Friday, August 29, 2014

Fat Quarter Style Book of patterns

The Fat Quarter Shop has released a new book of quilt patterns called Fat Quarter Style
I was excited to be asked to be part of the Fat Quarter Style Blog tour and get to play with one of the patterns. 
I really liked the patterns in this Fat Quarter Style - they were all really fresh, new takes on traditional quilt designs - which is hard to do.
This book has 12 patterns and each design comes with instructions for the quilt in four sizes: crib, lap, twin, and queen. So nice when you can get some bang for your buck with multiple sizes. (I really liked this Primrose pattern.) 
 I was asked to play with the Blossom block - which was a really fun one to make. 
I'm trying to push myself out of my primary-colors-with-white comfort zone when it comes to color scheme. So I got some of the new prints from the Cotton+Steel collections in this palette and pulled a few other prints from my stash that would coordinate. I used Kona Ash for my background color. And I like how it's looking! 
After being without my sewing machine for a lot of the summer, it's been fun to sit down and sew again - especially to have a little more time to do it now that my kids are back in school. I'm excited to finish it up and will share the finished result soon!

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour to see how other designers have put their own color-spin on the blocks and patterns in the book. Lots of great inspiration.

August 2: Fat Quarter Shop Kick off
August 4: The Sassy Quilter 
August 11: Sew Can She 
August 13: Jana Machado 
August 18: Freshly Pieced 
August 20: Bijou Lovely 
August 22: Film in The Fridge 
August 25: Why Not Sew? 
August 27: Pretty By Hand 
August 30: Fat Quarter Shop closing of tour

Fat Quarter Style is available only from the Fat Quarter Shop. I think it's a really fun one for fresh ideas and inspiration. And thanks to the Fat Quarter Shop, I have an extra to share with one of you. Leave a comment and you'll be entered into the giveaway. Giveaway closes Thursday, Sept 4 at Midnight MST.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Heather Ross Far Far Away FQ Bundle at Massdrop

Have you heard about Massdrop yet? I feel like I've started seeing the buzz more and more in the last month, esp in the sewing world. It's a site for helping consumers get a lower price on desirable items by negotiating bulk pricing with the vendors. As more people opt into the purchase - or "drop" -the price goes down, but you are not officially charged until the "drop" ends. By clicking Join Now - you are committed to buy the product, no matter what drop point is reached. If you click the "Commit to Join" button, you will only purchase the item if the lowest price is met by the end of the drop. And you can opt out before the drop ends. You can read more about how it all works on the Massdrop FAQ's page.

I was recently contacted by Massdrop to see if I would be interested in promoting their current drop, a bundle of 16 fat quarters from Heather Ross's latest collection, Far Far Away from Windham fabrics. Um, yes! As part of this drop, this bundle is currently listed at 39.99 - which is a great deal already. As enough join the drop the bundle will drop to $35.99. This drop will end this Friday, Aug 29.

Post Edit UPDATE: It looks as though this bundle is sold out. But the giveaway is still going! And check out Massdrop's current selection of sewing goods here.
If this concept intrigues you, check out some of Massdrop's past crafting drops, including Aurifil Thread, Olfa rotary blades, fabric collections, etc. If you see something that interests you from past drops, click on the item and click on the request button. When enough requests are generated Massdrop will work on getting another similar drop. I think it's some really cool - and useful stuff. And when you find a deal you really want, tell your friends so that price will drop! To keep up with the latest drops you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Today Massdrop is also offering to give away one of these bundles to you! (We have had a lot of giveaways recently - I'm sorry if you're sick of them -people just keep wanting to share cool stuff with you all!) Just leave a comment and if you want to, share something that you would like to see Massdrop carry for sewists. I'll choose and announce the winner on the morning of Aug 28th so that there's still time to snap up a bundle before the drop ends! GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Winner:

Thanks for sharing about this site! I had never heard of Massdrop. I would love to see text fabric and low volume bundle. Also a Japanese fabric bundle. Thanks for the chance to win! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Paris Fat Quarter Bundle Giveaway

Happy Weekend! To make it even better, we have a fun fat quarter bundle giveaway from Fort Worth Fabric Studios. FWFS is an online-only fabric store out of Texas with one of the biggest selections of fabric collections from wide variety of manufacturers. It is so well organized and easy to see the available fabric collections on the FWFS site. 

FWFS specializes in putting together wonderful bundles. Some are collections from one manufacturer like this full collection of Michael Miller's Pin Head dot in all colors.
If you like to mix prints from different fabric collections, but lack confidence in doing it yourself, I would highly recommend checking out Jodie's bundles. You can find them organized by color palette or theme.

Each Friday FWFS releases a new "bundle batch" that is only available for a limited time. This week's release is called Aloe Charmer

Other Sales this week (through August 28) include:
 
– 40% off all Moda Sphere (includes patterns) with code SPHERE40  
- 40 % off all Moda Bloomin’ Fresh (includes Charm Packs) with code BLOOM40


Today Jodie at FWFS has a bundle of 15 fat quarters called We'll Always Have Paris (sounds dreamy, right?) to give away to one of you! 

To enter take a trip to Fort Worth Fabric Studios and then leave a comment here telling me your favorite bundle or collection in stock. If you'd like a second entry, sign-up for the FWFS newsletter (signup is in the upper right hand corner of the main page.) Giveaway open until Thursday, August 28 at midnight MST.

You can also keep up to date with the latest arrivals and sales by signing up for the FWFS by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oh to be in England...

To put it mildly, this summer may have been our best ever. For some reasons you'd expect and others surprisingly unexpected. As I've already mentioned (maybe too many times) for years we've dreamed of taking our children to England and this is the year we made it happen. 

Now that we are home and the kids have started school again, I'm finally going through my pictures (there are a lot) and thought I'd share a few of the good ones. So if you're only here for the fabric and quilts, hang tight, there are a few of those still in this post. Hopefully the rest of the subject matter is pretty enough to sit through. And if not, we'll get back to the fabric stuff next time.
We started our journey in the Northwest in the Lake District. The Lakes are a very popular tourist destination in the UK - and with good reason. They're pretty scenic. The photo at the beginning of the post is taken from the top of Orrest Head near Lake Windermere.
This is beautiful Avenham park in Preston, England. My husband and I each lived in the northwest of England for a period of time in our early 20's as Mormon missionaries, where we overlapped briefly. In fact the fist time we ever met was in Avenham Park. It was one brief and totally awkward conversation but it was enough that when we met again 18 months later, when I was back in college, that we had a good jumping off point to continue the conversation. At it gives us the chance to say we met in a pretty awesome location. We showed our kids, who I think were mostly impressed, if not a little wary of the mushiness factor.
Our goal for this experience was to introduce our children to people and places that we love, and to spend time with them, but also to get our kids outside their comfort zone. Obviously England is not a drastically different culture from America, but there are subtle differences living in Europe vs the US. 

We also wanted them to see the history in a country with a much older history than our own. I've lived and traveled in Europe on multiple occasions and I'm pretty good and going hard as a tourist, seeing a lot each day. With our kids with us, however I definitely had to re-calibrate my expectations. There were some days when "seeing another old building" was just not what they wanted to do. lol
Liverpool
For most of our time in England, we rented a little cottage outside of Manchester and took day trips from there. I highly recommend a little cottage or flat (apartment) when traveling with kids. There are a wide variety of vacation rentals to be found via TripAdvisor, Bookings.com, etc. We have four kids so it was definitely less expensive than multiple hotel rooms, not to mention having a kitchen meant we could cook our own food and make eating much less expensive. Plus it added to the real living in another country experience. We could walk to the shop (aka grocery store), my boys loved playing "footy" (soccer) with lads at the nearby park, and it just gave them more stability and routine on a long trip away from home.

It also meant my husband had a place he could work from. That's the other thing that made this experience a possibility for us - we are lucky in that my husband (and I) work for ourselves and with a computer with internet access we could work from anywhere. 
Having lived in England a couple of times, we spent some of our time visiting places I'd been before like York - which I'd visited as a college student 21 years ago. I remembered really liking it and going back it exceeded my memories of how much I loved it.
I also loved visiting new-to-me-places. One of which was Lyme Park a "great house" just outside of Manchester. If you're a Jane Austen and/or Colin Firth fan you might recognize it as Pemberley from the 1995 BBC Pride and Predjudice. Someone recommended this to me right before we left and it turned out to be one of my favorite days of our trip. Such a beautiful spot. We could have spent hours more exploring the extensive grounds if we'd had the time.  
We could not believe what spectacular weather we had while we were there. Our kids got sick of my husband and I saying "And the weather was SO beautiful" every day, but he and I knew that it easily could have rained every day. That said, rain is not all bad. I think if I lived in England, my garden would be so much more lovely. Check out those hydrangeas. They were huge!
Another favorite aspect of the trip for me was visiting towns where my English ancestors came from. I LOVE family history and learning more about where I came from - each of these places were little villages where my granparents' parents and grandparents came from. Where they'd been born, christened and some of them buried. (The marker in front of the headstone above marks my ancestor John Udall. Good thing too, since the headstone is completely undreadable now.) I have lots of British heritage which is I think another reason part of me feels like I belong there.
I think some of my favorite (or favourite) parts of the trip were things that we hadn't planned that seemed to magically fall into our path. For example, we drove up through Yorkshire to Haworth one day for an outing. By sheer coincidence we drove along the route that had been used for the opening stages of the Tour de France only a few days earlier. There was bunting lining the route along country and village roads for miles.
Another one of those things that I couldn't have planned was getting to visit a meeting of the Leeds Modern Quilt Guild. Awesome Justine noticed via Instgram that I was not far away and invited me to come. The day could not have worked out better as we were going to be driving through Leeds on the way to York that same day.
So my nice family dropped me off and kept themselves entertained while I got to visit with these lovely ladies. Such a good time! I loved seeing what everyone was working on and I even got introduced to the famous (or infamous?) Greggs pasties thanks to Katy.
Speaking of Katy, I also got to see Issue One of her new baby, the magazine Quilt Now and it's fantastic! This is published in the UK so there are no direct US subscriptions as of right now, but you can order Issue 1 (while supplies last) or subscribe through Pink Castle Fabrics.
Another extra special place we were able to visit is the Isle of Man. I lived here 19 years ago (also while serving my Mormon mission) for 6 months. This was my first visit back and it was WONDERFUL! It's such a beautiful place.
These are the ruins of Peel Castle (about 1500 years old) outside the town of Peel.
Here are some views of Cregneash Village. So many shades of green. (The Isle of Man sits in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland, so it's not too surprising that it's so green.) And I love the pop of color from those red post boxes and phone booths. I may be slightly obsessed with them.
When we finished our time in the North, we headed south for a few days before we finished in London. (I took the train to London by myself for the Fat Quarterly Retreat the weekend before and returned to Manchester before driving south as a family.)
Oh London. It's the best! Here is Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's cathedral, and Buckingham Palace as seen from the bridge in St. James park. 
I lived in London as a University student for a semester abroad which was one of the best times of my life. I still love to visit London and just wander through the streets. Happy, happy memories. And I'm happy to say that London obliged and provided lots of new memories too. I loved taking my kids on the Tube and the big red buses, walking through the parks, climbing the Lions at Trafalgar square, and touring the Tower of London. They even obliged me in visiting my old digs at Palace Court, not far from Kensington Palace where Will and Kate and baby George live.
I have to say that I was really sad when it was time to come home. Not that I didn't miss people at home, but I really loved our time in England. I would move there - or at least return for another extended stay in a heart-beat. I am so THANKFUL that we had this opportunity. It has been interesting to see the different ways we have each processed it and been affected by it. I do think it broadened my children's perspective in very healthy ways. 

The thing that has surprised me is how much I have been affected by the experience. As much as I loved the experience of just being in England itself, I am also realizing that I loved the simplicity of our lives while we were there. We brought very little with us and it was so liberating to travel light and not have to keep track of stuff. We lived in much smaller accommodations than our house at home. And we got to spend a lot of time together with out having to worry about getting different kids to different lessons or teams or schools all on a different schedule. 
The whole experience has made me realize how much I want to simplify our lives and to get rid of clutter -both physical and emotional clutter. Since coming home I've been cleaning out our house like crazy and took a big pile to the Good Will last Saturday. I'm also starting to say No to more and to better differentiate between things I need to do and things that aren't really that important. I wouldn't have predicted this effect on me and I'm really grateful for it.

I have a few more quilt-inspired pictures to share from our trip, but I'll save those for other posts down the road. Thank you so much to all of you for sharing such generous and genuine excitement and kind words that we could live this dream. I truly hope you hold onto your own dreams and do what you can to make them happen. The outcome may be better - and even more slightly unexpected - than you think!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Imagine Quilts by Dana Bolyard

If you've been reading quilt blogs for a while now, chances are you are familiar with Dana Bolyard of the Old Red Barn Co. I think this was one of the first quilting blogs I ever read.  I met Dana in real life about 3 years ago at the first Sewing Summit. She is every bit as generous and authentic and funny as she comes across on her blog.
Dana has just published her first book of quilt patterns with The Patchwork Place. Imagine Quilts: 11 Patterns from Everyday Inspirations was released just a few months ago. Dana sent me a copy to read - it is full of classic Dana style.
In the book Dana talks about where she finds inspiration for her whimsical quilts and designs - and helps you find some of your own sources of inspiration and talks about how to channel that inspiration into quilts that reflect your own style and view of the world around you.
The book also includes 11 quilt patterns. I think my favorite of all of them is Posy.  I need a good project for conquering curves, and I think this is just the thing to motivate me. Especially after seeing the Denyse Schmidt version by Di. Also be sure to check out Dana's newest version using vibrant blue paired with Alison Glass prints. 
Well, generous Dana has provided a lovely giveaway of an ebook version of Imagine Quilts for one of you along with a fantastic collection of Aurifil thread! Wowee! Check out those gorgeous colors inspired by April Rhode's Arizona fabric collection.

To enter leave a comment on this blog post. (one per person.) If you want to, share something that inspires your own quilt-making. Giveaway open until Sunday, August 24 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Winner: CarolAugust 20, 2014 at 12:06 AM
I'm easily inspired to start new quilts all the time by other quilters, the seasons, flowers, fabrics - actually almost anything. A new book and thread are also inspirational. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My favorite rotary cutter

Did you know that this is the 35th Anniversary of the Olfa Rotary Cuter? I can't imagine how all those quilters who lived before the age of rotary cutters managed to do what they did. Amazing. But I have to say, I'm so glad to live in the day and age of helpful tools and gizmos. 
I still remember my mom bringing an Olfa rotary cutter home from her first quilt class about 30 years ago. She's been using one ever since. Nowadays there are lots of gadgets and tools available to quilters - sometimes the number available is overwhelming. It's fun to collect those handy-dandy tools and gadgets along the way, if they're something that actually makes your quilting experience better, but they're not all necessary, especially if you're just getting started. 

A good rotary cutter, however, IS an absolute necessity. And I'll say hands-down the Olfa's are the best. I'm not just saying that because anyone asked me to. Any time I use any another brand of rotary cutter they feel so much more flimsy to me and I feel like my cutting is a lot less accurate as a result.
 
People, if you are trying to get by on another cutter, stop. Buy an Olfa. Seriously. Pull out those coupons, watch for a sale, do whatever you have to do. I promise you'll thank me. My personal favorite is the Splash Rotary Cutter because it's a little more ergonomically shaped, it's cheaper than the regular 45mm cutter, and it's easier to change the blade. Lots of good reasons if you ask me.

I have a few other favorite items from Olfa listed in my favorite gifts for quilters post because the quality is just that good. I just tried one of the new opaque Olfa rulers and was really impressed by those as well. If you have hard time keeping your ruler from sliding, you might want to check them out. That ruler stayed in place better than anything I've tried before.
In honor of their 35th anniversary, Olfa asked a bunch of quilters to contribute blocks to make a commemorative quilt. This is my contribution. It's kind of literal, but I liked making it. And now I want to make more in other colors.

In honor of their anniversary, Olfa is giving away a rotary cutter and cutting mat to one of you. Just leave a comment at the end of this post to enter. Giveaway open until Wednesday, August 19 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Thanks Olfa!

Can't imagine quilting without an Olfa. Heading straightaway to check out the opaque rulers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fat Quarterly Retreat = Sew-y people are the best kind of people

One of reasons we took this recent trip is that I was invited to teach at the 2014 Fat Quarterly Retreat in London. I've shared a little bit about this briefly, but I wanted to share a little more of the action now that I've had time to properly go through my photos. First of all, a big thanks to Brioni, Lynne, and Tacha for inviting me. What a great trio that is. Such fun and funny and talented women.
I taught an English Paper Piecing class (which seems a little ironic since I was one of the few American teachers). This class was all about using diamonds and it was so much fun to prepare.
These are some of the blocks I made in preparation. I like hexagons, but I have to say, diamonds are so much more versatile! I'm excited to keep playing with them. I'll write a post at some point with some of the tips I've learned along the way about paper-piecing in general and working with diamonds specifically. 
Here are some of the lovely ladies in my class. For some of the class members, this was familiar territory. For others it was something totally new and it was a lot of fun to watch them get "hooked" on the awesomeness of english-paper-piecing.
These busy-bees (including but not limited to: JoanneCara, Sue, Maguerite, Elisabeth, Di) were in my Fabulously Fast Tiles quilt class from my book. (This is the reason I made and brought the new Hadley version of this quilt.) 
One of my favorite parts of going to quilt classes is to see the variety of fabrics people use for the same project. Here is cute JoAnne using one of my favorite collections, April Showers.
One of the absolute highlights for me was to get to not only be around Jen Kingwell (here she is with her gorgeous Gypsey Wife quilt) but to get to take a class from her! Wow. It was such an amazing opportunity.
Here is a close up of part of her Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt. At the risk of sounding like a hyper-obsessed fangirl (which I am) Jen has an amazing gift for design, and color, and fabric selection that is so uniquely hers. 
She pulls together combinations that I would never even think of and they just work in a stunning way. Seeing her quilts up close and in person has inspired me to stretch outside my comfort zone and try new colors and combinations.
On top of that, her workmanship is just incredible. Her blocks and quilts are all hand-pieced and hand-quilted. Just stunning. 
So to get to take a class from her in person was just a dream come true. She was so generous and gave us each a copy of her new pattern for Green Tea and Sweet Beans. She then shared her method for hand-piecing and hand applique. Here is my little start - three little hand-pieced blossoms.
Look at all those fun blocks! This quilt is a total bucket list quilt for me, but I'm determined to work on it even if it becomes a long-term project. You know me - I'm all about get a quilt done and move on to the next project using any short-cut or fabulously fast tricks to get there. I'm excited to slow down and have these as my hand-work projects over the next few years. (If you love this too and are looking for fabric help I noticed that Jen's shop in Australia has Green Tea kits!)
And as if I didn't need any more inspiration, in the class I was sitting next to the wonderful Mandy who was hand quilting an equally wonderful quilt made with Jen Kingwell's 2013 Bring Me Flowers block of the month pattern. 
Just stunning. And again, totally inspiring.
 A few more inspiring pieces from the weekend. Here's Nicky's quilt at show and tell.
 And this mini by Nicolas was SO cool. Each block is a different vegetable. Can you see them?
Definitely the best part of sewing retreats/conferences/shindigs is the people. And the group at this event was one of the best I've ever been a part of. Every single person was just lovely. It's always so fun to connect with people I've interacted with via social media and to match-up a real live person to screen name. Or to reconnect with friends like DeeRoo (from whom I shamelessly stole this photo) who I've "talked" with online for years and even met in person once four years ago - and who is just a super friend.
Equally awesome is meeting new friends. Saturday evening I ventured out to Shaukat on a hunt for some Liberty scraps (more on Liberty fabrics in another post) and ran into Cristina and sisters Helene and Gunilla who were on the same hunt. After bonding over scraps of Liberty fabric we went to dinner and had the loveliest time. See? Instant connections with other fabric lovers. ;)

So just a fantastic time with wonderful people. Now I wish I could go every year! A few other fun people to meet in person for the first time included Jenny (who is the whiz behind my favorite magazine Love Patchwork and Quilting) and Karen of Blueberry Park who I have been following on Instagram for a while now.
And I was so excited to finally get my hands on some of Karen's screen print designs. I need to plot a fun way to use them!
I did a little bit of exploring London while I was there. My family was still in Manchester at the time - I took the train down for the weekend - so I thought it would be good to hit some of the sites that they would not be as interested in (aka shopping and art galleries.)
I hadn't been to the Tate Gallery in over 20 years. So much beautiful eye-candy and inspiration. (I'm kind of an art-history nerd so I was in heaven. Plus there was some good quilty inspiration as well.
Mostly it was just surreal to be walking through my favorite city. Even though it's been 21 years since I lived there the layout is so familiar. It's fun to see changes as well. One of my favorite things was the bike rentals throughout the city. I finally got up my courage to rent one and ride along Embankment on the Thames. I think I was a little giddy and felt 19 again. (That's the handlebar pic on the upper right. It's tricky to get an action shot of riding a bike by yourself.)
I brought home a few treats from the retreat to share with one of you including a copy of Love Patchwork and Quilting, a Fat Quarter of London fabric from Robert Kaufman, and mini Moda charm pack and a set of diamond paper-piece templates from Paperpieces.com.

Since we've had a lot of giveaway entry-stuff lately, I decided to just pick a random comment-er from the past month.  ThimbleannaAugust 7, 2014 at 6:57 AM  these are yours! If Thimbleanna isn't interested I'll pick someone new. Thanks for visiting and reading this blog!