Monday, January 30, 2017

make and making

Did you know that my friend and co-author Cheryl came out with a new line of fabric for Connecting Threads? It's called Tag (you can check it out here), and it's all about the marks we make. It's a lovely collection and I was happy to have the chance to sew up the word "make" to help her celebrate the fabric release! She has some fun plans for this word (among others), so be sure to follow along with Cheryl and see what she's up to!
For this word, I made it much like my kindness pillow top. The strips of the letters finish at 1/2". I started with the k this time, and then I pieced the other letters around it. I'm not sure if I will turn this into a pillow cover, a mini, or if I will incorporate it into a quilt back. (Wouldn't that be fun?) I have plenty of other projects to work on while I decide! For now, I'm happy to have the block hanging out on my design wall.

Making makes Mondays manageable! (right?)

Speaking of making...
I've been making changes to my sewing room! I bought these shelves (Billy bookcases from IKEA) last fall and I've been slowly working on filling them, organizing them and making my sewing room as functional as possible. Last evening, my sweet husband finally secured the shelves to the walls, so I'm one step closer to having the project complete. I just need the top extensions for the larger 3 shelves. Maybe someday soon IKEA will have them in stock on a day that I am actually there. (One can hope!) I figured that I should share a photo of the shelves now, while they are still mostly neat and tidy. Because who knows how long that will last.... :)

Happy Monday to you!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

pincushion pattern winners

Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my pincushions! It was also fun to read your comments about your weekend plans. The winners of the PDF pincushion patterns are:
Denise Russell, Cynthia Brunz Designs, Lisa Boyer, The Cozy Quilter and Debbie Lou.
I rounded up a bunch of pincushions and counted them up yesterday. There are 61 in this basket! My goal is to make 100. I have plans to give ALL of these away. I can't wait! My permanent collection is a whole other entity. :)

Hope you are having a great weekend! xo

Friday, January 27, 2017

a trio of pincushions

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I had very little sewing time this week, so all I managed to finish is these three pincushions. I guess that's better than nothing!
The black and white pincushion was made from scraps leftover from piecing my kindness pillow top. The other two were made from patchwork pieces that were floating around in my orphan block pile. At least they are usable items now! I think they make pretty cute pincushions.

I've also put my favorite tools for making pincushions in the photo. The first is invisible thread. It's a bugger to work with, because it's basically clear, but it makes the hand stitched opening almost invisible. It's amazing! A needle minder is essential because both needles and invisible thread are really, really hard to keep track of. My other favorite tool is a bamboo point turner. (Made by Merchant and Mills. I purchased mine at Modern Textiles.) It's such a handy tool for turning out the corner of tiny pieces like this. I would highly recommend it!

Since pincushions are the topic of the day, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway, too! If you would like to win a PDF copy of my Plenty of Pincushion Patterns, Volume 1 and 2, please leave me a comment in this post. In your comment, I'd love to hear if you have sewing plans this weekend. If so, what do you plan to make? I'll pick a few winners tomorrow morning. If you win, perhaps you can make a few pincushions before the weekend is through. :)

edited to add: the giveaway is now closed, winners have been posted.

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!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WIP-waiting for spring

My WIP list is down to 7 (!!!!) and I am fully expecting my resolve to crumble any day now. I am afraid that if/when I give in, I will do something crazy.... like start 5 quilts all at once! (I was up to 25 WIPs at one time, not that long ago. How on earth?!?!)
This has to be my oldest WIP, currently. It's going to be a larger, scrappy version of my waiting quilt. (The pattern is available here.) I'm pretty sure that the last time I worked on this was in the summer of 2014. It's so old it's practically new again! Ha! I am still loving this quilt, which is a very good thing. I finished up 2 blocks last night, and I hope to keep adding steadily to that finished number. It's a perfect project to combat the cloudy, dreary days of January.

Monday, January 23, 2017

my word for the year

For the past few years I have chosen a word for the year. Sometimes it almost seems like the word picks me, if you know what I mean. Last year my word was give. It was pretty amazing to see how that played out through the year in both my and my husband's life, in big and small ways.
This year my word is kindness. It didn't seem nearly as heavy a few weeks ago when I chose it, but today it certainly does. This will be quilted and turned into a pillow cover. It will be a good daily reminder to me to be kind... to my kids, to my husband, to everyone. The world certainly needs more of it.
I drafted the letters in Illustrator, then used that as a loose guideline as I pieced them. I had to make the k twice because it was a little tricky. :) I love how the letters came out... I think they have the perfect amount of wonkiness! The letters are made from strips that finish at 1/2" wide (thus the wonkiness). The background is a black and white polka dot from Riley Blake.
I'm looking forward to finishing this one up!
Happy Monday to you!

Friday, January 20, 2017

courtyard-a completed quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I'm calling this the courtyard quilt. It's just a slab of fabric scraps (all solids!) surrounded by Essex linen in flax. I love the simplicity and I think I actually prefer the scraps floating on a solid background rather than an entire quilt made from scraps. The negative space highlights the patchwork quite nicely. It was pieced very much like my scrap vortex quilts. (Those tutorials can be found here, if you scroll to the bottom of the page.)
On quilts like this I enjoy mixing up the quilting. For the patchwork, I quilted it with straight lines 1/2" apart. The background is quilted with a loopy swirl. Both types of quilting were done on my domestic machines. The free motion quilting was done on my Juki and the straight line quilting was done on my Janome. I used Auriful thread in the color 2600.
For the back, I used this cute firefly print by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller from her Wee Wander line. I love this print so much! The binding fabric is a Denyse Schmidt plaid (from JoAnn's, several years ago). I love that it's printed on the bias...such visual appeal without having to make bias binding. The colors and design are the perfect finish for this quilt. All of this fabric came from the stash or the scrap bins. That's extremely satisfying!
 The quilt measures about 48" x 64". It's scrap project #193.

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

plenty of pincushions, volume 2

I'm excited to announce that I've finally completed my pattern for Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 2! This pattern comes with instructions for all 5 of the pincushions shown above. The sewing machine (top right) and courthouse steps (middle right) are paper pieced and the pattern assumes that you have paper piecing skills. The rest are pieced with regular old 1/4" seams. I had a lot of fun making these and I hope that you do, too!
I know I'm not supposed to pick, but the sewing machine one has to be my favorite! I have more plans for this little block...

Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 2 is available for purchase here, if you are interested. And if that isn't enough, Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 1 is here. (No pressure whatsoever!)

Here are a few more pincushions I made for fun.....I made 15 total in a week's time. That was a little crazy, but I'm sure no one is surprised! Ha!
I pieced these log cabin pincushions from the scrap bins. They are filled with poly fiberfill, because they are on the larger side. I love them all. :)
Most of these are what I call "uneven 9 patches". They are very simple blocks, but I love how some of these look like crosses in the middle. More scraps used here, even some feed sacks! These are all filled with crushed walnut shells.
Most of this group were made to test the new patterns or to try out variations. These are also filled with crushed walnut shells.

I had an awful lot of fun with all of these, can you tell?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

WIP Wednesday-All Sizes

I've been working on this quilt for a little over a month now. Slow and steady is key when you are making so many triangles! The pattern is called All Sizes, which is in my new book, No Scrap Left Behind. (I don't know the exact release date yet, but it's sometime next month. I'm starting to get excited about it! Still plenty nervous...)

It may seem odd to show a WIP of the alternate quilt before I show the original, but I thought that would be kind of fun, actually! This quilt has triangles that finish in 5 different sizes. I've nick-named this version "the bruiser quilt", because of the black and blue color scheme. Hahaha!

Only 137 half-square triangles to go....that's pretty exciting!

Here's a peek at the original quilt, which is quite a bit more colorful and what you would expect of out of me, right? :) The tiny triangles shown finish at 1 1/2"! They are definitely squeal-worthy. Time consuming, but oh-so-cute!

I can't wait to finish up the bruiser quilt and show them side by side! I love exploring the many possibilities within one pattern.

Friday, January 13, 2017

crazy rails-a completed quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

This week, I completed my 300th quilt (baby size or larger) to date! I started quilting in 2000, so that means I complete, on average, about 18.75 quilts a year. That's not crazy at all, is it? :) I am so glad that in 2006, when I stared my blog, I took the time to look back and count how many quilts I had made up to that point, so I have a record of them all. (Or pretty darn close!)
This quilt was inspired by a vintage quilt that Rebecca brought to a guild meeting awhile back. (You can see the original inspiration quilt in this post.) The strips are cut at 1 1/2" wide, so the rails finish at 1" x 3" each.
That means that about 1/3 of this quilt is seam allowance! It wasn't very fun to quilt, for that reason, but it is a GREAT scrap buster! I quilted it on my Juki with an all over loopy pattern with Aurifil thread, color 2615. I love that the thread blends with every single fabric.
For the backing, I used a beautiful aqua solid (Michael Miller cotton couture) that is so soft and smooth. The binding is good neighbors peaks in orangina. I machine bound it for a quick and durable finish.
The quilt measures 48" x 60" and it is scrap project #192! I'm very pleased with this finish!
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!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WIP Wednesday

I started a 3rd version of my bright birch trees quilt. (You can see the first one here, the second one here. The pattern is available here.) I started the first two blocks at two different workshops that I taught in the past year. Rather than leave the blocks languish, I felt the need to turn them into a complete quilt top. The blocks are going to finish at just over 12" square. I love using up my tiniest scraps in this way! As you know, there is NO shortage of scraps at my house.
This time around, I think I'm sticking with a blue/green/gray color scheme. These are some background fabrics that I'm considering adding to the mix. It will be fun to see where this quilt ends up!
I'm also working on knitting another scarf. I haven't made one in awhile and it's a nice change of pace from knitting my sweater. It's a lot more portable than my sweater is at this point, too! The pattern is called the mistake stitch scarf. I cast on 39 stitches on size 7 needles and the yarn is Madelintosh in DK weight. It's been snowing here the past few days, which always gets me in the mood to knit. This a great project to take while I sit in the dentist office, during music lessons, in line at the grocery store.... (I'm only kidding about that last one! I don't think I've knit at the grocery store.... not yet! Haha!)

What project(s) are you working on this week? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, January 09, 2017

doll & pincushion making

A few years ago, I made my daughter a doll that she named Julie. Julie is definitely homemade, but my daughter absolutely loves her. That's all that matters, right? Last week, the day before the kids went back to school after Christmas break, we made a friend for Julie, named Jennifer.
Jennifer is admittedly rustic, but again, my daughter loves her! The pattern is something I made up years ago. Originally, I made a pair of bears, named Milly and Melvin. Turns out the pattern makes cute girls, too! (Although the ears were much easier to make and attach than sewing on all that hair, one strand at a time....)
It seems like anytime I make something, I want to make a hundred, so, of course, there is another one. This is Jasmine! I LOVE her hair, especially! Both of the dolls' hair has tinges of pink in it, which is super fun!
Now, it's time to figure out some doll clothes, which is not my favorite part. I have a feeling that the best part about having a doll is all the accessories, so I will do my best! One good thing is that any of the clothes that I make will fit any of the dolls OR bears. Hurray for that!

Over the weekend, I did some scrap sewing, which is always delightful! I made several (tiny!) log cabin blocks, that will be turned into pincushions.
The pieces aren't cut precisely, rather I try to use the scraps "as is", to use up as much of the fabric as possible. Each piece is chosen on the fly, so there is a lot of decision making, but it's also fun to see each block change as it grows. Working on about 4 blocks at a time is my limit, otherwise decision fatigue sets in!
I decided to make a whole batch of pincushions at there are 11 in this picture. I can't wait to show them all to you, complete! This is one of my very favorite ways to use up my smallest scraps.

I do have a plan for all of these, lest you think I am completely off my rocker for making even more pincushions! :)

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, January 06, 2017

i like orange-a completed quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday! I hope your New Year is off to a great start!

I finished my quilt called "I like orange" this week! I started it in a class with Denyse Schmidt back in April of 2015.
Choosing just 2 colors for this quilt was challenging--I would have rather chose 122 colors. That's more my speed! Ironically, when we were given "permission" to add more colors, I chose to stick with just the two. I put my own spin on the pattern by piecing smaller blocks within the larger blocks. I LOVE those little blocks so much! (They are more visible in the last photo.)
For the quilting, I knew I wanted to straight line quilt it, but that isn't easy on a domestic machine, because there is always drag and distortion.
So, I actually took a long arm class this week! After class, I rented time on the machine and I straight line quilted it. It still wasn't easy, (I had a lot of thread breakage problems, so I had a lot of knots to bury) but the quilting looks much better than if I had attempted it at home.....and it's done!
I used two colors of Kona Cotton: tangerine and orange. I really do like the color orange!
The backing was very hard to choose. Thankfully, my friend, brianne, helped me with the decision. I LOVE that the backing is bold and in a complementary color. I also love how the orange thread pops against the blue backing. It's almost electric! (The backing fabric is Cotton + Steel, by Melody Miller, from her Picnic line, 2015. I found it at SR Harris!)
Here's a shot of the full back....
....and a shot of the full front of the quilt. My daughter helped me with these last two photographs. We took them at a nearby school last night when we went walking (indoors!) with a friend. When it's -10 degrees and the sun goes down at 4:30, you have to get creative with photo locations. By the way, one of the janitors at the school really liked my quilt! Ha!

The quilt measures about 60" x 73". I'm excited that I will be keeping this one!

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

inspired by fall-a completed quilt

This quilt was my last finish for 2016. I finished it about 2 in the afternoon on Saturday, then I took my boys to the park where they were gracious enough to hold the quilt. They had a game of Frisbee going on the side, which helped their attitudes a lot. (Hurray for that!)
This quilt is made up primarily from scraps. The white fabric is Kona Snow. I love the warm colors, the fact that I was able to use brown successfully, and work in some pink and green, too. I pushed myself in the colors/combinations that I used, and I'm so glad that I did.
The binding is a funky plaid by Denyse Schmidt for JoAnns from 2013. (Yikes, that's getting old, already!) It's the only print used in the entire quilt, but I love how the plaid ties everything together!
The backing is made up of a solid green, which I originally pieced without any linen. I had the backing taped to the floor and everything when I decided the back needed to be larger. (I knew that in the beginning, but I was hoping to squeak by.) I should have added the linen strip in the first place! Anyway, I'm glad I took the time to fix it. The quilting is organic, to be sure, but I think it compliments the wonky blocks in the front.
The quilt measures 50" x 66". It's scrap project #191! I think this is another quilt that shows that simple is good!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

happy new year!

Happy New Year! I always enjoy looking back at the past year and setting goals for the year ahead. It's a great time to take stock and evaluate things!
This mosaic features the top nine most popular pictures from my Instagram feed from 2016.

2016 was another scrappy year! I finished writing my book (which is available for pre-order!), I made a small mountain of pincushions, I worked on some long term scrap quilts and did some stash busting, too. I finished a total of 22 quilts! It was a good year!

In July, I did a one-a-day pincushion challenge, which was really fun, but also a great learning experience. During that challenge, I discovered that I really love working in a series. I enjoyed having definite parameters to work within and the focus that it brought was incredible. I also learned that it's good to make something, even when on the days that you don't feel like it....and that creativity never runs out!

In September, I started tracking how much fabric I used each month, compared to how much fabric I bought. I know a lot of people think that notion is crazy, but what a great eye-opener that was! It kept me on track and reeled in my fabric purchases several times. It's a very good thing! Starting to track it right as the kids went back to school was great timing, since that is my most productive sewing time in the entire year. :)
My one and only crafty goal was to knit a sweater for myself. While I didn't finish my sweater before the end of the year, I actually committed and bought the yarn, which was probably one of the hardest parts of the whole process so far! I am over half done with the body of the sweater. Of course, I still have to knit the arms, but it's coming along! I really do love the color and the pattern and it fits me, so those are all great things.

Looking ahead....

My book, No Scrap Left Behind, is scheduled to be released in February! Promoting the book will be at the top of my list this year. I have a bunch of dates scheduled in the upcoming year to speak and teach from the book, which I am very excited about.

If all goes according to plan, my new fabric line should be released this year, too!

I hope to do some designing and collaborating with my daughter. She's only 10, but I think it would be fun to start working with her and investing in her in a more focused manner. That girl has ideas and I think she probably loves color even more than I do!

I want to work in a series where I explore options, much like my pincushion challenge. I'm not sure what that looks like yet, but I hope to come up with a plan soon.
I'm starting off the year with only 9 works in progress, which feels incredible! I look forward to a great year of finishing ahead!

I also want to crochet a giant rag rug for my front entryway. I've been kicking around that idea for years, so I think it's finally time to do it! It will be the ultimate scrap buster. Ha!

Do you make crafty goals or resolutions for the year? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

I'd like to take the time to say a big THANK YOU for reading my blog. It wouldn't be the same without you! To those of you who take the time to leave comments, they are very much appreciated! Here's to a great New Year!