Friday, March 30, 2012

Quilting Retreat

This week I got away for some lovely sewing time at a quilting retreat hosted by American Quilting.  Good times. (Many thanks to those who made it possible - especially Grandma.) The two quilts above were made by talented quilter, Ann Lewis.
It was held at the lovely Zermatt resort in Midway Utah. You may remember I went for 24 hours last year where I got to meet my quilting idol, Sandy Klop
 Well, no Sandy this year, but still plenty of fun, entertaining people (shout out to you, D!) and this time I got to stay for two whole days!
There was still plenty of inspiration 
 and quilt eye candy.
 And real candy.
I basically pigged out while I was there.
But I was also SO productive. I brought a bunch of works-in-progress. (Some of which were 4 years old. Seriously.) And I finished them! I will share them in future posts.  (Which was another bonus side-effect - lots of good future blog-post material.)
I even started a couple of new projects - including cutting up the pile of Dream On fabrics I've been hording saving carefully for a couple of years. I'm going to use this pattern with a green solid sashing.  It will give it such a different look. I'm excited to see how it turns out.
 In the process I added a lot of thread to my lint collection. Occupational hazard.
(Memo to self: bring a lint-roller next time. At least I was among understanding folks.)
Good to get away.  And the productivity was awesome. Sleep was minimal, but I'll catch up on that later. I had to come home early for events at home, including the 5th-grade "Maturation Program" - I mean, who wants to miss that??

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sponsored Giveaway from JAQS Fabrics

JAQS Fabrics
Today I have a delightful giveaway from sponsor, JAQS Fabrics, a lovely online fabric shop.  Can I just tell you how much I love Q's shop?

It is so easy to navigate with many ways to find what your looking for. You can search for fabrics not only by manufacturer and collection but also by style and color. It's like going to the color wall at you local quilt shop! The whole site is so well organized and very easy to find what you're looking for.

Some other helpful tidbits:

  • JAQS ships anywhere in the world.  Orders from within the US are always $5 or less.
  • Bulk discounts are also offered starting at 2 yards (20 cents off each yard) and 4 yards (starting at 40 cents off each yard!) 
  • For every $20 spent, you get a $1 back in fabric bucks for your next purchase (applied to your account).
        
JAQS adds new fabrics weekly. This week's new goodies include Chevron by Riley Blake and Lori Holt's new Millie's Closet as well as fabrics from Cloud 9.
       
Other recent collections include Walk in the Woods, Fly a Kite, and Fresh Cut by Heather Bailey. 
  
Awesome basics like Cotton Couture by Michael Miller, Fruit Punch by Timeless Treasures, and Kona Solids.
JAQS has generously offered to give away a bundle of 5 half-yard cuts of Heather Bailey's Freshcut fabrics (one of my all time favorite collections, by the way) to one of you lucky readers!

You have multiple ways to enter. Leave a separate comment for each entry:
  • Visit the shop and tell me your favorite fabric
  • Subscribe to the JAQS Newsletter (left hand column of the home page)
  • Create an account with JAQS (this is how you keep track of your credit rewards)
Giveaway open until Saturday, March 31 at midnight, MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.
WINNER: BizMar 28, 2012 07:00 PM
I love the Fly a Kite by October Afternoon - ice cream cream from Riley Blake

And as a gift to all of you, JAQS is offering a 10% off discount with $35 purchase, by using the coupon code "JAQSTenOff" - now through April 1st! 

Thanks, Q!
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And thank you, readers, 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. :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Throw-pillow tutorial using a Pottery Barn table runner

Last week I decided I needed a short-attention-span project in the middle of all the busy-ness that was going on. So I whipped up a couple of throw-pillows that have been on my to-do list f o r e v e r. It was so satisfying! I actually made these from a table runner, which is why they came together so quickly. Here's the details.

During the "Great-Basement-Cleanout of '12" I went through my box of upholstery/home-dec fabrics.  A while ago, if I ever saw a good remnant for cheap I would buy it for bags or throw pillows. (I stopped buying not long ago because I had accumulated a large stockpile that I hadn't actually done anything with.)  As I went through that box, I resolved to pull them out and put them to use. 
 
One such accumulation was this fabulous orange stitched table runner from the Pottery Barn that I got for 75% off.  I'd originally thought I'd make it into a bag, but the color is so great with my living room, I opted for fast throw pillows instead. Here's how I made them. 

(I bought this table runner 3 years ago, so obviously it's no longer available.  Other table runners will be different sizes so you may have to use your imagination, adjust pillow sizes etc. to make something similar. I share only because I think this method is simple and adaptable enough to use in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I've also done similar pillow covers with finished napkins and placemats from places like Pottery Barn as well.)
 
You'll want to cut your length to measure twice the width of your runner. My table runner was long - I think 18" x 70" - so I was able to get two lengths by cutting it in half .
Since the edges of the runner were all nicely finished already, and I was mostly doing topstitching,  a good, matching thread is a good idea.
First, I folded the table runner piece in half, right sides together, and sewed the cut edge to the top edge of the runner piece.  I used slightly larger than a 1/4" seam allowance. Once that was done, I turned the piece right-side-out and it resembled a large tube with two open sides. 
Making the new seam, the bottom of the pillow cover, match-up the open sides and pin. Sew one of the open sides, closed, by top-stitching right along the edge, hiding the stitching in the finished stitching that was already there. Now my piece resembled a large square with only one open side.
 Stuff the new case using a pillow form - I used an old pillow I already had.
Then I top stitched the other side closed with the pillow already inside it.  (It helped that the old pillow was slightly smaller than the new case.)  Be careful to pin the sides closed to hold those edges in place. (Yes I sewed right over the pins - I like to live on the edge sometimes.)  It may be helpful to use a zipper foot for this last seam. (One of these days I may use my zipper foot to sew in an actual zipper.)
And voila- a fancy finished throw pillow!  Not the most professional method, but it worked for me and was so slick and easy. Fortunately, the throw pillows in this room don't get quite as hammered as the ones in my family room, so I feel they have a good chance of lasting for a while until they get beat-up or I somehow get tired of the orange.  And I figured for $4.50 a pillow, it was worth the risk.  

Now I'm motivated to actually make some other throws with this other piece of yardage that has been sitting next to my couch for way too long. Maybe this time I'll actually put a zipper in too.

Thanks so much for all the sweet comments on 'real life.'  In exciting news, I get to getaway this week to a little sewing retreat in the mountains for a couple of days. Woohoo! It's probably going to be hectic getting myself out the door, but I have a feeling it will be worth it. The timing is GOOD.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Real Life

I finished this quilt a couple of weeks ago and have waited to share it because I wanted to finish the pattern first.  I had planned to have quilt, blog post, and quilt pattern all ready to share today.

And then real life happened.

Sick kid up at weird hours the past two nights, 4 nights in a row of school play, late bedtimes, helping as a parent volunteer with said school play, a sweet elderly neighbor passed away and today I am helping with a family luncheon after her funeral, intense week at work for my husband coinciding with the other craziness, etc., etc. You all know what it's like.
I usually try not to get into the nitty gritty of real life behind the blog because I know everyone has their own load of real life and I don't want to sound like a whiner. (Especially considering there are many people whose burdens and responsibilities are even weightier than mine.) 

But at the last second I decided I would share, only because I don't want any one out there who stops by this blog to think life is always peachy and organized (hah!) and well put together. Blog life is pretty strategically edited.

Just like these photos. The first one makes life look clean and lovely. The second one shows the mess/reality that's been thrown to the side to give you the impression life is serene and then neatly cropped out of the version you see here most of the time.   

So hopefully next week I'll be back with a nifty new tutorial or final pictures of this finished quilt and a pattern. But for today, I'm trying to roll with - and enjoy - real life.
It's kind of like those moments when you're about to strike your best sparkly-fairy-pose for the camera only to be suddenly tackled by your little brother.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Make It Sew Modern review and Giveaway!

I was lucky to get my hands on a copy of Vanessa Christenson's new book, Make It Sew Modern last week. (It even arrived on my birthday. How's that for awesome timing?) I've been so excited to peruse the projects in this book ever since I first knew of it's inception.
 
And let me tell you, there are some beauties. 
This book is all about creating with texture.
 
And there is a big variety of projects to choose from: bags, wreaths, quilts, home decor, rings and bracelets...
 
This throw pillow is on my to-do list now. I love the simplicity of the two solid fabrics and the pop that little bit of pleated texture brings.
 
The book itself is so pretty - lots of eye candy to get those creative juices flowing.
 
And guess what? Vanessa is generously offering to give away a copy of Make It Sew Modern to one of you readers. It doesn't even have to be your birthday.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. If you want to, share which of these projects intrigues or inspires you most.  Giveaway will close Saturday, March 24 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Happy Belated Birthday!! :) I hope you had a wonderful day! This seems like a great book! Thanks for doing a giveaway! Hope you have a beautiful day! :) xo Heather

Good luck, and thanks again V!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Want to do vs. Need to do

I've had a new quilt idea kicking around in my head for a while. Finally, I graphed it out and I'm so excited to try it!  I even started pulling the fabric for the project.  I had just got a new little (okay, not little) bundle from Fresh Squeezed Fabrics including a little bit of Flea Market, Pez, and some Lizzy House dots. I was liking the colors I saw and started pulling more from my stash.  Now I'm itching to start my new project.
Instead, I'm working on a purple fairy costume. It's school play week here (Peter Pan.) I wish I could say I enjoyed making costumes.  Luckily for me, I realized that no one will be able to tell whether or not that little sparkly vest has nicely hemmed edges from the audience.  Raw edges it is! Saved myself a ton of sewing-sparkly-fabric-angst.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Use your fabric scraps!

This week I helped to teach a class with ideas for using your scraps with the very sweet Marilyn Yerkes at our local quilt shop. We were asked about doing this right after Christmas and it has been so motivating for me to get my scraps organized and to start making projects with them in preparation.  


Above is my progress with my American Jane scraps quilt. I've got more blocks assembled and I think I'm going to make it twice as big, at least. Finally giving those scraps a good home (because there are a lot of them)! This quilt was inspired by a project in this book and this quilt by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts.
Of course I only took two (really poor-quality) pictures during the class. sigh.  
This quilt is by Marilyn. She used a tutorial from the Missouri Quilt Co. and 3 Dudes Quilt Shop that's on YouTube. It's so cool!

It was very fun to share ideas and projects with other quilting friends and I figured I'd share some of the ideas with you too!  I talked about my new organization method and some of my recent projects. (Including this quilt finished. I love it.  Am now working on the pattern and will share when both are ready!) 

Here are some of the other ideas we shared. Some of them you've probably heard of dozens of times, but just in case, here they are all together. (Pictures used with permission.)
 
 
GrannySquare Quilt Block Tutorial from Blue Elephant Stitches
 
Tipnut.com 
50+ Fabric Stash Buster Ideas: Lots of purses, pin cushions, needlebooks, etc. from Tipnut.com
 

 
Ticker Tape Quilt by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts

Applique Fall Pillow from Cluck Cluck Sew


Gift Tags from A Spoonful of Sugar

 
Sew Scraps Along (scraps ideas) from Jodi at Pleasant Home


I hope some of those ideas spark some creative juices in using your own scraps. (If you want to "Pin" any of these ideas, please use good "Pinterest-iquette" and go to the original site to pin the post.)

Have fun! And Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Those silly Leprechauns finally got their act together this year and remembered to pull some fun little tricks at our house. Last year they were pathetic slackers. Loosers.