Monday, February 20, 2017

pincushion giveaway

It's finally time to explain why I've gone pincushion crazy. (As if I need an excuse, right?) I'm packing all these up to take to Quilt Con this week for a super duper giveaway! If you would like a pincushion, come say hello to me at Quilt Con! All that I ask for in exchange is that you show me a photo of something that you've made from one of my patterns, tutorials, fabric, one of my books, etc. I plan to do the giveaway over two days....Thursday and Friday. (I will have about half of the pincushions with me each day.) The giveaway is while supplies last, obviously.

I originally wanted to make 100, but I'm going to be happy with my 75, I guess. I don't think I would be able to carry 100 of them, anyway! :) I hope to meet you there!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, February 17, 2017

LOVE hoop art and a finished scarf

A few days ago, I attempted to make a pincushion with the word LOVE on it, but it turned out waaaay too big, so I turned it into hoop art instead! I've been kicking around the idea of making something like this for a long time, I just didn't realize that it would be this week! Ha! The letters were pieced improvisationally. I ran out of red fabric (ridiculous, but true!) so I made the L from a print rather than a solid. I love that it is a little bit scrappy!
The hoop was hanging up, empty, for a few years (!!!) so nice finally have it filled. I think it looks pretty cute on my wall next to the be positive one that I made awhile back. They are a bright and cheery part of my sewing room!  
I also finished my mistake stitch scarf this week! This project has quite a story behind it. Originally, I used this yarn to knit a honey cowl, which I had completed. Despite the fact that I knit the long version of the cowl, and added 20 stitches, the cowl didn't fit to my liking. It wasn't quite long enough to double up comfortably. I debated for a few days on what to do about it, and I decided to frog the cowl (rip it all out) and start all over. My husband gets a little bit freaked out about this, because he hates seeing all that time go down the drain, so I frogged it in secret. I figured he didn't need to worry about it. A few days later, I was knitting on the scarf at dinner with some friends, and my husband observed out loud (to our friend) that the yarn was all kinked up, so it must have been knit into some other object previously. I was flabbergasted. I had no idea he paid that much attention. (hahaha!) It was equal parts funny and surprising. In the end, I'm glad I reworked the yarn. I'd much rather have an object that will be worn and used than a project that isn't quite right. Besides, I got to enjoy the yarn twice! :)

Pattern: Mistake Stitch Scarf
Needle Size: 7 (I cast on 39 stitches)
Yarn: Madelintosh DK
Color: Button Jar Blue

I wanted to say a quick thank you for all the kind comments on my top 10 tips for successful scrap quilting post. I am glad that it was helpful to so many of you!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Monday, February 13, 2017

my top 10 tips for successful scrap quilting

If you've read my blog for more than a week, you know that my love for scraps runs deep! I enjoy using my scraps and I want you to be excited about using your scraps as well. If you sew or make quilts, there will be scraps to deal with....like it or not! Might as well embrace them, right?
Everyone is going define the term "scrap" differently. I consider anything that is less than a fat quarter a scrap. It's a very big scrap for me, but for sake of ease, that is my cut off line when I sort. (The size shown above is more my speed, to be honest.) How you define a scrap is up to you!

Here are my top 10 tips for successful scrap quilting:

1. Admit that you have a problem. (Isn't that always the first step?) If you are overwhelmed by your scraps, this may be extremely easy! Do you want to create order and tame the chaos? Admitting that you have a problem (and wanting to fix it!) is a great first step.
Personally, I have a problem with saving everything. Well, almost everything! I save scraps smaller than 1" square, especially when they are this cute! It's crazy...I'll be the first to admit it. I do use them, however, so I continue to save them. I use them for bright birch tree quilts, needle books and ticker tape canvases, just to name a few things.
 
(Rather than admitting your problem, maybe you just need to get really good at justifying your actions, like I did here. Ha!)

2. Assess your scraps. This goes hand in hand with step one. What do you think you will realistically use? If you don't think you will use it, pass it along to someone who will!

Some days are much better for this than others. If you are in a cleaning or purging mood, this is a good time to assess your scraps. Clear them out, pass them along and don't look back!

3. Clean them up. If you have fabric that was previously sewn together (like strips leftover from a quilt backing), cut them apart and remove the sewn seams. If you have odd cuts, whether you've cut out one circle or a complete garment, cut the remainders into usable pieces, like squares, rectangles, strips or triangles.

Let's illustrate this...just for fun.
Here's a random scrap that I pulled out of my bin of scraps that need to be cleaned up. In this shape, this scrap is very uninspiring and maybe even a little bit intimidating.
 I gave it a good press....
...and then I chopped it into usable pieces. These pieces include: selvages (that I save to knit rag rugs), triangles, strings, a larger piece that will go into my color boxes and the tiny pieces for my ticker tape drawer. On the bottom right are the scraps that I will throw away. Now, these remaining scraps are user friendly! The chances of these scraps getting sewn up has dramatically increased.
 
4. Sort your scraps. For scraps that are less than a fat quarter but larger than a charm square, I sort primarily by color. (The quilted storage boxes pattern can be found in Sunday Morning Quilts.)
For the pieces smaller than a charm square, I place like sizes/shapes together, and mix all the colors together. Strings are one of my categories where all of the colors are stored together.
I have a blog post about my extensive sorting system here, if you care to read it.

5. Come up with a storage plan that works for you and your space. It should mimic the way YOU work and your storage limitations. This has to be extremely personal, because everyone has different scrap tolerances. :)
My storage plan is extensive, and it continues to grow, but scraps are my main focus. I have to room to store them, so it works for me. (At least half of the bins pictured here are holding scraps!) My scrap storage methods are in a constant state of flux, depending upon what quilts I'm working on at the time. That is actually a very good thing! The addition and deletion of categories as I begin and end projects helps me maintain good organization.

6. Work on a few long term projects at a time. Scrap quilts aren't quick and I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise. One can only look at a single project for so long. Mixing up a few different long-term projects is a very good thing! I'm not one to do leaders and enders projects (oh boy, I wish I was!) but I find that doing some prep cutting and getting things sorted and organized ahead of time helps. That way, if I have about 20 minutes to sew, I can sit down with a bin or basket of scraps and get a little bit done. Little bits of sewing time add up to finished quilts, eventually.

7. Edit. This may be the most important step! Just because you are making a scrappy quilt, doesn't mean that you have to put every scrap that you have into one quilt. Make good fabric choices along the way. Edit until the very last block is sewn up.
Even on my scrap vortex quilts, where it looks like I just threw everything together, a whole lot of editing (and careful arranging) was done along the way.

8. Cut a fresh edge. Strings (which are generally 2 1/2" wide or less and vary in length) are the hardest category for me to get excited about. One of the major reasons why is because they get stringy!
It drives me crazy, but there is a simple way to fix it. Press the scrap flat, then cut a fresh edge, on one side or both.

 Isn't that so much better? Cutting a fresh edge will make sewing strings together easier and the back of your quilt will be nice and tidy. Cut right before you sew, for best results. Once the string goes back into the bin and gets tumbled around, it will stringy again.

9. Keep the scrap door revolving. This is a bit of an overlap with tip # 2, but I think it deserves a closer look. I have plenty of friends that pass along their scraps to me. I love that, and my quilts are better because of it! Because lets face it...when it comes to scrap quilts, variety is key. The flip side of that is, I have an awful lot of scraps... more than I can ever use in my lifetime. I continually pass scraps along to others, too. I try to put a bag or two of scraps on the free table every month at my quilt guild meetings. This keeps me from getting bogged down with scraps.
10. Make small projects, not just quilts! Pincushions, cards, and pillows are some of my favorite small projects to make with scraps. These projects are quick to finish and give you a feeling of accomplishment that you may need to carry you through until you can complete a larger scrap quilt.

None of these steps are a "one and done" type of thing. Scrap management takes routine maintenance, much like cleaning a house. I hate to say it, but it's true! However, if you take steps toward organization, it will be easier to maintain your scraps. If you have a spot for everything, you will know where to put things away. Getting organized means you will also know where to look when you need that perfect scrap for your project.

I hope that helps! If you have a favorite scrap tip to share with me, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, February 10, 2017

bruiser quilt top and a bowl of pincushions

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

First off, THANK YOU for your kind comments and excitement about my book! I appreciate each and every one! Your support means so much!
I managed to finish my bruiser quilt top this week! I had a hard time getting a decent photo of the entire quilt before I sent it off to the quilter. I was in a hurry, so that certainly didn't help. In fact, I was in such a pinch that I actually de-threaded it in my van before I shipped it off. De-threading is a pain. De-threading in a vehicle is on my list of things to never do again. Hahaha!
The pattern is called All Sizes, which is in my new book. It's fun to see a more muted version of this pattern, although I am quite fond of the bright and happy version as well. If I counted right, there are only (gulp) 585 HSTs in this quilt. I can't wait to see it all quilted up!

Because I needed a little palette cleanser after finishing my quilt top, I finished up 10 more pincushions! Oddly enough, the ones I made this morning are the HST ones. Ha! You would think I'd be burnt out on triangles by now! These will be added to my basket of pincushions to give away. (My total should be at 70 now, and my goal is 100!)
 
Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

no scrap left behind.... in the house!

Last week I received my advanced copy of my new book! This is how I felt.... :)
Scrap Happy Rails Quilt (photo by C&T publishing)

It's so great to finally have it in my hands! It's been a long time coming. The suspense was killing me!
I submitted my proposal for this book in July of 2015 and I officially started writing it in August 2015. That means that it takes more than twice as long to make a book as it does to have a baby. (Hahaha!) Both are painful in their own right, but they both have a lot of joy and excitement surrounding them. I'm so pleased that it's finally time to send this book out into the world. I'm tickled with how it turned out!

Here are a few things to note:

The official release date is Feb 20!

I'm offering signed copies in my shop for a limited time. I don't have the books in stock yet, but anticipate to have them within the next week. I'm only set up to ship to US addresses at this time. Please read all the details of the listing carefully, before you order. Also, I'm offering FREE shipping at this time. (Because everyone loves free shipping, right?)

I plan to be at Quilt Con in a few weeks! I will be doing a book signing at the C&T Publishing booth on February 24, 2017 from 12-1 pm. I'd LOVE to see you there! C&T is offering 20% discount off the cover price at the book signing.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon, of course!

Here is a sampling of what's inside:
(all photos below are by C&T publishing)
 Donuts (the size of your head) quilt
Subtle quilt
 Mini Nines quilt and a skinny pinnie
Fabric and paper needle sorter
Cards, to use up those teeny tiny bits
Ring Me quilt
Slopes quilt
Bright Birch Tree pincushion
Remainders quilt
 
There's so much more, but I think I'll leave it at that today.
 
Now, it's you turn! I can't wait to see what you make! :)

Monday, February 06, 2017

crazy rails quilt-a tutorial

Today I will be sharing a tutorial on how to make a crazy rails quilt. (You can see more photos of my crazy rails quilt here, if you'd like.) My quilt was inspired by a vintage quilt (below) that belongs to Rebecca, who is a member of my modern quilt guild.
Someone in Rebecca's family was on the verge of throwing this quilt away, but her dad stepped in a saved it. I'm so glad that this quilt was rescued. It's a beauty... so inspiring!
This is the kind of quilt that one could sit under and look at the fabrics for hours. I just love it!
 
This quilt isn't complicated, by any means, but it's the sheer number of pieces that makes it challenging. Here is a simple tutorial for you, in case you would like to make a crazy rails quilt of your own! I'm sure that I will be revisiting this pattern myself, before too long. I seem to be unable to make just one version of any quilt. :)

A few things to note:

All seam allowances are 1/4".

Each block finishes at 3".

Each individual "rail" finishes at 1" x 3".

I made blocks by strip piecing, mostly, but I also pieced some blocks individually. I like doing both. Strip piecing saves a lot of time, but I am able to use up smaller pieces by making blocks one at a time. The mix of the two methods gave me a nice variety of blocks to work with in the final layout.

It is a good idea to reduce your stitch length while strip piecing, so the seams don't start to separate while the blocks are being handled or arranged. (I use a stitch length setting just under 2 on my Juki, but all sewing machines vary.)

To make 1 block at a time:
Cut three strips of fabric 1 1/2" x 4".

Sew the strips together and press seams to the side, or open, whichever you prefer. I generally press the seams toward the darker fabrics.

Trim the block to 3 1/2" square. There is very little waste, as you can see. I trimmed from both ends of the block, to ensure that the block is exactly square.

To make 2 blocks at a time:
Cut 3 strips 1 1/2" x 7 1/2".
 
Sew together and press seams.

Trim the strip set to make 2 blocks, each measuring 3 1/2" square.

To make 3 blocks at a time:
Cut 3 strips 1 1/2" x 11".

Sew together and press.

Trim the strip set to make 3 blocks, each measuring 3 1/2" square.

To make 4 blocks at a time:
Cut 3 strips 1 1/2" x 14 1/2". Sew together and press.
 
Trim the strip set to make 4 blocks, each measuring 3 1/2" square.

You could make more that 4 blocks at a time, if you wanted to. Personally, I prefer to have fewer blocks that are exactly the same. Playing with different fabric combinations was a lot of fun!
Strip piecing definitely helps make this quilt manageable. I made these 10 blocks in a matter of a few minutes.
 
One other handy thing....I'm piecing a log cabin quilt (measurements here) that also uses 1 1/2" wide strips. It's nice to be able to cut fabric for both quilts at once!
 
Quilt Sizes:

size
measurements
# of blocks
needed
block layout
baby
36” x 36”
144
12 x 12
small lap
48” x 60”
320
16 x 20
large lap
60” x 72”
480
20 x 24
twin
66” x 90”
660
22 x 30
queen
90” x 96”
960
30 x 32
king
108” x 108”
1296
36 x 36

I'm not going to give specific yardage requirements for each quilt size, but if you are guesstimating, a baby size quilt usually requires about 1 1/2 to 2 yards of fabric. A lap size quilt generally uses 3 1/2 to 4 yards of fabric. A twin generally uses between 5 1/2 to 6 yards of fabric. A queen generally requires about 7 1/2 to 8 yards of fabric. A king size quilt can use in the ballpark of 10 yards of fabric. This quilt has more seams than most, so it will probably require more fabric than the amounts listed. These are just very general guidelines for an idea of how much fabric you may need.
If you think making a whole quilt is just crazy, (and it might be!) you could also use the block measurements for placemats. That would be pretty fun, too!

If you use this tutorial, I'd love to see photos of your quilt.

Happy Monday to you!
 

Friday, February 03, 2017

kindness pillow

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I finished my kindness pillow cover yesterday. It's definitely not perfect, but I am so glad that I took the time to make this project. It will be nice to have a visible daily reminder of my word for 2017. I purchased a king size pillow for the insert. It's a snug fit, but I managed to avoid popping any seams while stuffing it into the pillow cover. Hurray for that!
This solid fabric is something that I picked up at the thrift store for a couple of bucks a few months ago. I knew that I'd find a use for it someday. It's heavier than normal quilting cotton, so it makes a great pillow backing. I love the added pop of color to the back! This is the first time (ever!) that I used a zipper enclosure on the back of a pillow. It was so easy, thanks to this great tutorial by Svetlana. I'm glad to have that skill in my repertoire now.
I quilted the pillow with a 1/2" diamond grid. I love the texture and stability that the quilting adds.
The pillow finishes at 18 1/2" x 32".
 
Because I know someone will ask....the letters are something that I drafted up for this project. I've been thinking it over, and I'm going to attempt to write up a pattern for the whole alphabet....even though it could take me forever! :)
 
Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend. xo