Happy Easter

There is so much that I love about Easter – coloring Easter eggs (playing with all those cheerful colors –I think I love it more than my kids), new clothes, no more winter (theoretically), flowers, bunnies, but most of all hope for SPRING. And just plain HOPE in general. 

I hope you won’t mind if I share something a little more personal. I love this thought because we can all relate to going through bleak times in our lives.

“Think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross. I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest. But the doom of that day did not endure. The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind. 

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But …Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.
           – Joseph Wirthlin (Full text here.)
I hope that whatever your beliefs or faith, you will have a happy holiday weekend with those you love and feel that hope that comes with the arrival of spring.

Quilt Design Tool from Threadbias

I’m so excited today to share a little bit about a brand-new quilt design resource available online from Threadbias. First of all, if you are not familiar with Threadbias, let me introduce you. Threadbias is a recent online sewing community website, run by real live sewists, where you can connect with groups, find and sell patterns, and be a part of a sewing community. You can create your own free profile any time!

And now Threadbias is launching their brand new Quilt Design Tool. This is a web-based tool where you can go to create your own block and quilt designs. I first heard about this design tool at the Sewing Summit last fall while it was still under construction. I was so impressed with the designers and builder and their vision of creating an intuitive, simple to understand quilt design tool for people like me.

While I would love to someday learn Adobe Illustrator, frankly, it scares the pants off me, and is probably more tech-y than I really need most of the time. I have other quilt design software, but I often feel frustrated by it’s complexity and have only figured out how to do limited things with it. As a result I’ve been anxious to give Threadbias’ Quilt Design Tool a try. And after having played with it this week, I’m already loving it and have signed up for a paid subscription myself.
This is a block I created today. It came together so quickly! I highly recommend watching the simple YouTube tutorials Alex (the Design Tool builder) has created to show you all that the program can do.  You can watch all of them in a short amount of time and will suddenly have the ability to create lots of snazzy new block and quilt designs.  
And this is the quilt design I made from my block. After designing your blocks/quilts in the Quilt Design Tool you can easily export them as jpg or vector images. And feel really cool about yourself.

Another one of the great features of the Quilt Design Tool are all the swatches of current and recent fabrics from most of the major fabric manufacturers available to use in your designs. You can choose fabrics from the site and add them to your profile “stash”. Then they are ready to use when you are designing. Most of the fabric ‘swatches’ show up so nicely in the digital designs, but I did notice a few of the fabric images repeated with the ruler or looked a little ‘out of whack’. 

I’m not worried about it though. It’s very obvious that customer satisfaction is a high priority to the folks at Threadbias. Because the tool is so new, there are a few bugs to work out, but there are updates made to the Design Tool daily and new capabilities being added all the time. Alex, the builder, is very engaged in the Design Tool forum, welcomes suggestions and fixes issues sometimes by the next day. Clearly this is a tool that the folks at Threadbias want to be useable and helpful, and simple and intuitive enough for people like me to use.

If you’re looking for a computer quit design option, I highly suggest you check it out. You can try the limited-capability tool for free when you sign-up for a free account on Threadbias. Full access to the Quilt Design Tool is available for a monthly $10 subscription which you can cancel at any time.

And today, Threadbias is giving away a free month-long subscription (or a one month credit if you’re already a subscriber) to one of you readers! To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post. Giveaway is open until Thursday, April 4, midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Winner: jbsewsApril 1, 2013 at 1:31 PM

I am just more and more impressed by this tool the more I see. :) Thanks for your input!

To read more about the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool, find out more about the cool things it can do, and for other chances to win that month long subscription, visit these other sites:

Monday, March 25 – Freshly Pieced
Tuesday, March 26 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Wednesday, March 27 – Generation Q Magazine
Thursday, March 28 – The Sometimes Crafter
Friday, March 29 – Diary of a Quilter
Monday, April 1 – Swim, Bike, Quilt
Tuesday, April 2 – Fresh Lemons
Wednesday, April 3 – West Coast Crafty
Thursday, April 4 – Sew, Mama, Sew!
Friday, April 5 – Alison Glass
Saturday, April 6 – Pink Castle Fabrics
Sunday, April 7 – Ellison Lane Quilts

Fabric geek news

Today a fabric-y post. Some currently available, and some sneak peaks of up and coming collections. 
This past week I’ve been sewing with these cheerful prints from Michael Miller called Happy Tones. (Project to be shared at a future date, but I couldn’t not share these bright, sunny colors. They are a nice antidote to the end-of-winter blahs around here. My kids keep saying looking at these prints makes them crave jelly beans. (I think they’re trying to give me hints, or something.)
All of these colors and prints come in one charm pack. Happy Tones pre-cuts and prints are available right now at the Fat Quarter Shop.
How about these cute, retro-inspired prints are from a new collection for Windham Fabrics called Cream and Sugar? I love the colors and prints in this line. Check out all the adorable projects made with them at the designers’ blog, Ampersand Design Studio. I can pretty much guarantee it will make you want some. Cream and Sugar prints are also available at the Fat Quarter Shop.

Another collection due out shortly is Glimma by Lotta Jansdotter, also for Windham fabrics. I am such a fan of Lotta and her scandinavian minimalism design. I especially love those trees. I’m thinking these will need to be part of a new bag, similar to my Bella bag from last spring.

A few Glimma prints will also be available in canvas. (I’m so in love with that gold stripe!) Might be the perfect bag lining. Stay tuned… And while I’m here, can I just say I think that Windham has some hot new collections and designers, as well as future collections on the way by Allison of Cluck Cluck Sew and the return of Heather Ross to quilting cottons? So excited to see both of those!

Finally, I got my first up close and personal look at Moda’s new Honeycomb precuts. Can I say, brilliant? These are laser cut (meaning straight, non-fraying edges) 6″  (from point to opposite point) hexagons. They come in a stacks of 40 and you can get them in one solid color or in prints by collection, like charm packs. They are so neato.

The coolest part is that each stack of honeycombs comes with a sturdy plastic template with little holes at each point.

These holes can be used for quickly marking the 1/4″ point where you will start and stop your Y-seams when you piece your hexagons. (For a great machine-piecing-hexagons tutorial, visit Kati). SO COOL.

And check out these pretty prints from Fig Tree’s upcoming line, Honey Sweet. Mmmm.
And there’s the latest episode of fabric geek news. The only problem with all this awesome fabric-ness, is that there are not enough hours in the day to create all the things I’d like to make with my favorite creative medium. At some point I need all the fabric companies to just take a break for a few months so that I can catch-up on everything before they start making more tempting  pretty stuff!
Speaking of fabric, if you’re looking for some good deals right now you might want to check out Bloomerie’s awesome March Madness sale with fabric starting at $5 a yard. Also, everything at Pink Castle Fabrics is 20% off with the code SPRING 20.

Fabric Giveaway from Mad About Patchwork

Mad About Patchwork
Today we have an awesome giveaway from the online fabric shop, Mad About Patchwork.

Mad About Patchwork is an online shop located in Ontario, Canada, and full of the latest colorful, contemporary fabric including brand new collections such as Denyse Schmidt’s Shelburne Falls, Art Gallery’s Carnaby Street, and Liberty Lifestyle’s Stile.

Mad About Patchwork specializes in fabric bundles like the Spring Garden bundle above and the pastel Easter Egg bundle in the picture at the top of the post. They also carry an amazing selection of basics such as of 150 different Kona Solids, Shot Cottons by Westminster, as well as other modern essentials like Essex, Painters Canvas, Shades (from Riley Blake), tons of colors of Pearl Bracelets (love!) and AGF’s Oval Elements.

Besides all that good stuff, patterns are 40% off until the end of the month and there is always a changing selection of fabrics up to 40% off in the sale section (which includes Bella and Chicopee right now!)

Today, Mad About Patchwork is giving a way a Color Me Retro bundle – including 7 fat quarters + 1 yard of a print of your choice from the bundle. I love those yummy aquas and greens. Doesn’t it make you crave Spring?

 To be entered to win this lovely bundle, take a quick visit to Mad About Patchwork and come back here telling me one of your favorite items in the shop.  One comment per person.  Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you should win! Giveaway open until Friday, March 29 at Midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Winner: Kate said…

I love their designer bundles – my favorite fabric they have now is the lizzy house, pearl bracelet. i love them all!

Thank you Mad About Patchwork! You can keep up with the latest happenings and arrivals on their blog or their Facebook page as well.

Virtual Quilting Bee Block #2 by Sukie

Here it is folks! Block #2 of the Virtual Quilting Bee.
What is the Virtual Quilting Bee? Go here for more info.
Today’s block was created by Amy Newbold of Sukie Don’t Ya Know (or Sukie Don’t Yak Now – take your pick ;). I love the block she created and named Oragami Star. The name is perfect! Above is the Happy Go Lucky version.
 Here is a version of the block in Kona Solids.
And here is my version for my own quilt

Important reminder: these blocks will be 8″ finished (that means when it is part of the finished quilt) meaning they will measure 8 1/2″ unfinished (when you have the block pieced, but before it’s part of a finished quilt.)

You only need to make 1 block for the quilt we will be making, but you can always make more if you want a bigger finished quilt or multiple quilts. :)

I’m so excited to see all the variations that people create. Feel free to share yours on the Virtual Quilting Bee Flickr Group if you like! I have loved seeing all the stars from Sherri’s block two weeks ago.

Also, a couple of suggestions for a VQB hashtag: Let’s use #virtualquiltingbee if you’re sharing on Instagram or Twitter!

And don’t forget, our next block tutorial will be in TWO weeks.  If you have any questions, be sure to ask. I will answer questions as quickly as I can in the comments.

Quilt at the beach

A few weeks ago, we went on a crazy, almost spur-of-the-moment road trip to the beach. My sister-in-law invited us to come stay with them at a beach house in southern California during part of their spring break. At first I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. We had a lot going on and our kids would miss a couple days of school since it wasn’t our spring break yet. Fortunately we threw caution to the wind and did it anyway. And it turned out to be the very best kind of idea.
We went from this the week before…
…to this.
Not too shabby.
Since we were going to be in a nice change of scenery, I decided to finally photograph this project somewhere besides my backyard. (Although, I wouldn’t mind if this was my new backyard.) I started this quilt exactly a year ago. I wanted to play with fabrics and create a kind of ombre look using different shades of fabric. I love each of the fabrics that I used.
Then I decided I wanted to quilt it myself using an echo quilting in the white space. And it took. For. Evah.  I would work on it for a little bit and then get sick of it and put it away for a while. And then pull it out again for a few more rounds, and then put it away again. Finally I finished it during Season 3 of Downton Abby. Whew. 

And now it is finally ready to share.  I was originally going to write a pattern for this one. Still deciding if that will happen or if it will just be a nice experiment in fabrics, color, and a lot of straight line quilting. Also still trying to come up with a name for it. Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions?

And nowI will leave you with some dreamy, summery shots to get you through these last winter days (if it’s still like that where you are.)

Breaks are good things – I didn’t realize how much I needed one until we went away. It was so nice to just sit and visit with siblings (my sister and her husband drove a couple of hours to come visit for the day and another brother-in-law and his wife were able to visit another day. I love my family!) I loved just sitting, doing a little hand-sewing, watching the cousins play together, listening to the waves, and eating fresh fish tacos.

And now we’re back in the middle of school plays, registering for next year, birthdays, and the busy-ness of regular life. Next time I get an invite to the beach, I definitely won’t drag my feet before I get there. That’s for sure.