Wednesday, April 29, 2015

trendy triangles...a work in progress

This is probably one of the trendiest quilts I will ever make. Normally I don't aspire to make trendy quilts, but sometimes it happens anyway. It all started with Cotton and Steel scraps that I received from Holly last June. I thought I was using them quickly, but it turns out I've had them for almost a year already! I guess that's still a quick turn around for me. Ha! :)
I decided to add low volume borders to each center triangle. I love how the centers sparkle! It's very interesting to see how much color there is, even in the scope of a low volume palette. I'm using Cheryl's Nap Like an Egyptian pattern from Sunday Morning Quilts. The strips are cut 2 1/2" wide.
I have a wide variety of colors for the centers to choose from. I'm not sure if I'm going to limit the color palette or not....but that's the fun of making quilts. I enjoy jumping right in and seeing where I end up!
I'm certain I will be adding more orange blocks...and those scissors! It was hard to cut into them, but they will make the quilt so much better! I'm always on the quest to stop stashing and start sewing. I THINK it's getting just a little bit easier! Now if I could just finish my WIPs a little bit faster, I'd be all set!

Monday, April 27, 2015

retreat sewing

I spent the weekend at a retreat near Walker, Minnesota with a lovely group of women. I made/worked on a bunch of little projects throughout the weekend....I may have had project ADD! I was one of three teachers at the retreat. I love teaching, but I love to learn new things, too. It's fun when I can do both!
Jen taught an English paper piecing hexagon class. I've made a few hexis in the past, but it was nice to learn some tips and tricks. This was my first time using the pre-cut paper pieces and I really liked them! I used part of a mini charm pack in 30s prints...a perfect match for this pattern. I love it and I will probably turn it into a pin cushion. Shocker, I know!
Kandi taught a few of them was a fabric painting class. We painted Osnaburg (a linen-like fabric) with fabric dyes. The next step will be free motion quilting to add the finer details. That will be a stretch for me, but I'm hoping for the best! It was fun to get out of my comfort zone and try something new and completely different.
I taught scrap management and I turned the slab that I demoed at class into a mini mat almost right away...binding and all. Finishing feels good! I usually make mono chromatic slabs, or full on scrappy slabs, so this two toned slab was a fun departure. The quilting is a concentric squared off spiral. Quick and easy!
I did a little sewing for fun, too. It's been awhile since I made a thread catcher and I love the patchwork version. I used a Carolyn Friedlander's favorites mini charm pack (are you sensing a theme here?) that I was hoarding for this project. Felt great to use it!
It was nice to have this on my desk while I was sewing. It was a good place to collect those tiny scraps and triangles that I should throw away, but I keep them anyway!
One more mini charm pack project...I started making a small baggy pouch, pattern by Aneela Hoey. I LOVE these little pouches. So cute and such a great size. It was nice to get the patchwork pieced and quilted. Whenever I get back to this project, the assembly should be quick. Perfect for a last minute gift!
And one last thing to share. My table mate gave me this portion of a vintage quilt top. Isn't it gorgeous? It's plenty wonky, but it needs to be used. Perhaps I could turn it into throw pillows? I'm not sure. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Retreat sewing is fun, but at the end of the day, it's all about the people. I'm so thankful that I was able to be a part of a wonderful weekend with such lovely women! A big thanks to Rhende for all her hard work to make it happen! And of course, it's always good to be home. Sick kids and all.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 24, 2015

florida socks

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This week I have a pair of hand knit socks to share with you. I started these on my trip to Florida about two months ago, as a way to cope from being away from my sewing machine. A friend of mine and I joked about me furiously knitting while I was standing in a zillion lines for rides at Disney. Ha! I would like to say that they were an enjoyable project, but they really weren't. I found out later that the yarn I used is single ply, which isn't fun to knit, because it splits so easily. But, I powered through, and they are pretty comfy! I like the colors and I also like that the colors are placed differently on each sock. I used my basic sock pattern, which you can download here for free.
I'm glad that these fit, because the last few pairs of socks that I knit ended up going to my kiddos. They don't mind one bit. And really, I don't either! This photo makes me delightfully happy.

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

a workshop with Denyse

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to take Denyse Schmidt's Pure Improv workshop. I've been a fan of Denyse's work and fabric for a long time, so when I found out she was teaching in Wisconsin, I knew I HAD to go! A few of my friends from guild went as well, which made it even more fun. I'm still trying to recover and process it all....but it was really fabulous!
That is Denyse sewing one of my quilt blocks...on my Juki!!!! It was a little surreal.
The materials list called for just two fabrics, in a similar hue. JUST TWO??? I'd rather pick 122! I was quite certain that by the end of the weekend I would hate the two fabrics I had chosen, even though I love orange. Thankfully, the opposite was true. When we finally had the option to add in other fabrics, I chose not to. I was surprised by that. In the end, limiting the color palette was a good exercise in restraint.
We started by making the traditional shoeman's puzzle block, with templates. Templates? Yikes! Not my favorite. The theory behind that was to start out from square one, learning the rules. Then, one step at a time, we pushed those limits, or rules, and played with expanding the boundaries of the block. It was a very good exercise overall and interesting to see the progression.
We also played around with layout, exploring the many possibilities that one block holds. In a workshop setting, it's especially valuable to see not only what you discover, but what the other students discover.
I kept playing around, and eventually added some smaller blocks into the mix. That made it feel a lot more like me...and I could use up some of my scraps. Bonus!
I kept going...and going. I may have gotten a little ribbing from the other students for being speedy. :) It just looks bad because I was about to engulf Lisa's quilt. I can't wait to see how my quilt comes together!

Goodness. There is so much more that I could say about the weekend, but I think I'll leave it at that!

Because it's fun to hear from you, I'll leave you with a question. If you had the choice to take a workshop from anyone, who would it be? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, April 17, 2015

made in America

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I was able to finish another quilt this week. It's been so busy 'round here, with spring school activities and everything else, that this finish feels especially good!
This quilt was made from American Made Brand Solids, an assortment of scraps and a little bit of stash. It's very patriotic on will be donated to the Quilts of Valor. I love how it turned out and I hope that the recipient doesn't mind some quilting that is less than perfect. I branched out with the quilting, and while it isn't perfect, I love what it adds to this quilt! I have lots of photos to share and I will just let them speak for themselves.

The quilt measures approximately 60" x 72".

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

happy flags

Each summer, some friends and I (from all over the country) meet up at Gruber's for a weekend retreat. We look forward to it with great anticipation all year long! During that weekend, it has become a tradition to exchange "happies", which are nothing more than little gifts to make the recipient happy. Last year, I gave spools of Aurifil thread with a little happy flag in the middle. Someone discovered that the flag fits well on the spool holder of most sewing machines, which was a "happy" accident. (har, har, har!)
I had a request from a reader to share how to make these, which I thought was a good idea for a blog post. Here you go, Jeannie, this is for you!
For supplies, you will need: plastic drinking straws, a happy stamp and ink pad (or you can write it by hand), washi tape, a scissors and some double-sided adhesive.
Cut the straws down to about 5" in length. Cut a piece of washi tape about 4" long and wrap it around the end of the straw, as shown. Line up the edges of the tape as evenly as possible.
Place the sticky sides of the washi tape together and trim uneven ends (if necessary), so there is no sticky surface exposed. Crease the tape close to the straw, so that it is fully sealed.
Stamp (or write) "happy" on a small piece of white paper. Use double-sided adhesive to attach the paper to the washi tape.
Cut out a little triangle from the end of each flag, as shown.
Place a small square of washi tape to the bottom of the spool so the flag won't fall out.
Then, place the flag in a spool of thread. Gift it or keep it for yourself...or do some of each! :)
There you go! One quick little project to brighten someone's day!
Happy, HAPPY Monday to you!

Friday, April 10, 2015

bright birch trees redux complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I'm happy to share a completed quilt with you today! It's been awhile since I finished a big project. Let me tell you, it feels GREAT! This is my second time making this quilt (pattern is here) and I seriously want to make another, but this time with a variety of neutral backgrounds. I don't see that happening anytime soon, but it's fun to dream about! :)
This quilt is the poster child for "every scrap deserves a chance". It's so enjoyable to look at all of the little scraps used. I LOVE this tiny running chicken detail! (I'm so glad it's head didn't get cut off. ha!)
This kitty face is pretty cute, too! My daughter did a lot of happy squealing when I pointed them out to her. So fun!
I had the hardest time deciding on a back for this quilt, but I found this small gray print that tones down the brightness of the front quite nicely. I quilted it with an all over stipple in gray thread and it's bound in a gray solid, too. Hurray for gray! The quilt measures 60" x 75".

This is only my second (non-mini) quilt finish of the year. Can you believe it??? I need to get crackin'!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday! It's nice to have you here! :)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

thank you!!!

Thank you all so much for the enthusiastic and kind response to my fabric line announcement! I can't tell you how grateful I am for your kind words...they mean so much!!!
Yesterday I did a double header trunk show for a quilt guild in Rochester, MN. After I showed my quilts at the afternoon meeting, a kind woman folded and carefully placed my quilts in the pews in front of the church. It was pretty fun to see them all lined up like that! I texted the photo to my husband and commented on how church pews make good quilt holders. His immediate response was, "we aren't buying any." Well, it was worth a shot, anyway, don't you think? Maybe I can keep working on him...the pews would be pretty fun to fill up with throw pillows, too! :)

Hope you are having a terrific Tuesday!

Monday, April 06, 2015

good neighbors fabric

I'm happy to announce that I have designed a fabric line for Connecting Threads! Good neighbors is a collection of colorful and simple prints that will work well (or "get along", if you will) with many other fabrics. This is just a quick peek to let the cat out of the bag, but I'll share more soon! I can't wait to sew with them!!! The collection is scheduled to release this fall.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 03, 2015

mini spiderweb quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
When making this quilt, I had visions of a larger lap size quilt or a pillow cover, but then I did a reality check. If I put that much time and effort into something that size, no one would be allowed to use it. Ever! So, a mini it is!
I absolutely love how it turned out! The measurements are here, if you'd like to make one of your own. It's a great way to use up some teeny tiny scraps! The quilt measures about 13 1/2" x 16 1/2".
Speaking of teeny tiny scraps....I was in Duluth earlier this week and I had a chance to meet up with my friend Sue for lunch and shopping. She made the sweetest little pin cushion for me! Thanks so much, Sue! The scrappy patchwork above the pin cushion is her work as well. There was more than a little squealing going on at the table. I feel the need to dive into my scrap bins again--surprise, surprise! (The blocks were made using Victoria's technique.)

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

Thursday, April 02, 2015

big, big bear paw

Well, I'm not sure how much of a break that was, but I'm back! And I'm happy to be here! A big thank you to all of you who checked in and sent me kind notes in my absence. I appreciate it!
I've been sewing a lot, which is good! This block, a HUGE bear paw block, was made for my friend Terri for our Sew Sisters Bee. I LOVED making it and I really (really) wanted to keep it. The block will finish at 28"! Terri posted a tutorial here if you would like to make one/some of your own.

The great thing about being in a bee is that it pushes you out of your comfort zone. I pulled out all the larger scale multi-colored prints that I had on hand (I can't believe I found this many) and paired them with a hot pink solid. I need to remember to use bolder backgrounds more often...there is so much impact. The funny thing is, some of the print fabrics came from Terri several years ago. How crazy is it that they will end up in her quilt after all?! I love it!

I hope to see you all back here tomorrow for finish it up Friday! Have a fantastic day!