Gift Certificate from Connecting Threads

A fun giveaway from online fabric, notions, and thread shop, Connecting Threads.

Quilting Fabrics, direct from the mill, starting at $5.96 per yard. Quilting Kits and Fabric Samplers with no charge for cutting. 100% cotton Quilting Thread, plus Quilt Books, Free Patterns and more.

As many of you may already know, Connecting Threads is an online retail shop specializing in a wide variety of sewing and quilting related items including notions, thread, batting, and patterns. They carry a wide variety of fabrics and specialize in producing their own in-house fabric collections which can then be marketed directly to the public at a much lower price point.

linedried

Some newly-released  collections include Line Dried (so cute!)

islandhopping and Island Hopping – both collections only $5.96 a yard!

batiks

and a new range of Batiks at only $7.96 a yard.

Connecting Threads also carries a wide variety of basics – called Quilter’s Candy. There’s a huge variety of basic solids in different shades for only $4.96 as well as basic prints and mottled for $5.96 per yard. The site is so easy to search and navigate. You can even search by color, scale, and subject. Lots of options.

The Connecting Threads website also includes lots of free stuff like tutorialspatterns, and other downloads. You can follow them on Facebook to keep up with all the latest releases and news.

banner

Today I have THREE $25 Gift Certificates from Connecting Threads to giveaway to three of you! To enter, take a quilt trip to Connecting Threads and leave a comment back here, sharing an item or collection that looks appealing to you! Giveaway open until Tuesday, May 26 at midnight MST. Good luck!

Modern gray and white neutrals quilt

Finally sharing pictures of the finished neutrals quilt I’ve been working on. This traditionally styled quilt is made from only shades of white and gray fabrics, giving it a subtle modern feel.
Modern neutrals quilt - gray and white

The friend who this quilt was for, picked the palette herself. She has a very clean, neutral style and wanted something to complement their gorgeous home. (Where we shot these pictures.) She let me pick the design. Because the palette was so simple, I decided to go with a basic layout to – good old half-square triangles. You can never go wrong with HST’s, I tell you.

Modern Neutral Quilt

I originally planned to do a Broken-Dishes layout but once I got the blocks pieced, I tried it and didn’t love it. So I went even more basic with a simple light and dark layout and I LOVE how it turned out. Super simple but effective. A traditional design with a minimalistic color scheme to give it a modern look.

White and gray fabrics

You could use any neutral, low-volume/contrast fabric for a quilt like this. We were a little picky about shades. Seriously, who knew how many different shades of white there are! Well, if you’re an avid painter, you know. We were trying to keep all the whites and grays in the same tone. I also looked for fabric with texture- like chenille, linens, and wovens, to give the quilt some depth since the colors were so muted.

white-quilt-palette-texture

To create this specific quilt I cut ninety-nine 8″ x 8″ squares. I matched up a ‘light’ and a ‘dark’ square into pairs and used this method for making half-square triangle blocks. I squared-up the blocks to 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″. Then laid out the blocks 9 across by 11 down for a finished throw-size quilt of 63″ x 77″. And of course, you could make this quilt any size you wanted.


Gray and white half-square-triangles quilt

The quilting was done by Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting. I chose the Loop D Loop design. It was another perfect combination of traditional motif on a slightly larger scale to add to the quilt’s modern feel.Grey and white modern neutrals quiltI washed this quilt before I handed it off to make it soft and snuggly. I love the way it shrunk (we used 100% cotton batting to help with that) giving the quilt even more texture. I know I wouldn’t have come up with this color palette on my own, but now I’m itching to play with this muted palette again. I’m also happy to report the recipients have loved it. And that’s the reason we do all is cutting up fabric and sewing it back together, isn’t it?

Linking up to the Blogger’s Quilt festival and Finish It up Friday!

Easy Scrap fabric quilt block

This is a simple project for using fabric scraps. I’ve shared it previously as part of scrap-busting series but never on my blog so I figured while I was away at Quilt Market this weekend, it would be a good time.

This project is for a 15” x 15” mini quilt, but of course you can make use this concept to make any size quilt or quilt blocks. This is a great project for using all kinds of random scrap sizes. This method is called “Foundation-paper-piecing” and it’s fun because it allows for lots of improvisation and does not require perfect accuracy (best part!).
 
What you will need 
  • Assorted string-y scraps of your favorite fabric no wider than 1 1/2” and between 3” and 13 1/2” in length.
  • 17” x 17” piece of batting
  • 18” x 18” piece of fabric for backing
  • 1/6 yard piece of fabric for binding (or more assorted 2 1/2” wide scraps)
  • 4 pieces of paper 8 1/2” x 8 1/2”
  • Sewing machine
  • Rotary cutter and ruler 
I suggest pressing your fabrics (scraps included) before starting.
 Fold one of the 8 1/2” square pieces of paper diagonally down the middle. Lay one 13.5” long scrap down the center of the fold, using a small amount of glue at both corners to hold the first scrap in place. 
Audition various scraps by placing them on either side of the middle scrap, in diagonal rows, overlapping generously to compensate for seam allowance. Make sure you completely cover the paper. Carefully remove the scraps, keeping them in the right order so that it’s easy to grab the next one and sew. 
Turn stitch length on your machine to about 1 1/2. (The shorter stitches will perforate the paper more often, making it easier to tear the paper away later.) Put a new fabric scrap right sides together on top of the glued center scrap with right edges matched up. Sew through both fabric scraps and paper using a 1/4” seam allowance. Working from the front of the fabric, press both strips open and flat. 
 
Start at the center and work outwards toward the corners, sewing your strips in the order that you auditioned them.Repeat the process with additional scrap strips, completely covering the paper.
Turn the square over and with the size of the paper as the guide, use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim all four sides.
Turn paper over to the fabric side and using a ruler and rotary cutter, cut into four equal 4 1/4” x 4 1/4” squares. Carefully remove the paper backing by folding on the stitched lines to crease and then tear them off completely.

Repeat the process with the three 8 1/2” x 8 1/2” paper squares and remaining scraps to create a total of 16 mostly different 4 1/4” x 4 1/4” scrappy diagonal blocks.Layout the pieced blocks 4 across by 4 down. There are a variety of designs you can create by rotating the blocks. Here is a sample.

Sew blocks together using a 1/4” seam allowance into four rows of four blocks each. Press seam allowances to the left on rows 1 and 3 and to the right on rows 2 and 4. Sew rows together in order, nesting opposing seam allowances. 
Layer quilt top with batting and backing pieces underneath and quilt as desired (machine quilting tutorial here.) Using remaining fabric or scraps to create a 2 1/2” x 64” strip for binding the quilt.
You could easily make multiple blocks to make a bigger quilt, re-scale the sizes, use this panel for the side of a bag, etc. Since scraps can so easily get out of control, here are more tips for organizing and using your scraps.

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Gift Certificate giveaway

Today a fun sponsored giveaway from Forth Worth Fabric Studio.

FFort Worth Fabric StudioWFS is an online-only fabric store out of Texas, owned and operated by Jodie Heinold.  She has a fabulous selection of fabric collections from many of the major fabric manufacturers.  I love how easy it is to see and search the available fabric collections available. An easy-to-navigate site is such a bonus with me.

Michael Miller Ta Dot fabric bundle

Fort Worth Fabric Studio carries a huge selection of Kona Solids, Bella Solids, and Cotton Couture solids. They also specialize in creating custom bundles in a variety of palettes and themes including a weekly special called Friday Bundle Batch. I love this Michael Miller Blue Ta Dot bundle. They also carry one of my other favorite basics dots: Riley Blake’s Swiss Dots.

Mama Said Sew Dots from Moda

Some new collections now available in the shop include these Mama Said Sew Dots from Moda.

spring-showers

Also new is this 1930’s inspired collection by Kaye England called Spring Showers by Wilmington Prints.

Gardenvale Fabric Collection by Jen Kingwell for Moda fabrics

And one of my current favorites also in stock is Jen Kingwell’s Gardenvale (I’m working on a little project with Gardenvale right now!) It’s such a fun modern collection with a retro, scrappy vibe!

Another great feature – all Holiday and Halloween fabrics are together and easy to find.

Gift Certificate 25Today Jodie is giving away a $25.00 gift certificate to one of you lucky readers. To enter visit Fort Worth Fabric Studios find something you love and come back here to leave a comment telling me what it is. Giveaway open until Saturday, May 16 at Midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED

WINNER:

Melissa says  I’d pick up some Happy Haunting! I have a Halloween swap coming up

You can also follow Fort Worth Fabric Studio on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up on the latest arrivals and sweet deals!

(Thank you so much for your support of these sponsor profiles and giveaways. Having worked in a fabric shop, I know that it’s a lot of work and not a huge financial windfall – they’re typically run by people who have a passion for fabric and sewing and not because they’re in it to get rich. I’m so happy to support them by spreading the word about who they are and what they carry – each one has it’s own personality and specialties.  In return, I am so grateful for the support they give to this blog and making it possible for me to justify the many hours spent sharing here. :))

Tips for Travel Abroad with Kids

I’ve been going through pictures from our trip to England and Germany last summer and wishing SO much that we could do it all again this year. I’ve since had people ask me questions about travel in Europe with kids, so I thought I’d put all my tips in one place. Tips - Traveling to Europe with Kids

So here are 14 Tips for traveling in Europe (or anywhere!) with kids to hopefully help things go smoothly and save money too! (this post contains a few affiliate links but all recommendations are from my own personal experience.)

PREPARE:

1 – Plan ahead. Do everything as early as you can: Get passports, book accommodations, tickets to big attractions, etc. Plan, plan, plan. Kids don’t work well with fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. The more planning ahead of time, the better.

DSC01190

2- Let the kids “help” plan the trip. If they feel more invested in where they are going, they’re more likely to be excited about it. I made a list ahead of time of the big attractions we’d be visiting and assigned a few to each kid to research ahead of time. Then when we visited that place they got to be the “expert” and teach everyone else about it.

travel-breaks-with-kids

I also read books and showed my kids movies beforehand the give them context of people, history, and places so they’d appreciate the places we’d be visiting. Some movies suggestions for England (a little something for everyone, depending on your audience) include: Miss Potter (The Lake District, London), Amazing Grace, Young Victoria, BBC Pride and Prejudice, Mary Poppins, Night at the Museum 3, and The Great Muppet Caper. Books I’d recommend for younger kids include This is London, Paddington Bear, and A Walk in London. If you have any other movies or books to recommend, leave them in the comments.

small cargo space travel europe

3- Travel light. So many reasons for this! First of all: practical. Houses, cars, everything is on a smaller scale in Europe. It was tricky even finding a car that would accommodate the 6 of us, let alone our luggage as well. We knew there wouldn’t be a lot of luggage space in the car and we’d be on the road a lot. I brought one small roller suitcase for things we needed protected. Everyone else had a simple duffle bag with a few pockets. Not fancy ones. They could condense smaller to all fit in the tight space in our car. And we ended up only taking carry-on items which made it easier for air travel too.

nuremberg germany with kids

It’s so nice now that electronic devices are so portable and can carry a lot of uploaded movies, music, books, games, etc for those inevitable periods of travel and waiting. I didn’t even bring my lap top – just a tablet and a portable bluetooth keyboard. I also invested in a smaller mirrorless SLR camera so that I didn’t have to lug around my big camera.

Later when we flew to Germany for a couple of days, we each only took a backpack. We left our luggage at a hotel at the London Stanstead airport and picked it up on our return. That was even more liberating to have as little stuff as possible.

DSC01217-001

4 – Pack non-cotton clothing. I promise you’ll thank me for this one. Doing laundry outside the US is a different experience. Even if you do have access to a washing machine, let alone a dryer, they will be much smaller than sizes in the US. Cotton clothing – especially denim – takes much longer to dry than polyester or poly blend clothing. We took mostly polyester ‘athletic’ type clothing. As an added bonus it’s light-weight to pack, doesn’t take up much space in luggage, doesn’t ever need to be ironed, and it’ll dry faster if you’re caught in wet weather too.

Think layers as well: one raincoat, one sweatshirt, a couple long-sleeve shirts and a couple of short-sleeve shirts plus pants and shorts for each person.

traveling in Europe with teenagers and kids

5 – Invest in good shoes for everyone and break them in before you go. Bring wool socks. They’re more comfortable and they’ll also dry faster if they get wet.

BUDGET

6 – Transportation: Rent a car off-site from the airport. Knowing we would have to rent a car that could seat six, we found that prices renting at the airport were significantly higher than renting off-site. So we made a reservation at a rental place about 10 miles away from the airport, my husband got a taxi to the rental office, picked up the car and came back for us. We had to wait about an hour (which wasn’t super fun with jet-lagged kids), but it was so worth it for the money that we saved.

DSC01123-001

More importantly, ditch the car when you can. Europe is so mass-transportation-friendly. We turned in our car when we got to London. For the kids the transportation was as exciting as the city itself. The Underground (Tube) is so handy, but be sure to take the bus when you can! You see so much more of the city itself. The last night in London we took a cab back to our flat just so we could have the London transportation trifecta experience. Most large cities in Europe have great transit systems.

 

DSC01345

7 – Accommodations: Avoid hotels (unless you’re saving money by using points). Rent an apartment (flat), vacation house, or stay in a hostel. We did some of each. For a stay of more than 2 nights, we rented a small flat. (Above is the handy flat we stayed at in Ladbroke Grove, London.) The rate was similar, but often cheaper for as many beds as we would have needed in a hotel, but the accommodations were much bigger, we had multiple bedrooms, and best (and most importantly) we had a kitchen. Being able to store food and prepare our own meals saved tons of money over restaurant food. In many cases we had laundry access too.

travel-with-kids

I suggest looking at Trip Advisor, Holiday Lettings, AirBnB, and VRBO for resources. There are SO many great places available with so much more personality and ‘real-life’ cultural atmosphere. Read the reviews and send questions to the owner so that you get the best picture of what you’re booking.

One more tip- search your prospective rental on Google Maps to get an idea of the location, surroundings, and neighborhood. We were deciding between two cottage rentals outside of Manchester. One was lovely but far out into the countryside. We knew we’d be doing a lot of day trips while we were there, so we picked the other cottage that was 5 minutes from the motorway and within easy walking distance to shops and mass-transit.

If we were staying only one night in a place we looked for Guest House/Bed’n’Breakfast-type places or hostels. Lots of hostels are family friendly now, offering a private room and bathroom for a family, usually with bunk-beds. It wouldn’t have been ideal for us to spend our whole trip in this setting, but was easily doable – and kind of fun – for a night here or there on the road.

My favorite resource for honest, great recommendations in a variety of reasonable price ranges – and full of local flavor – is Rick Steves. I’ve used his recommendations on multiple trips to Europe and he’s never failed me. Look for his books from Amazon, local book stores, or from your local library.

alps with kids

8 –Local budget airlines (RyanAir, EasyJet) are a great way to get from country to country quickly. For our trip to Germany we found cheap tickets on RyanAir and went for it. It was SO worth it! They best part of those local budget airlines (be prepared – they are budget for a reason= no frills) is that they fly into smaller, regional airports. Personally, I loved that they were much smaller, less crowded, and easier to navigate. Our favorite was the little Memmingen airport only an hour away from Neuschwanstein castle in Germany.

london-with-kids

9 – Look for FREE attractions – especially in big cities. For example, London has multiple world-class museums that are free to the public: the British Museum, National Art Gallery, Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert. Not to mention parks, departments stores, and beautiful squares and public places. Go!

DSC01219-001

Knowing we weren’t going to have time to see everything London had to offer, we took advantage of many of the free attractions and picked one big attraction that cost – for us it was the Tower of London and everyone LOVED it. We bought our tickets ahead of time and got there right when it opened, beating a lot of the summer crowds. We took the free Yeoman Warder tour and our guide was hysterical. We ended up spending a lot of time there.

IMG_2971-001

Some big attractions that we missed were the London Eye (pretty costly for 6 people), a West End show, and the hop-on-and-off bus tours which I would normally highly recommend (especially if it’s your first time in London.) Because I’d lived there and felt pretty comfortable with the city, we took our own bus tours on the double decker buses on famous routes through the city and I’d point things out. Saved us a lot of money but we still got so see a lot of the city.

KID FRIENDLYTraveling with Kids

10 – Be flexible. Traveling with kids is a different ball game than traveling with adults – or on your own. When I travel I usually I love to go hard and cram as much as I can into one day. But that doesn’t work with kids.

warwick-castle-sword-fight

They need a slower pace. I had to be pretty strategic about what we were going to focus on and what we would skip. Also, do stuff that is interesting at their level. I may not have stopped to watch the knight’s sword fight at Warwick Castle if I was by myself, but my boys thought it was the coolest thing ever.

everyday culture travel with kids

11- Schedule in down time. Let the kids just play at a park, throw rocks in the water, watch local TV – a cultural experience in itself – just relax. Evening doing “everyday” things with kids like going to the grocery store, or  a water park, will be new and different in another country.

10 – Let them interact with locals when possible. I think if you asked my kids to tell you their favorite times on our trip last year, they would each bring up times when we let them run around with other kids. We had an advantage for part of our trip in that we were visiting old friends from when my husband and I had each lived in England 20-22 years ago. So our children interacted with the children of some of these former acquaintances. They were shy at first, but warmed up and now look back on those families as their good friends.

travel-with-kids-play-football

But we also interacted with other kids who were new to us. During our 2-week stay in Manchester my husband took our boys to the nearby park and got up a game of “footie” with some local boys. Those boys were just as intrigued and excited to play with some Americans as mine were to play with some real British lads. They also gave us the best advice on where to pick up some great soccer/football gear for much cheaper prices at the local Sport Direct than the bigger tourist destinations.

ice cream traveling with teenagers

12 – I’m not above bribery. If there was something I really wanted to see, (and in the end, knew they’d be glad one day too) but knew it would be a push for the kids, ice cream and local treats became a great incentive.

DSC01890-001

13 – Don’t let the whining bug you – they really will thank you later. We had more than a few: “Why are we here?” “This place smells weird.” “I don’t want my picture here, no one has ever heard of this place.” moments. Now they talk fondly (and like experts) about those very places and post those very pictures they didn’t want to take as throwback pictures on their instagram feeds. :)

IMG_2990-001

Make them journal. Here’s this poor child being forced to write in a journal. Truly a hard knock life right?  But, once again, they’ll be so grateful (*one day) and so will you.

kids-in-germany

14 – Make travel a priority. It’s one of the most enlightening and bonding experiences we’ve had as a family. Seeing my kids’ expand their world view just a little as well as appreciate what they have a little more was worth every effort. (Although my husband and I both agreed next time we need to take them some where even a little more foreign where they’ll REALLY appreciate simple things like running water and indoor plumbing.)

Travel isn’t cheap, but there are ways to make it more affordable. My husband and I both found and scheduled ways to work on the road as well, so that we could prolong our stay. Those work days for us also worked well as good ‘down time’ for the kids.

Everyone’s situation is different. For us it was totally worth it to keep driving a 10+year old mini van for a few more years and use that money to travel abroad instead. If you want to go, set a goal and make it happen. Let your kids be a part of that saving too. It will make the experience even more meaningful for them.

If you have other travel tips with kids, please feel free to share and leave them in the comments!

In the mean time, if world travel isn’t in the budget this year, but you’re looking to be inspired by some gorgeous travel photography, my brother just started a site sharing some of his gorgeous images!

Moda Passport Map Fabric

And now for those of you who come here for the fabric eye-candy, check out these map Passport prints from Moda Fabrics featuring maps in different shades of London, New York, and Tokyo. (I’ve seen them available from Lady Bell Fabrics, Fabricworm, and Fat Quarter Shop.) One of my goals this summer is to cut into all my British-themed fabrics and make a memorable quilt!

London Tokyo New York City Map Fabric

QuiltCon 2016- I’m Teaching!

Quilt Con image

Something fun to share today. Some of the instructors/lecturers for QuiltCon 2016 were announced today. And I am one of them! I knew the announcement was coming and have been checking the site for a few days anxiously waiting to see who else would be teaching.

Quilt Con teachers 2016

I am so honored (and freaking out a little) to be a part of such a talented group! There will be more teachers announced in May as well as classes we’ll be teaching.

QuiltCon 2016 is hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild will be held in Pasadena California. There will be a variety of classes, lectures, exhibits and vendors available and is open to the general public. For more information, visit the QuiltCon website.

A while back, my brother and I were joking about who we’d dress up as if we went to a local ComicCon. Then he half-jokingly said, “Oh, someone should start a QuiltCon – then you could go to that!” I proudly told him there actually was such a thing. And this year I’m going!