Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

What’s On the Design Wall: Scrappy Autumnal Splendor

Follow up to the post What’s On the Design Wall: Scrappy Gold/Brown Log Cabin – Update.

Ok one more post about this quilt before it heads today to the long-arm quilter (I decided to “quilt by check” instead of do it myself!). I decided to name the free-form scrappy log cabin quilt I started during the Scrap Happy Retreat I had in June – “Scrappy Autumnal Splendor” as it reeks of Autumn in it’s color palette!

Here is what it looks like all pieced together:

The border (and lattice) is taupe Peppered Cotton which is a version of a “shot cotton” and there was potential for fraying so I stitched around the entire quilt top 1/8th inch.

After finishing the quilt top it was time to head to my yardage stash and see what kind of backing I could piece together (I was tempted to buy yardage of a single fabric for the back but darn it I am going to use up my stash, ha!):

And here are a couple of the fabrics I found:

Here’s a little peek of the crazy pieced backing I made with bold Autumnal colored fabrics with metallic highlights!

You’ll have to wait until I get it back from the long-arm quilter to see how the back came out (anticipation…smile).

Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

What’s On the Design Wall: Scrappy Gold/Brown Log Cabin – Update

Here is a quick update on the post What’s On the Design Wall: Scrappy Gold and Brown Freeform Log Cabin.

Yesterday I made some major progress on the freeform scrap fabric log cabin quilt I am making in browns and golds.

I got the blocks framed with the taupe fabric – I used 2 inch strips to frame each block. I also cut a couple 5 inch border strips to mock up the border.

Here are a couple photos (I could’t decide which one I liked better):

And here is a close up showing how the blocks will float with a 5 inch border all the way around of the taupe:

I can’t wait to get it sewn together!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

What’s On the Design Wall: Scrappy Gold and Brown Freeform Log Cabin

This is a follow up to my May 25th post More on the Blocks I Made at the Retreat and a Brief Tutorial.

As I mentioned in that post, when making freeform (I think this is what I am going to call them from now on) log cabin blocks, you might want to mock up (or actually sew) one completed block to verify that you like where you are going with you design.

I did this with one of the 42 (well actually 43 – I made a spare one) freeform log cabin blocks I made from my pile of brown, gold and orange scraps:

I decided that I needed something to break up the gold, I did not want to place all the gold framed squares side by side, so I decided to try floating the blocks in a taupe Peppered Cotton.

I’d originally trimmed the freeform log cabin block trimmed in gold Peppered Cotton and trimmed the block to 9.5 x 9.5 inches with my 9.5 x 9.5 inch square ruler. Then I tried framing it in the taupe and trimming it to 12.5 x 12.5 inches using my ruler of that size (the next size up ruler I own after 9.5 x 9.5 inch).

(By the way, I highly recommend some type of rotating cutting surface if you are trimming your freeform log cabin blocks to a uniform size with a square ruler – I have the Martelli Round Cutting Mat).

I realized a problem after I made the demo block: I have 42 blocks and my plan was to make a quilt for my home library for snuggling under while reading that is 6 blocks by 7 blocks.

At 12.5 x 12.5 inches each (12 x 12 inches finished) it would become a bed size quilt…oh no – let me try some fake math – the quilt would end up around 72 inches by 84 inches…actually larger if I added a little border around the quilt to make the blocks “float”.

I did revisit just sewing the gold framed blocks together and it does not make a large enough snuggle quilt. You might be thinking: what about just adding more of the gold fabric on the edges of the quilt as a border to “float” the blocks? Well I’ve run out of the gold fabric! I have less than a 1/4 yard left.

I was pondering my quandary when John asked about latticing instead of floating each block in the taupe – to use the taupe as a “lattice” instead. So I tried it out:

I like it! The taupe quiets the gold and it will all go nicely with the colors in my home library.

(The quilt currently on the loveseat and two little matching pillows, from orphan blocks, I plan to sell on my Etsy shop someday as they are not really my style and I want someone else to enjoy them.)

So that is where I am at in my design process.

Here are the 42 completed 9.5 x 9.5 inch blocks awaiting their lattice:

Special Events

Castle Rock Quilt, Craft and Sewing Festival

Thursday John and I went to the Castle Rock Quilt, Craft and Sewing Festival in Castle Rock, Colorado.

The show runs from May 25 – 27 and is being held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in this building:

We got there a little bit before the show opened at 10 am to see a bunch of show attendees/crafters waiting in line to get in.

We learned these were people without advanced tickets. Luckily we had advanced tickets and were able to get into the shop as soon as it was 10 am. It was empty at first inside…

But then it got really busy!

Here are some images of some of the vendor booths as well as a couple quilts they had on display that I liked:

And here is a quilt top that John really liked (he is a golfer) but I have too much a backlog of projects at this time to make it for him!

Perhaps someday! The booth was very busy and we could not find the panel to buy and put away for a later time. I’ll have to find it online or perhaps come across it at a quilt shop someday.

I didn’t buy anything at the show, I couldn’t find anything I really needed but I did enjoy wandering around. It was not as good a quilting/craft show as the one I attended in July 2021 – the Denver Quilt Craft and Sewing Festival (the tierneycreates Beastie did a blog post about it – Guest Blogger: Denver Quilt Craft and Sewing Festival). The Castle Rock one was much smaller.

But I appreciate going to local sewing and crafting festival!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Quilt Retreats, Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat

More on the Blocks I Made at the Retreat and a Brief Tutorial

I realized didn’t share very many photos or details about the scrappy improvisational log cabin blocks I made at the Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat (link to all the posts related to this 5 day retreat) last week.

During the retreat I “shopped” from my collection of brown, cream, yellow and gold scraps and selected this collection of scraps to which I also added a couple orange-brown scraps and some scraps D brought to the retreat:

I ended up piecing 46 blocks, which I narrowed down to 42 blocks plus one spare (I recycled into the scrap pile 3 blocks that were pieced too wonky).

At first I decided to float the blocks (but framing them) in some coppery-gold-ish Peppered Cotton fabric I had in my stash:

Yes it looks cool and the framing fabric really compliments the fabrics in the blocks, but I decided it would just be too much as an entire quilt.

So I pulled out this brown-taupe-ish Peppered Cotton fabric I had in my stash:

And I decided I would first frame each block in the coppery-gold-ish fabric and then set that block in the taupe-ish fabric:

It might be difficult to visualize as I have it laid out in the images above but I will share more images after I try out some sample final blocks. Creating some sample final blocks will also let me confirm that this combination actually works.

We used this method during the retreat – I suggested (and they listened) to K and D that they actually sew a sample final/completed block to decide if they really like a framing/border/lattice color for their block. Just laying the block on the fabric doesn’t already give you the true feeling of the final version. You can always rip it out the framing and reuse the core block if you don’t like the sample.

Here is an example below of what D did during the retreat with her two finalists – the khaki colored fabric vs. the gray fabric – to help herself make the final decision:

A friend who read the posts related to the retreat ask for some overall instructions on making scrappy improvisational log cabin blocks (which I also call “log jamming” or “free form” log cabin blocks).

Here is a quick overview of how I do it, there are several different approaches and in the post ScrapHappy May: Scrap Happy Retreat! I shared links to YouTube videos from the Stitchin’ Post where I first learned how to do it.


  • First you need to understand the concept of Log Cabin Block piecing where you start with a center square and build around it. Below is a screen shot from Generations Quilt Patterns on How to Make a Log Cabin Block that illustrates the Log Cabin Block piecing concept:
  • It really helps to have pieced traditional log cabin blocks before you go improvisational.
  • Next you need to decide what size you want your final block to be. I decide my final size based on existing square rulers I have as the easiest way to trim the block is using a square ruler on a rotating cutting mat. I have the following square rulers in my collection – 6 inch, 6.5 inch, 9.5 inch, and 12.5 inch, so I make my final blocks one of those sizes. D & K used my 9.5 inch square ruler for the final size on their blocks. I plan to use my 12.5 inch ruler for the final size on my blocks.
  • Then it is time to go shopping in your fabric scraps. You need to decide on a color palette (though you could do all random colors but your piece will not look cohesive if that is what you want, but it will look colorful!) for your quilt blocks. As you can see from the pictures from our retreat – K went with pinks and blues, while D went for autumnal colors. You are going to need more scraps that you think so at least initially put together a large pile of scraps.
  • Audition your scraps and see how well they work together by laying out a demo block (no need to sew together yet but try and simulate a log cabin block).
  • To start you can either 1) sew two strips together, one of the strips being your center fabric; or 2) sew different little pieces of centers to a long strip.
  • Cut them apart using scissors to create your first two pieces – if you look at the graphic above this would be Center + 1a.
  • From there you can create using log cabin piecing techniques a sample block to see how you like it, or just jump into chain piecing blocks starting with your fabric for 1b.
  • Don’t worry about 1/4 inch seams, just do what seam allowance works to piece the fabric to the next fabric – for example if you are using thin scraps you can use 1/8 seam allowances, especially when you are working on rows towards the center, it will end up stable when the entire block is sewn together.
  • Using log cabin piecing techniques (working from a center around and around) keep adding scrap strips until you get your block a little larger than the final size you want to achieve.
  • Trim your blocks using the square ruler of your choosing to their final size.

I might write an actual pattern of how I do it with lots of images/photos and detailed instructions and sell it as a digital download on my Etsy shop someday. Then I can add in all the tricks I’ve learned over the years of making these blocks. My process does differ from the one I originally learned from Jackie at the Stitchin’ Post.

The Stitchin’ Post does sell a pattern for making these blocks called Modern Log Jam Quilt in case you want to try their pattern. It was written by the person (Jackie) who originally taught me (before I created my own process) – I’ve linked it here – Modern Log Jam Quilt.

There are so many options of what you can do with these types of blocks made from scraps. You could do something straightforward like what D made:

Or you could play with using different framing colors and create additional patterns like this one I made out of Stonehenge fabric scraps:

Or you can skip the “framing” of the blocks in a solid color and just sew the blocks directly together like I did for these two pillows I made out of batik scraps:

I’ve made numerous free form log cabin quilts this way.

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Quilt Retreats, Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat

Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat Days 4 and 5

I decided not to drag out the rest of the story of the 5 day quilt retreat I held at my house last week with two long time friends who are quilters, so I am combining days 4 and 5 into one post.

If you are just joining us the other three blog posts on days 1 – 3 are under the blog category Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat.

We continued working on our improvisational log cabin quilt blocks or “log jamming” which I was originally introduced to during a class I took at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon (I also remember that I’ve previously referred to this type of piecing as making “free form” log cabin blocks).

Here are a couple photos of my studio while the retreat was in progress from Days 4 and 5:

And here are the photos of the evolution of D, K, and my blocks:

The photo above is of one of the blocks I pieced with the collection of brown, gold, orange, and copper scraps I put together, set in the coppery color Peppered Cotton I selected.

D was a bit of an overachiever, ha, and actually finished her quilt top (but I think she is also going to add a 3.5 inch border of the gray around it to make the blocks “float” even more and she took some extra fabric home with her) and plans to hand quilt it.

John continued to make us yummy meals and our evening meal on Day 4 was a Mexican Food Feast like the one I shared in the post A Mexican Feast.

On Day 5 D and K surprised John and I with some fantastic hosting gifts. They gave John a gift certificate to his favorite woodworking shop Woodcraft; and they gave me a fat quarter set of the fabric I was drooling over at Holly’s Quilt Cabin during our shop hop on Wednesday May 17th – Celestial by Moda Fabrics:

I just need some yardage of solids (I will probably use the Peppered Cottons that coordinate with the fat quarter set) and I will likely have enough fabric to make the quilt I fell in love with at the quilt shop:

John and I were very pleased with our hosting gifts!

Friday we returned quilters to “Human Storage” (also know as the Denver International Airport, see post “Human Storage” and Airport Lore if you are just joining us); and an exhausted John and Mike the Miniature Schnauzer passed out on the sofa when we got back home.

While cleaning up my studio from the retreat I realized it was a pretty awesome and successful retreat.

And there was a lot of Scrap Happy Happiness over the 5 days (smile)!

Quilt Retreats, Quilt Shop Tours, Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat

Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat Day 3

For the previous days, see posts:

Scrap Happy Retreat Day 1 

Scrap Happy Retreat Day 2

By Wednesday May 17th, the 3rd day of the Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat at my house, we were read to get out of house and explore some Denver Metro area quilt shops! (Note: we didn’t stay in the house the whole time on the first two days – we did go on daily long walks in the fields and woodlands near my home)

John was kind enough to chauffeur and we brought Mike the Miniature Schnauzer along for the road trip.

But first I gave John a break from cooking and made a blueberry pancake breakfast to start our day. I forgot to take photos so just use your imagination that you see a plate of scratch made blueberry pancakes with a touch of cinnamon and juicy caramelized blueberry bursting from each bite…

John has been playing with our new espresso machine we got earlier this year to celebrate our one year anniversary (see post New Coffee (and Tea) Station and Some Big News), and he continues to try to channel his “inner barista” and do designs in the foam. He made a latte for one of the retreaters K – we aren’t sure what the design can be interpreted to be – but K noticed there was a heart (unintentional) along the upper edge of the cup!

After breakfast we headed out on our roadtrip to visit 3 quilt shops – Holly’s Quilt Cabin, Treelotta and Fancy Tiger Crafts (this shop is not actually a quilt shop, they sell a variety of fiber products including beautiful yarn but they have an amazing curated collection of modern fabrics).

Holly’s Quilt Cabin

I love this shop and my quilting friends and I found many delights!

I ended up buying the pattern for this quilt I fell in love with; and I was tempted to buy the fabric used in the quilt (gorgeous line by Moda Fabrics called “Celestial“) but I need to shop in my stash not add to it:


By the time we got to Treelotta it was time to let Mike the Miniature Schnauzer out of the car for a pee (we spent a ridiculous amount of time in Holly’s Quilt Cabin) and to put him in the backpack so he could get a break from sitting in the car. John took Mike in the backpack to a nearby army surplus supply shop for a wander, and then back to the quilt shop to see what kind of trouble we were getting into with all the lovely fabric choices!

Mike does look like he is concerned about some of our fabric choices (or perhaps the damage some of us were inflicting on our pocketbooks!)

I didn’t take many photos in Treelotta but if you’d like to see more of this awesome shop (where I’ve also taken bag making classes), see the post Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop Hop 2021, Part IV.

Fancy Tiger Crafts

I didn’t take any photos at Fancy Tiger Crafts but you can check out this post to see what the shop looks like – Fancy Tiger Crafts, Denver CO. Or more what it used to look like, it has remodeled a little bit since then but you can get the general feel of the shop.

After our roadtrip we headed back to my house to work our of improvisational scrappy log cabin blocks for a while until John made us a delicious hamburger dinner with homemade french fries and Mexican Street Corn!

We skipped movie night after dinner as we had been away from our sewing all day. Instead worked on our scrappy log cabin blocks late into the evening!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Quilt Retreats, Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat

Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat Day 2

See yesterday’s post Scrap Happy Retreat Day 1 for background and scenes from Day 1.

By Day 2 of the Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat at my house, Mike the Miniature Schnauzer was getting plenty of pets from visiting quilters (who are lounging about in their pajamas before breakfast):

John made us his famous (and amazing) biscuits & gravy breakfast to start our day:

The breakfast includes his sausage patties with caramelized brown sugar (not vegan, ha!) and flaky scratch made biscuits.

After breakfast it was back to work in the studio. I worked on my log cabin blocks – I decided to use brown, brownish-orange, copper and gold fabrics for my blocks:

K and D worked on their blocks and began trying out solid fabric settings for their sample blocks:

K decided to set her blocks in the blue Peppered Cotton and D (after trying out 4 different options) went with the gray Peppered Cotton.

My whole studio looked like there had been a fabric scrap explosion – scraps everywhere!

Before you knew it, it was afternoon cocktail time again and John stopped by the studio with Mojitos and Moscow Mules.

I enjoyed putting my trimming scraps in the amazing handmade custom scrap basket that D made me (her own design, no pattern used!) with Marcia Derse fabric (my favorite):

The tierneycreates Beastie helped me piece some blocks using her Beastnina:

After a long day of piecing, we enjoyed a “Make Your Own Pizza Night” provided by John who had pre-baked small pizza crusts for us.

We took our baked pizzas to the basement for another movie night to end Day 2 of the retreat!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Quilt Retreats, Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat

Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat Day 1

Monday May 15th was Day One of the 5 day long Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat I had at my house with two quilting friends (D and K) that I mentioned in the posts ScrapHappy May: Scrap Happy Retreat! and What’s on the Design Wall: Scrappy Log Cabin.

Mike the Miniature Schnauzer had to go to pick up quilting friends from the airport as he does better when he goes to pick up visitors from “Human Storage”, see blog post “Human Storage” and Airport Lore, instead of them just suddenly arriving to the house through the garage while he has been home alone!

Mike sitting between the house guests (for the next 5 days) on the way back from the airport.

We decided not to try out the scrap piecing using adding tape that I discussed in the post ScrapHappy May: Scrap Happy Retreat! and just focusing on making scrappy improvisational log cabin blocks (“log jamming”) like the the 35 blocks I recently completed as the “class sample”:

After John and I provided our guest with a tasty late lunch (fried chicken strips, orzo pasta salad, and chocolate chip cookies), the retreat started out with the three of us pouring through my scrap collection and scraps that D and K brought with them to map out colorways/themes for our improvisational log cabin blocks.

I did a demo of how to piece the log jam blocks, well at least how I like to do it as there are several different methods and strategies. Then everyone got to work:

At one point John came by the studio to visit and to bring us our late afternoon cocktails (lemon drops) as our reward for all that hard work selecting scraps and beginning to work on our blocks!

Only one cocktail per person so we did not end up sewing our fingers into the blocks or something disastrous like that!

After everyone made a couple of sample blocks with the fabric scrap groupings we selected, we decided we wanted to set the blocks in a solid color fabric. I pulled out my collection of Peppered Cottons, and we tested out blocks on the different color options (photo below is D’s blocks).

(I used to sell Peppered Cottons in my Etsy shop so I still have a bit of yardage left over.)

That was the end of the first day in the studio.

We did end Day 1 of the Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat with homemade popcorn and movie night in the basement where we have the largest TV in the house.

A Crafter's Life, Fabric Scraps Obsession, Quilt Retreats, Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat

ScrapHappy May: Scrap Happy Retreat!

It’s the 15th of the month and time for my “ScrapHappy” post as part of the ScrapHappy group I belong. At the end of this post I have a link to the other blogs participating in this monthly event in case you’d like to check out their ScrapHappy posts.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post What’s on the Design Wall: Scrappy Log Cabin, I am having a “Scrap Happy Retreat” at my house.

It starts today with two of my friends attending and runs to Friday where they will fly home. I only have enough space for two other quilters at the table in my studio and in the accommodations in my home (unless I install bunk beds, ha!).

My sew table is set up for the retreat, I pulled out my other Bernina sewing machines – my QE 440 with 7 million stitches (see post 7 Million Stitches+) and my little 215 that I take to classes.

I have some treats set up for my friends at their sewing stations and of course tucked inside a drawstring bag (if you are new to this blog see post The End of the Drawstring Bag Era (A Year of Finishes – 36th to 42rd Finish))!

In case you are wondering what the zippers are – I have a lot of red zippers and thought I would share in case we want to make any scrappy zipper bags during the retreat.

I am calling our retreat a “Scrap Happy Retreat” because we are going to work on projects using my fabric scraps (though they are threatening to bring some of their own to unload).

I got my scraps already sorted by color (or type as I keep Batik fabric scraps separate) and they are ready in their wine crates:

I’ve sorted my fabric scraps into these color groupings:

  • Black, white, grays
  • Reds, oranges, purples
  • Yellows, creams, browns
  • Blue, green, blue-greens (teal, aqua, turquoise, etc)
  • Batiks (all colors)

Next year when I teach the 6 day workshop I am slated to teach (more on that later when the venue complete the class catalogue and I can officially announce) I am going to bring this whole lot of scraps with me to let the workshop participants use them if they like. I just have too many fabric scraps, even after donating several bags of them to charity thrift shops.

At the retreat this week, which runs Monday to Friday, we are going to work on improvisational piecing log cabin quilts (I will review the “log jamming” technique I first learned in a class at the Stitchin’ Post many years ago) like the one share in yesterday’s post:

Here is a YouTube video on “log jamming” by the Stitchin’ Post if you’d like to see the technique. I’ve adapted the original technique to a process that works better for me but it is still essentially the same concept.

And here is the fabulous Jackie who taught the class I attended and has a pattern she’s published on Modern Log Jam (I miss the Stitchin’ Post so much, a lot of wonderful creative memories while living in Central Oregon happened there):

In addition to working on improvisational log cabin quilts, we are also going to try our hands at piecing scraps onto adding machine tape. I have a bunch of adding machine tape I bought from a thrift store for $2:

Here is the YouTube tutorial we are going to use (I have a small TV in my studio and we can watch and try it together on our machines):

Wish us luck on this new technique for us!

I’ll update you on the progress on our projects at the retreat!

Oh and the tierneycreates Beastie thinks she might be able to pull out her Beastnina (made by Helen of Crawcraft Beasties) and sew with us 😉

Here are the bloggers that participate in the ScrapHappy monthly posting event, check out their blogs and ScrapHappy posts:

Kate @Tall Tales from Chiconia , Gun @Rutigt – G Adrian, Eva @bambisyr-evaj, Sue @From the Magpie’s Nest, Lynda @Life on the Farmlet, Birthe @Birthes rom, Turid @Den syende himmel, Susan @DesertSky Quilting, Cathy @nanacathydotcom, Tracy @It’s a T-Sweets Day!, Jan @The Snail of Happiness, Moira @The Quilted Snail, Sandra @Wild Daffodil, Chris @chrisknitsews, Alys @Gardening Nirvana, Claire @Claire93’s Blog, Jean @onesmallstitch, Jon @writinghouse, Dawn @DawnGillDesigns, Gwen @Deep in the Heart of Textiles/Textile Ranger, Sunny @The Adventures of Team Wil-Sun, Kjerstin @Quimper Hittys, Sue @Going Batty in Wales, Vera @lifebyacompassnotaclock, Edith @Edi’s Crafting Life, Nanette @Chopin – A Passionate Quilter From Texas, Ann @Ann F Stonehouse Quiltmaker, Dawn @myquiltprojects, Carol @Quilt Schmilt, Preeti @Sew Preeti Quilts, Debbierose @Sew Rosey, Nóilin @Paper, Pen and Mug, Viv @Where the Journey Takes Me 2, Karrin @Karrin’s Crazy World, Amo @View From Our Hill, Alissa @ Snakes & Cranes, Lynn @Tialys, Tierney @tierneycreates, Hannah @quietwatercraft

Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

What’s on the Design Wall: Scrappy Log Cabin

I am getting ready for a “Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat“, which I share more about in tomorrow’s “ScrapHappy May” post, by starting a scrappy log cabin using my ridiculous collection of fabric scraps.

I decided to limit myself to black, white, and gray fabric scraps. First I dug into the bag I have of “fabric strings” which are thinner fabric scraps that I’ve been saving (yes for year, ha!) to make a “String Quilt” someday.

I dug through this scary mess to find the black, white and gray strings and then ironed them (as they were wrinkled/crumped beyond easy use…):

I thought I might have enough to get started but I ended up having to dig into my wine crate box of black, white and gray scraps:

I ended up piecing 35 blocks, which I trimmed to 9.5 inches x 9.5 inches each using my 9.5″ by 9.5″ square ruler:

I started this quilt as an example as the Scrap Happy Quilt Retreat will be at my house starting Monday and I am going to teach my friends how to do improvisational scrappy log cabin blocks (also know as “Log Jamming”) and we are going to use my scraps! (A great way to use up your scraps – dump them onto your quilting friends under the guise of showing them “scrappy quilt making options”…evil laugh!)

More on that tomorrow on the 15th which is ScrapHappy May posting day!

Oh by the way, when I got done piecing 35 – 9.5″ x 9.5″ blocks I did actually (sort of) make a dent in my black, white and gray scrap fabric collection. Here’s what the wine crate looks like now:

(If you can’t tell the difference from the previous photo, just know before it was overflowing and now everything fit nicely in the wine crate with no overflow…)

Beastie Adventures, Guest Blogger

Guest Blog Post: Warm Weather Attire

This is the tierneycreates Beastie guest blog posting (if you are new to this blog, my story is on this post –  I’m A Monster!!! and you can see all my posts at this link: Beastie Adventures).

I know you all have have missed me as it has been a while since I’ve guest blogger posted! In the image above you can see me and my dog Mikelet working on a post on my laptop.

The weather has warmed up in the Denver area and it was time to change from my beautiful Aran knitted sweater to my T-shirt (from my apartment inside Tierney’s studio):

Okay that’s better!

Now I need to go grab a couple Hop Monster IPAs and get my Beastie husband John Beastie and go enjoy the nice weather on the patio.

If you are new to the blog and would like some background on John Beastie, here is a link to the post from 2020 when I introduced him: Guest Blog Post: Mail Order Groom).

John Beastie and I got married in February 2022 the same time as human Tierney and John did (see post New Coffee (and Tea) Station and Some Big News ). John and I have separate spaces – I live on a shelf apartment in Tierney’s studio and he lives on John’s desk in his office.

After hanging out for quite a while with John Beastie on the patio, I invited him over to my shelf apartment to show him the new Colorado mugs I have for my tea and his coffee in the morning – just the perfect size for us!

(Eventually I asked Tierney to stop taking photos and just leave John Beastie and I to visit alone in my apartment…)

A Year of Finishes - 2023, Bags Bags Bags

The End of the Drawstring Bag Era (A Year of Finishes – 36th to 42rd Finish)

As part of my A Year of Finishes – 2023  project, I finished the last 8 drawstring/project bags of the bags I’d already cut out and interfaced.

Here is 1 of 8 that I will call “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” with Route 66 themed fabric:

I only had enough of this fabric to make one bag. I was originally making it for a family member who was going on a Route 66 roadtrip, but the roadtrip got cancelled. I like the lining fabric I found in my stash for it which represents the wheat fields you might see on an across America roadtrip.

The next two bags (2 and 3 of 8) I finished are from vintage pharmacy inspired fabric. I don’t have a name for these two bags, but here you go:

And here are the remaining bags (4-8 of 8). These five bags are made from the awesome Ruby Star Society fabric line called Purl. I think they would make perfect knitting/crochet project bags:

I didn’t photograph the linings but they were coordinating colors of teal or reddish orange. I have temporary drawstring-bag-photography-burn-out, ha!

So with the completion of these eight bags that is the “end of an era” of drawstring bag making.

John encouraged me to figure out just how many drawstring bags I’ve made over the past couple of years to include the ones I made and sold on my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop in 2021 to 2022, given as gifts, and currently have on stock waiting to be listed on Etsy.

Guess what the number is?

105 or so!

That is why I think it will be quite a while before I want to make another one. There are so many other things to make, ha!

Okay – moving on to other projects!

A Crafter Needs to Eat

A Mexican Feast

I was going to blog about 3 more drawstring/project bags I made but I thought I would spare you from another one of those mind numbing posts for a day or so – ha! I’m currently working on the last 5 drawstring bags I had cut out and interfaced months ago before I broke my ankle. I am so excited to be done with them. I can’t wait to list them on Etsy and not think about making drawstring bags again for a LONG time!

So this post is about a get together we had with our friends F and M last evening – we had an amazing Mexican food feast!

My husband John is of Mexican decent (he is 1/2 Mexican, 1/2 Irish) and learned to cook green and red chili as well as other dishes from his Mexican grandmother. Our friends F and M are of Mexican decent and have much experience making authentic dishes they learned from relatives. We decided while meeting for drinks last week that it would be fun to get together and have a homemade Mexican food feast to include:

  • Homemade refried beans
  • Green Chili and Red Chili*
  • Tortillas (corn and flour)
  • Chili Relleno Poppers
  • Tamales (Red and Green Chili Tamales)
  • Open Faced Enchilladas
  • Posole (a hominy and pork based Mexican stew)
  • Homemade Guacamole
  • Various toppings/fixings

*Note: According to John, a native Coloradan, Colorado Green Chili is made with Hatch or Pueblo Green Chilis, tomatoes, pork, flour for thickening, salt, garlic and water; Colorado Red Chili is made from Red Chili Powder, browned flour, water, garlic, salt and ground hamburger. Arizona’s Green Chili does not have tomato; and New Mexico Green Chili has potatoes and is called “Green Chili Stew”.

Here are the Chili Relleno Poppers which contained Mozzarella Cheese, Oaxaca Cheese, Green Chilis, wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried:

They are served with Green Chili (“sauce”)*

*(According to John you are not allowed to call it “sauce”, you must call it “Green Chili” but I didn’t want to confuse you with the terms “Green Chili” and “Green Chilies”! John says Coloradans are very pretentious about their “Green Chili” and do not want it referred to as “sauce”. By the way “Red Chili” is what I used to refer to in my previous life as “Enchilada Sauce”…ha!)

Here are photos of the rest of the yummy Mexican Feast:

For dessert we served my homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies and Haagen Dazs Ice Cream:

And to close this post here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer sitting between us as we all sat on the sofa (we served the food buffet style) watching the NBA Basketball Playoffs, trying to convince us to share our feast (we did not as there were no Schnauzer friendly foods on our plates, but he did get lots of pets from our friends while they ate…):

From the Archives

From the Archives: Update on “A Chicken Named Tierney”

Recently I was looking for a different old post and came across this post from July 2017 that made me smile and thought it would be fun to repost! It is from my wonderful life in Central Oregon before I moved in April 2019 to the Denver Metro area after my husband suddenly passed in December 2018. Four years later there are days when I miss terribly my awesome old life in Central Oregon but the past is gone and I can only appreciate my new life and look forward to the future…

(I laughed when I reread after all these years that the chicken my friend named “Tierney” is the friendliest of the group, runs to greet you, and likes to snuggle!)

Update on “A Chicken Named Tierney”

July 15, 2017

Several months ago I posted that a friend of mine named her baby hen chicks after her close female friends. This is an update to that post – A Chicken Named “Tierney”.

A month or so ago I took photos of teenage “Tierney the Chicken” and her brand new chicken coop; and recently I took photos of young adult “Tierney the Chicken”.

The Teen Years Weeks

Here is the deluxe coop she and her hen sisters live in. It has an inside section and a sunroom:

Chicken Cooping in style

Here is teenage “Tierney the Chicken” and her sister “Gabrielle the Chicken”:

Here is “Tierney” and the other teenage hens getting a snack:


My friend Marla, mother to all the young hens, has a photo in her house of what “Tierney the Chicken” will look like when she grows up and becomes an adult Dominique chicken:


Young Adult “Tierney the Chicken”

“Tierney” is now a young adult and getting closer to her egg laying days. No eggs yet but my friend Marla thinks in the upcoming weeks she and her sister hens will lay their first eggs.

Here is a current photo of “Tierney” and her sister “Gabrielle” (and some other chicken “photo bombing” the shot, ha!):


My friend Marla reports that “Tierney” is the friendliest of all the chickens. She runs towards you first when you come into the coop and she likes to snuggle:

Chicken Cuddles

Truthfully I’ve never cared about chickens beyond enjoying the eggs they lay or an occasionally tasty chicken dinner. This is the first time I have ever seen a chicken snuggle! (Is it my fate to eventually become vegan now that I suspect most farm animals will snuggle?)

Maybe it is slightly weird my friend named one of her hens after me (and her other close female friends) but how many people get to say they have a chicken with their namesake!??!

I will close this post with a photo of the cool wind vane inside Marla’s backyard:

A Year of Finishes - 2023, Bags Bags Bags, Etsy shop

New “Photo Box” and 36th to 38th Finish in A Year of Finishes

John recently built a “photo box” (not sure what to call it) for photography my items for my Etsy shop (TextilesandSmiles) and for photographing items for his Etsy shop (to be opened someday and hopefully called MightyMoeCreations). He designed it so it could be easily assembled and dissembled for storage.

I finished 3 more drawstring/project bags as part of my A Year of Finishes – 2023  project.

The fabric is from my trip to the  Missouri Star Quilt Company (MSQC) for a quilting retreat in early 2022. It is their custom fabric which is designed to look like traditional quilt blocks in a quilt. If you’d like to see the posts from my MSQC Retreat adventure here is the link to those 6 posts – Missouri Star Quilt Retreat.

A Year of Finishes - 2023, Bags Bags Bags

A Year of Finishes: 32nd to 35th Finish

I continue to shamelessly count each completed Project Drawstring Bag as a finish on my unfinished projects (that I started prior to 2023) for my project A Year of Finishes – 2023 (if you are really bored, click on that link to see all blog posts related to this project…zzz).

After finishing the Colour Wheel Quilt (see post The Colour Wheel Quilt is Done) I was planning to start an improvisational art quilt project (preparing for the 6-day workshop I am teaching next year, more to come on that someday) but was not “feeling it” yet.

So I thought I would assign myself the goal of “making something each day” to keep my creating vibe going (even if it’s just one quilt block) and decided to continue making the drawstring/project bags which I will someday list on my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop (when I reopen it again).

I made 4 more bags. They were quick to put together as I’d always cut out all the fabric and interfacing, as well as did the fusing, etc. several months ago.

I am getting a kick out of the fun fabric combinations.

Here are two for the bird/bird house aficionado:

I was practicing taking photos for the eventually Etsy listings so I have a lot of photos of these bags (and likely more than I needed to share on this post, ha!)

And for the person who likes a little woodland whimsy, here are another set of drawstring/project bags:

I love the lining in these two bags!

So there you go – 4 more finishes of unfinished projects I started prior to 2023 (I like to make very small accomplishments sounds very exciting, ha)!

From the Woodshop

From the Woodshop: Mighty Moe Creations

My husband John is a self-taught woodworker (so many YouTube videos watched) as many of you know. I’ve featured some of his projects on my blog post category: From the Woodshop.

Recently he decided to take on some commissions and make a little money on the side with his woodworking. We figured he needed a business name and we came up with Mighty Moe Creations, as his nickname is “Moe” (a childhood nickname adapted from his middle name which he used as his first name when he was younger).

He wanted to have a wood branding iron to burn/emboss his name on wood items he creates and so we created a logo for Mighty Moe Creations using Canva:

I am new to using Canva but I was proud of myself of being able to draft a logo which he and I finalized.

Earlier this week the branding iron he ordered came in the mail and he has been practicing branding scrap wood until he perfects his technique and is ready to brand pieces he makes.

We were pleased how crisp the image comes out from the branding iron compared to the original logo we created and sent to the company that makes wood branding irons!

John’s been busy working on his commission piece in his workshop, a large 3D looking custom serving tray similar to the one in this post – From the Woodshop: Tray for our Ottoman.

John’s studio/woodshop in our basement is a “hot mess” right now but he’s making progress on his commission:

I can’t wait to see the finished commission with his new logo branded onto it!

Oh and here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer peeking into the woodshop (he is never allowed inside the shop as we are worried about wood splinters getting into his paws) to see what his humans are up to!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

The Colour Wheel Quilt is Done

The Colour Wheel Quilt is finally done. I just finished quilting and putting on the binding today.

It’s come a long way from this:

Here is what the sample from the book Quilt Color Workshop by T. Bruecher, B. Greenberg, L. Goldsworthy, and J. Adams (2014) looks like:

I made some changes to the original pattern and added a header created from the trimmings from the 30 degree wedges of each colorway I cut to create the wheel.

My plan is to use this quilt as a teaching aid when I cover color theory in the workshop I’ll be providing next year (which has now become two workshops at two different venues…more info to come someday…).

If you need a legend for the labeled colorways, here you go:

Primary Colors

  • Red (R)
  • Yellow (Y)
  • Blue (B)

Secondary Colors

  • Orange (O)
  • Green (G)
  • Violet/Purple (V)

Tertiary Colors

  • Red-Orange (RO)
  • Yellow-Orange (YO)
  • Yellow-Green (YG)
  • Blue-Green (BG)
  • Blue-Violet (BV)
  • Red-Violet (RV)

As you can see from the list above, “Secondary Colors” are formed by combining “Primary Colors”; and “Tertiary Colors” are formed by combining a “Primary Color” with a “Secondary Color”.

Fabric Scraps Obsession

ScrapHappy April 2023

Kate @talltalesfromchiconia hosts a monthly celebration of reusing scraps and “scrap-happy challenges” called ScrapHappy Day on the 15th of each month and thanks to Alys @gardeningnirvana I found out about this monthly event and Kate let me participate!

Here is my latest scrap-happy project, which is currently in progress awaiting my machine quilting – the Colour Wheel Quilt wallhanging which I will be using as a teaching tool.

I’ve already appliquéd down the letters and the quilt sandwich is ready to go. If you’d like some background on this piece please see these posts: Update on the “Colour Wheel” Quilt, “Colour Wheel” Quilt in Progress, and Color Sorting.

Here is a scrap-happy project I recently completed – a table runner made from my ridiculous collection of batik fabric scraps.

For more about this piece please see my posts A Year of Finishes: 32nd Finish – the Batik Table Runner and Update on Batik Scrappy Table Runner.

To close this ScrapHappy post I thought I would share a little gallery of some previous quilts I made entirely from fabric scraps.

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Studio, The Library Stack

Library Stack Unrestrained…

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve written any posts for my blogging topic category – The Library Stack where I share my latest stack of local library books I’ve borrowed.

In this quick post I thought I would share my latest stack, recently acquired when I browsed the library “unrestrained” (by common sense and no longer being hindered by hobbling around in a walking book):

Yes it’s a bit ridiculous and I am not sure what happened to me while browsing (I guess I had an “out of body” experience) the library. It was the first time I was able to drive myself to the library and browse independently since I broke my ankle in January 2023.

Surprisingly I was able to haul all these books to the library’s check out station using a tote bag (and taking the elevator, there was no way my ankle was going to get me all the way down the library stairs!).

My plan is to flip through these books while I have breakfast each morning.

I think that is all the time I should allow this stack as I need to keep working on finishing my Colour Wheel Quilt that I most recently blogged about in this post Update on the “Colour Wheel” Quilt.

I just finished wrangling the quilt, with just the batting attached (to act as interfacing), under the sewing machine to machine applique down all those letters. So I am moving forward despite distraction from my latest (and unrestrained) “Library Stack”!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

Update on the “Colour Wheel” Quilt

Here is an update on the Colour Wheel quilt/wall hanging that I am making as a teaching tool on color theory when I teach an art quilting course in 2024 (see post A Year of Finishes: The Pivot) using fabric scraps.

The pattern I used is from the book Quilt Color Workshop by T. Bruecher, B. Greenberg, L. Goldsworthy, and J. Adams (2014) and the quilt is supposed to look the quilt on the book’s cover:

But I decided to modify the quilt a bit as I will show you below.

In my previous post on this quilt Colour Wheel” Quilt in Progress, I had a collection of 24 trimmings from making the “spokes” of the 12 sectioned color wheel and I was deciding what to do with them.

Well I decided to piece 23 of them together (1 trimming was sacrificed while I was experimenting with options) to make a banner for the top of the quilt.

Banner? What do you mean by “banner” Tierney?!?!?

Well I decided if the quilt was going to be a teaching tool I was going to add some additional details to the quilt as you will see below.

Before I get to that, let me show you the backing fabric I found in my stash for the quilt – a colorful butterfly fabric that had most of the colors from my the color wheel.

Here is the banner pieced from the trimming scraps, the backing, and the pieced main part of the quilt up on my design wall.

Looking at it on the design wall, I decided it was all feeling a little boring and it needed something. Then I remembered it is was to be a teaching tool so why not fully commit to it being a teaching tool and add letters and words to it?

So I did, and here is what the quilt currently looks like on the design wall.

I added “The Colour Wheel” to the banner made by the trimming scraps; and labeled each of the colorways.

The letters are just tentatively laid out, when I remove the quilt from the design wall I will measure out the proper spacing of the letters and words.

I am pretty pleased with this wallhanging so far!

A Year of Finishes - 2023, Fabric Scraps Obsession

A Year of Finishes: 32nd Finish – the Batik Table Runner

I continue to work on the Colour Wheel quilt/wallhanging that I most recently blogged about in the post “Colour Wheel” Quilt in Progress, but I am not ready to share my further progress (and I did come up with a plan on how to use the trimmed sections of the color wheel and incorporate them into the quilt!), so instead I will share an update on the batik table runner I made for a friend.

This post is a follow up to the post – Update on Batik Scrappy Table Runner. It is also part of my documentation of the backlog of projects I am finishing in 2023 – A Year of Finishes – 2023.

Back when I lived in Bend, Oregon (now over 4 years ago), I promised to make my friend L a table runner for her long dining room table which I had enjoyed several wonderful meals at over the years.

Finally back in December 2022 I started the table runner and made it from batik fabric scraps using the pattern Bamboo Shade by Aardvark Quilts. Here is where I was at in December 2022 – I had pieced it and prepared it for quilting:

I shared in the March 17, 2023 post 7 Million Stitches+, that I was working on machine quilting the table runner on my new sewing machine.

Here is the completed table runner:

And here is the table runner on my friend L’s dining room table (she received it in the mail the other day and sent me a photo)!

It felt wonderful to complete that project and finally give her the table runner!

Independent bookstores, Thrift Shop Adventures, tierneytravels

Playing Tourist in My State: A Couple Days in Boulder Colorado, Part II

Here is the second part of my two part series of posts about a recent visit to Boulder, Colorado. You can read the Part I of the adventure in this post – Playing Tourist in My State: A Couple Days in Boulder Colorado, Part I.


Oh I left out something from our visit to the Pearl Street shopping district thrift/vintage shop – Heady Bauer from the previous post. The shop had a really cool used instrument section where the staff encouraged you to pick up an instrument and play whether you knew how or not:

There was a father and son in the section enjoying the instruments.

John decided to pick up a used guitar and start strumming:

John used to play a lot of instruments when he was younger (the guitar, the piano, and even the saxophone) and at one point was even in a band. I encouraged him to think about getting a used guitar in the future and start playing again.

After an afternoon of wandering around the downtown Boulder shopping area Pearl Street, we headed over to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse for dinner. This tea house was a gift from Boulder’s sister city in the Soviet Union, Dushanbe. Here is a snippet of the history from the teahouse’s website:

In 1987, during his first visit to Boulder, Mayor Maksud Ikramov announced that Dushanbe planned to present our city with a Teahouse to celebrate the establishment of sister city ties. From 1987 -1990, more than 40 artisans in several cities of Tajikistan created the decorative elements our Teahouse, including its hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels. Often these skills are handed down from generation to generation within families. Lado Shanidze served as chief architect. In Central Asia, teahouses serve as gathering places where friends meet to talk or play chess over a cup of tea. Many teahouses are traditionally decorated with Persian art, characterized by the use of motifs from nature – stellar, solar, and floral, by the repetition of patterns, by form over representation and pattern over detail, and by lavish decoration and color. Our Teahouse accurately reflects this artistic tradition that dates back nearly 2,000 years. The master woodcarvers, including Manon Khaidarov and Mirpulat Mirakhmatov who helped reassemble the Teahouse here, have carved their names in the ceiling. The artisans who have painted it have written their names on a green painted area above the entry to the kitchen. A message carved in the ceiling reads “artisans of ancient Khojand whose works are magical”.

Here are some photos I took while we visited the teahouse, but there are much better photos on the teahouse’s website.

They have an extensive tea menu, hundreds of teas are available. As an obsessive tea drinker, I enjoyed browsing their menu book of teas!

I ended up gong with one of the “teas of the day” which was a rose and lavender infusion. I had a lovely pot of tea along with our lovely meal. (And my pot of tea came with an little hourglass so that I would know when to put the infuser basket out of my tea pot!)

This teahouse reminded us of how many hidden gems (well at least hidden to us) there are in Colorado. We plan to spend the Spring and Summer exploring more of Colorado and finding more of those “hidden gems”.

After the teahouse we continued on our thrifting/thrift store adventures and stopped at the awesome Goodwill in Boulder. There John found an amazing deal – a metal craft beer sign to join his collection of craft beer signs in our basement bar area, for 75% off the retail price!

The sign was in pristine/brand new condition and still had a plastic protective sheet over it (which was removed for the photo above).

I found some amazing used books – several of which were recent publication hardbacks – for only $2 each!

This particular Goodwill was recommended to me by someone I’ve followed for a while on Instagram @boulderthrifter. She was kind enough to give me thrift shop recommendations for our trip to Boulder.


The next day we had another Independent Bookstore adventure, this time at The Bookworm – Boulder’s largest used books bookstore (after a delicious breakfast at The Buff, a Boulder breakfast top spot).

I knew The Bookworm was my kind of place because when you first walk in you are greeted by the bookstore dog!

After petting the dog for a while, I went on to browse their HUGE used book selection.

John and I had a wonderful browse in this bookstore.

Right before we headed back to the Denver Metro area, we stopped at a cool used art supply shop, Art Parts: Creative Reuse Center. I love art supply reuse centers! I’ve written about them in the past in posts such as Who Gives a Scrap?.

I had a fun browsing at this shop and left with some free art quilting magazines.

So that was our Boulder, Colorado adventure!

Independent bookstores, Life in B&W, Thrift Shop Adventures, tierneytravels

Playing Tourist in My State: A Couple Days in Boulder Colorado, Part I

John and I decided to play tourist in our own state and spend a couple days last week in Boulder, Colorado (if you click on the linked “Boulder, Colorado” you’ll see a lovely little video giving you a feel for Boulder, Colorado from the website).


We opted for a rustic experience in our accommodation choices, and stayed at the A-Lodge/Boulder Adventure Lodge in the Fourmile Canyon area of Boulder.

I couldn’t help myself, it is early Spring and the landscape is still pretty stark around Colorado so I just had to take the photos in Black & White!

The Lodge has a cool two-level lounging area and they also serve craft beers and have a daily “Happy Hour”. The accommodations were decent although sparse, but you couldn’t beat the $70 a night price.

Excellent value for the money; and if you are really looking to save money, they also have like a $22 a night hostel (you share a room with others). There were lots of young outdoorsy adventure seeking type dudes staying there, I am sure they were enjoying the low rates for the hostel area.

John and I spent some time in the lower level of the Lodge, sipping craft beers and reading (John) and crocheting (me with my travel granny squares making project).

I loved this cool piece of art in the Lodge:


So Boulder has a lot of independent bookstores and a lot of cool thrift shops, and visiting them was part of our plan while in Boulder!

We started our adventure with a trip to the downtown Boulder shopping area Pearl Street and spent time wandering about the Boulder Book Store.

The bookstore was pretty amazing; and I could have spent a day there (but there was so much more to see in Boulder). The original building that houses the bookstore was built in 1899 and you can see the historical architecture throughout the building.

Here are a couple photos to give you a flavor of what it was like to wander about the bookstore:

I had my favorite (and now well worn) tote bag in tow; but I was well behaved and only filled it with one new book from the Boulder Book Store.

I also filled it with some new stickers for my water bottle, laptop and John’s tool chest (which he covers with stickers) as they had an amazing and reasonably priced sticker collection:

After the bookstore, we wandered around the Pearl Street shopping district and stumbled upon this very fun thrift/vintage shop – Heady Bauer. I was already having an awesome day so I appreciated the sign in front of their door: “Best Day Ever”:

When first entering the shop you see a huge wall display of crocheted blankets, including granny square blankets, mounted on the wall!

Seriously creative art and recycling!

I bought a used book there (I didn’t want the book from our first stop to be lonely!) – an original edition (complete with 1970s cover art) of one of my favorite science fiction books of all time: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

It will be fun to re-read it in the version that it was originally published.

Oh we had a laugh when we stopped at the clothing store Free People to look around (I do like some of their clothes). Do you remember when I was endlessly working on drawstring bags? Well we came across a line of pants that to us looked like “drawstring bag pants”!

I feel like I could definitely learn to make those pants!

I’ll continue the rest of our Boulder adventures in my next post, and I want to close this post with some really cool embroidery art they had in the Free People store above their clothing displays: embroidered coffee and tea burlap sacks:

That is gorgeous recycling!