoke yesterday that I couldn’t sit down or my mind would race . So I did a lot of house work… I changed my sheets and washed all the bedding (blankets and bedspread included). I went through closets and drawers and filled several large boxes to be taken to Good Will. I folded a huge pile of clean laundry in my utility room. I did four loads of laundry. And I cleaned up my kitchen and dining room.

I did manage to do a little sewing today. I purchased a pattern for a scarf I’ve been wanting to make. It’s the Natasha Sews Smarf pattern. You can find her pattern here.

She has made it so that it has elastic loops to hold it up over your face like a mask. I didn’t want the functionality, so just made the pattern into a scarf.

I made this one out of Red Mille Fiore this morning.

And then made this one out of Tangerine Paisley Jungle this afternoon.

Can you tell how much I love that paisley fabric? It’s one of my favorite Kaffe designs.

These were each made with a half yard of fabric, with absolutely no waste. I think I’ll be making more of these for holiday gifts.

I made a jar of pickled red onions this afternoon. These flavorful little lovelies have been a bright spot in my pandemic diet. They are super easy to make from ingredients that I always have on hand. I eat them in salads, in sandwiches, in tacos. They are so good!

I got an order of about 8 yards of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric from Island Quilters earlier this week.

Some are to go in the black quilt I’m planning, and other pieces are just things I wanted.

Brandon’s octopus fabric is so amazing! I went back online tonight and ordered every color way of the octopus… even another piece of the black! I also bought some fabrics to fill out the stuff from my stash that I’ll use for another Ruffled Feathers flying geese quilt. I’ll share the fabrics for this quilt when I have it all in hand.

There is good news on the fire front. The air is supposed to start clearing out some starting tomorrow. We’re expecting some rain in the coming week. And some people who had to evacuate are being allowed back in their homes. A friend of mine is very happy to be going home tomorrow.

Wind, Fire, and Smoke in Portland

You’ve probably seen on the news that we are having terrible fires in Oregon. Some of them very near Portland. I’ve had several friends who have had to evacuate their homes and some had to leave livestock behind because the evacuation orders came up so quickly. Luckily, they have since been able to get back in to get their animals to safe locations and have been able to check on their homes.

Entire towns have been burned and they’re just starting to be able to put numbers together on dead and missing people.

So far, the fires have avoided my friends’ homes and properties. They’re very fortunate, but they’re not out of danger yet.

I have a lot of people asking if I’m safe. Here’s a map of the evacuation orders in the Portland area. I’ve marked my house with the blue X.

There’s a lot more distance between me and the evacuation zones than this map would lead you to believe. I’m safe now, but am watching the situation closely and am making preparations to evacuate in case it comes to that.

On this map, the green area is evacuation level 1: make preparations to leave. Yellow is level 2: be ready to leave at any time. Red is level 3, which means get out now. I’m not even at level 1 yet. I think it’s unlikely that I’ll have to evacuate, but I want to be ready in case it becomes necessary. There is a lot of city between me and the red zone.

I can’t tell you how frightening and stressful this is. It all started earlier this week with terrible dry wind storms that came in from the east. There were predictions that these winds had the potential to cause serious fire situations, and they didn’t disappoint. The wind started early this week and continued for two days. I’ve never been so glad to see wind die down as I was with this storm. The storm brought down branches and full trees and a lot of people have had power outages to deal with. I didn’t lose power, and only had some branches come down. There were were trees down in my neighborhood.

And now, several days later, the winds have shifted to coming out of the west, which means they’re coming off the Pacific Ocean… which means cooler and moister air. They are also very light winds. This is all very good news for fire fighting. We’re even expecting some rain next week. It won’t be enough to put out the fires, but will be a positive for fighting the fires. It’s likely these fires will burn for months, but some favorable weather will help them get them contained and under control. Our rainy season should start in about a month and typically continues into May or June.

Right now, the thing affecting most of the area is choking smoke. Initially, the winds took all the smoke across the Portland metro area and out over the Pacific Ocean. Now that the winds are coming from the west, all that smoke is coming right back over us… and is spreading out across the western US. Our air quality is the worst on the planet right now. My eyes and lungs are burning, and my head hurts. There’s just no way to get away from it.

Here’s a link to an interactive satellite map that shows you the fires and the smoke movement. You can change the time of the photo in the upper left. It’s interesting to see how the winds and smoke have changed over the days. The smoke stretched out 1,000 miles out into the Pacific!

I was walking the dogs in the afternoon several days ago when I noticed the first smoke from the fires coming into view to the south.

This is the view from our evening walk that same day.

Even with all that smoke it was a couple days before I could really smell much smoke. But the smell came in yesterday morning with a really acrid smell. In late morning, more smoke rolled in and the strong smell of wood smoke was everywhere.

That evening it was almost pitch dark by 6 pm. Here’s a picture looking across the street to my neighbor’s house. Her automatic lights came on two hours before sunset, and the street lights all came on too.

Here’s a view from my back yard, looking west at around the same time the previous night. We didn’t see the sun today.

I was hoping to be able to take a short drive this weekend to find some clean air and get out for a nice walk, but it looks like I’d have to drive for five hours to get to clean air. So we’ll have to find other ways to get some exercise in the house. They were saying on the news just now that all this stress makes your body produce stress hormones, and the best way to get them out of your system is exercise. We all need some exercise. Today was the first time since February that we haven’t taken a walk. But it’s just too unsafe to breathe that horrible smoke.

That picture is looking north from my house yesterday. And the smoke was worse today. The neighborhood is deserted. No one is walking. Very few cars go by. It’s very eerie. There is usually a constant stream of walkers and dogs going by.

These poor kids need some activity. Please keep us all in your thoughts for safety from the fires and relief from the smoke.