Monday, April 29, 2013

Labeling Solid Fabrics

When I was getting ready for a trunk show a few months ago, I realized something about myself. I make a lot of quilts with white fabric. I love using solid white to break up big prints and show off lots of color. But I'm trying to get out of my white comfort zone and expand my color palette, so I've been stocking up on additional solids in vibrant colors.

I have only one problem with this plan. I've been in the habit of thinking, "Oh I'll remember what color it is if I need more." And guess what? I never do. (I know. Shocker, right?) As I'm gradually maturing I'm coming to accept the fact that my impressive memory skills are no longer what they used to be. I needed a plan.
Here's the perfect example of why this is a problem. Last fall when I started my Modern Maples quilt, I shopped my stash (good girl) and picked out linen/cotton blend solid I already had on hand. The only problem was/is, of course, I need more and I can't remember what shade of Essex fabric I used. I've since tried guessing multiple times, ordering more yardage, and haven't had success matching it (although I am beefing up my collection of Essex blends).

So I learned my lesson and when these new solids arrived at my house, I got out the label maker and started labeling my fabric. I don't know why this idea took me so long. I share this, not as a great, mind-blowing novel idea, but as an admission of lowering my own pride and finally coming to terms with the fact that my memory does not have super powers. And obviously you don't need a label maker to label your fabric - use a sharpie in the selvage if you want. Just do something. You'll totally thank me one day. Or you're already doing it and wondering what took me so long.
{Please pardon the graphic content of the above picture.} Speaking of the label maker, one day I lifted the toilet lid in our main-floor bathroom to find this. Ah, living with little boys. I think a certain 8-yr-old was getting carried away with the intoxicating powers of the label-maker. The funny thing was I forgot it was there after a day or two and later realized it had been on the toilet lid all through the holiday season when we had lots of family and company. I'm sure they thought we were very interesting... (?!?) 

And with that, on to a few public service announcements:

If you're looking for a way you can help those affected by the tragic events in Boston last week, check out the Boston Modern Quilt Guild blog. I love when there's a way to channel our grief/frustration/innate-desire-to-do-something towards a good cause. 

Patterns for Quilting: 8 Free Quilt Blocks Patterns to Make a Quilt for Your Home
FaveQuilts has a new Ebook available to download for free! Check it out. Cool stuff for free is hard to pass up.
My block #4 for the Virtual Quilting Bee
And finally, with the impending demise of Google Reader, I have checked out Bloglovin as a way to keep up with my blog reading and I must say, I really like it! You can Follow my blog with Bloglovin here.  

And this will be a busy week on the blog - I've got stops on a couple of blog tours as well as block #5 of the Virtual Quilting Bee! Stay tuned.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sponsored Giveaway from the Little Fabric Shop

How about this for a fun way to kick off the weekend - a giveaway from sponsor, The Little Fabric Shop.
The Little Fabric shop has lots of recent collections from popular companies including Moda, Michael Miller, Riley Blake, Robert Kaufman, and Free Spirit.
This shop is full of most of my favorite collections available. I love pretty much everything in Angie's shop! Like those scallop prints from Riley Blake's Modern Maritime. They're some of my recent favorites! They're a fun variation on the chevron craze - a little softer and could be used in so many ways. Plus I'm a sucker for primary colors and anything nautical, so this collection meets a lot of good criteria in my book.
The Little Fabric Shop has also just started carrying Bailey from Blend Fabrics. So adorable and whimsical and graphic all at the same time. I'd love to play with that collection.
And in additional fun and exciting news, The Little Fabric Shop is having a HUGE sale! They're making room for lots of new goodies and you can find great collections on clearance, including some fabrics as low as $5.00 a yard.  Plus, if you order between now and Sunday, April 28 you can take and EXTRA 10% off everything in the store with the code QUILTER10 at checkout. Pretty sweet.
Be sure to check out the Little Fabric Blog for updates on sales as well as great tutorials, like this cute ruffled, minky blanket. You can also follow The Little Fabric Shop on Facebook to hear all about the latest arrivals and great deals.
Now, here's the funnest news of all: today Angie is giving away a $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE to the Little Fabric Shop to one of you readers. Whoa.

To enter, please take a quick trip to the Little Fabric Shop and come back here and tell me your favorite fabric collection in the shop. One entry per person, please. Giveaway open until Tuesday, April 30, midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

WINNER: Phyllis said...
Favorite is Little Red Riding Hood!

Thank you Angie!

And thank you to all of you for supporting these awesome sponsors. I'm very choosy about who I accept as sponsor's of this blog. I know from personal experience that selling fabric is not always as glamorous as it sounds. It's a lot of work for not a huge financial windfall and I'm so grateful to these independent businesses for supplying our fabric addictions needs. In turn, I am so grateful for the support of these sponsors so that I can justify the many hours spent sharing here. Huge thank you's all around!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tumbler Quilt tutorial

easy patchwork quilt tutorial beginner level
 Today is my turn to share a new project as part of the Riley Blake Design Team.
For this tutorial, I am teaching how to make a 'tumbler' quilt - a fun variation on traditional patchwork. I used Lori Holt's Large "Thimble" ruler as my template. (You can see more of Lori's cool ruler shapes here.)
The fabric for this quilt comes from Deena Rutter's new collection So Happy Together.  The whole collection is cheerful and spring-y, but I'm especially in love with the little houses and the hexagons. SO cute! I love other cute details like the pin-stripes made of little dots. Love everything about it, really.
The quilting was done freehand by Melissa Kelley, which makes the quilt even better. I love how the cabbage roses pop and make the finished quilt even more fresh and spring-like.
Can you tell we're anxious for spring around here? Don't let these pictures fool you. It was cold and windy while I was trying to photograph the quilt. This is the best picture I got of the whole thing, since most of the time it was whipping back and forth in the wind.

And speaking of Riley Blake there are still a few spots available at the Riley Blake Fabric Fest. I may be teaching an additional class that week possibly involving Union Jacks - so stay tuned!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Navy and Gold Handmade Bag + Bag Patterns Giveaway

Navy blue and gold handmade bag.
I finished making my navy and gold bag last weekend. Not as timely as I was originally planning, but I took it with me to the conference closing day, so that's good enough.  I didn't follow a pattern for this bag - I kind of made it up as I went a long. As a result it's got flaws character, but overall, I'm pleased with the result.  I basically pieced the fabric rectangles into 2 15" 18" sides and then quilted them using a layer of Pellon's Peltex Ultra Firm that I got at JoAnn's and a layer of cotton/poly batting. From there I used a basic tote concept to square the bottoms with gussets and add the straps.
Windham farbrics recently sent me a sample pack of the canvas prints from Lotta Jansdotters' newest collection called Glimma. I used some of the same pieces in the bag exterior. I asked them if I could use the gorgeous gold stripe canvas for my bag and they kindly sent me some yardage. I love the way the canvas gives extra body and durability to the lining and the bag straps. The pocket fabric is some of Lori Holt's Aunt Millie's Closet yardage that I'd bought a while back. You can find the Glimma collection here, here, and here.
Other prints include Indie Chic by Riley Blake, Pearl Bracelts by Lizzy House for Andover, and some Dear Stella Zig Zag.  
I'm so in love with the navy and gold color scheme that is popular right now. I've always been a fan of navy blue - maybe becuase I was raised on navy blue - so I love seeing it make a comeback.
Seeing as I'm NOT a great resource for bag-making (maybe some day!) let me point you in the direction of someone who is. Have you met Sara Lawson? I took a class from her last fall at the Sewing Summit  about making bags. (Don't you love that patchwork bag she made?) She gave us samples of all kind of Pellon products (interfacing, etc.) and explained how she uses them. I took notes right on the samples. It was SO helpful!
Sew Sweetness
Sara has a great blog called Sew Sweetness full of helpful bag-making wisdom and tutorials including this VERY helpful explanation of handmade bag interfacing options.
She also has some fantastic bag patterns in her shop and she has generously offered to giveaway 3 patterns to 3 lucky winners! If you would like to win a collection of Sara's patterns, just leave a comment on this post. If you want, pop over to Sara's shop and come back and tell me which bag is your favorite. I warn you, it will be hard to choose! Giveaway open until Thursday, April 25 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Winners: Heidi [Grizz-n-Dove]April 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM
I love the camera bag!!

They are all great bags...I think my first favorite would be the Locked and Loaded. Thank you for the chance to win a pattern.

Love the Aeroplane Bags. These would make great birthday gifts for older girls.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Block #4 tutorial for the Virtual Quilting Bee

Welcome to Block #4 from the Virtual Quilting Bee! Today's block is called Going Dutch and was designed by Melissa Corry of Happy Quilting. Melissa is such a creative quilter, let alone really nice person. 

Wondering what the Virtual Quilting Bee is? We're making a quilt! Go here for all the past posts and block tutorials

A few reminders: 

If you are using a fat 1/8th  bundle for your blocks - specifically a Happy Go Lucky fat 1/8 bundle - cut a 6 1/2" square from each fabric except the white on white dots. You will need to save these for your setting squares when the blocks are finished. If you do this, you shouldn't have to buy more fabric later, but still have plenty for your 16 pieced blocks.

Remember: 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 of each 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 blocks so far.

Use the hashtag #virtualquiltingbee if you're sharing on Instagram or Twitter!

And as always, I will answer questions to the best of my knowledge in the comments section.  Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Running and Reflecting

My Virtual Quilting Bee block #3. Don't forget that Friday the VQB block #4 will be available!
This week I feel a bit like a crazy lady.  I'm working on a bunch of deadlines at the moment including a new quilt tutorial for next week. I feel like I've been sewing like a mad woman, with nothing to share. Yet. Lots of works in progress, which means they will show up here at some point.
I'm also going to a conference this weekend and I thought it would be fun to make a new bag. I even have the pile of fabrics sitting on my kitchen table, ready to cut. But instead of spending time there...
I got to spend time here... My machine's motor brush (according to minds far superior to mine) went out. So I spent an hour round trip on Monday driving my machine to the shop to get fixed. To say the timing was bad would be a colossal understatement. I was feeling so frustrated. Until I started listening to the news out of Boston as I started driving. Suddenly everything was put into perspective. Again. Sending love and prayers to all those affected by the events in Boston this week.

Fortunately my machine was fixed by the next morning (hooray!) by the fine folks at Dave's Bernina and I picked it up on Tuesday. So it's back to work here, but I'm trying to do it a little more cheerfully and be grateful for the things I sometimes take for granted. While I may not have that new bag, it's pretty small in the whole scheme of things. Sending well wishes your way as well!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Giveaway from Southern Fabrics

Today a lovely giveaway from sponsor, Southern Fabrics. Southern Fabrics is an online-only fabric shop that has been in business since 2004. They specialize in items like Moda collections and pre-cuts (including Happy Go Lucky), full selection of the Riley Blake chevrons, as well as collections from Free Spirit and Westminster. 
Some recent additions include precuts for brand new Moda collections including Aspen Frost by Basic Grey, as well as Esprit de Noel by French General. {Can you believe new Christmas collections are already hitting shops??} Both collections are beautiful.  
Southern Fabric also has yardage and precuts from Urban Chick's new collection Boho - one of my favorites this spring.  (I've got a little project in the works myself with some Boho.)
Southern Fabrics frequently has great collections on sale. Right now Coquette, Funky Monkey, and Freshcut are all on sale.
Freshcut is still one of my favorite collections. The selection and sale prices are great! 

To keep current on Southern Fabrics latest arrivals and sales, I highly suggest you follow them on Facebook, the Southern Fabrics blog, or twitter. (In fact, there is a "share-it-to-win-it" contest on Facebook right now to win some Happy Go Lucky!)

Today Aubrey of Southern Fabrics is giving away a $25 gift certificate to one of you readers.  Just leave a comment telling me something you love in the Southern Fabrics shop. Giveaway open until Friday, April 19 at Midnight MST. Good luck! GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Winner: Phat Quarters said...
marmalade, love it

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quick and Easy Baby Quilt tutorial

Tutorial originally shared on the Riley Blake Design blog, but I am reposting here in case you missed it.
I suddenly have had a lot of friends and family have babies in the past months, and I feel very behind on my baby-quilt-giving. But I do seem to have an (over)abundance of adorable fabric on hand that needs a loving home and someone to spit-up on it. So rather than get further behind, I've been creating very simply-pieced panel type quilts using strips of fabric to create a simple embellishment.
With so many great large scale fabrics available, you can create a simple baby quilt, letting the design motifs do all the work for you.  Or by adding a simple monogram embellishment you can both personalize the quilt and give the quilt added design detail.

This tutorial will show you two variations on this design to create a 41" x 54" crib-sized quilt.
Supplies for Quilt 1:
  • 1 1/2 yard of fabric for front (I used Riley Blake's large Gray Chevron)
  • 1 5/8 yard for backing (I used Aqua Marine)
  • fat quarter for circle (I used Aqua )
  • fat quarter for letter (I used Charcoal)
  • batting (I used Pellon Legacy White cotton batting)
  • 1/2 yard for binding (I used Charcoal)
Supplies Quilt 2 (with stripe):
  • 1 3/8 yard fabric for front (I used Mystique Black Petal)
  • 1/6 yard fabric for stripe (I used Mystique Gray Stripe)
  • 1 5/8 yard cotton fabric for back (I used 60" wide minkie and needed 1 3/8 yards)
  • fat quarter for circle (I used Peony)
  • fat quarter for letter (I used Charcoal)
  • batting 
  • 1/2 yard for binding (I used Charcoal)
Cut a 15" circle out of thin cardboard. (Cereal boxes work perfectly.) From your circle fabric, use the 15" template as a guide and cut a circle at least 3/4" bigger than template all the way around. (Hint: If you are working with a light colored circle fabric that will go on top of a dark, patterned  background fabric, you may want to use interfacing so that the patterned fabric will not show through when you applique the circle to the front.)
Using a needle and sturdy thread, sew a large running stitch all the way around the circle, about 1/4" away from the edge. 
Carefully pull thread to gather edges around the cardboard edge.
Bring circle to your ironing board and spray edges with starch. (You may want to put a dish cloth on your ironing board so your cover doesn't get gucked up with starch.) Press the edges so that you have a nice, clean edge all around your circle. Don't remove cardboard yet.
To create your monogram, choose a font on your computer and increase the font size so that it's about 10". Print the letter. (Hint: using a bold, chunky font is easier to work with. Ask me how I know this.) Using Wonder Under (the thinnest, lightest kind), trace the letter onto the paper side in the reverse. (You might want to tape your letter backwards to a window or light box and then trace letter backward.) Fuse Wonder Under to the back side of your monogram fabric.
Cut out monogram and peal off paper side of the Wonder Under. Carefully center letter on top of your circle and iron into place. Remove card board and take monogram to your sewing machine to either top stitch or satin stitch around the raw edges.
Take your pressed monogram circle and place it where ever you desire on your top fabric. (I chose about 3/4 of the way down and 1/4 of the way from the right side.) Carefully pin in place.
Carefully top stitch around the outside edge of the circle.
To create the quilt top with the "stripe" you will cut your main print into two pieces: One measuring 36" and the other measuring 13".  From your "stripe" fabric, cut a piece 6.5" (6" if you only bought 1/6 yard - either is fine). Sew the stripe fabric between the 36" and the 13" piece using 1/4" seams.
Use the same method as above to create the circle monogram. On this one I satin-stitched around the letter because it was thinner and needed more reinforcement. 
Once your monogram is in place, square off the selvage edges plus about 1/2" of the front side of your quilt. This will help when you go to create your quilt sandwich with the front, back and batting, the backing fabric will be visible from the front on all four sides.
Then quilt the top as desired. These two quilts were quilted for me by Melissa Kelley.  We decided to use the chevron as a guide for the quilting on this one, but changed the look in the circle to reemphasize the monogram. I love the pebble quilting she chose. 

When the quilting is done, square off the batting and binding fabric to prepare the quilt for binding. Cut 5 strips 2 1/2" wide from your binding fabric and sew them together end to end. Binding tutorial here
And there you go! A quick project for your new favorite baby. And as pictured above, you could just use pretty fabrics from your stash and create a simple, quilted baby quilt without the monogram. Easy peasy. Put that fabric to work!