Monday, September 30, 2013

3 is the magic number

Remember the school house rock song '3 Is A Magic Number'? This quilt is named after that song. I love it, but now I can't get it out of my head! Sorry if I got it stuck in your head as well. At least it's happy.... :)
This quilt is made up of 720 3" (cut) squares. All scraps. All individually cut. Lots of pins were used to get those seams to match up just so. Time consuming, sure, but I love the results!
There were times that I didn't like this quilt. In fact, I was ready to put the squares up for adoption just two weeks ago. (I can be a little high strung.) Thankfully I got through my little dislike stage and now I'm happy with it. Quilting it should make it better yet! The top measures 60" x 75".

Happy Monday to you!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

scrappy Saturday

Margaret's Hope Chest is collecting log cabin blocks for "A Mother's Hope" program. The blocks will be made into quilts, which will be given to women who are battling post partum depression. You can read all about it here. They will be collecting blocks through November 1. Would you consider making and sending a few (or several) blocks? It's a fun way to play with scraps and help out a great cause...all in one fell swoop!

Friday, September 27, 2013

aqua desk

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
My little sewing desk got a couple of fresh coats of aqua paint! I LOVE the color. Love the look. The hardest part was letting the paint cure for a week before using it. My sewing room sure needed the splash of happy color. (It was really hard to photograph, though, because of the backlighting from the window.) I have so much more to clean and organize in my space before I am willing to show the rest!
This is what the desk looked like before. Such an improvement, no? I'm glad that this project is finished! I really like painted furniture, but painting furniture isn't my favorite.

Paint is Behr from the Home Depot. The color is Sea Life in a satin finish. (It's really nice paint. I was impressed!)

Just a note about my last post! I had lots of questions about the cost, cutting, etc, so I added a little blurb at the end of the post and did my best to answer the questions that came up. Thanks for your comments! It's always SO fun to read them.

Now it's your turn! Do you have a finish to share? If so, please link up! Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

a fabric haul

Yesterday my friend Brianne and I met at SR Harris, which an AMAZING fabric warehouse located in Brooklyn Park, MN. I had heard of the wonders of SR Harris, but yesterday I got to experience it full force. If you are already overwhelmed by how much fabric you have, this is NOT the place to go. But I went anyway. :) And boy, was it FUN!!
There were rows and rows (and rows!) of quilting cottons. A staggering amount. I started with a list, knowing full well that I'd be overwhelmed. The list helped me to focus a little bit. Still, it was REALLY hard to narrow down my choices. It's not surprising that we ended up with two carts. (It could have been 20!)
You have to cut your own fabric. It's crazy! (And very smart on their part.) All around, it was quite an experience! I'd recommend it.

Here's my loot:
Fabric to be turned into garments.
 A few quilt backs.
Some oil cloth.
And a little bit of stash fabric. (Sigh.) It's so pretty!

I'm so excited about all of it!! I just can't sew fast enough. You know?

Edited to add:

Lots of questions came up about the cost of fabric. The bolts are marked at retail prices. Most were 8.99, 9.99 and 11.99 per yard, but it's all 50% off! (Thus the difficulty in choosing!)

And yes, it's open to the public!

The minimum cut is 1/8 of a yard. (Which is really isn't much, I found out.) If you are buying over 5 yards an employee needs to measure and cut it. After you cut your fabric you label the amount cut and the price per yard on a sticker. They ring it up and compute all the discounts at the register. They rely on the honor system for cutting. It's quite a unique experience!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

one way to randomize patchwork

It seems like a lot of quilters I talk to have a problem randomizing patchwork. It usually isn't too difficult for me, but then again I've always been kind of random. (Ha!) I like to call my approach "controlled random". Here's how I go about it....
For this quilt I started with a stack of 700+ squares. Each one is cut at 3". I determined that my lay out will be 24 blocks wide by 30 long. This will yield a 60" x 75" lap quilt.
I started by sewing the squares into pairs (in combinations that I chose and liked), then I sewed the pairs into 4's, again arranging the colors and prints as I saw fit. I sewed those sets of 4 together until I had a string of 12 squares. 12 squares =1/2 of a row.
Now it's layout time! Trying to arrange 60 half rows is far better than trying to lay out 702 individual squares. One gust of wind or one active child can wipe out all your progress in a few seconds. In previous quilts I have sewn entire rows together, but I've found that as much as I try to be random, some blocks seem to land in the same position in different rows, like this....
Or else a certain color ends up in the same position in several rows, like this....
Take lots of photos during the process. It helps you keep an eye on color distribution and value. Also, if you don't like where your layout is headed, multiple photos make it easier to back track if necessary.
It is really easy to over think. My rule of thumb is audition a strip in one or two spots....3 spots max. Pick the best one. If it doesn't work in any of the spots you tried, set it aside and get a new strip. If it doesn't make you cringe in the initial layout phase, don't move it. That may sound harsh, but again, don't over think it. I had a red block and a violet block adjacent to each other that I just couldn't live with, so one of the strips had to move.
Rearrange sparingly! At times it's has to be done, but I've found that once you start messing with the arrangement you can get into trouble fast. It starts a chain reaction that can do more harm than good.
 Keep at it until you fill in all the holes and you are pleased with your arrangement.
There are a few areas (top left and the bottom few rows) where there is a higher concentration of dark blocks...but not enough to mess with. It doesn't feel awkward and this IS random, after all.
(The quilt looks really long, but it will shrink up once I sew the rows together.)
Once my layout was finalized, I sewed the half rows together and numbered them. I did this as quickly as possible so that my layout wouldn't get disturbed. Now I get to sew all those rows together. I see a LOT of pinning in my future!

So, is random difficult for YOU? What are some tricks that you use to help you randomize?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

scrappy Saturday

Well. I'm up to 30 blocks....
(more about the project here. the tutorial is here.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Missing U

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I finished binding my Missing U quilt this morning. The sun peeked out for just a minute when I was taking photographs. Perfect!
This pattern is one of Cheryl's from Sunday Morning Quilts. I am (VERY) slowly sewing up her patterns from the book so I have a full set of samples to show when I speak and teach. Oddly enough, I haven't run out of scraps yet! Ha! I made a few changes to the pattern, of course! (We are big proponents of "make it yours".) I left out the random white block in each of my slabs and I made the blocks bigger, so they finish at 16.5". The bigger the blocks the fewer you need! :)
It's REALLY hard to capture the awesomeness of the binding in photos. I changed the color of the binding to correspond to each block. It was definitely time consuming, but I am so glad that I did it! It makes the blocks go "off the page" so to speak.
For the backing I used an Ann Kelle Remix print down the center (LOVE that fabric) and added a strip of aqua polka dots down either side. I had a more elaborate backing planned, but easy won out. There is a LOT of color and pattern going on in this quilt, but I love it all the same.
Ok, so this photo might make your eyes hurt a little bit....but look how those binding seams match the block seams. Sweet!!!! For the quilting I did a free motion swirl over the entire quilt in white thread.
The quilt measures about 50" x 66". So happy to have this one finished! And.....this is scrap project # 14 out of 101!

Now it's your turn to link up your finishes. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Monday, September 16, 2013

perfectionism and photoshop

Over the weekend I finished quilting my Missing U quilt. I got all spun up and perfectionistic about my quilting. I had to step back and remind myself that it is hand made and it's not going to be perfect. After I looked at the big picture-not each individual stitch-I calmed down a little bit. (Sheesh, I can be a little hard on myself!) Anyway...just the binding to go on this one. I'm so excited to be wrapping up this long time WIP! 
About Photoshop and removing backgrounds. I found this tutorial very helpful. I originally took the photo on a piece of black card stock. A high contrast background helped a lot when it came to using the magic wand selection tool. It was much faster when I used a white background.

I've been learning (little by little) about Illustrator, In Design and Photoshop. Whenever I get stuck I google, dig through the links, read, try it, learn a little tidbit, then repeat. It's awfully slow going, but it's so fun to learn new things! I am certainly no expert, but I hope that helps! Good luck!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, September 13, 2013


Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I have a few finishes and they all involve scraps, if you can believe it...
I made another ticker tape canvas. (tutorial here.) I think this is my 7th one?  If you are like me and can't bear to throw away the tiniest scraps and you would really like to use them some day, this just might be the project for you!

I love these. An awful lot.
See that little guy, Robert? Eeek! The cuteness!
Yesterday I started taking my friend Tara's awesome Quilt As You Go Patchwork Bags class on Craftsy. The first lesson was a quilt as you go pot holder. It was a nice way to get warmed up to the technique and now I want to make 99 more! (I should. I certainly have the scraps for it!) Even attaching the bias binding wasn't too bad. It was nice to start and finish a project in a day. I should do more of that!
And last for the risk of sounding like a broken record...I made another needle book. :) I am still working on perfecting these. This one, made from a spare slab, has plenty of issues. Tiny things are hard! And have you noticed the upside down flowers in the white section? That drives me crazy. Aw, well, right?

On the up side...I've learned how to remove the background of my photos in Photoshop without pulling my hair out. That's pretty exciting!

These are scrappy projects #11, #12 and #13! Only 88 more to go to reach my goal of 101!

Do you have any finishes to share? If so, please link up! Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

tic tac toe block: a tutorial by crazy mom quilts

This is a tic tac toe block that my youngest son and I made together last summer. I love it in all it's wonky improv glory, so I'm following his lead (and his terrific color scheme) to make an entire quilt.

Here's a little tutorial on how to make one (or 20!) tic tac toe blocks of your own!
Gather your supplies. Pick a background fabric, a contrasting fabric for the grid pieces, and a 6 1/2" ruler. (The ruler is optional, but very helpful.)
From the background piece, cut an approximate square slightly larger than 6.5". On the sample shown, there is about 1/2" extra on all sides. That is great plenty.
Cut 4 strips approximately 1" wide by 7 1/2" long. I used a layer cake square to cut these strips, so they are extra long. I simply trimmed them as needed after sewing. The width of the strips should vary slightly for added interest.
Use a rotary cutter and a ruler to cut the background square into 3 pieces.
Add in two strips.
Sew all the strips together and press.
Go back to the cutting board. Cut the block into 3 pieces, horizontally this time.
 Add in the remaining two strips.
 Sew together and press well.
 Press the seams open and use a lot of spray starch to get the block to lay flat.
Trim the block down to 6.5" square.
Make a few.
Repeat as many times as you see fit!
 And BAM. It turns from an orphan block to a WIP.
Just. like. that.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

upcoming workshop

Tara and I are gearing up for our 5th annual (!!!) Quilt Retreat in November. I'm introducing a brand new workshop called "Make Good Choices". It's all about COLOR and FABRIC selection. It will be a mix of mini lectures followed by exercises to apply what you've learned. There will be free sewing time and lots of great food to keep you nourished. I bet there will be plenty of laughter, too! Sounds like a lovely way to spend the weekend, doesn't it?
Dates: November 8-10, 2013
Location: Inn at City Park, Fort Collins, Colorado
Cost: $375 includes workshops and all meals
         (The inn is fully booked, so you will need to find your own sleeping accommodations.)
Registration: Call Tara at the Inn at City Park  
Phone: 970-672-4725
We have 3 spots available at this time. I hope you can join us!
If you have questions, feel free to email me at