Friday, July 30, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Quilt inspiration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Well, here it is. Our final field trip to New York this summer. Today we are visiting one of my favorite places in New York. I can't promise you lots of cheap deals here, but I can share some gorgeous inspiration: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I know in the past I've seen actual quilts in the Met, but this was the only one I found this time. A beautiful example of whole-cloth quilting from 1815.  Lovely stuff, but I was hoping for some great folk-art piece or something with color. I asked one of the staff who told me the Museum does have some quilts in their collection, but none were on display. So I had to look elsewhere for inspiration.
See if you can guess what this is. Doesn't it look like a Log Cabin pattern?

It's a mummy! Pretty fancy, eh? Perhaps we could start a new craft trend - bandage wrapping! This was pretty amazing!
The Modern Art Wing had some really great inspiration.
This one is creatively titled: Blue Green Red by Ellsworth Kelly.
This piece is also by Ellsworth Kelly called, Spectrum V.  I'm kind of obsessed with spectrum stuff right now. I think that is why I loved the set-up of Purl Soho so much, not to mention, their color-wheel quilt.  I'm even doing my current hexagon arangement color-spectrum style.  Here's another picture of an Ellsworth Kelly from the MOMA that would make a cool quilt.
Now here's where I'm embarrassed because I lost the paper with the title and artist information, but this one looks like a Rothko to me. I love the color.  (Some modern art enthusiast out there, feel free to jump in here and help me out.)
Same deal for this one. So cool.
(When I find what I did with the artist and title info, I'll update the post. They obviously deserve much more credit for their talent.)
Once again, here is our good old metal hexagon piece by Anish Kapoor.
And finally, this one has nothing to do with quilt inspiration really, but I had to give a shout out to my favorite Dutch Masters: Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.  I can only imagine the quilts these guys could have produced.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Don't try this at home, folks

Reason #43 not to leave your sewing project unattended with a 4-year-old in the room.
Good thing I've got mad seam-ripper skillz.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hexagon info and other Tips

I've had a few questions about hexagons recently and I keep meaning to post a little hexagon information, so here it is. Finally.

For the hexagons I'm doing, I use the 1 1/2" hexagon cardstock pieces. (The 1 1/2" measurement is the length of each of the six sides. That's where that number comes from.)  I bought my pieces from  They arrived super fast. I think it cost me $19.00 for 300 ready-to-use pieces. To me, the price was totally worth not having to spend the time cutting them out myself.  And I like that the cardstock gives a little more shape and stability to the process.

Also, I don't cut out hexagon shaped fabric.  I use 3 1/2" squares. Much faster and easier to cut out.  

Angela lists some good hexagon tutorials here.  The thing that really helped me most (I'm such a visual learner) were these Hexagon Tutorial videos at Texas Freckles. They're really short and gave me the confidence to pick up this new hobby.

Hope that helps answer some of those burning questions and gets you ready to start hexing yourself. (That sounds a little like something from Harry Potter.)

In other fun news, my little magnetic pin dish tutorial was featured over at yesterday. Fun stuff! Have you visited Oh my - it's one of my favorite sites for helpful information (tips, if you will) on a myriad of topics. Great links to craft patterns, recipes, gardening, household, downloads, etc. I love it - it's one of my go-to sites!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Quilt Blog by any other name. . .

I've been wanting to make this change for a while, but for some reason, it's taken me until now to have the guts to do it.

I've decided to finally end the confusion and simplify my web address. Since most people know this site as Diary of a Quilter, I decided to make it a lot easier to find. Farewell quiltingdiaries.  We are now live at

Blogger should direct feeds from readers, blogrolls, etc, but you may need to double check just to make sure. Because I would surely miss you if you couldn't find me. Thanks to all of you who stop by to visit! 

(Will someone let me know they run into a glitch out there? I've never done something like this before and I'm pretty much clueless about most things technical. I'm turning into my mom who took years to figure out that new-fangled thing called a VCR.)

Happy Monday.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Living in the moment

This has been one of "those" weeks. As you can see, I didn't even get to this week's Field Trip Friday post, so we'll save it for next week. Instead you get pictures from our camping trip this weekend. 

Some sad things and pretty tender feelings around here this week. Not things that happened to me personally, but to some people I care about. Also, my sister-in-law came to visit, which turned out to be a God-send. She was such a blessing and a help.  I'm grateful for those tender mercies.  And it was fun to stay up late and talk with her about young love and watch So You Think You Can Dance. :)
It's a state holiday in Utah this weekend - Pioneer Day - hence the camping trip. I have to admit, I'm not a huge camping fan. So much work and preparation to go and get dirty and not get a lot of sleep. Then you get to bring home cranky, dirty kids and a lot of laundry. [That's the bad attitude part.] But once we were there it was such a good thing. First of all, it was gorgeous.  Second, it is so good to be able to be with the kids with no distractions. No cell phones, TV, computer, email, etc. I was reminded THAT is why we do this. The opportunity to fully focus my life on what is most important, without all the distractions.

As the summer is fast flying by, I find myself getting more and more tired and longing for a little more structure. (Not to mention a tiny bit of solitude once in a while.)  But at the same time, I don't want to waste it or wish it away. While this week has been emotional, it has also helped to remind me what matters most and to do better about Living in the Moment and not rushing through this time of having my kids around me. And please forgive me if I'm a little slower responding to emails or visiting blogs for a few more weeks.
I am pretty sure I'm not alone in this.
Best of luck in your own summer-time crazy balancing act.
And thank goodness for portable hexagons.

P.S. We camped at Payson Lake in Utah.
Fortunately the night before we got there,
they caught the bear that had been spotted in the vicinity.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What is a Fat Quarter?

This post is for any newbies out there who have heard or seen the title "Fat Quarter" and wondered what the heck it was, but felt too sheepish to ask. 

(No worries - I was once one of you! And there are way more of us out there than want to admit it. So I'm here as your secret friend to get you in on the down low.)

Craft stores and quilt stores both carry pre-cut pieces of yardage called Fat Quarters.  A Fat Quarter is a quarter of a yard of fabric, but it is cut in a different shape than a regular quarter yard of fabric.  When cutting a quarter yard of fabric off the bolt, you are getting a piece 9" wide x the width of the fabric (around 42"-43".) Four of these cuts, create a yard.  

A Fat Quarter is a piece of fabric cut 18" off the end of the bolt, and then cut in half on the fold.  Four of these put together still make up 1 yard of fabric.  Imagine a piece of paper cut into four equal horizontal strips compared to a piece cut once horizontally and once vertically to get four equal square-ish pieces.

One is not better than the other but one size might be more useful depending on the pieces needed for a particular pattern. For example, if you are using a pattern with strip piecing, or you want to cut a binding from that fabric, a regular quarter of a yard would be preferable because you would get longer strips and have less piecing to do. Also, say you want to cut a bunch of 4 1/2" squares.  You will get 18 squares from a regular quarter of a yard, but you will only get 16 squares from a FQ. But a Fat Quarter shape comes in handy for other projects where you don't need the long skinny length, like a little Easy Fat Quarter Bag, Drawstring bag, or something where you need a larger shape like the circles on this Monogram quilt.

So there you go.  Now you can consume fabric with confidence.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More Cath Kidston inspiration

I'm sharing a little Cath Kidston love over at Aunt Spicy's today . . .

Monday, July 19, 2010

On the Road Again - a special Boy's Quilt

It has been a while since I shared a real live quilt. (That's summer for you!) This one was a custom order for Jenn and her family who are adopting a baby from Ethiopia - and hoping to get the final okay any day. (Prayers added and fingers crossed!) Jenn has a blog with BEAUTIFUL photography.  I wish we lived closer so that we could trade gorgeous pictures of my kids for quilts. :) If you are in the Kansas City area you may want to give this girl a call!
She really liked the earlier Boy Quilt I'd made, but is decorating with denim so we decided to change the blues from the turquoise color in the original to a more subdued blue. American Jane came through with the right color. I love it just as much as the original.
We used the same Ikea fabric for the back.
I  love all the fabrics in this quilt.  Which is why I chose just squares - to let the fabric do the work. There are some really good 'boy' fabric options right now - which isn't always the case. Does anyone else agree with me on this? It's not always easy to find charming little boy prints that aren't cheesy.  I used prints from Riley Blake's Wheels collection and Traffic Jam by Allison Jane Smith for Windham Fabrics.  That collection is over a year old, but there are still random pieces available in internet-fabric-land.
The original quilt is for sale in my Etsy shop.  It's kind of the last leaf on the tree - as in the lone item available in my shop.  In all the fun and crazy busy-ness of summer I've had to prioritize life and  let go of some things and Etsy has been one of those things.  When all the summer fun comes to an end, I have a bunch of goodies to add - (I'm s l o w l y in the process of cutting more I-spy kits).  But until then, I'm going to try to remind myself to just enjoy another popsicle with the kids.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Jonathan Adler store and quilt inspiration

This week we are going to visit the Jonathan Adler store in Soho.  It is also just around the corner from Purl Soho at 47 Green Street.   I love going in this place just for all the color inspiration going on. Are not those turquoise chairs fantastic?
Not living in NY, LA, Boston or Chicago, I don't often visit a Jonathan Adler store. The first time I went there was two years ago when I was visiting my sister.  I remember seeing a Union Jack throw pillow - which may or may not have blown my mind - and definitely helped kick-off my Union Jack frenzy.
No Union Jack pillows this time - I guess that was so two-years-ago - but there were some great replacements.  Love the color and the design.
Perhaps this year the in location is Fresno.
Or Acapulco.

(Pardon the not so perfect pictures. I think the staff was nervous when I started taking pictures - which in turn made me nervous. I tried to reassure them that I was just some lady from Utah that makes quilts in her basement, wearing clothes from Target, while kids throw things at her - not some competitive threat.)
I did, however, find lots of great quilt inspiration. Wouldn't this design make a groovy quilt?
Or this rug too.  

In the background is a upholstered magenta child-size chair.  It slightly out of my price range, but if you are looking for one, I would definitely check Jonathan Adler. It was pretty cute.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Magnetic Pin Dish Tutorial

I recently found this little tomato bowl that called my name. (Maybe because I love fresh summer tomatoes with a passion.  The store-bought kind you get in the winter, make me gag. My husband thinks I'm crazy, but I know I'm not.) 

I thought this would make a really sweet little pin-dish. I found this bowl at a Pearl River Mart - a chinese supply shop that carried lots of cute rice bowls this size.
To keep those pins from sliding around and dumping out easily, I decided to magnetize the bowl.  I found these neodymium magnetic buttons in the craft aisle at Walmart.  They're extra strong so that they'll attract through the porcelain.  They're also really thin so that they'll lie comfortably under the dish. (Do you like this really professional, Martha-looking picture?? :) I was too excited to try my project before I stopped to take fancy photos.)
I attached the magnets with more E6000. Because they were small, I used two magnets to strengthen the magnetic pull.  I know these neodymium magnets come in bigger sizes, I was just too excited to try my idea so I grabbed the ones available at Walmart.
And voila - my happy little magnetic pin dish - so much more aesthetically pleasing than the royal blue plastic one I was using. This would be equally adorable with a great piece of thrift-store china. Let me know if you try it at home!

Simple Pin Cushion Tutorials

This is a simple little project - perfect for gifts for a sew-y friend or for adding to your own sewing space. I found these sweet little rice bowls at an Pearl River Mart - but check any Asian supply store to find a selection. Pearl River also has an online store with a selection of some of their ceramic rice bowls here.
Begin by tracing a circle about 2.5 times bigger than the circumference of you rice bowl.
Sew a large running stitch a long the outside edge of your circle.
Slightly gather the circle and stuff as FULL as you can.
Use the end of your sewing thread to pull the edges of the circle together and stitch it tightly closed.  Line the bowl with strong glue - I used E6000 - and carefully insert your fabric puff ball inside.  Allow to dry over night.
The Easiness to Cuteness ratio is pretty sweet. 
Combine this with the Magnetic Pin Dish and you've got quite the duo.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What was I thinking?

Oh, sometimes I am just so hilarious. 

Like when I plan to to do a little tutorial for a Monday blog post following a weekend where we have a Birthday girl, fun house guests (my brother-and-sister-in-law who stopped for a weekend visit part way through their  move from Lebanon, New Hampshire to Seattle, Washington), and another daughter to get ready for her first ever week of Summer Camp.  Not to mention all the regular stuff that makes summer crazy-busy!

Yeah, I just crack myself up.

Sorry to postpone making rice-bowl-pincushions. They will materialize in the near future.
In other hilarious news, remember the girl who was so over purple? Who decided her favorite color was red, so we made this red, aqua, and pink quilt?  Well, Purple is back in charge.  She swoons over purple all day long and requested a Purple Party for her birthday.  

I should have known.  (But I probably would have still made that quilt anyway. lol.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fat Quarter Bag Tutorial

Originally posted here at Make and Takes.


This project is a really quick and easy one creating the perfect little girl-bag. (Or maybe even a grown-up girl bag.) The possibilities are endless.  I’ll demo the basic assembly technique and then a couple of embellishing options and you can let your creativity go from there!
To start all you’ll need is a Fat Quarter.  If you want your bag to have a contrasting lining, get a second fat quarter and you’ll have enough for two cute bags!

First of all, what is a Fat Quarter? Craft stores and fabric stores often carry pre-cut pieces of yardage called Fat Quarters.  They are pieces of fabric measuring 18” x 22”. I chose to use two different FQ’s and make two bags.

Begin by cutting your FQ’s in half creating 2 pieces 11” x 18”.  Cut 2 16” pieces of ribbon for the handles. (I used  1 ½” wide grosgrain.)
Match-up your outer fabric and your lining fabric right sides together and pin at the two 11”ends.
 Pin the ribbon for the handles between the two pieces of fabric, 2” from the outside edges.   Sew ¼” seam.
Now take it to your ironing board. Bring the two seams to the center and match them up. Press seams open. You will now have your lining-piece folded in half on one side of the seam and your outside piece folded in half on the other.
Match up the two seams and pin in place. Pin open sides together, leaving a 3" opening on one side of the lining fabric for turning right side out. Sew ¼” seams on both sides. Turn bag right-side out and top-stitch opening closed. It will look like a flat, empty pillow.

Tuck lining fabric inside the outside bag fabric. Now it's starting to look like an actual bag!
Press the top edge of the bag and top stitch around the edge of the bag.  I also topstitch again 1/4” from the top. (This will help secure the handles a little as well.) This is easy, and it will give the bag a nice, finished edge.
For a decorative ribbon trim, cut the ribbon length you need (about 23”). Pin the ribbon in place, folding the end of the ribbon underneath itself.  Topstitch ribbon edges to the bag.
To make the bag have a squared-off bottom edge -or gusset - turn the bag inside out, tucking the bottom corners inside each other. Flatten the side seam lined up parallel with the bottom crease, creating a pointed/triangle.

Measure 1” down from the top of the point/triangle and make a mark.  Then draw a line at that point, perpendicular to the seam.  Sew a straight line right on top of the line that you marked, backstitching at the beginning and end. Clip threads. Repeat with other bottom corner.  This will give you two little, flappy triangles in each corner.

Pull the bag right-sides out and you have a nice little boxed bottom.  You can tack-down the little triangles inside if you want. (Depends who I’m giving the bag to – if it’s a 5-year-old, I won’t take the time to tailor the inside of the bag!)

Voila. A finished bag!

To make the second bag, I sewed the 11” edges right sides together without putting the ribbon handles in.
Repeat bag process. (Bring seams to the center, press, seams open, sew open ends, leaving 3” opening for turning bag right side out, sew ¼” seams, pull right-side out, topstitch opening, tuck lining inside, press top of bag.) To make a band of trim around the top of the bag, roll the lining fabric above the bag about 1/4". Pin to hold fabrics in place and press.

Top stitch around the edge of the bag at the top of the outer fabric AND at the top of the lining fabric. This is easy, and gives the bag a nice, decorative edge.

This time, sew the ribbon handles to the top of the bag itself using two 15” pieces of ribbon.

Once again, you could leave the bag as it is now or add the tucks at the bottom.  (It’s slightly trickier to put in a gusset at the bottom edge of the bag since the lining is shorter because you’ve used it as a decorative edge, but the process still works.)

The possibilities for embellishing the bag are endless: Trims, button closures, fabric handles instead of ribbon . . . Use your creativity.

And there you go – two really easy little bags – for the price of 2 Fat Quarters (about $2.50 each) and about 2 ½” yards of grosgrain ribbon.