Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sewing Competition and Retreat!

First of all, I just had to share this cute little mini-quilt my friend Dolores sent me with a quilted version of my apple logo. Using Sandy Klop fabric no less! I love it and I'm going to hang it in my sewing room. It's motivating me to get in there and clean up some of my mess so that I can see it better. ;)

A few other public service announcements:  Rachel of the blog Family Ever After is hosting Season 2 of the "Sew-vivor" sewing competition! I am a guest judge this year (but don't let that fact minimize the coolness of this opportunity.)

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Auditions are open if you want to compete and show off your sewing chops! Go here for all the rules, competition topics, and other details and go here to learn about entering the competition and the sweet prizes involved!

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And finally, there are still spots available for Riley Blake's first annual Fabric Fest. I'm so excited to spend 4 days with a bunch of fun, sew-y people. Go here for all the details!
I'll be teaching a few classes on modern quilting, quilt-as-you-go techniques, and what to do with all your scraps. Please let me know if you are going - I would love to meet you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fabric Flowers from Indygo Junction review and giveaway

I was recently asked if I would like to review Amy Barickman's (of Indygo Junction) newest book, Fabric Flowers and I jumped at the chance. I love all the fun ideas and techniques (at least 25 different ones) for fabric flowers that are contained in this beautiful book.  It's such a nifty reference with lots of pretty inspiration and information.
I love to work with wool and wool-felt, so I chose to create the large Spiral Bloom. I used the pattern and method in the book to create this rosette with the contrasting detail.
I also tried a slightly simplified version where I just stitched the outer edge, rather than adding the contrasting wool embellishment. I machine stitched using Aurifil wool thread to give the stitching extra thickness and I really like the result. I think I need to try more with wool thread too.



I really am impressed by the quality of this book - I would highly recommend it if you love creating floral embellishments - so many pretty ideas in one place. The video above gives a nice sampling of the projects and pictures from the book.
If you would like a look at other projects from the book, visit these other stops on the Fabric Flowers blog tour:
2/2/13 - Indygo Junction
2/4/13 - Kollabora
2/5/13 - CraftFoxes 
2/6/13 - Sewing Secrets 
2/7/13 - Princess Lasertron 
2/8/13 - Dollar Store Crafts 
2/11/13 - Tatertots & Jello 
2/12/13 - Family Ever After 
2/13/13 - This Mama Makes Stuff 
2/14/13 - Amy’s Creative Side 
2/15/13 - Today’s Creative Blog 
2/18/13 - Lazy Girl Designs
2/19/13 - Skip to My Lou
2/20/13 - The Sewing Loft
2/21/13 - The Crafty Cupboard
2/22/13 - Fishsticks Designs
2/25/13 - Taradara 
2/26/13 - Diary of a Quilter (moi)
2/27/13 - Craft Gossip
2/28/13 - How Joyful
3/1/13 - Lindsay Sews
3/4/13 - Flamingo Toes
3/5/13 - In Color Order
3/6/13 - See Kate Sew
3/7/13 - Handmade Charlotte
3/8/13 - Sew Caroline
3/9/13 - Indygo Junction Wrap Up Post, Bonus Giveaway & Free Project
And today, Indygo Junction is giving away a copy of the book and a collection of Clover Yo-Yo Makers in four different sizes. Some of the projects in the book are designed using the handy Clover products for creating embellishments. I love these yo-yo makers - they are so snazzy and slick - you can make the perfect looking yo-yo's so quickly.  
I've been experimenting creating yo-yo's out of fabrics besides quilter's cotton like linen and silky rayons. They turn out so pretty.

To enter to win a copy of Fabric Flowers and a collection of 4 Clover Yo-Yo Makers, just leave a comment on this post. Giveaway open until Saturday, March 2, midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Looks like a beautiful book. Thanks for the chance.

And as a gift to everyone Indygo Junction is giving you 20% off your next IndygoJunction.com order with the code FFBK17. Offer good until 5/1/13!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Few Tips on Choosing Fabric - Virtual Quilting Bee part 2

This week for Part 2 of our Virtual Quilting Bee, we're going to talk about choosing fabric.
If you're wondering what in the world the Virtual Quilting Bee is, go to here for all the information and links to back posts.
As is the case with Part 1 of this Quilting Bee, I've written an in-depth post about Choosing Fabric as part of the Beginning Quilting Series. And rather than rehash the whole thing in this post, I'm going to touch briefly on some of the concepts, but refer you there for more depth.
Jeni Baker has also written a phenomenal and much more in-depth whole series about choosing fabric called the Art of Choosing. Everything from color to organizing and building a stash. It's excellent and contains much more detail. I highly recommend it.
Now that you have those places to go as great references, I'll talk a little about my own process of choosing fabrics for a quilt - specifically a sampler quilt like we're making as part of this quilt along. I'll show some examples from my last sampler quilt.

If we had to boil it down, there are two main things to remember when choosing fabric: Color and Scale.

Choosing a color scheme:
This is one of my favorite parts of creating a quilt. I love playing with color - which is probably why I'm always wanting to make something new: so I can play with new colors.  I know for some people this can be tricky. Jeni's series has some great suggestions for choosing color.

Here are some good places to start:

Find a focus fabric and choose your color scheme based on that fabric. When making a baby quilt for my sister a few years ago, she really liked this jungle print by Alexander Henry, so we used that as the jumping off point for the rest of the fabrics. We pulled fat quarters off the shelves of a local quilt shop just based on the colors of the focus fabric. If you look at the finished quilt, notice that the colors aren't all the exact same shade of green, brown, etc. We used different shades, but stayed with the same tone (as in olive greens, warm browns, etc). For example: even though we're using green, it would have looked off to throw in a cool, mint green.
I try to keep my colors the same vibrancy, such as warm or cool colors. Really clear, bright hues or dusty, muted hues. But sometimes I'll break the rules. Last summer I made my daughter a purple quilt for her birthday. I don't have a lot of purple in my stash so I cut up whatever purples I had -be they cool or warm shades - and threw them into the same quilt. And I'm happy with how it turned out. The different shades can give a lot of visual interest. A few other colors - in this case a sprinkling of pale orange, pink, and green - add a little more interest to a mostly monochromatic color scheme.

If you really feel stumped, go with a pre-made collection from one of the quilting manufacturers. Most collections are purposely created with a cohesive color scheme and a variety of prints in different sizes and scales. That's why they do that! And if you want to experiment along the way, pull in a few prints from other collections (new of from your stash) in the colors of the collection you are using.
Lots of shops - both brick and mortar or online - will also carry pre-bundled groups of fabric. Watch for those as well if you want a kick-start.
Don't be afraid to ask for opinions/help. Any independent quilt shop worth it's salt, will have helpful staff who can help you in your selection. You could also ask for opinions from a local quilt guild or trusted friend. Having a real live person who can look at your choices and give feed back is so helpful. Occasionally I have people email me for help with choosing fabrics, and it's so hard to do over the internet. I always suggest doing it with a real live person so you can try out different combinations and edit together.

When asking for help, give them a place to start. I know from working in a quilt shop how overwhelming it felt when someone would walk in and say, "I want to make this quilt, but don't know what fabric to use..." I had no idea what their color or style preferences were. When that happened I would always say, "Walk around the shop and pick out 2 or 3 bolts that 'speak to you' and then I'll help you choose fabrics that would go with them," just to give me a sense of their preferences.
Working with SCALE:
For a quilt to look balanced and interesting (note I didn't say perfect) a variety of scales (sizes) of prints can make a big difference. For the quilt above I really wanted to use some of those big Ann Kelle novelty prints, but I needed to off-set them with smaller dots and ginghams so that the big prints would stand out and not look too frenetic overall.

Quilting fabric has changed over the years, but especially over the past decade. At one point fabric for quilts consisted of mostly small prints (think calicos). Now designers have created gorgeous large-scale prints that are useful not only for quilting, but for garments, bags, aprons, etc. They also can add a lot of visual interest to quilts. The problem comes when you add those large scale prints with out any contrast. Our eye needs a place to rest to break up those big prints. A variety of scales (sizes) can help with that balance. (See the Beginning Quilting Series fabric post for more details)
Another way to break up busy prints is by using a solid. This quilt made from prints in Amy Butler's Soul Blossom's collection is an example where even just some white sashing breaks up the large scale colors and prints of the collection so that you can see the individual prints.
I personally like to use solids as a contrast with prints to help them pop. (I recently did it here .) Frequently I'll use one solid color (like here) to show off the fabrics, but you could also use multiple shades of a solid for visual interest as I did in the Christmas quilt above.
Even when creating your blocks, I like to use high-contrast colors and different scales of prints to create interest.  These blocks were all made for the last sampler quilt.
When I was working on the blocks for this Block of the Month project, I choose my colors and prints and kept them together in one place so that I could pull from them to make a quick block. As we begin this quilt-along you may want to gather your fabrics together into one box or shelf so that you can play with combinations of colors and prints as you make each block.

Final thoughts on choosing fabric in general: Don't let it stress you out. Yes, it takes practice, but just go for it. The more you try, the more you will like what you do. Have faith in yourself.

THIS QUILTING BEE:

Now, here's the tricky part of this project. The blocks in this sampler quilt are being created by 16 different people over the next 8 months. I have no idea what they're going to look like, so this is going to be a little bit of a mystery quilt! All I know is that they're going to create an 8" block. I'm sending them a little bit of fabric to use so that there will be some cohesive look, but I've also told them they can use their stash for this project so they may pull in fabrics that aren't part of the collection.

So even if you order a fabric bundle of Happy Go Lucky or Kona Solids to use for this project, be forewarned that there may be a few prints or solids in these blocks that are not part of your 'kit'.  Don't let that stress you out! Use that opportunity to stretch yourself - maybe even get outside your comfort zone - and pull something from your own stash or scraps or a friend's scraps.  Make this quilt your own!

Remember: we're all in this together, and the goal is to learn, expand our repertoire, and get out of our comfort zones along the way.

BEE FABRIC REQUIREMENTS:

I've had many people ask about fabric requirements for this project and coming up with an answer has been a little bit scary for me. Remember there are going to be two versions of this quilt - one out of prints, and the other out of solids (obviously you don't need to make both versions).  The over all design of each version will require slightly different yardage requirements. Again, because I  don't know exactly what the blocks will be I can't give exact measurements. But here is my best guess:

24-30 Fat 1/8 pieces (11" x 18") or 12-15 Fat Quarters should be enough for getting started on the quilt blocks themselves and have yardage for the setting triangles as well for the prints version. (A Layer Cake (collection of 42 10" squares) may be enough for the blocks, but you will need additional fabric later on for the setting fabrics, sashing etc.

If you are going to use solids I would recommend: A bundle of 24 fat 1/8th pieces. (Three shades of red, three shades of orange, three shades of yellow, three shades of warm green (limeish), three shades of cool green(mint, teal), three shades of aqua/turquoise, three shades of royal/denim/navy blue, three shades of purple). The shades of each color would have to be light, medium, and dark with enough contrast that if they are all used in the same block, they would show up as distinct shades.

I will share yardage requirements for finishing the quilt as we get closer to finishing the blocks. I'm personally hesitant to pic fabrics for the sashing, borders, etc. until I start seeing the blocks!

Ordering Fabric:

If you would like to create the modern solid version of these quilt blocks, Pink Castle Fabrics and Mad About Patchwork have created bundles specifically for this project! Yay!
You can order this bundle of 24 Kona fat 1/8ths from Mad About Patchwork for $24 with 10% off all regularly priced Kona solids (bundle included) with the coupon code VIRTUALBEE10 at checkout. Discount good until March 15,2013.
Virtual Quilting Bee F8 - Blogger Bundle by Amy from Diary of a Quilter
Pink Castle Fabrics has also created a custom solid bundle for this project consisting of fat 1/8 pieces  or fat quarters in 24 different colors.

Both Mad About Patchwork and Pink Castle Fabrics carry great selections of solids in lots of gorgeous hues as well as other pre-packaged bundles if you want to customize your colors, etc.
For those wanting to use Happy Go Lucky you can pre-order Fat Quarter bundles, Fat Eighth bundles, or Layer Cakes from Pink Castle Fabric, Green Fairy Quilts, or Fat Quarter Shop and they will ship as soon as it gets to them.

Now, I realize that Happy Go Lucky will not be released until later this spring (hopefully pre-cut bundles will ship in April, but possibly not until May) so it will mean a little patience waiting during the first few weeks of block tutorials before your fabric arrives.

Before you start sharpening your pitchforks, there is a method to my madness. I wanted to use a fabric collection that would still be widely available by the conclusion of the Bee next fall. I figured if we used a collection available now, it would be scarce by the time people were finishing up their quilt - and more frustrating on the back end. So to those of you chomping at the bit to start, just hang in there. The fabric will come soon and you'll have plenty of time to catch-up and be ready for the blocks ahead for then next 8 months.  Breathe...

And finally, by all means, do not feel like you need to use the fabrics listed above. If you've got stash, use it! If you want to choose your own colors, do it! That's the whole purpose of this fabric-choosing-post. Make this quilt your own. Use it to stretch yourself, at whatever level you're at.

And most of all, let it be fun - not stressful. Choosing fabric really can be the such a fun part of making a quilt. Don't become too worried about rules, or collections, or  - let it be an expression of your own personality.

If you have other tips, or links to great fabric-picking posts, please add them in the comments!

P.S. This post is going live while I'm away at a sewing retreat with friends. Yay! Unfortunately internet access is sporadic at best, so if there are questions or problems or glitches I am so sorry and I promise to get to them as soon as I get home Saturday night. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fat Quarter giveaway from Westwood Acres

Today I have an awesome giveaway from one of my sponsors, Westwood Acres. Westwood Acres is an etsy shop that specializes in fabric bundles - especially collections that don't usually come in pre-packaged bundles (fat quarter, half-yard, etc.) such as Denyse Schmidt (Chicopee and Shelburne Falls), Lizzy House (Pearl Bracelets) and Tula Pink (Salt Water). I have those Pearl Bracelets and I love them (so versatile!) and I'm wanting to get my hands on Shelburne Falls next!
Fat Quarter Bundle of 26 New Bella Solids from Moda's Fall 2012 Release
Also great selection of Bella Solid bundles as well as other color basics like Riley Blake's new Shuffle.
And now, all shipping is a flat rate of $5.85 no matter how much fabric you buy!
Westwood Acres is run by Amanda Woodruff and her husband. They really love what they do and have a great eye for the newest trends as well as fabulous customer service. (I know this first hand.) I think their selection is so well curated. I want a little bit of everything they stock. It's hard to not get carried away...
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Amanda also has a fabulous blog, A Crafty Fox, with great quilting tips and tutorials - including this neat diamond and hexagon pieced pillow using one of their recent bundles of low-volume prints (it sold out in 10 days!). But don't worry, they have a lot of new fabric on the way and plans for more low-volume (light background prints) bundles in the shop soon. You can also keep up with Amanda via Facebook. I'm always in awe of Amanda's latest and greatest creations.
NEW Gingham 10 Fat Quarter Bundle from Michael Miller
And today, Westwood Acres is giving away one of these awesome gingham fat quarter bundles to one of you readers! Ginghams are so useful in so many ways - and to have that color variety would be dreamy. 

If you would like to win this bundle of fun, take a quick trip to Westwood Acres and come back and tell me something you love in the shop. Giveaway open until Saturday, February 23 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Winner: manybooks said...
I love this shop - already have the Pearl Bracelets from that shop and a Cookies and Cream bundle. I would *love* any of the Salt Water bundeles, or Architextures! Yum~

Monday, February 18, 2013

Easy Pinwheel mini quilt tutorial


Hello fellow Art Gallery Fabric lovers! I'm Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter and today I am sharing a quick little table topper project using one of my new, favorite collections, Color Me Retro by Jeni Baker. I have been collecting vintage pyrex and other dishes for a while now so when I heard Jeni was designing a vintage-dishware-inspired fabric collection, I knew I would love it! And I was right.
Playing with this fabric made me so in the mood for spring! I'm glad I have some cheerful color on my table to keep my hopes up.

Here are the fabric requirements for this 24" x 24" square table topper. (The same yardage will work for a 12" x 48" table runner.)
  •  10 Fat Quarters from Color Me Retro collection (I used all 10 because I wanted to feature the entire collection, but you really only need 4 fat quarters worth of yardage for this project.)
  • 5/8 yard solid turquoise. (The coordinating Pure Element is Fresh Water)
This project consists of one simple 6" pinwheel-type block. Each block requires 2 strips 2" x 14.5". I used the same solid as one of the strips in each block, but you could use a variety of fabrics if you like.
Sew strips together and press toward the print fabric. Carefully sub-cut into 4 units 3 1/2" square. 
 Rotate the units as pictured.
Sew units into two rows as pictured, pressing seams toward the print. Then sew two rows together to create a 6 1/2" (unfinished) block.
After center seam is sewn, "pop" the seam in the center of the block (un-pick a couple of the stitches). 
Press each seam (from assembling the 4 units) toward the print strip in a counter-clockwise direction. This will help seams match up when you go to sew your block together.
Create 15 more blocks. 

I sewed my blocks 4 across by 4 down to create a 24" x 24" square. You could also sew them 8 across by 2 down to create a 12" x 48" table runner.
I then used my remaining fat quarter prints to piece together a quilt back 27" x 27". (You could also use 3/4 yard of fabric for this backing.) I like that I can have a reversible option for my table.
From there layer the top, batting and quilt back and quilt as desired. I used my walking foot to sew quilting lines 3/4" apart. When quilting is finished, trim excess batting and backing fabric so that edges are clean and square.

For the binding, cut 3 strips 2 1/2" wide from your remaining solid and sew them together end to end. Here is a binding tutorial if you need one.

And that's it! This is a quick pinwheel-type block if you want to make lots of blocks and create a bigger version of this look too.

And if you would like to win a fat quarter bundle of Color Me Retro from Art Gallery Fabrics, leave a comment on this post. Giveaway will be open until Friday, February 22, midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

Winner: BKringelFebruary 19, 2013 at 5:10 PM
Really nice tutorial. Can't wait to give it a try! Following AGF on FB and subscribing to their blog (which I really enjoy).
Thanks so much, Bernadine