Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve

I've spent a lot of time over the holidays working on making my new sewing space at the top of the stairs more functional. For your New Year's Eve entertainment, here are some pics of the work in progress! Oh, and New Year's resolution #1 is to finish this off ASAP! Happy New Year's Eve, everybody.

Those shelf things on the top of the regular shelves just needed a place to go. I think I'll stack fabric in the cubbies.

About halfway through cutting header cards off fabric samples. So many pretties!

The last of the fabric that needs to be sorted by color and/or style.

Kaffe Fassett fabric gets its own bin. No slumming with the mixed-manufacturer stuff!

Another bin, this one full of precut fabric packs. Yum, yum, yum...

I had a shocking amount of 30s-40s repros, so they got their own bin, too.

Green, blue, and purple sorting in progress. Lots more to do, too!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Wish

Merry Christmas, friends. I'm wishing each of you a sweet, blessed holiday full of all the things you love. That includes quilting, of course!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Miniature Quilt Project

First draft of Homecoming mini sampler

I'm so excited about the new project I started this weekend. It's a miniature sampler that could be done as a block of the month, and the theme is Homecoming. 2014 is the year in which I hope to return to Pennsylvania, after 11 years in Colorado, so going home is very much on my mind. I might as well make a quilt of it, right?

I started with the Home Again Block:

Finished size 3" x 3"

This one is all template piecing, which I decided to do by hand in front of the TV:

Plastic templates ready to use
First I joined the A and B shapes to make the block center:

Here's the back. I trimmed seams to about 1/8", and swirled them at the center to reduce the bulk:

Now I'm working on setting in the background pieces. More soon!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This Little Quilt Went to Jordan...

Well, actually, it hasn't been shipped to Amman just yet, but it's going to be! The crib quilt for my niece's first baby is finished and ready to go. She and her husband are living in Jordan right now (that's next to Israel for the geographically-challenged), and the baby will be born there in February. I probably spent as much time machine quilting it as I did piecing, so I'm going to indulge in a couple of close-up pics, too!

I washed and machine dried it, and the quilting just popped!
Hoping you can see the sampler effect of the quilting patterns here
This quilt was great fun to make, and it's full of prayers and wishes for the happiest baby-hood ever. Look out, Amman, Jordan, here it comes!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

From stnicholascenter.org
For those of you who aren't familiar with St. Nicholas' Day, December 6 is the feast day of the patron saint of children, who was the model for the modern-day Santa Claus. In lots of countries, children put out their stockings or shoes on the eve of December 6, and receive treats if they've been good, and possibly coal or sticks if they haven't! Since everyone who reads this blog has been very, very good, here's a treat to celebrate the day. McCallsQuilting.com has published the pattern to make my small Lone Star wall hanging, and you can get it free online! Click here, and get ready to turn 2 1/2" strips into something beautiful. Enjoy!

Adapted from a quilt designed by Lissa Alexander

Monday, December 2, 2013

Machine Quilting Adventure

The animal-themed crib quilt I started awhile ago for my niece's first baby is coming along well. Today I finished machine quilting all the solid-colored patches, and made good headway on the animal- and word-print ones as well. I had a lot of fun deciding on quilting motifs for each of the solid colors. Check these out:

Double hearts with a looping meander for the pale pink patches

Swirls for the orange patches...my favorite

Sunbursts for the yellow patches

Pea pods and snaky curves in the green patches

Waves for the blue patches

Stars with a large meander for the violet patches
I still have 3 rows of print patches to quilt, and then it's on to the binding. I can see the finish line from here!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We Have a Winner!

Amy from Amy's Crafty Shenanigans! Amy's a Canadian living in London, England, so I'm about to enter the exciting world of international shipping...wish me luck! Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway, and I hope you'll check back now and then to see what quilting adventures I'm up to. Thanks again to Michele Foster for organizing the hop. It's been great fun!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Welcome to the Party!

This is a big moment for my blog...my first prize giveaway! Thanks to Michele Foster for organizing this blog hop party, which runs today through November 26. It should be lots of fun. You can find the entire list of participating blogs right here.

I'm giving away one mega-prize, a group of 17 fat quarters of fabric from the Mellow Yellow collection by Red Rooster plus 4 patterns by the talented designers at It's Sew Emma (itssewemma.com), all written to use with fat quarters. Anyone can enter, as long as you have an email address and a mailing address. And now for the goodies!

Love these cool prints

So much energy in these large florals

Who doesn't love a pindot?

Scattered circles...be still my heart

Really cool stacked circles prints

Are you drooling yet? And here are the patterns:

Here's all you have to do to enter this giveaway. Leave a comment below with your email address and the name of your favorite fabric precut (fat quarters, jelly rolls, charm packs, honey buns, whatever). On November 27, I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner, and notify you by email if you're the lucky quilter. That's it...easy, huh? So, leave your comment and then check out the other blog hop participants. They have lots of great stuff to give away, too. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you'll come back soon!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blog Hop Starts Tomorrow!

Don't forget to stop back here tomorrow to enter for a chance to win a wonderful pack of fabric fat quarters and some extra bonus goodies. Here's a little preview:

The actual prize is way bigger than these 4 florals, but you get the idea. Blog Hop Giveaway, November 21-26. Be there...be here!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Fancy Flowers Finale

Today I finished the binding on my version of Fancy Flowers, the new McCall's Quilt Along project designed by Erin Russek. The quilting was done by the talented Karen Dovala. Here's the whole quilt:

If you'd like to try this project, the videos and pattern are all free until March 31, so there's plenty of time to watch, learn, and create. Click here for links to everything you need (except fabric, which you likely have plenty of!). I'll always have a special place in my heart for this one...it's the quilt where I learned to love appliqué.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Top 10 Time Management Tips for Quilters

Clock available at cafepress.com

10. Keep an achievement list. It's energizing to see your quilting accomplishments named all in one place.

9. Learn to say "no". Your time is valuable, and you get to spend it on doing the things you love, including quilting.

8. Make a schedule. One of the most productive quilters I've ever known did this at the beginning of every calendar year, planning projects, due dates, retreat weekends, and even "play time" for her quilting. You don't have to stick to your schedule 100% of the time, but it helps to prioritize what you want to accomplish.

7. Break projects into easy-to-achieve tasks, and then complete one task at a time. Want to make a Baltimore Album? Task One may be finding a pattern you love. Task Ten may be making all the leaves you need.

6. Disconnect. Make your sewing space a cradle of creativity, and don’t allow anything into it that distracts or disturbs you. If electronic devices keep you from concentrating on your quilting, turn them off.

5. Give yourself the gift of time. Put a timer in your sewing space and set it for that hour, or three hours, or 15 minutes, that you can fit into your day. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door to protect that time if needed.

4. Organize and declutter. Any time you invest in making your work space efficient will pay off many times over in productivity and fun.

3. Keep it fresh. Change what you’re working on as you tire of a task to keep your energy level up.

2. Know yourself. If you’re most productive early in the day, make Saturday morning one of your quilting times. If mid-afternoon is a sluggish time for you, don’t start challenging tasks then. Save some simple stitching for low-energy times.

and the very top tip of all:

1. Do what you love. Life is too short to stick with a project that’s lost its appeal. Quilting is supposed to be relaxing, exciting, creative. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you're wasting valuable quilting time. Stop and switch gears. HAVE FUN!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Combining Patchwork and Foundation Piecing

Here are some more how-to samples I made this weekend: 

The Snail's Trail Block is foundation paper pieced, but it starts with a traditionally-pieced four-patch. It sewed up quick and easy, with nice accurate results. I had never tried this technique before, and I really liked it. It opens up all kinds of other possibilities for foundation pieced blocks that incorporate pre-pieced patchwork. The step-by-step instructions for this technique will be in the March/April 2014 issue of McCall's Quilting.

What did you sew this weekend?  :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday Stitching

Today I made how-to samples for the March/April 2014 issue of McCall's Quilting, including these cute little pieces of patchwork, made with Simplicity's new EZ Quilting mini keychain templates:

Darlene Zimmerman helped design these and there are over a dozen shapes available, all scaled to work with Jelly Roll strips (you can also use them with fabric scraps and yardage, of course). I think they'd make wonderful gifts for quilty friends. At $4.99 each (on the Simplicity website), you could probably give them to your whole quilting bee!

And while I was upstairs sewing, here's what was going on downstairs:

Yep, Zuzu made herself a quilt tent. Extreme cuteness.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quilt Along with McCall's!

The new McCall's Quilting Quilt Along launched today, and I'm so proud of it. Although I'm not onscreen talent for this one, my quilt top is shown in this first episode, and I served as quilting advisor/gofer for the whole taping process. The project, Fancy Flowers, was designed by Erin Russek of the McCall's staff and One Piece at a Time, and it was so much fun to make. Check out the video...maybe you'll want to give it a try!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Piecing Tips Video Is Live!

Precision Pathways Block, McCall's Quilting Jan/Feb 2014

The Block Builders Workshop video I taped awhile back with tips for precision piecing is now live at McCallsQuilting.com. Click here to watch! It's seven and a half minutes of totally FREE tips and techniques. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Miniature Bonham Beauty...Ta Dah!

It's finished...my miniature version of the Bonham Beauty design is ready for the 2014 Yesterday & Today special issue. I enjoyed all the hand work, but found out that when I'm under a deadline, it takes some of the meditative quality out of my stitching time. Still, it was a fun project. Here's a detail of the quilting:

Cross this one off the list. On to bigger, if not necessarily better, things!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)

My Taos weekend happened to coincide with the Day of the Dead celebrations (Oct. 31, Nov. 1, and Nov. 2), which unfortunately meant we couldn't go out to Taos Pueblo (it was closed for ceremonies). But it also meant we got to see loads of amazing costumes on the trick or treaters and other residents, and to take in all the Day of the Dead goods for sale in the local shops. Common Thread on Bent Street had lots of Dia de Muertos related cotton prints available, like this:

Midnight Pastoral toile by Alexander Henry
Love the spooky toile! And how about this print?

Folklorico Cartas Marcadas by Alexander Henry 
So there you go...Dia de Muertos, quilter's style!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Taos Time

Taos New Mexico has been inspiring to me since the first time I visited back in 2003. I love the colors, shapes, and smells of this part of the world (though I have to take the tastes just a little at a time). One of my favorite places is the old adobe church in Ranchos de Taos, dedicated to St. Francis.

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous...a dusting of snow on the ground Thursday, crystal blue skies every day, a nip in the air. Today I did a lot of textile shopping; here's one of the finds I had to bring home with me:

It's a fat quarter pack of 11 fabrics from the Simply Southwest collection by J. Michelle Watts, who is a local artist in Roswell, NM. Moda does it again! I have no idea what I'll do with these, but they sure make a pretty souvenir. Thank you, Taos Adobe Quilting...I enjoyed my visit!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ocean Dreams

Today I got to write a pattern for an Ocean Waves quilt designed by Lissa Alexander of Moda. The fabric collection featured in the quilt is Hearty Good Wishes by Janet Clare, and it gave me beach longings so badly. My favorite print in the group comes in 4 colors, all absolutely wonderful. Here's a sneak peek!



This fabric doesn't deliver to quilt shops until February 2014 (though some may have it sooner), but we have to write the pattern super-early so we can order fabric for McCall's Quilting kits. It made my morning a little bit like a beach vacation! I love my job.