Friday, July 29, 2011

cabbages and roses

Phew, I've had a busy week! Today has been (somewhat) free, so I decided to treat myself to a new project. I sooooo don't need a new project, but this stack of Cabbages and Roses fabric for Moda has been calling my name. (It's due to release in September, I believe.) I couldn't fall asleep last night because I was thinking of all the possibilities.
This morning I set up my tripod, took a quick photo and then cracked it open. Part of me really hates to open such a pretty stack of fabric! It's just so perfect when it's all intact. But as you will see, apparently I managed. :)

After much deliberating on a pattern, I decided to make large half square triangles. I cut 9" squares from the fat quarter and then made huge half square triangle blocks. The 9" square is dandy, because there is virtually NO waste from side to side (since a FQ is 18" x 22"), just a few strips of extra fabric and then the selvages at the end. I LOVE to maximize my fabric like that!

I also tried a super smart tip that I got from Tara earlier in the week. She told me that when she cut out her strips for the quilt along blocks, she cut them in pairs, right sides facing each other. Then, when it comes time to sew, the pairs are already lined up, no rearranging necessary. I tried that technique with these triangles and it worked like a charm. Thank you, Tara!
I started with the blues and greens.
Then I moved on to the pinks. They are my favorites! But really, all of these fabrics are just. so. sweet.
I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the colors separated, or perhaps put them all together? I'm going to have to do some playing around before I decide for sure. Either way, I know it will be pretty!

Monday, July 25, 2011

36 patch quilt along, week 3

Welcome to week 3 of the quilt along. How are your blocks coming along? I hope you are having fun making them! I know I am still enjoying them, even after making half a quilt's worth. I sure love me some 2" squares!
Here are my 6 new blocks for the week. I went on a bit of  a pink bender, as you can see. :) And my blocks continue to be QUITE busy.
This block is kind of a "thrifty" block. I only had 16 squares of the small pink polka dot fabric, but I REALLY wanted to use them, so I substituted in two blocks of a large pink polka dot fabric to fill in the holes. It's my little testement to "making do"...and in the mix of the whole quilt it shouldn't stick out too much.
Here are all the blocks I have made so far playing together. I like it quite a lot!
Have you ever fancied yourself a fabric designer? Did you see that Connecting Threads is holding a fabric design contest? My husband has been telling me for years that I should turn some of my drawings into fabric. I'm not sure if I have the guts to put my stuff out there, but I'm thinking about trying to work something up. (you know, it all my spare time, ha!) Maybe you need the nudge to do the same? Just thought I'd put that out there for those of you who may be interested!

Happy Monday to you!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

moving on

First off, thanks for FLOODING my inbox with your encouraging comments and emails. They mean more than I can say. Thank you ever so kindly. I'm feeling so much better and I'm ready to put all that behind me and move on! So I will. :)
I am so excited about this quilt. I love, love, LOVE it. It will always have a special place in my heart. You see, I have a super sweet friend that sent me all the pieces already cut out! What a gift! Thank you so much, Penny!

The fabrics are so lovely and many of them are so unlike any that would come in my stash, but I love them just the same. (Don't you wish that you could have someone else go fabric shopping for you once in awhile, just to increase the variety of your stash? I know I do.) Anyway, the quilt top was super quick to put together. Now I'm thinking about hand quilting it. Sounds like a great idea in the heat of summer, huh? But after seeing how great this one turned out, how on earth could I not?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

i'm blue, too

After coming home from the retreat last week I was going to write a blog post about how much I need to regroup, as far as my blog is concerned. I wrote several versions in my head but none of them made it to the page. When it comes down to it, blogging is a whole lot of work, and to be honest, I'm burnt out. Again. The difference this time is that I'm not (quite) ready to give it all up yet. I have so many ideas, so much I still want to do and so much that I want to share with you.

This week, after several comments surrounding my current quilt along, I feel like I just got kicked while I was down. Let me tell you, it feels horrible. Don't people realize that I am here to share my love of quilting with others? That's why I started blogging in the first place. I draw no salary from my blog. When people are demanding of "their" free stuff (who don't even bother to say thank you), and when people feel free to criticize my approach, it makes me think, "why on earth am I doing this anyway?!?" It makes me feel foolish for sharing so freely.

I've lost way too much sleep over this. I've shed some tears over it, too. I know people say you need to have a thick skin, but I don't buy into that. I think that is just giving other people permission to be mean and rude.

I've been debating all week whether or not I should blog about this. I've never written one of "these" type of posts before. I could have written plenty of posts throughout the years concerning people using my photos without permission, rude (and a few downright mean) comments. I could have ranted about people using my patterns to teach classes or lead quilt alongs without asking permission, or about people stealing complete tutorials and reposting them on their blog. I could go on and on. I've bottled it all up until this week. I feel if I don't write something at this point, I'm just being a doormat. I realize that compared to some other friends, I have it easy. But still, I needed to lay this all out here before it ate away at me any further.

I've had some great friends and a neighbor check up on me and see if I was ok--they were very concerned for me. (Which also gave a lot of validity to my feelings.) One friend was downright outraged for me. I can not tell you just how much that means to me. So, if you are one of those kind people who offered concern and encouragement throughout this, thank you. You know who you are. I am so thankful that I have you in my life. It gives me a glimmer of hope that there is still some worth to blogging.

Monday, July 18, 2011

how to make a 36 patch block

Welcome to week 2 of the quilt along! Do you have your fabrics all picked out? Today begins the fun of sewing!
To make a 36 patch block, you will need 2 pieces of fabric that measure at least 8" x 18". They should contrast enough so you can read the pattern of the block.

Cut 3 strips 2.5" x 18" from each fabric, for a total of 6 strips.
Take one of each of the strips and sew together in pairs, using a 1/4" seam allowance. I'm using my handy dandy 1/4" foot. I love that thing! Since we are strip piecing, set your machine on a very short stitch length, so when you cut your pieces from the strips, they won't unravel. Me and strip piecing have a very rocky relationship. A short stitch length makes things better. I won't tell you how many attempts it took me to learn that! The dial on my machine goes from 0-6, and  I set the length at 1.5. Sew carefully, because those little stitches are a bugger to rip out. I know this from experience, too.
After sewing the strips together in pairs, press the seams toward the darker fabric.

Cut 18 2.5" segments from the strips.
There will be a part of one strip leftover. I am planning to use these extras to make a coin quilt. Someday. :)
Sew three pairs of segments together as shown to make a strip. Make a total of 6 strips. Press the seams toward the dark fabric.
Pair the strips together to form a checkerboard pattern. One thing that I found very helpful is to keep a dark square in the upper left hand corner of each pair of strips.
Nest the seams and pin at each intersection. This will increase your accuracy greatly.
Sew the strips together and press the horizontal seams toward the top of the block.
Sew the 3 strips together, and again, press the horizontal seams toward the top of the block.

When the block is finished, a dark square should be on the upper left hand side. The block should measure 12.5". Easy enough, right?
I had several questions about how many blocks we are going to make each week. I am planning on making 6 blocks for the next 6 weeks. You can pick your worries! If you are making a larger quilt, you may want to make more blocks per week. Or else you can just work away at your quilt for as long as it takes. If you are making a smaller quilt, feel free to make fewer blocks each week. The point is to have fun, and to bust a little stash in the meantime!
As you can see, I am having so much fun making these, so I'm ahead of the pace I set for myself. I love working with just two colors at a time, mixing and matching fabrics as I please. It's been so enjoyable! It's going to busy, and it's going to be fun! When I had about 7 blocks done, I was doubtful about how it would look, but I'm seeing that the more blocks I make, the better it looks. I may do some editing, I may not. I'm going see how things go.

Please add photos of your blocks to the flickr group so we can all see what you are making!

If you have any questions, I will try to answer them in the comments.

Happy 36 patching! And Happy Monday to you!

Friday, July 15, 2011

retreat recap

front row, left to right: Toni and Shelly,
back row, left to right: Doris, Michelle, Rene, Terri, me, Mary, Cindy, Stephanie

I was so fortunate to be able to spend last weekend quilting at Gruber's for our second annual quilting retreat. Man, was it fun. Seriously, I laughed until my abs hurt. (I finally found an ab workout that I LOVE! Hurray!) I feel like I owe these fine women for therapy. It was so wonderful to quilt together, to share ideas and stories and jokes. It was fun to EAT OUT and not have to cook for anyone for a few days. It was fun to browse the 10,000 bolts at the quilt shop, even if I didn't buy a darn thing. The side affect, though, is feeling like a slug this entire week. (It was still totally worth it!) I am still trying to get back into the swing of things, and it's Friday already! I am still trying to catch up on sleep! (Again, I repeat, still totally worth it!)
At the retreat, I hunkered down and got my fall 9 patch quilt top done. It took me all of Friday AND all of Saturday. And if you know me, I take my quilting retreat sewing time very seriously-I get down to business! This is just a time consuming quilt to piece, which also makes it the perfect retreat project. There was no shortage of great conversation and laughter to take my mind off the monotony. After I got the top done and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I also saw the fruits of my labor. Yay!

The quilt specifics: Most of the 9 patches are pieced from Kona cotton jelly rolls in the Dusky and Dark colorways. The cream sashing is Moda Bella Solid in the color snow. The pattern is from a quilt along I did a few summers ago. (Links are on my a day quilt along.) It is a twin size.

Anyway, back to the retreat....I was lame-o and took VERY few photos. And the ones I did take turned out all yellow. But thankfully other people did. And they wrote beautiful recap posts all about the retreat. Click on any of the links above to read more about the fun we had. I feel so lucky to be able to call these women friends. I can't wait to do it again next year!

Monday, July 11, 2011

36 patch quilt along-week 1

Welcome to week 1 of the 36 patch quilt along! I'm excited that so many of you plan on quilting along with me! Today we will be talking about fabric requirements. For this quilt I'm "shopping" from my stash. I'm using fat quarters and other pieces of various sizes. There will be no sashing in this quilt. (Can you believe it???)
Each individual block finishes at 12" square. Each block requires two contrasting fabrics. Think about contrast when you are choosing your fabrics, and pick your fabric in pairs for each block. Pick one light value fabric and one medium value fabric. Or pick one medium value fabric and one dark value fabric. Or pick one light value fabric and one dark value fabric. I think you get the idea. :)

Like I said earlier, I'm using fat quarters, but there will be plenty of leftovers. Each fabric piece that you choose should be at least 8" x 18". Fat eighths would be perfect for this, actually, as fat eighths are typically cut 9" x 22".

Now, on to specific quilt sizes.....

Baby size=36" x 48" will require 12 pieced blocks.
This quilt will require 24 different fabrics.

Lap size=60" x 72" will require 30 pieced blocks. 
This quilt will require 60 different fabrics.

Square lap size=72" x 72" will require 36 pieced blocks.
This quilt will require 72 different fabrics.

Skinny twin quilt**=60" x 84" will require 35 pieced blocks.
This quilt will require 70 different fabrics.

Extra wide twin**=72" x 84" will require 42 pieced blocks.
This quilt will require 84 different fabrics.

Queen size quilt=84" x 96" will require 56 pieced blocks.
This quilt will require 112 different fabrics.

King size quilt= 108" x 96" will require 72 pieced blocks.
This quilt will require 144 different fabrics.

Personally, I'll be making the square lap version. So, I'll be making a 36 patch quilt out of 36 patches! (Thanks Cindy for the affirmation that this was the way to go.)
72 different fabrics may sound like a lot, but it really isn't that bad. Now, if you are making a king size and you are trying to round up 144 unique fabrics, you MAY want to consider repeating a few here and there. Or maybe you don't need to. I'm not here to judge. :)

**My typical twin size quilt is about 63" x 88". Since I am working with 12" blocks for this quilt along, that isn't quite possible, so the twin size measurements are a bit out of the norm. The lengths are a little shorter than normal which is typically ok, especially if your twin bed has a foot board. As far as width goes, choose a skinny twin if you would rather have less overhang on the sides and an extra wide twin if you would want more overhang on the sides. You may want to measure the mattress you are fitting just to be sure.

Next week I plan to share a tutorial for the block construction.

Any questions? I know that's a whole lot of math, and I'm trying to recuperate from the retreat this past weekend, so if you see any errors, please let me know! For those of you quilting along, do you know what size you want to make? I'd be curious to know.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, July 08, 2011

fancy block Friday #5

This week for fancy block Friday, I broke away from paper piecing and did some improv piecing. This funky lady was inspired by this one on flickr. I LOVE HER! The fabric combo reminds me of Cath Kidston. (YAY!) I want to make 100 more. :) I just might.

Terri and Cindy stayed the night last night and we are headed to Gruber's for a little quilt retreat this weekend. We will be meeting up with several other fabulous bloggers to sew like crazy for a few days. I'm so excited at the thought of sewing to the din of something besides bickering children for a change! (Ha!)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

a pair of super stars

I made these quilts last spring/summer. It's really hard to quilt behind the scenes. It was for a good reason, though. This quilt pattern, (called Super Stars), is featured in the book Fresh Fabric Treats. I have to say, it's pretty fun to see your quilt in a book!! I was a little (ok, a lot) nervous, and a lot excited to see it in print. The book arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago and I was able to flip through it. I was pleased as punch. It was a happy day!

So, this quilt (on the left) was made with Punctuation fabric, by American Jane, which is from last year.
This one (on the right) is made from Snippets fabric, also by American Jane, and it's even older than the Punctuation I'm sorry to say, it's out of print. :(
I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite between the two!
This is the back of the punctuation quilt.
This is the back of the snippets quilt. Can you tell that I made do with what I had in my stash for this one? I also made sure to include the extra block in the back. I love how it turned out.
Each quilt measures 72" finished. It's sooooooo nice to be able to (finally) blog about these!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


I joined in with Penny's Yo Yo quilt along last week. I've made 101 yo yo's already. My husband can't understand why I'd want to make hundreds of pieces that look like little French hats. :) If I make the coverlet as the quilt along directs, it will use 24 (!!!) yards of fabric. I have to say, that idea is quite appealing to me, as I'm always trying to do some stash busting.

On the flip side, did you see that Connecting Threads is having a thread sale? 30% off their single spool cotton Essential threads, which means the individual spools are only $1.74! I had to do a bit of restocking in my personal thread stash. And while I was there, I may have ordered some solids (some of those are on sale, too). Ok, now I'm just being a bad influence...

Monday, July 04, 2011

36 patch quilt along

I've decided that I'm going to host another quilt along. I realize that blogland needs another quilt along like it needs another debate on which type of quilting is superior...modern vs. traditional. (HA!) However, I thought it would be fun to host a 36 patch quilt along to celebrate my 36th birthday. If you want to join in the fun, I'd be happy to have you quilt along with me. I'll plan on starting with fabric requirements and size options next Monday. Care to join me? C'mon...what's one more WIP?

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, July 01, 2011

fancy block friday #4

I'm probably the LAST blogger in the world to make this block. In case I am wrong about that, you can find the template for this block here. ;) Christina has a great tutorial on how to make it here. I've seen so many beautiful versions of it around blogland and flickr, it was only a matter of time before I had to take a stab at it myself. You know what? It was actually easier than I thought it would be. Hurray! Maybe I'm finally getting the hang of paper piecing. :)

I used various solids in blues and greens from my scrap bin and Kona white for the background. When I printed out my templates, they didn't print at 100% (which I didn't realize at the time), so my block was just shy of 11". I decided to add a border to the outside and it's about 15" now. The borders are actually nice, because it encloses all the bias edges. It took almost a whole fat quarter just for the background (gasp!), and that's before I added the borders. Paper piecing sure eats fabric! But, I do love my block. I'm planning on turning it into a mini quilt. Someday.

Did you see the block Melinda made last week for the Fancy Block Friday challenge? I LOVE it! (ha!) I really do!