Monday, December 10, 2018

red and white trees!

I made the first block for this quilt LAST year on December 20th, because I'm brilliant like that.....hahaha! Over the weekend I finished the last two blocks and assembled the top. It was a TREAT to have only 9 blocks to sew together to make that happen. Woohoo! The plan is to back it with the red and white polka dots (shocking, eh?) and one of the red fabrics shown will be the binding. I hope to finish it up this year yet and hang it in my entryway. The nice thing about the restrained color scheme is that I can get away with leaving it up well into February. Or all year round, really. The pattern is called Trees! and can be found here or here.

Are you doing any Christmas sewing? If you are, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. If you are already done, I'd love to hear your secrets to making that happen! ;)

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, December 07, 2018

black licorice--a completed quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

First off, thank you soooo much for your kind comments on my previous post. I am truly and deeply touched by all of your kindness and words of support. To answer the question that was asked so many times, yes, I do plan to leave my blog up as a resource. The other night at dinner I told my husband, "my blog really reached a lot of people". You should have seen the incredulous look he gave me, along with a big old "Duh!!!" We shared a good laugh after that. It has been an emotional week, but along with it, I have a deep sense of peace. For that I am grateful.

I'm excited that I have a finished quilt to share with you today! This one is called black licorice, but it also reminds me of stained glass. I gave it to my daughter, who loves ALL of the colors. She has been happily sleeping under it for several nights now.
The quilt is made up of 1554 little rectangles that finish at 1 1/2" x 2". That felt like a lot of pieces, even for me! :) Solids from a variety of manufacturers were used. There are a few shot cottons and a few linens that were used that give it additional texture that you wouldn't recognize until you get up close. I love quilts with details like that. I also love the darker patches sprinkled throughout that make subtle and random cross patterns when you are looking at it from a distance.
I made a special trip to the grocery store yesterday to get a package of "All Sorts" for the photos, just for fun. The candy tastes pretty good, too!
There is a LOT of quilting on this one....a black X through the middle of each and every rectangle. When I first quilted it, I quilted an X through all of the black rectangles, but it didn't look like it was quilted at all. Crazy! So, I went back and added quilting through all of the colored rectangles. It took a lot more time than I expected, but it was definitely the right choice!
I knew that I wanted to use Kona Marine for the binding, so when I went shopping and found this black and blue polka dot at SR Harris, I knew that it was "the one" for the backing. Hurray for a perfect match!

Using a black background for the quilt was definitely a stretch for me, but I'm glad that I tried it. I'm reasonably happy with the results! The quilt measures about 63" x 72".
 
This is my 3rd finish (out of 10, hopefully!) in my "Salute to Solids" series. You can see the first one here and the second one here. That means it must be time to start a new quilt! Hurray! :)
  
Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the month. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! xoxoxxo
 

Monday, December 03, 2018

big changes ahead

After a lot of thought, prayer, soul searching and many sleepless nights, I've decided that it's time to make a big change. Over the next several months I'm going to be transitioning out of running my business. I've been joking with my family that I'm going to retire early. :)

When I first started blogging, I thought it would be neat if my blog became "popular". Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would ever happen, nor did I realize what I was embarking upon at the time. I'm extremely grateful for all of the opportunities that have come about because of this blog.
I never imagined how many people I would meet through this blog that would become my friends in real life. I never would have dreamed that I would be able to call myself an author, fabric designer, pattern designer or small business owner. I didn't realize that I would be logging onto this page for over 12 years to write blog posts that people from around the world would read. I never imagined that I would become a public speaker (!!!) or teacher, or that I would enjoy speaking and teaching so much. I never imagined that I would complete so. many. quilts. It has been a lot of hard work, but it has been amazing.

Now, I feel like it's time to move on. My family is growing up right before my eyes. My oldest will be graduating high school this year and my youngest is right smack dab in middle of middle school. My daughter was just a baby when I started this blog and my oldest was just starting kindergarten. (I remember that I was trying to potty train my middle child when I started this blog, but I suppose I shouldn't mention that for his sake....) Man, how time flies.

What's next for me? I'm really not sure. For someone who loves the status quo and hates change, I'm oddly excited about this. Am I a little bit nervous? Absolutely. I'm looking forward to taking some time to REST and then only God knows what will be next. I'm anxious-in the best possible way-to find out, but I'm not going to rush into anything. I'm so grateful that I'm in a position that I'm able to make a big change like this without having "the next thing" lined up. I'm also grateful for the support of my husband and kids. They have been the best cheerleaders I could ever ask for.

Going forward, I intend to keep blogging until the end of the year. It seems like a fitting time to finish. We will have one more finish it up Friday link up this week. I plan to discontinue my PDF patterns at the end of the year, but I will continue to ship out my printed patterns (wholesale orders) into next year until my inventory is depleted. I've debated selling the business, but I'm not sure what that would look like or if anyone would even be interested, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

I intend to remain active on Instagram, so I'm not going away completely. I am certainly looking forward to quilting and sewing, but doing it for FUN rather than with obligation. I have a LOT of projects to finish up and many, many more that I want to start. I have waaaay too much fabric to quit quilting or sewing altogether. That probably goes without saying!

For all those of you who have been reading this blog, whether you've been reading since last week or since the beginning, thank you so much for being with me on this journey. It really, truly means so much.

Happy Monday to you! xoxoxox

Monday, November 26, 2018

still quilting and a few small projects

I hope all of you who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! We had a lovely weekend full of family, delicious food, and time to relax together. I could use a few more weekends just like it!
I did not accomplish my goal of getting the binding on this quilt before Thanksgiving. In fact, I'm still working on the quilting today. Turns out it needed more quilting than I was originally planning. That, and I spent a lot more time in the kitchen than I thought I would. (Isn't that always the way?) I figured it's best to add the extra quilting now rather than trying to add more later. I'm almost 75% done quilting at this point, so it shouldn't be too much longer. I am getting excited to bind this one!
I took a little time this weekend to sew up a zip pouch with this lovely scrap of yellow floral fabric that I found, which was designed by Bari J for Art Gallery Fabrics. I thought it was so pretty that it needed to be a pouch. I'm not a huge fan of sewing zippered pouches, but I sure enjoy using them, so I go through the motions once in awhile anyway. :) This one isn't perfect, but it will work for toting around a knitting or crochet project quite nicely. It's loosely based on this pattern, but I used a single fabric for the exterior. I also used fusible fleece for the outer layer and quilted it before assembly. It is a good combo!
I've been working off and on (mostly off) on a few prototypes of mini thread catchers. The patchwork squares in the one above finish at 1". Why is tiny always so cute? It's quite addictive....and honestly, quite putzy….but it's mostly worth it! Ha!
Last, but not least, I used my friend Anna's new Forage fabric to make this normal sized thread catcher. (Pattern is available here.) This "thread catcher" is currently in my sewing room holding chocolate....which I highly recommend. The patchwork squares in this one finish at 2", which seem huge in comparison to the previous one...but it's good, because it holds more chocolate! (It also works well for catching threads, or giving small gifts like charm packs, mini charms or even fat quarters to your friends. :))

On another note, we tried out a few new recipes this weekend, which I would highly recommend:

Smitten Kitchen's green bean casserole is AMAZING! It was the first thing to disappear at our Thanksgiving dinner. It was SO GOOD that I'm going to make it again tonight. It's totally worth the time and effort!

Chocolate cake in a mug by Pioneer Woman was also amazing! My daughter actually made it for my husband and I to share after dinner last night. It took barely any time at all (especially compared to the green bean casserole mentioned above) which just goes to show, that it all evens out in the end. :)

Alright, that's it for me today! Happy Monday to you!

Monday, November 19, 2018

black licorice quilt progress

My sewing room is feeling a little full these days because I have so many works in progress...I'm afraid to count how many! I figured it was high time to get working on a finish, so this weekend I decided to baste my black licorice quilt. I prefer to pin baste because I get the best results. (I have a basting tutorial here that you might find helpful.)
I'm quilting a simple cross hatch through the black rectangles. I'm living on the edge and I'm NOT marking my lines before I quilt them. So far, so good! Quilting with black thread on black fabric is pretty forgiving. Also, the rectangles are small (2" x 1 1/2" finished), so eyeballing it isn't too hard. I'm moving right along with the quilting, thankfully! My goal is to finish the quilting and apply the binding before Thanksgiving day, so hopefully I can sit and relax with some hand stitching after cooking all day! It should be fun!

Do you have your hand stitching planned out for the holiday yet? Or am I the only one that does that?

Happy Monday to you!

Monday, November 12, 2018

lost in the crowd construction begins

I constructed my first block for my lost in the crowd quilt today! Originally I was going to assemble the quilt in rows rather than blocks, but oh, Mylanta, that would be a pain. I figured out pressing directions to ensure that ALL the seams in the entire quilt should nest in the final quilt assembly, even if I construct it in a block based format. Nesting seams is very important to me because it produces a neat and tidy quilt top.
Here's a rustic pressing diagram that shows my plan. (Arrows indicate pressing direction.) When I sew the squares into rows, the fabric is pressed toward the background fabric. When the rows are assembled into blocks, I will alternate pressing direction every other block. The A blocks will have the horizontal seams pressed up. The B blocks will have the horizontal seams pressed down. When the blocks are sewn into rows, every seam should nest. Hurray!!! I hope that makes sense to you and not just to me. Hahaha!

One block done, 63 more to go! I counted today...I have 822/1200 4 patches made. Not too bad, considering that I started this project in February! I love seeing a plan come together.

Because I know that someone will ask, the background fabric is Kona Lime.

Happy Monday to you!

Monday, November 05, 2018

biased projects

Later this week I will traveling to Michigan for glamp stitch-a-lot, where I'll be teaching improv string piecing to the students. I made the class sample many months ago, so I decided to immerse myself in a few "biased" projects to get warmed up for this weekend. It's been fun to revisit this technique! (You can see my biased tutorial here and the finished quilt here.)
I made a few pincushions from scraps to get started, because pincushions are ALWAYS a good idea!
They each measure about 3" x 5" and are filled with crushed walnut shells.
Then I moved on to some pot holders. They finish about 8 1/4" square. (I use Insulbrite for the inside, so they are heat resistant.) I also used bias binding, since the corners are rounded. It takes a bit longer to make them this way, but I really like the look!
AND...I started another quilt! I'm using mostly stash mixed with a few scraps. I thought I would try something new. Hahaha! It's definitely still a work in progress, but I'm enjoying the process. I'm still trying to get the color balance right, but maybe I'll get there by the time I make all 40 blocks. That's the hope, anyway!
 
I hope your week is off to a great start. Happy Monday to you!

Friday, November 02, 2018

magnificent maples quilt top complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I'm pleased to share my finished magnificent maples quilt top with you today! Almost all of our leaves are now on the ground, not in the trees, but at least I finished the top before the snow arrived. I'll take it. :)
There is 1" finished sashing in between each of the leaves and a 2" finished border around the outsides. I don't often time myself when doing certain quilt making tasks, but this time I did. The quilt top assembly took me over 5 hours! (That is after all the leaves were made and most of the sashing was cut.) That seems like a long time!
I'm thrilled with how it came together! The quilt top measures about 64" x 84" and it was made completely from my stash. Woohoo!

Did you know.....I started blogging 12 years ago today. (!!!!) That's so CRAZY to think about. Thank you (yes, YOU!) for stopping by and reading and being a part of this crazy adventure. I appreciate it more than I can say.

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the month. Thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Hope you have an amazing weekend!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

LOTS of work in progress

I've been working on a lot of different projects lately, and I'll share just a bit about each project in no particular order. I was trying to NOT add any new projects to the list for the past few weeks, but as you can see, I haven't been the most successful in that endeavor. :)
This pink pineapple quilt has been a lot of fun to work on! I started by working out of the scrap basket, but I had to supplement with the stash. (It's all good! I'm actually USING my fabric. Hurray!) I looked back at my photos to discover that I made the first block at the end of June. Funny, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago! The blocks will finish at 8". I'm using the creative grids pineapple trim tool. (I'm pretty sure that the ruler is smarter than I am!) I am planning on making 20 blocks for a baby quilt. The recipient is already 7 months old, so I'd better get moving on it before I have to make it a twin size. Hahahaha!
I had the very beginnings of this quilt on my design wall for months and months. Last week when I moved the blocks to make room for more maple leaves, I decided that I might as well start sewing them together as I moved them to the side. I added several more pairs of squares and now I have YET ANOTHER work in progress. It's all good, though! I'm using my robust stash of 2 1/2" squares that I have been cutting along the way for a "someday" project. I'm calling this one "two step". It's just as simple as can be, but I already love it so. Simple scrappy quilts are my all time favorite!
I'm almost there on my magnificent maples! I'm so excited that there are only a few more blocks to make. I'm also VERY excited that the layout is already determined. That will save me a lot of time when it comes to assembly. Hurrah! I plan to do very thin sashing to allow the leaves to have room to breathe, and I might add a wider border to it. We'll see how it shapes up. I am still LOVING this color palette.

That's all I have to share today. I hope your week is off to a great start! xo

Monday, October 22, 2018

magnificent maples quilt-the beginning

I started a new quilt last week. I've had the fabric pulled for well over a year--background fabric and everything. Last Tuesday was a BEAUTIFUL fall day, so I celebrated by whipping up this fun and easy maple leaf block, even though I only had 20 minutes to sew. It was time well spent!
I'm SO EXCITED for this quilt! I'm having a blast making the blocks and I am SMITTEN with this color scheme. I love that most of the fabrics are blenders, with a few louder (but not too loud) prints.
As of this afternoon, I have 25 blocks complete. I'm using Kona Natural for the background and each block will finish at 9".
Here is my original fabric pull. I've already edited out at least 7 fabrics and I've added that many more into the mix. I think it's funny how much my fabric decisions change once I get started. I've learned a long time ago that is usually the case, so I only cut a few blocks at a time to avoid chopping up a bunch of fabric that I won't actually use in the quilt.

Now I have to decide if I will repeat any fabrics or make each block out of a unique fabric. Either way, I think it's going to be magnificent...at least that's the hope! :)

Happy Monday to you!

Monday, October 15, 2018

black licorice-a completed quilt top

I finished my black licorice quilt top! I worked on it quite a bit over the weekend and I was delighted to discover this morning that I only had 2 seams left to complete it. What a way to start a Monday!
Each piece finishes at 1 1/2" x 2". There are 42 blocks in each row and 37 rows, for a total of 1,554 pieces!!!! It's a good thing I did the math AFTER the quilt top was complete rather than before, otherwise that might have been a little daunting. Ha!
I think it's tricky to find that fine line of being out of your comfort zone, but still liking the results. I feel like I was able to accomplish that with this quilt and I'm so thankful!

This quilt is part of my "Salute to Solids" series. I have plans to give it to my daughter when it's complete. She's pretty excited about it!

Happy Monday to you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

etc.-a new work in progress

I've been resisting starting a new project for the past several weeks. After a lovely trip down to Iowa for teaching last weekend (and 500 miles of time to think), I cracked. I HAD to start something new or I was afraid I would explode. SO many ideas. SO little time. I know, it's a great problem to have. I wouldn't have it any other way.
The funny part is, when I went downstairs to sew, I thought I was going to start a specific project that I had sketched out on graph paper. I had worked out the math and everything. This isn't that project! I guess this one needed to come out first. I'm not sad about it! I'm having a lot of fun with this idea already and it will be perfect for my Salute to Solids series, too. (You can read more about that here.)
I'm calling this one "etc." All the solids are from the scrap bins so far. The strips measure about 1" finished and the blocks are about 6" unfinished. I'm excited to see where this goes. It's always an adventure!

Friday, October 05, 2018

two pairs of socks!

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This is my 25th pair of hand knit socks that I've made to date. They had a lot of issues (like me, hahaha!), so they went into time out for about a week. After that time, I was able to frog back and fix the mistakes that I had made. (This was my first time doing partial frogging successfully, which was a big deal!) I'm so pleased that they are finished, and more importantly, finished well. I LOVE THEM!! They are warm and happy...perfect for these dreary fall days! The yarn is Malabrigo sock yarn. The color is 857 light of love. (I wonder who gets to name these things!)
I finished this pair of socks (my 24th pair) back in August. The yarn is Felici by Knit Picks, which was gifted to me by my sweet friend Suzanne. (I tried to find a link to the yarn, but I think it's either out of stock or discontinued.) I'm pleased as punch with this pair as well! I used my basic sock pattern (available here) for both of the pairs shown.
This pretty much sums up how I feel about hand knit socks. :)

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the MONTH....if you have multiple finishes to share, please feel free to link up more than one! Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! I know that some of you miss having a weekly link up, but I have to say, that doing it once a month has been so helpful for my sanity. (I don't have that much to spare. hahaha!) Anyway, I hope you have a FABULOUS weekend!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

a helpful remedy

I don't often wash my quilts right after they are finished, but as I mentioned last week, I washed and dried my broken dishes quilt to get that lovely crinkle. I got the crinkle I was after, but I also discovered that the turquoise dye in one of the quilt blocks bled quite a lot. Ugh. There is a lot of red in the quilt, so I thought that it would be one of the red fabrics that would give me trouble. Nope. I discovered the issue AFTER I had dried the quilt in the drier. Blergh.
I shared a photo with my friend Mary, and she recommended using this method to try to remove the excess dye. I was doubtful that it would help, but I thought I might as well give it a try. At this point, what did I have to lose?
I followed Vicki's instructions, using "All Free and Clear" detergent. I'm very pleased to share that a LOT of the excess dye came out. Woohoo! Thanks so much to Vicki for sharing her methods and Mary for pointing me in the right direction!

I do want to add, that in the first washing I used cold water, 2 color catchers, a cup of vinegar AND I threw in a bath towel to absorb any excess dyes, should there be any bleeding. I also removed the quilt from the washer immediately after the washing, so I thought I was pretty well covered. (That's all my tricks and it still bled!)

I thought I would pass along this information, just in case you are in the same position someday. I hope you find it helpful, too!

Monday, October 01, 2018

mark twain block update

I've been chugging along on my EPP (English Paper Pieced) Mark Twain blocks. As you may recall, I started this project at the beginning of the year. Here it is, October, (already!) and I'm pleased to report that I've been able to keep up with my goal of making 5 blocks per month. It turns out that is a perfect pace for me, consistently. I have found that having the personal goal keeps me on track, which is a very good thing. You and I both know that there are PLENTY of distractions when it comes to new quilting projects and such. (Isn't that the understatement of the year????)
I took some time today to lay out the blocks and see how the colors are playing together. So far, I'm very pleased!!! Looking at this photo, I see that I need to add a lot more green. The background joining pieces will be red-orange, just like the centers of each block, although I really like how they look on the cream background in this photo. My goal is to make 110 blocks, so if my math is correct, I'm nearly 41% done. Not too bad!

The antique quilt that inspired this project can be seen here.

Happy Monday to you!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

broken dishes-a completed quilt

I've finished my broken dishes quilt! I started this at retreat in July, and here it is, end of September, complete. That feels great! All fabrics came from my stash, which feels even better!
 
This quilt is based on my Myrtle's Broken Dishes pattern, but this time I made 20 blocks rather than 12 and I skipped the borders. SO many half-square triangles in this quilt, but aren't they striking with the light background?

The background print is called "bedsheets" in the color butter, from my Emma & Myrtle fabric line for Connecting Threads. I did an all over "cinnamon roll" quilting pattern freehand on the baby lock Tiara that I currently have on loan. The quilting took a considerable amount of time (and concentration!), but I think it was worth it. After I got done quilting it, I thought, "I'm finally in the groove. I wish I had another quilt to quilt right away!" How crazy is that?
 
For the backing I used the red apron print, also from my Emma & Myrtle collection. I have to admit, it's pretty fun to back a quilt with fabric that you've designed! The red gingham binding is SUCH a happy finishing touch, isn't it? Initially I was worried that it would feel too light or too cutesy compared to the rest of the quilt, but man, I love it sooooo much!

The fabrics used for the quilt were bundles from Westwood Acres "I Want Her Stash Club" from a few years ago. They were curated by my friend Amy Smart and Denyse Schmidt. It was great to combine the two AND it was also a fun exercise to work with bundles selected by someone else. I would recommend it! :)

The quilt measures about 72" x 90", so a generous twin size. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  It actually has a lovely fall feel to it, doesn't it? Now I'm excited to wash it up so it gets that fantastic crinkle. I think I'll sleep under this one tonight!

This is my 11th quilt finish for the year!

Monday, September 24, 2018

black licorice-a work in progress

I've been working on this quilt off and on for quite awhile now. I considered giving it up for adoption a few times, but I decided to see it through to completion. It's tricky to push yourself out of your comfort zone but still like the project you are working on, but I think I've finally gotten to that point with this quilt. Hurray! My daughter LOVES this quilt, so she will be the recipient. I'm pretty sure that she loves color even more than I do, which is hard to imagine. :)
I'm using a variety of solids, all from the scrap bin. Each block is cut at 2" x 2 1/2" and finishes at 1 1/2" x 2". No strip piecing here, since it's all scraps. The black fabric is a combination of leftover Moda bella jelly roll strips and black Kona cotton. The pieces are a lot smaller than I bargained for, but even still, I'm aiming for a 60" x 72" quilt. I'm finally half way there, which is pretty exciting!
 
This quilt is a part of my salute to solids personal challenge that I started last year at this time. (You can read more about it here.)
 
Happy Monday to you!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

workshop totes

My friend Jeni hosted a workshop sew along a few weeks ago and I waited until the very last day (in my usual fashion!) to join in. The workshop tote pattern (available here) is straightforward and fun to sew, with a few different options. You can use one fabric, as I did here. You can also use patchwork squares or half-square triangles. (Directions are included in the pattern for all three.) I LOVED making this tote. I gave it to my sister for her birthday a few weeks ago. She plans to use it for her trips to the library with her boys. Hurray for useful gifts!
I have a few workshop totes that I love and use, too. This one was made by my friend Cindy. She used this fun focus fabric for the exterior. (I believe it's called sewing woes by Alexander Henry). It's so funny and perfect for this bag.
She didn't have enough of the focus fabric, so she used some solid colored charm squares to fill in the sides. Isn't that perfect? I love how it turned out and how making do can be a benefit at times.
Here is a half-square triangle version that my friend brianne made for me last summer. I love the black and white paired with the hot pink and orange lining. It's a great combination of her taste and mine. I have used this tote quite a bit and it's holding up quite nicely. It's such a fabulous size for many different uses.

One of my favorite features of this bag is the top stitching on the sides to give the totes structure. Genius! I also love how different each bag looks based on the fabric selection. The possibilities are endless!