Earlier this month, Sew Mama Sew hosted a giveaway week, and I am super excited that I won a fantastic bundle of fabric from Cynthia Brunz at Quilting is more fun than Housework.  The fabric arrived yesterday and it is beautiful!

April Showers Bundle


All of the fabrics in this bundle are from April Showers by Bonnie & Camille, which is put out by Moda.  I always think that it is difficult to do justice to fabric in a photograph, and these are even more fantastic in person.  The colors work wonderfully with the cheerful patterns of the design, and the texture is lovely.

April Showers Fabric


I am so excited to get to work with these prints!

Last Minute Gifts: Cord/Coin Pouch

As my nieces and nephews have gotten older, cash or gift cards have become the favored gifts for the holidays because money always fits!  I try to get a little creative in the presentation of this not-particularly-original gift, so this year I am making cord pouches that hook onto a keyring.  These pouches finish at a little under 4″ from side to side, so they can easily hold a thumb drive, USB cord, some change, or even most phone chargers.  Come to think of it, I may need to make a couple for myself!

Finished Cord Pouches

Finished Cord Pouches

I knew that I wanted to put a grommet in each pouch to attach a key ring. (If you don’t have grommets laying about, a ribbon loop inserted into a seam would also do the trick.)  I thought that the grommet would look nice in a corner, so I experimented with a couple different shapes before settling on an octagon.  This project will work with most shapes, but if you would like to play along using the octagon, I have included a pattern here.  This Octagon Pattern  is a PDF File you are welcome to download.

I made six pouches, choosing an outer fabric and a lining fabric for each.  Orange tends to be pretty popular among my nephews, so I used a lot of it this year!  I cut one octagon out of each fabric, but for the front side I cut rectangles to set the zipper into before cutting it into shape.  I like to give myself some wiggle room when dealing with zippers, so I cut the rectangles to about 3″x5″.  For each pouch you should have 2 outer fabric rectangles, 2 lining fabric rectangles, 1 outer fabric octagon, and 1 lining fabric octagon.  You will also need a zipper and either a grommet or a small loop of ribbon.

Pieces cut for cord pouches

Pieces cut for cord pouches

For an exposed zipper I like to sandwich each side of the zipper between the outer and lining fabrics along the long edge of the rectangle.  I like to pin the layers in place so nothing moves out of place while I’m stitching.  The navy floral fabric will become the outside of this pouch, so it is laying with the right side of the fabric facing the top of the zipper.  The right side of the lining fabric faces the back of the zipper.  This leaves the wrong side of the fabric exposed on each side of your zipper sandwich.  I like my fabric edges to line up with the edge of the zipper.  I also place the fabric in the center of the zipper so I can sew it in place without the pull getting in the way.

A "Zipper Sandwich"

A “Zipper Sandwich”

Now you are ready to start stitching!  You will want to use your zipper foot and stitch a consistent distance from the teeth of the zipper.  I like to line up the right side of the zipper foot with the edge of the zipper, but machines can vary, so choose a means of measuring that works for you.

Using the zipper foot to stitch a zipper in place

Using the zipper foot to stitch a zipper in place

Now you are ready to press the fabric out to expose the zipper.  I like to press the outer fabric into place first.

Pressing the outer fabric into place around the zipper

Pressing the outer fabric into place around the zipper

Then you will press the lining fabric toward the back.

Fabric Pressed in place once the zipper is sewn

Fabric Pressed in place once the zipper is sewn

Next you will perform the same steps to sew the remaining rectangles to the other side of the zipper.

For added stability, I like to topstitch the fabric about 1/16″ from the seams we just sewed.  If you have an edge stitching foot, it will make this step easier, but it can also be done with a regular foot (and a little patience!)

Top Stitching the zipper

Top Stitching the zipper

Once you have the topstitching done on both sides of the zipper, take a moment to admire your work!  Now trace your octagon pattern onto the fabric, paying carful attention to where you want the zipper placed.  I decided to center the zipper across the octagon for this set of pouches.  Do NOT cut yet!

Tracing the octagon onto the front of the pouch

Tracing the octagon onto the front of the pouch

We are going to use a very small seam allowance for these pouches, so I decided it would be easier to sew first, cut later.  Move the zipper pull tab into the center of the octagon!  (If you are going to insert a ribbon loop, now is the time.  Place the loop toward the center of the octagon, with the ends sticking into the seam allowance.  Pin or Baste into place.)  Take the octagons you cut out at the beginning of this process and place the outer fabric piece right side down onto the zippered section.  Carefully line up the cut shape with the traced shape.  Layer the lining fabric octagon, right side up, on top of the outer fabric octagon.  With the zipper pull in the center of the octagon, the cut pieces may not naturally line up with all corners.  This is an instance where you should make the fabric line up the way you want.  (If you don’t, the zipper may gap in an unpleasant manner.)  I pin in each corner, but add as many pins as you need to feel comfortable.

Pinning the front and back together

Pinning the front and back together

Stitch all the way around the octagon using a seam allowance of a generous 1/8″

Stitch around the shape using a seam allowance of 1/8"

Stitch around the shape using a seam allowance of 1/8″

Check around the edges of your shape to make sure that all layers have been stitched properly.  Now cut away the excess material in the zipper layer leaving the 1/8″ seam allowance.

Pouch with Edges Trimmed

Pouch with Edges Trimmed

Carefully clip the corners in order to achieve nice points when the shape is turned.

Pouch with clipped corners

Pouch with clipped corners

Turn the shape right side out using the zipper opening.  Press to flatten the shape.  Make sure you have pretty corners!

Pouch turned right side out

Pouch turned right side out

To enclose the raw edges of the seam allowance, you will now want to top stitch 1/4″ from all edges of the octagon.  I started and ended the stitching in the corner I was planning to place the grommet since the stitching won’t be visible at that point.  When stitching over the zipper, I chose to turn the machine side wheel by hand, taking a large stitch over the zipper teeth, lifting the presser foot, moving back, and taking another large stitch over the zipper teeth.  I repeat this several times to secure the zipper.  (This should act as the equivalent of several zig zag stitches in a single spot often used to shorten a zipper.)

Top Stitching the Pouch

Top Stitching the Pouch

Since we used such a small seam allowance, I like to add another row of top stitching just under 1/8″ from the edge of the octagon.

Now that everything is sewn, it is time to add the grommet.  A grommet has two pieces: a grommet, and a washer.  You will also need a hammer, punch, and a setter to install a grommet.  I used the 00 size for this project.

Once you have decided where to place the grommet, lay the pouch on a piece of scrap wood, position the punch, and give it a couple whacks with the hammer.  You should now have a nice clean opening to insert the grommet.

Top Stitched Pouch with hole punched and grommet ready to install

Top Stitched Pouch with hole punched and grommet ready to install

Place the grommet through the hole you punched in the pouch, then place the washer over the center of grommet.  The grommet will be placed in the anvil portion of the setter.  The setter will fit into the center opening of the grommet (on the washer side), and it should then be tapped firmly several times to set the grommet.  You want to hit the setter hard enough to set the grommet, but not so hard that the grommet splits.  When in doubt, start with moderate force and increase as necessary.



Grommet with Washer

Grommet with Washer

Pouch in Grommet Setter

Pouch in Grommet Setter

There you have it- A useful little gift that practically everyone will find a use for.  I added some candy to sweeten the deal!

Finished Pouch, All wrapped up!

Finished Pouch, All wrapped up!

A Whirl with Hexagons

Last summer, on an impulse, I decided I wanted to start quilting again.  I had gotten away from quilting when I went off to college, and a trip to a fabric store with a phenomenal selection of quilting cotton re-inspired me.  Having seen some lovely quilts with subtle tones, I decided I would give a low volume quilt a try.  This quilt is the result.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Full

Starting out, I knew that I wanted to do something improvisational, and I wanted to include hexagons.  The hexagons were the starting point for this project.  Each one was created by cutting a circle of fabric and folding the sides to the center to create the hexagon.  In the center of each hexagon I sewed a small fabric yo-yo.  Then each piece was embellished with hand embroidery and glass beads.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail D

As I worked on these hexagons, which I knew would become appliqués on the quilt, I began thinking of them as flower petals blowing in the wind on a spring day.  Now the big question:  How do I create a feeling of wind in a quilt?  I wanted to develop a sense of sweeping movement and an illusion of individual gusts rolling into one another.  After a great deal of sketching and brain storming, I landed on the idea of having individual segments of irregular shapes coming together to form a quilt.  I started with the section in the upper left section, and then moved to the piece spanning the bottom of the quilt.  At this point, I realized I was going to need to create a more defined plan to develop the rest of the quilt layout.  I took a snapshot of what I had completed so far, and printed out several copies on regular printer paper so I could easily draw on top of the image.  This composition was ultimately the one I liked the best.

C Beaver Low Volume Fail Process Sketch

I used a flannel sheet on a wall to do the layout for this quilt, and to transfer the shape of each piece to the design wall I safety pinned 1/4″ wide fabric twill tape to the fabric to create an outline of each major area.  Then I began piecing sections one at a time.  Each segment is improvisationally pieced, quilted, and bound with bias strips prior to being connected to the adjoining segments.  I used a walking foot on my domestic sewing machine to quilt each segment with lines reflecting the piecing of each area of the quilt.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail A

In keeping with the improvisational piecing, I chose to make the binding using a mix of fabrics cut into bias strips.  The bias is machine stitched to the front of the quilt and hand slip stitched to the back.  I used a very small hand slip stitch to connect the segments to one another.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail C

The hexagons were appliquéd onto the quilt following the assembly of the quilted panels.  I knew that it was important to me to further a sense of movement with the hexagon placement, so I arranged the pieces to bridge the eight main segments of the quilt.

Cassandra Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail E


Ultimately, I did veer away from my initial goal of a low volume quilt, but in the process I have achieved a pastel success.  Because of this, I have titled this quilt “Low Volume Fail, Pastel Win!”

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail B


My only big remaining question is which direction the quilt should go.  I originally designed this piece to hang horizontally, but once it was finished, I began thinking that a vertical orientation may be more appealing.  What do you think?  How would you hang this piece?

Cassandra Beaver Low Volume Fail Orientation


Quilt Stats

Title:  Low Volume Fail, Pastel Win

Size: 66″w x 47″h

Techniques:  Machine Improvisational Piecing, Hand Appliqué, Hand Embroidery, Glass Bead Details

Quilting:  Machine quilted using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008

Fabrics: 100% cotton prints and batiks

Batting:  Warm and Natural cotton batting

Thread:  Cotton machine quilting thread

Binding:  Bias, cut in 2″ strips from fabrics used in the quilt.  Machine stitched to the front, and hand stitched to the back


This post is linked to “Let’s Bee Social” at Sew Fresh QuiltsNeedle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation, Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric AddictFinish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, and Fresh Sewing Day at Lily’s Quilts.  Please stop by to see all of the wonderful work shared there!

Sew Fresh Quilts


2015 Quilt Show Dates and Deadlines

Every year thousands of quilters gather to share their work and see the work of others.  Quilt shows are an amazing opportunity to meet other quilters, learn something new, and discover great new fabrics and tools.  2015 promises to bring us a year full of quilt shows and opportunities to share our work with others both within and outside of our immediate community.  Below, I have gathered information for a sampling of quilt contests, shows, and exhibitions which will occur around the United States.  One of my goals for the next year is to start entering shows and contests, and I hope many of you share this goal as well.  There is a show for everyone, from local guild shows and county fairs to international juried exhibitions.

In order for this list to become a reference, I have added a quilt show page to the menu of this site, which I will update with additional shows as I hear about them.  I would like to keep this listing to shows which allow international (or at least national) entries.  If you know of a show anywhere in the world which should be included, please contact me so I can add it to the list.

2015 Quilt Show Dates and Deadlines

These shows are listed in the order of their occurrence.


Organization/Show Name:  American Quilter’s Society:  Albuquerque, New Mexico

Website:  http://www.quiltweek.com

Contest Deadline: September 19, 2014  (NOW CLOSED)

Show Dates: January 14-17, 2015

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico


Organization/Show Name:  The Modern Quilt Guild  /  Quiltcon

Website:  http://www.quiltcon.com

Contest Deadline:  November 30, 2014  (NOW CLOSED)

Show Dates:  February 19-22, 2015

Location: Austin, Texas


Organization/Show Name:  Indiana Heritage Quilt Show

Website:  http://www.ihqs.org

Contest Deadline:  February 20, 2015

Show Dates:  March 5-7, 2015

Location: Bloomington, Indiana


Organization/Show Name:  American Quilter’s Society:  Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Website:  http://www.quiltweek.com

Contest Deadline: November 6, 2014  (NOW CLOSED)

Show Dates: March 11-14, 2015

Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Organization/Show Name:  Quilts, Inc.  /  International Quilt Festival:  Chicago, Illinois

Website:  http://www.quilts.com/home/shows/viewer.php?page=SummerFestivalChicago

Contest Deadline:  January 30, 2015.  Please see the call for entries at http://callforentriesmidwestmarvels.com for more details.

Show Dates:  March 26-28, 2015

Location: Rosemont, Illinois


Organization/Show Name:  MQX Quilt Festivals: New England

Website:  www.mqxshow.com

Contest Deadline:  February 1, 2015

Show Dates:  April 8-11, 2015

Location:  Manchester, New Hampshire


Organization/Show Name:  American Quilter’s Society:  Paducah, Kentucky

Website:  http://www.quiltweek.com

Contest Deadline: December 5, 2014 (NOW CLOSED)

Show Dates: April 22-25, 2015

Location: Paducah, Kentucky


Organization/Show Name:  Home machine quilting show (HMQA)

Website:  www.hmqs.org

Contest Deadline: April 11, 2015

Show Dates: May 7-9, 2015

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah


Organization/Show Name:  The Dairy Barn Arts Center  /  Quilt National ‘15

Website:  http://dairybarn.org/quilt-national/quilt-national-2015/

Contest Deadline:  (NOW CLOSED)

Show Dates:  May 23 – September 7, 2015 (Touring Exhibit Follows- see website for details)

Location: Athens, Ohio


Organization/Show Name: National Quilting Association, Inc.

Website: http://www.nqaquilts.org/quiltshow/site/2015/

Contest Deadline:  April 1, 2015 (First 400 Entries Accepted for Competition)

Show Dates:  June 18-20, 2015

Location:  Little Rock, Arkansas


Organization/Show Name:  American Quilter’s Society:  Syracuse, New York

Website:  http://www.quiltweek.com

Contest Deadline:  March 6, 2015

Show Dates: July 29 – August 1, 2015

Location: Syracuse, New York


Organization/Show Name:  American Quilter’s Society:  Grand Rapids, Michigan

Website:  http://www.quiltweek.com

Contest Deadline: March 27, 2015

Show Dates: August 12-15, 2015

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan


Organization/Show Name:  Quilts, Inc.  /  Quilt! Knit! Stitch!

Website: http://www.quilts.com/home/shows/viewer.php?page=StitchPortland

Contest Deadline:  (information not currently available)

Show Dates:  August 13-15, 2015

Location: Portland, Oregon


Organization/Show Name:  American Quilter’s Society:  Chattanooga, Tennessee

Website:  http://www.quiltweek.com

Contest Deadline: May 1, 2015

Show Dates: September 16-19, 2015

Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee


Organization/Show Name:  American Quilter’s Society:  Des Moines, Iowa

Website:  http://www.quiltweek.com

Contest Deadline: June 5, 2015

Show Dates: September 30 – October 3

Location: Des Moines, Iowa


Organization/Show Name:  Quilts, Inc.  /  International Quilt Festival:  Houston, Texas

Website:  http://www.quilts.com/home/shows/viewer.php?page=FallFestival

Contest Deadline:  (information not currently available)

Show Dates:  October 29 – November 1, 2015

Location:   Houston, Texas


Organization/Show Name:  MQX Quilt Festivals: Midwest

Website:  www.mqxshow.com

Contest Deadline:  TBA

Show Dates:  TBA

Location:  TBA


This list is accurate to the best of my knowledge.  If you find any errors, or would like to suggest other shows to add, please let me know, and I will make the necessary additions or corrections.

I’m linking this post with  “Anything Goes Monday” at Stitch by Stitch which is being hosted this week by Babco Unlimited.  Please check out all of the wonderful links and posts!

stitch by stitch

My Return to the World of the Quilter!


I am so excited to be here and to finally get this blog up and running.  I have been wanting to do this for awhile, and I have enjoyed following the blogs a lot of you have been writing.  I am not new to the world of quilting, but I have taken a bit of a sabbatical for about 15 years.  During that time I have developed skills in other areas of art, design, textiles, and sewing.  I hope that I have become a much stronger textile artist because of these experiences.  I think that it is only fair to tell you a little about myself before I dive right in, so here we go!

( I have shamelessly taken the remainder of this post from the “about” section of this site, so expect a case of déjà vu if you choose to read both!)


I love to create.  For me this takes many forms with this blog mostly focussing on my life as a fiber artist.  My mother taught me to sew starting around the age of three or four (the details are a bit fuzzy!)  I learned to quilt first, then I started sewing clothes, and quilted clothes.  After that I entered a career where I spent a lot of time sewing clothing as well as other things.  I have recently returned to the quilt world, and I am excited to share my adventures with you.

Why the not so dramatic life?  Almost my entire professional life has been spent in the theatre.  And no, I’m not an actress.  I am trained as a scenic and costume designer, and have also spent many years working in various technical roles behind the scenes.  These experiences inform my overall design aesthetic as well as helping me to develop skills which allow me to execute (almost) anything I can dream up.

Vital Stats:

Name: Cassandra Ireland Beaver

Education: MFA in Theatre Design (Specifically Scenic and Costume Design)

BFA in Painting (the Fine Art kind) and Drama: Theatre Design and Technology

States in which I have Lived:  Ohio, Missouri, Utah, Kentucky, Connecticut, Indiana

Places I have Visited: 29 US States, Germany, France, Belgium (well, the bus tour I was on had a rest stop there so that counts, right?), South Korea

Q&A Time

What is your Quilting Style?  I identify myself as a contemporary quilter because I’m going to make whatever I am inspired to create, and I have no intention of plunking myself inside a box.  My quilts each have a particular style, but I do not.

Okay then, what style do your Quilts tend to have?  Most of the pieces I create would be classified as either Modern or Art quilts, although occasionally something more traditional may appear.

What is your Greatest Quilting Strength?  A rather neurotic tendency to insist on seams lining up perfectly and points being sharp

What is your Greatest Quilting Weakness?  Free motion quilting (remember the neurotic thing?)  I shall conquer this!  Or else you will discover me huddled in a corner muttering something about inconsistent stitch lengths.

Do you have any experience teaching what you discuss here?  I was a college professor teaching scenic and costume design for a few years, and I managed a university (theatre) costume shop for a couple of years before that.  I have taught a lot of people how to sew, but not as many how to quilt.  I hope to return to teaching soon in a more quilt-based capacity!

How can I contact you?  You can email me at:   cassandra(at)thenotsodramaticlife(dot)com

What about that theatre stuff you mentioned?  If you are so inclined, please check out some of my theatre designs at www.cassandraireland.com

What is the best piece of advice you can give to a fellow quilter?  Be fearless with your work!  Try a new technique!  Create an original design!  You are in control of the fabric!

Thank you so much for visiting!  Your comments are important to me, and I will make every effort to respond!