Sugar Block 3.0 BOM – it is done!

Last year my Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild decided to do the Sugar Block Club 3.0 Block of the Month club.  It seemed like we all had a lot of energy about it for the first few months, but the enthusiasm waned.  I tried to keep up with the blocks every month, and had a big push in December to finish the last block and get the setting together.

It would have been easy to just do a 3 blocks in a row, 4 rows setting, but I decided I wanted to do a non-traditional setting.  I also had a lot of extra fabric left over, and I thought some large open areas for the top would be useful for practicing some quilting.  I cut the background fabric in to large squares and rectangles, and developed this for the setting:

Sugar Block Club 3.0

After doing a large amount of practice on my long arm, I thought I was ready to tackle this guy.

I struggled with a thread choice for the top – I wanted something that blended, but my first choice blended so well I couldn’t see what I was quilting.

I wound up choosing a very light grey – Aurifil Dove #2600.  I think it worked out well, but it still was very light in places and hard to see.

I spent a lot of time choosing patterns for each block, using many tools to work through the design – my notebook, books, and a plexiglass sheet to put on top of the quilt and try out ideas.

It took a lot of time, but I think it came out really well!

Here is the finished quilt:

Some detail shots:

The back – I pieced it with leftovers from the blocks.

I almost used a whole big spool of Aurifil on the top:

Maggie was exhausted when we were done!

But she did help me with the binding:

Final stats:

Thread used – Top (Aurifil Dove #2600), Bottom (Bottom Line #620)

Quilt Size:  66″ x 78″

Total Quilting Stitches:  352,919

I am really happy with how it turned out.  There are a lot of bobbles and wonky stitches, but I think I’ve come a long way!


Linking up with the Q3’17 FAL page




A Few Days Quilting with Angela Walters

My Modern Quilt Guilt is great, and they really know how to put on an event.  Last year they brought in Victoria Findlay Wolfe, and this year it was Angela Walters.  She held a lecture, a dinner, and four days of workshops.  It was truly an awesome weekend.

When I first signed up for the workshops I hadn’t yet bought the long arm.  I signed up for 2 workshops, as well as the dinner, and originally planned to take the class on my domestic machine.  However after I bought my long arm I was able to make a request and get on a long arm for the classes, which was really great.

I am a big Angela fan.  I have 4-5 of her books and have taken at least 2 of her Craftsy classes.  I find her funny, approachable and clear, and as an instructor she really does a good job giving you confidence and making it ok to not be perfect.  Because of all of this, I was really looking forward to the events!

The workshops were held at the shop where I bought my Berninas and my Avante long arm.  They normally have 2-3 long arms on the sales floor, so I was really excited to go into their classroom and see 9…yes 9!…Avante long arms.

All of them were on 4-foot frames to fit so many in the room, where there were also 4 Sweet Sixteen sit-down mid-arms and two big tables for students with their domestic machines.  I think Handi-Quliter, whom Angela is a spokesperson for, drove in a big truck with all of these machines.  They also had a Handi-Quilter educator available all day during the classes to help, answer questions…and change bobbins!


The first workshop was called Little Changes, Big Variety.  Honestly, I had seen most of these techniques in either her books or the Craftsy classes, but it was really great to get the instruction in person.  It was also so great to just work on the machine for the day and practice, practice, practice.

Between the Handi-Quilter educator and the other students I also got a lot of tips – like setting tension and what thread to use.  I knew that people like to match the color of the top and bottom threads to mask little tension issues, but I had no idea they were using different threads.  I learned about Bottom Line and SuperBobs – both are 60wt poly thread from Superior.  The suggestion was that a heavier thread in the bobbin can help keep the tension in the lighter upper thread from needing to be so tight.  Cool stuff – I bought 4 spools of Bottom Line to try out.

Here are some samples from my practice:

First time trying clam shells:

and cool feathered paisleys:

The second workshop was about Quilting the Modern Quilt and Quilting Negative Space.  Again, I had seen a number of these designs before, but it was really great to practice them.

Some samples – I really like the square in a square technique:

and this merging lines pattern too:

I won some fat quarters, from which I made this handy thread catcher/pin cushion.  I love this thing.

Angela also had a bunch of stuff for sale, so I decided it was my duty to take a few things off her hands:

I actually won the Hailey’s Stars pattern in a drawing – I might have to make one of those.  It is a cool pattern.  The fabric on the right is a few yards of a wide backing fabric which I’m looking forward to using.

Angela was just great – so gracious and generous with her time.  She also brought her whole family with her to Albuquerque, and I think they enjoyed their time here.

I am now motivated to go off and quilt some of these quilts I’ve been afraid to tackle!

Sugar Block Club 3.0 – Quilt Layout

I’ve written about this project before (herehere and here), but the short story is that my Modern Quilt Guild decided to do Amy Gibson’s (of Stitchery Dickory Dock) Sugar Block Club BOM this year.  The club features clean designs and are a good opportunity to apply a modern take to traditional blocks.

I did a good job of keeping up with the blocks and actually finished the December block on time, and early in December.  From there, it was all about figuring out how to put the quilt top together.

Sugar Block Club BOM
Sugar Block Club BOM – all my blocks!

I really wanted to avoid doing a very standard grid-like layout for a bunch of reasons.  First, I’ve done that before!  Second, I wanted to do something that had a lot of negative space so I could practice some machine quilting.  Third, I had a bunch of background fabric left over from the BOM that I wanted to use up.

I played around awhile with some drawings and eventually came up with this sketch.  The shaded areas are the 12 blocks, and the lettered boxes are the background pieces.  I grouped the pieces into common sizes to plan out the cutting.


With the plan in hand, I spend the day on New Years’ Eve day cutting up my background fabrics to the planned sizes – trying to get a balanced mix of the different types.  From there, the assembly began.  This is my ironing board set up in front of the window in my sewing room – looking out on the last day of 2016!


It took some time to get it together, and to get the balance of the different background fabrics looking right.  Here is the top all together – taken in the sunlight of the morning of New Years’ Day!


I’m pretty happy with it.  I think the blocks wound up weighted more heavily toward the bottom and I’d like to adjust that, but I’m not sure how to fix it easily.  I’ll probably sit on it a bit before making a final decision, and I do still have some quilting practice to do before I’m ready to finish this one up.  But I’m mostly happy with how this came out – happy I took a bit of a risk to do a very alternative layout that will give me lots of space for fun quilting.


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