New Quilting and Sewing Books

quilting booksThere are some really fun and unique quilt/sewing books published over recent months. I’ve had a growing stack I’ve acquired over the past few months that I’ve wanted to share and review here. I like that each of these books has a unique style and is something different than other quilting books in my library. Sometimes I am asked by publishers to review books and I don’t say yes to every invitation – only if it is something that really speaks to me personally.

(Disclosure: some of these books were given to me by friends, others I bought with my own hard-earned cash. Also, there are affiliate links in this post. All opinions are my own. And the fact that I’m sharing them, means they passed muster and I really like each on of them!)

Simply Color books Vanessa Christenson

If you’ve been paying attention to the online quilting world over the past few months, you have probably seen Vanessa Christenson’s Color Series. Here are the first three books in the series: Red, Orange, and Yellow. Each book is a hard bound book with lots of information on choosing colors and color combinations, color theory, as well as six unique projects per book.

Simply Color quilt books Vanessa Christenson

Each book is also filled with inspiring and gorgeous photos, that definitely get my creative juices flowing. There is a lot of beautiful inspiration, information, and fun, do-able projects. The Green Simply Color book came out this summer and the Blue book will be released in a few weeks, with Purple not far behind. You can read more about Vanessa’s experience creating these fun books on her blog.

Simply Strings quilt book

I discovered Simply Strings by Rana Heredia at Quilt Market last spring. Rana had booth with really fun, creative quilts, many of which are in her book. This is a GREAT book for using up scraps since most of the designs use string-pieced units to create the overall design.Simply Strings quilts

Many of the quilts are inspired by traditional quilting designs, with the added string-pieced dimensions.

String Piecing vine quilt

Other patterns are a much more modern in design, incorporating the scrappy string blocks to make a larger over-all design, like this Organic vine. This is the whole quilt – 55″ x 70″ to give you a size reference. Rana has done this with another pattern (not in the book) a giant string-pieced deer head. So cool. Simply Strings can be found in Rana’s shop, Etsy, and hopefully, your local quilt shop!

Sweet Tweets bird quilt patterns

Sweet Tweets is a brand new book by Erin Cox and is such an adorable little book!

Sweet Tweets applique quilts

This book has lots of darling applique bird designs – so, so sweet. There are 11 projects as well as a section about free-motion applique. See the stitching on that tree trunk? All done by stitching with a sewing machine! This is a whole new design style for me. I think I’ll need some practice to build my confidence, but many of these are just the right size to get that practice in.

Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman

I finally picked up a copy of Elizabeth Hartman’s Patchwork City this summer. I’ve had my eye on this book for a while. I like modern quilting motifs, but most of my own modern quilting designs are based on very traditional motifs. The thing that I like about this book is that Elizabeth gives a huge variety of very modern quilt blocks in many different shapes and sizes, as well as 6 different layouts using those blocks.

E Hartman Patchwork City Projects

I feel like this book will help me break out of my comfort zone and try some more modern looks. Plus, I’m always inspired by Elizabeth’s fabric and color choices. I’ve loved just looking through this book. Now I need to actually make some of these blocks!

handmade style book noodlehead

And finally, another one of my favorite current books, Handmade Style by Anna Graham (of Noodlehead).  I am always in awe of Anna’s creativity. I have made some of her bag patterns in the past (including the Divided Basket and the Go Anywhere Bag) and I have loved both of them. I have another one ready to go on my cutting table.

tote bag pattern noodlehead book

Anna’s patterns are just awesome and she has such a wide variety of sizes, styles, etc. So to have a whole book of 23 patterns (not to mention gorgeous photography) is a dream.

Carry All Pincusion Noodlehead

In addition to bags there are other items such as clothing, pin cushions (with handy pockets!) fabric baskets,

baby quilt noodlehead

quilts, pillows and even a Patchwork Bench. (I love this version of the patchwork bench made using her Rain Walk fabric.)

Rain Walk Anna Graham

Speaking of which (I know it’s not a book, but) have you seen Anna’s new Rain Walk fabric for Cloud 9? Love it! (It’s available at Fabricworm. 😉 )

So there you go. A whole plethora of inspiring books – each different and unique – so hopefully a little something for everyone. Keep an eye out for them (or request them!) at your local quilt shop.

Bloglovin HM awardsAnd finally, one last little reminder that this is the final weekend of voting for the Bloglovin’ Awards. I’ve been nominated as the Best Sewing Blog (still a little shocked there) so if you haven’t yet, and you’re so inclined, you can vote for me here. (Scroll down about 2/3 of the way to find the Best Sewing Blogs. Be sure to enter your email address at the end so that your vote will be counted).

Bless those of you who have (and to all those who left such kind comments – I started trying to respond to them individually, and failed.) I’m SO touched by your kind words. Thank you!

Sale and Giveaway from Lady Belle Fabrics

Such an awesome giveaway today from sponsor Lady Belle Fabric.Lady Belle Fabric

Lady Belle Fabric is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Rob and Brooke Becker. The Beckers are originally westerners but have settled in and fallen in love with southern Tennessee. Their shop is named after their beautiful malamute dog, Belle, who passed away last year. You can read more about their story here.

Tiger Lily by Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics Half yard Bundle

Lady Belle stocks a beautifully curated collection of the latest bright, colorful, modern fabrics and specializes in pre-cuts and bundles as well as some coordinating yardage. Some current collections in stock are Tiger Lily by Heather Ross, Modern Background by Zen Chic (such awesome low-volume/contrast prints!)

pam kitty fog city bundle

And this pretty stack, Fog City by Pam Kitty Morning. So fresh and cute!

pam kitty fog city color wheel

Also in stock are yardage of some perennial favorites – Emmy Grace by Bari J and a lot of other gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics collections, Country Girls and other Riley Blake prints (on sale!), Free Spirit designers such as Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, and Tula Pink, and Moda Crossweaves. They also carry a great selection of basic notions.

liberty of london color wheelAnd now LBF is carrying Liberty Lawns!

Another fun treat – Lady Belle is selling a bunch of Moda precuts for upcoming collections like Farmhouse, Gooseberry, and Canyon. These aren’t available in stores yet, so now’s your chance if you want to snap them up early.

hd giveaway 1

And last, but definitely not least, Lady Belle Fabrics has a full bundle of Bonnie and Camille’s latest collection, Hello Darling, to giveaway to one of you, along with the new purple Olfa Splash rotary cutter and a spool of Aurifil thread! To enter, take a quick trip to Lady Belle Fabrics and come back here to leave a comment telling me something that you like. For a second entry follow sign-up for the Lady Belle Fabrics newsletter – a great way to keep up on the latest news there- (scroll to the bottom of the home page) and leave a separate comment. That’s it! Giveaway open until Saturday, August 29 at midnight MST.

On top of that, a little something for everyone. Get 15% off your entire order from Lady Belle Fabrics using code QUILTER. Sale good through midnight on Sunday, August 30. Enjoy!

You can also keep track of the latest happenings, sales, new arrivals, etc. on Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks Brooke, Rob, and Lady Belle Fabrics!

Summing up summer sewing

Alison Glass swoon blocks

Summer Vacation 2015 is officially in the books as the kids went back to school this week. I’ll admit, I had pretty mixed emotions about it. Usually I’m counting down until school starts and we have more routine/structure in our lives again, but this year I have really enjoyed the laid-back lazy-hazy days of summer and I wasn’t really feeling ready to jump back into it all.

Nevertheless, here we are and I have to admit, it’s been nice to have a taste of quiet time to catch up on things (like email) that I seem to have got WAY behind on. Yikes. I’m also itching to clean out my sewing room…


I feel lucky – sewing hasn’t been totally absent this summer. I’ve had some good windows where I felt productive and other weeks where it kind of fell by the wayside and I didn’t worry about it too much. Blogging pretty much fell in the same boat.

Some summers-past I’ve tried to “do it all” with very exhausting results. This summer I was determined not to feel that way and I think it worked. Judging by the fact that I wasn’t anxious for summer to end is another good sign.

Broken Dishes half square triangles

I’ve had a few finished projects over the last few months that will be part of future publications, so I haven’t been able to share a lot of what I’m working on. This color palette has been one of my recent favorites and I’ve used it in at least five recent projects. (haha.) I had these triangles left over as scraps so I threw them together in an easy broken dishes layout just for fun.

Dresden applique

I’ve also pulled out my Gardenvale Dresdens again. With deadlines past, I want to get these finished. Plus I love that they provide some good carry-around hand-work.

Jen Kingwell Dresdens

Here’s the progress thus far. I love how each one turns out and I love that the color palette is so out of my normal range. Speaking of different than my normal color palette – the top photo is the growing blocks from my Alison Glass Swoon-inspired blocks. These are blocks I’ve sent out to members to assemble, so it’s really fun to see them start to return. Even though I chose the fabric, I couldn’t visualize exactly how they’d look. They’re looking even better than I thought!

People have asked about the background fabric. It’s a woven fabric from Diamond Textiles, that I bought at my local quilt shop, but I don’t know the specific sku. (Sorry, not super-helpful.)

FigTree Moda Farmhouse

And finally, as if I didn’t have enough works-in-progress, I’m starting something new this weekend! I broke out this Layer Cake (10″ precuts) of Fig Tree’s newest collection Farmhouse. Yardage hits stores soon – maybe now that the kids are back in school I’ll even get my blocks pieced by the time it comes out!

Happy weekend and happy sewing to you!

And don’t forget, tomorrow is the final day of the Action Kivu fundraiser.

AND: MANY MANY thanks for all of your kind words (and votes!) for my Blog award nomination. If you’d still like to vote, you can find the ballot here. 😉

Do Good – Causes that make a difference – Summer 2015

I love a good cause. I’m a firm believer that small offerings by many good hearts can combine to make a big difference. This week Alissa Haight Carlton is running her annual Action Kivu fundraiser. In this fundraiser the money raised goes directly to teaching women in the Congo how to sew and giving them their own sewing machine when they have passed their courses.

Action Kivu I love a cause that empowers under-privileged and abused women by giving them tools to and education to make their lives better. Not only so they can provide for their families but to give them confidence and self-worth.

Visit Alissa’s Blog for more Action Kivu information. Your donations also enter you to win awesome prizes!

Sewing Machines for Ecuador

I know the goodness of this community first hand as many of your were so generous last winter in raising money for the Sewing Machines for Ecuador  cause to buy sewing machines so that these indigenous women of northern Ecuador could help supplement the income for their families who typically earn as little as $300 a month. Over $1200 was raised within a couple of weeks for these women.

Sewing machines for EcuadorWith the money that was donated these sweet ladies were able to buy 4 industrial sewing machines and a serger. After they have received training on the machines those who work are paid wages for the products they sew that are sold. Women are also given the opportunity to use the machines to sew for their own families needs. Many, many thanks again to those who helped!

There are lots of opportunities to out there to help. Here are links to past posts. If money is tight, but you want to contribute no-longer-needed fabric and supplies that you have on hand consider sending fabric (or unfinished quilt tops) to Serving with Smiles (more information and background here.)

Two other great causes include Days for Girls and Quilt Angels. If you know of other causes in need of quilt/fabric donations, please feel free to leave them in the comments!


Pie Making Day Quilt and Fabric Giveaway


One of my on-going quilt projects this summer is finally coming together. You may remember all the half square triangles I’d cut from the Pie Making Day fabric a couple of months ago? Summer sewing has been pretty hit or miss, but with the help of Poldark on Masterpiece (PBS) I cranked this puppy out! The design is based on a very traditional quilt design – you can find lots of vintage (and modern) quilts made into a stars from half-square triangles.

pie-making-day fabric

I love how the cheerful prints from the Pie Making Day collection pop against the solid gray. I used an RJR Cotton Supreme solid, the color is Gale Force.

Giant half square triangle star

At this point the quilt is 64″ x 64″. I still need to add some borders before I get it off to the quilter.  I will publish a pattern with my measurements and constructions tips.




And today I have a bundle of Pie Making Day fabrics to giveaway to one of you from Pink Castle Fabrics. Pie Making Day is Brenda Ratliff’s first fabric collection and it has been fun to see the enthusiastic response it’s received. Such great colors and blenders that while vintage-inspired, work great in contemporary quilts as well.


Pink Castle Fabrics

Brenda is also the owner of Pink Castle Fabrics, one of my favorite online quilt shops. I love pretty much everything in stock. Some of their recent additions include the latest from Cotton+Steel, Hello Darling from Bonnie and Camille, and Handcrafted 2 by Alison Glass.

They also carry a great selection of fabric bundles – both from the manufacturers and independently curated.

sk art


Other fun things going on at Pink Castle Fabrics include a collaboration with the very hilarious Samarra Khaja. This image is from her first t-shirt for Pink Castle. You can order t-shirts here.


sewpro_810x810Pink Castle Fabrics is also part of the duo hosting and putting on the Sew Pro convention in Chicago in September of 2016. This convention is for people looking to get involved with or learn more more about the professional sewing industry. This includes writing patterns, authoring books, designing fabric, blogging, etc. Lots of great people already scheduled to teach and present – including Tula Pink, Pat Sloan, Sara Lawson, Alison Glass – and it looks fantastic. I’m really hoping to go myself! Visit the Sew Pro website for more information.


If you would like to enter to win the Pie Making Day fabric, visit Pink Castle Fabrics and leave a comment here telling me something in stock that you love. Giveaway ends Friday, August 21 at midnight MST. You can also subscribe to the Pink Castle Fabrics newsletter or Facebook page to keep up to date on all of there sales and promotions as well as new arrivals. GIVEAWAY CLOSED>

WINNER:  NataliE says 

Love the curiosities bundles! And that quilt…. I die.

Vintage and Antique quilts, blocks, and restoration

During our trip last month, we visited one of my favorite places to stop when we visit family in New England, Rocky Mountain Quilts in York, Maine. I discovered it about 13 years ago when I was searching for quilt shops in the area where my in-laws lived and discovered something truly unique.

Rocky Mountain Quilts

Rocky Mountain Quilts specializes in selling beautiful antique quilts but also in restoration of these treasures. They keep an extensive collection of vintage textiles that are used to replace and restore antique quilts.

vintage and antique quilts for sale at Rocky Mountain Quilts

They also have a huge selection of beautiful antique and vintage quilts in amazing condition that are for sale. Collectors come from around the world to buy from their stock. Here is just part of the quilts they had in stock. The quilts are carefully preserved and stored by date. On the left is a stack of quilts from the late 19th century including Victorian Crazy quilts on the bottom and quilts made from shirtings on the top. On the right is a stack of quilts from the early 20th Century. And they had quilts much older than those – all in amazing condition – that sell for 10’s of 1,000’s of dollars. 

2015-07-16Rocky Mountain Quilts does not permit photography of full quilts (you can see photos of their quilts for sale on their website) but I did get permission to take a few close up pictures to share some of the amazing vintage quilts that were there at the time. On the left is a Victorian-era log cabin quilt – most-likely foundation pieced because there was no visible quilting, made from ribbons, silks and satins. The ‘logs’ are about 1/4″ – 1/2″ wide! The backing was a lush velvet, making it a heavy quilt. It was in gorgeous condition. You can read more about it (or buy it!) here. On the right is a full quilt from the 19th century made with Quarter size hexagons.

cigar ribbon crazy quilt

This was another really unique quilt, also from the Victorian era made in the crazy-quilt style using ribbons from cigars!

Rocky Mountain Quilts York Maine

In addition to beautifully preserved quilts, Rocky Mountain quilts also sells quilt-tops, vintage linen remnants and feed-sacks, and quilt blocks.

Vintage hexagons-001

A beautifully restored antique quilt is not in my budget right now, but I did fall in love with and buy some vintage quilt blocks. I LOVE this little bundle of vintage hexagons and can’t wait to piece them together. They have 1″ sides and are such a great eclectic mix of vintage prints and patterns. Whoever put them together had a great eye! Scrappy but totally cohesive.

Vintage paper-pieced star

This vintage star is paper-pieced and I’m guessing from the early 20th Century. There were a bunch of these, but I only bought one.

Vintage newspaper paper-pieced quilt star

The star is foundation paper-pieced. Almost as wonderful as the block itself is the antique newspaper pieces used as the foundations. I was originally going to sew this star down onto solid fabric and make it into a pillow, but now I’m not sure I can take off the paper backing. We’ll see what happens to this one.

Vintage quilt blocks

Last, I couldn’t resist this pile of four-patch, hand-pieced stars. (Is that the best name for them? I don’t know.)

Hand pieced vintage quilt blocks

Here’s a glimpse of the hand-piecing on the backs.

Vintage four-patch stars

I’m guessing these are from the 1940’s based on the colors and fabrics, but I don’t know for sure. The fabrics are so wild and fun. Some of the fabrics are really cute and some are super ugly, but that’s what makes them look so fabulous all together.
Scrappy vintage quilt blocks

There are 40 blocks in the bunch. I put them up randomly on my design wall just so I could step back and get an idea of how they all look together. I kind of love it!! Not sure when, or how, I’m going to sew them all together – I’ll need to draft an interior diamond and most likely hand-piece them together – but I’d love to make a fun mini from these beauties.

It always makes me wonder who made them in the first place, and hope they’re happy to see their WIP go to a loving home.

Rocky Mountain Quilts, York, MaineIf you’re in the southern Maine area, Rocky Mountain Quilts is a really interesting and inspiring stop. Or check out their website if you’re looking to buy or just learn more about antique quilts.