Summer Snowflake Shimmer QAL

Quilting Jetgirl’s Quilt-Along is underway and I can’t resist jumping in given how much I love the pattern she designed.  I am finding many inspirational ideas from her site and the participants so far!

Snowflake Shimmer Quilt-Along.

Snowflake Shimmer QAL

The theme is befitting to me.  I love snow and I love shimmers!

After much back and forth on color selection, for my final set of fabrics I went for black/gray, grays and whites however, I am going scrappy as no one snowflake or star is alike.  I’ll be deciding on how scrappy I really want to be as I cut into the fabric.  I have three choices for the binding and will also narrow that down as the quilt comes together.

I pulled the whites in reflection of various snow conditions we enjoyed this past fall and winter, including random snow days and ski moments in the Sierra Mountains.  Who knew how many whites there are out there?!

Sunny, gray, muted, sparkly and glistening come to mind.  The dark grays I pulled to reflect the diversity of stars, shimmering, glittering, shining and sparkling.  Each of these against an evening sky background fabric of gray on black.  It is coming together, in fabric piles for the current moment.  One of the top three fabrics lined up side by side at the top of the photo will be for the binding.  I couldn’t decide at the store so I took a bit of each of them home,  justifying it to myself as a stash building opportunity for the two project rejects.

Snowflake Shimmer Palette Sq
Summer Snowflake Fabric Pulls


August 5,2016 Let the Cutting Begin!

I feel like I’ve been eagerly awaiting the cutting instructions and when they arrived, was very ready to slice through the multiple fabrics.  I couldn’t put a stake in the ground yet on the binding so I left that for later.  Look how pretty the fabric is, all cut and ready to go!

SFS Cut and Ready to go

August 21, 2016 And the Piecing is On!

I’ve been on vacation for the past couple of weeks, and brought my sewing machine with me to get caught up on projects.  This Snowflake Shimmer QAL is so much fun for me.  I love the square in square blocks we are creating and found Yvonne’s tutorial very helpful for making these for the first time.

Here is this week’s progress, for the blocks which are not yet trimmed.

Chain Piecing SFSPinned Squares SFS QALSquares to be trimmed SFS QAL

September 3,  2016

I had the best of intentions to have the quilt top fully pieced by the link up, but alas, time got away from me and the best I could do was piece the rows together.  I laughed when I read the quilt’s designer Snowflake Shimmer QAL recent Instagram post;  the heading started with “I will sew today, I will sew today” which she followed with all the things she needed to do post vacation.  It was a great reminder of life and the many courses it takes us on.

Furthermore, what I thought were perfect SiaS were not always, despite following instructions to the T.  Apparently more practice is required, though the rows look beautiful and I hope that only I can “I Spy” a mistake or two in the final flimsy.

This project has been great fun and I am grateful for a Yvonne’s guidance and inspiration along the way.  Looking forward to sewing the rows together and moving on to quilting it.  I have quilted 3 small quilts in the past.  Nothing this large, and the quilting I did was with no knowledge of how to do it.  Fortunately, in today’s world there are amazing bloggers I can learn from.

Pieced Center Rows

September 20, 2016

The quilting process must begin. Chuckling my way through a too over-sized quilt back but will enjoy having the sandwich made so I can dive into the quilting.  Goal is to right size the back tonight then sandwich.

September 29, 2016

Despite the greatest of intentions, this wonderful quilt will not be fully quilted by the end of the Linky party.  I started quilting on another QAL project and quickly recognized that even with a great new machine, that quilting takes time.  And Patience.  While I have plenty of patience, I don’t have plenty of time and concede to life’s interruptions as part of the quilt making process.  So here is the final pre then post sandwiched quilt and the hopes that I can get some quilting in on this beauty before early October settles in.

Thanks to Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl  for the fantastic QAL experience, tutorials as well as her very warm approach to the quilting community.

Star Light Star Dark Quilt

I joined another quilt a long late last month with Jessica Skultety and am very excited about the journey thus far.  The quilt is a multi color star quilt with highlights on color value.  Perfect for me to learn more about color!

Star Light Star Dark QAL 

Buying the fabrics for this quilt, while easy in theory, was very difficult for someone (ala me) who likes everything to match to my eye.  The idea is to have fabrics that contrast against the other fabrics in the design.  Jess provides a great post on color and value on her site so run over there for great visuals and perspective from someone who knows her color!   I hemmed and hawed until I came up with a color line up I felt comfortable with.  Who knew coral could pair with bright orange and be ok from a value perspective.  And who know how fun this could be to step outside of my box when it comes to seeing color in a new way.  I mean really, the only color I get consistently at the nail salon is Kennebunkport, unless my 7 year old is there to pick a wild color other than red.

Let the Fun begin…fabric options for SLSD.

I wanted a range of sky colors.  You know, the sky has that muddled gray, almost purple to black tone at night.  Yellow/white stars with a smidgeon of orange twinkling down at us.  Blues at the right time of night (or wee hours of the morning).  The above palette didn’t get me there.  In addition, the grays didn’t provide the contrast I was looking for.  So back to the drawing board.

One benefit of being a new quilter is I have no stash of fabric to speak of.  One disadvantage of being a new quilter is I have no stash to pick from. Alas, shopping time each time I change my mind or when I plan to make a quilt.  So back to the fabric store since online shopping for this much fabric was over whelming, despite a number of great on line quilt shops available!  For the most part, the above fabric ends up in my throw away pile (well to the beginnings of a true “stash” drawer).

Second round got me closer…

SL SD Color Palette 1
SLSD QAL round 2 of fabric selection. Love the orange/yellow, dark blue/light blue combos.

The grays have too much white in them for me. In the following photo, I can see that there still is not enough contrast in the dark and light grays for the look I want in the gray range.

IMG_4923 (Edited)
  Noir perspective of the SLSD fabric selection. Not enough contrast in the gray range.

Ok, round 3.  I’ve now become best friends with The Intrepid Thread, The Fat Quarter Shop and Missouri Star Quilt Co.  All great on line shops.

Final picks, relief!  I can see that the color sets will come together nicely, when placed together.

IMG_4960 (Edited)
SLSD Final Color Palette, love the values in here!
IMG_4961 (Edited)
SLSD Final Palette Range in B/W

This week the cutting instructions were posted.  Now the selection of fabric really comes together.  I am starting to pair sets together in the pattern provided.  Here are a few of the sample pairs I am working with this week to decide on  before I cut.  I am super excited to pair the grays after I get through a few more of my Pixie Summer Tree Blocks!

August 1, 2016

Piecing the large stars started this week and it was fun to get through the first one before vacation.  The instructions Jessica provided allowed for perfect points, always a nice quilter’s touch!

Orange Large Star Block (Sawtooth)

August 21, 2016

What’s a girl to do on vacation?  Bring the project along of course.  I made great progress on trimming the HSTs I cut before I left (no pictures of the pile to post!).  But I had the cutest box, small cutting mat and rotary cutter to get me through the main piecing.


When I returned, I finished both large and small star piecing and have just begun playing with layouts.  This is the first layout I put down; now back at home I’ll use the design wall to make moving the stars around a bit easier.  The orange star stayed at home while we were on vacation so now I get to play with the full set.

And look how pretty the backs look.  Had to snap a picture of this!


Backside of Stars SLSD QAL.JPG

September 13, 2016

Life has been busy with unexpected surprises, though I’ve carved time out to wrestle through the unknown of preparing for machine quilting my first large quilt. I was so excited to assemble the quilt top  (photo with my rockstar helper Sam) and realized I never shot a picture of the final layout.


I shall have to remedy that, but after sewing the blocks together, it took me another week to motivate myself to sandwich the back.

With my previous (3, small numbers here) that I have sent out to be quilted with a long arm, I always shoot a picture of the binding, top and backing before sending away.  I did the same this time, only now I was going to gain the experience of sandwiching the quilt top.


I read each of the links that Jessica suggested here:  SLSD Quilt a long and concluded for myself that running to pick up the 505 spray would be the best way to get me going (bonus was I picked up some very fun quilting thread).  So I ran out, and voila, in less than a couple of hours, I had a sandwiched spray basted quilt top ready to go.   Here’s a picture of the in progress taping down and adding batting process.  It really was easy and mentally got me over the hurdle that I would be working with a larger quilt size than I’ve tried before.

I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished top so waiting until it is fully quilted now for a proper picture.  I am first practicing on a small sandwich swatch to make sure my machine settings are properly adjusted and it is harder than I hoped.   When other quilters said you need to adjust your tension they were not kidding!  Rome wasn’t built in a day; I am imagining this will take some time to complete.

September 29, 2016

After a  machine snafu with a new walking foot, I decided to upgrade my 30 year old machine to a Necchi.  I am having a great time quilting the top with such a fun machine.  Quilting on a domestic machine is new to me, and requires patience and time.  I elected mostly straight line quilting with a walking foot thus far, in order to get as much possible before life’s other distractions take over.

Here is the sandwiched quilt, with progress on the quilting itself to be updated soon.




The road less traveled

I’ve always been very grateful for technology and how far it has advanced.  Last year, when I was called back in for a second set of mammograms I didn’t fully appreciate the way the call back was handled, but was grateful for a negative set of results after the second exam itself.

The call back this year went similarly, I had a great family vacation to Hawaii before the second visit.  When the technician walked me over to a room to review the results with a radiologist (‘no don’t get dressed just in case they want to take more images’ should have been an indicator) I looked around the room thinking, hmm, sofa for two people and one chair, no desk, this isn’t normal.  I remember him talking about the bell curve; I wasn’t left (no cancer) and didn’t appear clearly right (definitely cancer) so I was in the middle and they needed to do more tests.  I could wait 6 months to see if the calcification reduced, which doesn’t normally happen, or go through a biopsy.  When can the biopsy be done? Now if you want. Let’s do it.

An hour later I was on my way back to the office.  You’ll be called within a couple of days.  I felt grateful again for the opportunity to be in capable and caring hands and couldn’t imagine the results would be different from last year.

I was fortunate enough when the phone rang the next day to be alone in a conference room to receive the doctor’s call.  The biopsy is positive for cancer.  DCIS, 2, this is good news; if you are going to have cancer this is the best cancer to have.  I recall saying I don’t understand how this is good news. My brain went into a fog.  I’ve scheduled a referral for you with a breast surgeon who will likely be able to see you fairly soon.  It still amazes me how the mind turns to fear and worse case with the absence of information.

The next 72 hours were fearful, tearful, feeling protective of my 8 year old, wow, tough to understand how within a year I am healthy and now I am not.  My husband and I talked incessantly, moving in and out of waves regarding what we didn’t know.   The not knowing had to be the hardest part, was it terminal, was it advanced, was it treatable, how will this affect my family, you can’t leave us yet, I’m the breadwinner but I can be extremely thankful that my husband is the stay at home dad so there is great stability notwithstanding for our son…relief that I could get in to see the surgeon within 48 hours.  Pretty quickly, our huge waves became of relief to learn I hit the breast cancer lotto, if such a thing is possible, stage 0, grade 2, treatable and normally 99% + curable.  Yes, surgery is involved, and that won’t be a cake walk even for a stubborn, optimistic, mentally strong and pretty fit me.  Decisions are just beginning, is there a chance it affects the other side, partial removal, full removal, pros/cons, side effects of surgery, reconstruction or join the breast free club, how much time to take away from work.  Some of it seems mechanical to me, you know, reconstruction or not doesn’t won’t affect the time with my son before he leaves for college.  I’ll take Minecraft time with him any day, the quilting, reading or cooking can wait.  It doesn’t affect the time I spend with my husband, as we cherish our morning coffee time or wine time after I arrive home from work.  It doesn’t affect my love for the outdoors, it is enhancing the lens by which I see things.  But life was pretty darned simple a week ago when I only complained that there weren’t enough hours in the day for me to enjoy everything I love.  A shift has occurred, with the receipt of words “the biopsy is positive for cancer”.

I stressed out more over the past 4 days about who to share this with and picking up the phone to call them than some of the decisions I need to make.  I’m a giver.  It isn’t easy telling others about me. Though I’d want to know if it were them which walked me over the ledge of keeping it close to home.  The ensuing support as I share what is going on for me is like having a warm hug wrapped around my shoulders, as the love and unconditional caring of my friends and family and boss envelop me.   It is very comforting to know they are there for anything at anytime should I need something.

I’m coming out of all this 6 days after the diagnosis as happy to be alive,  happy to be diagnosed with a modest form of breast cancer with a shorter recovery path than most, happy to be reminded of continuing to embrace only real things in life that matter with the people I love.

The next few weeks/months won’t look like the Fall I imagined. Fall is my favorite time of year, and amidst post surgery recovery, I’ll certainly have a couple extra unencumbered weeks to feel the autumn air come in, watch the California leaves change, and savor a few sunsets through arm and neck exercises.   Perseverance, a good attitude and time will have me healing soon and allow me to fully appreciative of the gift of life and love of the many special people in my life.