Irregular blocks

Playing around, in my studio, last night I came up with this idea. I don’t know why I needed to start something else, but I did. One out the door, means you have to start something else doesn’t it??

Using solid scraps of reds, oranges and golds, from several different manufactures, I just started creating blocks. Very similar to the way I create lots of my quilts, never knowing how they’ll fit together.

Irregular blocks by SewfrenchBelieve it or not these fabrics are all different shades, though they didn’t photograph that way. I will have to be careful, with placement, when the time comes to put them together.

Sewfrench original WIP

Looking at them through the camera’s lens, I think I will need to venture in to other shades and hues, possibly even colors, too.

Sewing with solids at Sewfrench

All my T-shirt quilts are made this way. You would think I would just use some quick quilt math and make blocks with a common divisor. But no, I like more randomness than that. So I just make the blocks, then figure out how to make them go together!

Amanda's Trips quilt by SewfrenchFor our youngest daughter’s Memories quilt in 2005, I used tee shirts and photos, copied on to fabric from my home printer. You can see where some of them fit together, in groupings, nicely. Most didn’t. That is when you wing it!

Same with this one. My husband’s Memories quilt from 2011.

Memories by Sewfrench

I suspect this one will be the same.

Always looking for the next challenge! How about you???

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P.S. This one was subconsciously influenced by Ashley. Thanks for sharing, Ashley!

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Paris The Novel

Paris by Edward RutherfurdI loved this book!

This was my first Edward Rutherfurd historical novel and it will not be my last. It is the history of Paris as seen through the eyes of several generations of families–aristocratic, merchant and the lower classes. I loved the descriptions of the city and of the events from such an early time. At over 800 pages long, it covers about 700 years and follows 6 different family lineages over those years. At times it could get confusing, but thankfully there is a lineage tree included.

Similar to certain aspects of Ken Follett’s World Without End, Paris is the chronicle of several families centered around Paris from 1261 to 1968. I loved how the families were connected and how each family has its own stake in the future of Paris.

Having stood, in awe, beneath the Eiffel Tower, Sewfrench at the Eiffel Tower
I really loved the story of Thomas Gascon and how he helped to build it. Because the writing appears to be so well researched, it was fascinating. I also enjoyed the story of Jacob and his family turning to Catholicism to avoid their persecution as Jews. I enjoyed several of the seemingly minor characters’ stories that served as filler for the family trees.

At times, I was a little confused when the chapters jumped from the 1600s to the 1200s and back to the 1800s, until I had a grasp of how the characters would eventually come together. The last 300 pages read almost straight through the 1900s… Once that generation neatly met up, with each other, the author never looked back.

Very long and very enjoyable read. Even more so if you have ever spend anytime in Paris.

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Zippered Card Pouch

I don’t know about you but this pouch has been on my radar since I first saw it a really long time ago. I think not only the beautifully coordinated fabrics but also the adorable zipper is what hooked me. And the idea of storing all those grocery store cards, hotel cards, frequent travel cards… in one place that is not in my billfold sold me!

Zippered Card Pouch
So when I finally needed a little pouch, to enclose a gift for my daughter-in-law, I decided I would have a go at it. This is the reason I took on learning how to shorten a metal zipper.


Zippered Card PouchI followed the directions, exactly.

Birthing a pouch at SewfrenchAnd magically it worked!

Zippered Card Pouch at SewfrenchI feel like I am a very experienced seamstress. I sewed, for a living, for many, many years. I did alterations. I created bridesmaids’ dresses. I did upholstery. I made curtains. I made the family’s clothes. I replaced more zippers, coats, billfolds, jeans… than I can count. I even made bags for a university’s orientation packages.
And this pouch was not easy. Lots of hand sewing that needs to be pretty close to perfect, okay I got that.
Topstitching that needs to be near perfect as well, no problem. Seam ripper available if needed.
Perfection was difficult to achieve in this one.
My biggest issue was with the card separator section trying to get caught in the zipper. With the design, as is, I’m not sure how you can avoid that.
Next time I might try it with her original design, instead of her new and improved plan.
Either way, I am happy to have given it a go.

Gift Card Pouch

Even though it wasn’t my prototype, it was the first try at someone else’s tutorial so it felt like my prototype! I like to spread them around the family, so no one person gets stuck with all the jancky test patterns!

I do have to say my husband’s end-grain cutting boards make everything look better! They were waiting to be gift wrapped and worked as a great prop amongst the mess of my studio! He does beautiful work!

Zippered Card PouchHave you made one of these? I’d love to hear about it if you did!

Sew and learn!

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Posted in Christmas, Design, fabric, Finishes, Gifts, Review, Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Sewing Curves Without Pins

I am not very good at staying on task… When it comes to me and creativity you probably already know that.

Scrapbusting at Sewfrench

Feeling the need to try something new.

Drunkards Path quilt by SewfrenchMaking a terrible mess doing it… But it will be so worth it!

Drunkards Path at SewfrenchAll those curves have to be sewn. I know most quilters hate sewing curves. Not me. Looking through my quilts, you can see  I have done many curved quilts, over the years. The trick is to learn how to sew them without all the time that pinning takes, not to mention stopping to remove them and breaking needles. No pins needed if you use your 1/4″ foot and hold the top piece up as high as you can while sewing. And practice. You’ll be able to perfectly judge the tension in no time.

Sewing curves with no pinsThat is what I’m up to.
How about you??

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I Am Beginning to See the Light…

Cleaning up, a quilt before it is completely finished, is probably my less favorite part. After the quilting is finished, and the binding is on but before it heads to the washer, I probably spend 20 minutes inspecting and carefully trimming stray threads. I need to clog my washing machine filter just about as much as I need to clip a hole in a new quilt.

A Sewfrench original

While clipping all the ravelly ones, that I didn’t trim as I put the top together….., I sometimes come across spots where I completely missed hand-quilting. These I mark with double safety pins. They dangle, and are very noticeable, if I don’t get back to finishing the missing quilting, right away.

A Sewfrench original

Then off to the washer before I do some embroider, on this one. The colors are so bold that I want to wash it before I do the embroidery for fear of dye leakage. I don’t want it to bleed on my lighter colored embroidery thread. I will then probably spend an equal amount of time, cleaning the ravels again, when I pull it out of the wash…

This one has been a long time in the making. Looking back though, it actually hasn’t been as long as it seems, since I started it. It was just under a year ago when the idea was still evolving. I used big-stitch quilting on it because there are SO many seams to cross. Most pieces are under 2″ square, the majority being even smaller. If you are a hand quilter you totally understand the difficulty of quilting through seam allowances. I am still not sure I like this style of quilting. I feel like it is okay on this one because the design itself will deflect from however I quilted it. And because I despise embroidering so much, it will be a while before you see this one in all it’s glory!! I’ll share when it is finished.

What are you working on? Any hanger-on projects you are working hard, to finish up, before you start new ones???

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Posted in Design, Fabric Tuesday, hand quilting, Quilting, Sewing, WIP | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

This is why I love my library. It is free.

Gray MountainGray Mountain by John Grisham

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It’s been a long time since I wanted to give up and quit reading a book. Also, a long time since I’ve talked back to a book so much. I generally really enjoy John Grisham’s books, and was really looking forward to this one, so I was surprised at how much this novel disappointed.The major theme of the book is strip mining for coal. While I appreciate learning something new, while being entertained, I don’t know anyone who enjoys heavy-handed didactic sanctimonious rhetoric. If you found that last phrase painfully redundant, then you’re going to detest the strip mining information in this book, which is dry, repetitive and far too lengthy for the purpose of advancing the story.

Lots of facts about black lung disease and how the coal mining companies are cheating their workers out of benefits but very little story. A political statement disguised as a work of fiction.

Too many clichés. Really, Mr. Grisham? Was this your first book and you are just now publishing it?

And the book could have been half as long if the author had not told the same story, using the same lines, multiple times. Seriously, you already said that using the exact words!

Proof that the John Grisham who wrote this book is “not” the John Grisham I have read in the past.

Really, I think Janet Evanovich has a new pen name…

View all my reviews

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Everyone Deserves a Quilt

Freestyle Birch Trees by SewfrenchThis is the first quilt I have ever made for my husband’s brother, my brother-in-law. I’ve been in the family for almost 28 years and I’m not sure why it took me so long! I didn’t know it,  but apparently this is his first handmade quilt, ever. I know lots of people don’t have hand-made quilts, I realize that. Don’t get me wrong, but my mother-in-law was one of the most beautiful quilters ever. She had an eye for color and the consistency of her stitches was impeccable. I was just surprised she had never made him one before her back gave out. But it could be that she took to making kiddie quilts. I know our house ended with quite a few of those!

Freestyle Birch Trees by Sewfrench

For this one I used low-volume scraps for the trees (working through my scrap baskets!) and Pepper Cory’s shot cotton, in charcoal, for the background and in Carbon, for the binding. I adore quilting with these Peppered Cottons. They have an understated shimmer because the warp (lengthwise threads) are one color and the weft (side-to-side threads) are another. They are sturdier than some shot cottons I’ve dealt with making them a breeze to work with. They feel like a lovely chambray. I handled this project a lot and I still love the fabrics I chose. It is quilted freehand, no markings, no hoop, just lap-quilted in echoing rows roughly 1/4″ apart. The trees themselves, I quilted 1/4″ away from each seam. I think the dense background quilting caused the trees to pop exactly how I wanted. The horizontal tree quilting reminds me of growth lines and tames the trees just right.

Freestyle Birch Trees by SewfrenchI briefly talked about this quilt having a voile back when I started the quilting. I’ll have to gather the progress pictures and show you the craziness that went into this one! I have learned something from every quilt I have made and it is funny how so many of those lessons came together into this one. Or were repeated in it, at least.

Freestyle Birch Trees by Sewfrench

I love how the all the hand-quilting shows on the back. I can’t decide which side I prefer!

Freestyle Birch Trees by Sewfrench And with the sun shining through it, it looks like stained glass. I used Robert Kaufman’s Veronica Voile, in Stone for the back and Quilter’s Dream for the batting, making it a very light and snuggly quilt.

Freestyle Birch Trees by Sewfrench

“Freestyle Birch Trees”
A Sewfrench Original
Peppered Cottons with Low Volume scraps
Heavily hand quilted
48″ x 60″

“I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree~
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.”
― Robert Frost

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Posted in 2014 completes, Christmas, Design, fabric, Gifts, Nature, Quilting, Sewing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments