Category Archives: Books

City Sampler Sew-Along

I’ve never been good at long-term projects. I am easily bored and even more easily distracted, which is why I’ve resisted joining any sew-alongs making the rounds in the quilting community. Until, that is, Tula Pink published her City Sampler book.

I should probably mention I don’t especially care for sampler quilts, but I was so impressed with Tula’s first book, Quilts from the House of Tula Pink, that I had to buy this one, and when Sara from Sew Sweetness announced she’d be running a sew-along for the book, I decided to play along.

True to my word about not being any good at long-term projects, I jumped right in and made nine blocks in one weekend, and then promptly forgot about the whole thing. However, now that I’m documenting my quilting, there is somewhere to be accountable for it so I’ll try to get a block or two (of the hundred in the book) done each week, and to hopefully finish the quilt by the end of the Sew Along in January. That’s doable, no? It’ll also ensure that I sit down at my machine and actually sew at least once a week instead of just dreaming about and planning my sewing projects.

I was incredibly lucky to see and touch the Gridlock quilt in person this weekend at the Festival of Quilts, and I am even more motivated now to get this quilt made. I can’t even describe how much this quilt… glowed. It was so, so beautiful in person–so much more so than in the book!

Tula Pink Gridlock quilt

Another shoddy, fuzzy iPhone picture, you say? Tula Pink Gridlock City Sampler

In the book, each two-page spread is dedicated to a single block. The left side shows a photo of the finished and quilted block, and the right side provides an illustration of how to piece it. It’s a simple and quite lovely presentation. The last part of the book offers a number of block assembly options, and I’m going with the Gridlock assembly, which has the blocks arranged (shockingly) in a rainbow range, with vertical and horizontal sashing. Quite helpfully, the blocks photographed in the book are from the Gridlock configuration and are already arranged to create the rainbow range, so as long as I stick to the colour scheme in the book for each block, I don’t need to calculate how many blocks I need of each colour in order to attain the range.

Like my Missing U quilt, I initially planned to only use scraps for this quilt, but realized I’d never finish it if I waited for scraps, so I’ll cut into fabric as necessary. Since the blocks for this this quilt are quite small (6.5” unfinished), they don’t call for much fabric anyway. That said, I’ll still go to scraps before turning to my stash, so I won’t be making the blocks in the same order as the book, but rather will go with whatever scrap colours I have.

Here are the pictures of the blocks I’ve done so far (more dodgy photography, I know. I started constructing a lightbox this weekend to make sure that this never happens again!)(who am I kidding, the iPhone is never more than a foot away from me and is always the first camera I reach for)(but I promise to try!). You can also follow along on my Flickr stream, where I have a set dedicated to this quilt.


I took my sewing machine in for a service (and um, to help recover the feed dog screw I may have dropped into it) so I spent last night cutting up pieces for five or six more blocks. I’ll cut a few more this week so I can power through the blocks as soon as I get her back.

Just One Slab

I bought Sunday Morning Quilts when I was at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham last year (going again this weekend, stay tuned for a post!). The book, authord by Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts and Cheryl Arkinson of Dining Room Empire, is all about scrappy quilting projects. I looked through it shortly after I got it and then set it aside and mostly forgot about it for the next few months.

A couple of months ago I had another look through and decided to make the Quilted Storage Box project, which uses scraps to create boxes for storing scraps. This seemed a logical first step (they thought so too, which is why they put it at the front of the book), since my scraps were a bit all over the place. I really enjoyed making the scrappy surfaces for this, but the truth was that it turned into a really time-consuming and kind of tedious project. That said, the boxes turned out beautiful and I am quite pleased with them, though I made the mistake of not inserting cardboard to the sides, thinking they would be thick enough to retain their shapes having added extra-thick interfacing; instead, they’re quite squashy, but I’m willing to live with it for now. (Amusingly, by the time I’d finished making them, I no longer had many scraps left to put in them.)

Scrap boxes

Scrappy storage boxes, Sunday Morning Quilts

Having completed that project, I then took a closer look at the projects in the book and just fell in love with the Missing U quilt. With the exception of incorporating a single white scrap, it uses the same block assembly technique that the scrap boxes used, which is just to sew scrap to scrap until you get a 15.5” square. I ended up making four blocks, in purple, green, light blue, and red. I didn’t have enough scraps of the other rainbow colours to make more slabs, but decided to wait for the scraps build up rather than cutting into fabric from my stash.


Missing U quilt blocks, Sunday Morning Quilts

Since I was working on a couple of other quilts at the time, one of which was a priority as it had a deadline, I’d not gone back to making more blocks, until I saw a post by Cheryl, asking for Missing U block donations for a quilting drive to benefit victims of severe flooding in southern Alberta. I debated whether to just package up the blocks I’d made and send them in or whether to make new ones, and decided to go for new. Many of the scraps I’d used in my blocks had a bit of meaning to me, having come from my first forays into quilting, and since I’m making the quilt for someone special, it felt like it added an extra dimension to the quilt. I didn’t have quite enough scraps to make new blocks for the quilting drive, so I did cut into a bunch of fabric that had been given to me, of which I had plenty and to which I was not particularly attached. I managed to make four slabs before my trip to Toronto in July, and another one while there by raiding my mom’s stash.

Having cut into fabric to make these blocks, it occured to me that I don’t need to wait for the scraps to accumulate for the special quilt I’m making, and that I have plenty of fabric I can cut into without even making a dent in the stash, so this may mean the quilt will be ready sometime in this century.

Addendum 1. I’ve decided I can’t live with the wonky, squashy boxes and have been adding the cardboard to bolster them up. Massive difference.


Not squashy, squashy.

Addendum 2. Cheryl managed to collect 1,630 slabs. That’s ONE THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY, people! Well done!

Addendum 3. Most of the photos I’ve taken since 2010 have been with the iPhone. I realize that the photo quality of iPhone pics is pretty fantastic if you want to look at your photos on your phone, but pretty awful under any other condition. I’m starting to take photos with my DSLR, but most of what I’ve made over the past couple of years has fallen victim to the iPhone, so apologies in advance for the shoddy photos I might upload initially.