Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fare thee well 2013!

1. Modern Baby quilt book, 2. art-gallery-fabrics-indie-star-quilt, 3. handmade-quilted-bag-pellon, 4. amy-smart-double-crossed-summer-quilt, 5. free-quilt-tutorial-pattern, 6. Dresden-blocks-american-jane-fabric, 7. The Sewing Summit 2013, 8. patchwork-pumpkin-table-runner-tutorial, 9. Free Jelly Roll Quilt pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, 10. modern-quilt-red-cross, 11. Art Gallery Fabric Color Me Retro Quilt, 12. Virtual Quilting Bee Block 1, 13. union-jack-tote-bag pattern, 14. quilts, 15. kona-solids-quilt-blocks-tutorial, 16. Modern Maples Oakshott Rubies, 17. Red and white Christmas pillows handmade, 18. Wee Wander Free-crib-quilt pattern, 19. mini-hexagon-quilt-flowers, 20. Riley-Blake-Union-jack-crib-quilt-tutorial

It's that time of year again. The end of an old year and time to make another mosaic of past projects. I must admit I kind of like doing this at the end of the year. Makes me look back and feel productive. I will give 2013 props - it has been a good year. A little crazier in some respects than I'd expected, but here we are at the end of it and we're hanging in there.

I'm looking forward to 2014. I have some fun goals and plans in the works and I'm excited to see how they all develop. I'm sure 2014 will have it's share of curve balls as well. In the mean time, a huge thank you for stopping by this blog. The encouragement I receive here is amazing. Thank you!

And now a question for you: What would you like to see more of in the quilt blog world in 2014?

Also, don't forget, lots of year-end fabric sales end today. There are still good deals to be had from shops like Cuts of CottonPink Castle Fabrics, Southern FabricsJAQS fabrics, Honey Be Good, Mad About Patchwork, and Bloomerie fabrics.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wrapping Up Christmas

A few images of Christmas this year. I don't have anything new or too thought provoking to share. But I do have a few thoughts that have been on my mind and I figure I might as well make a record of them.
I had the usual plans to get a lot of Christmas sewing done this year. One thing I've wanted to make forever is a tree skirt for our family room tree. There are patterns for so many cute pieced Tree-Skirts but I knew this would not be the year. Then I had a brilliant "a-ha" moment.
Last year I bought this great piece of red with white polka-dot fabric from Ikea, not really having a plan for it. I came across it earlier this month when I was looking for some other reds and realized it would be the perfect tree skirt - it was nice and wide with no piecing required. Since time seems to be my scarcest resource at the moment, I took the 60" x 60" piece to my friend Monica and had her stipple the whole thing. Plus she does a much more beautiful job than I would have.
I then cut a 45" circle from the quilted piece to create the tree skirt, made a slit up one side with a circle for the trunk, added some red gingham bias binding. (For finishing a curved edge, only bias binding will work because it will stretch.) Who doesn't love a good red and white gingham? I mean, what's more classic than that?
I was also able to get a table runner and enough for two throw pillows from that same quilted piece of red and white dots! Feeling quite chuffed about it too. So while I didn't get much other sewing done, I did get the bindings put on the tree skirt and the table runner while watching Elf. The pillows will have to wait until later, but I'll keep them out with my other red and white pillows through February, so they'll get their turn.
It has been an unusually busy Christmas season this year. I know I mentioned last summer that I have a somewhat demanding responsibility at church right now. 
This year I've also been trying to help my kids do random acts of kindness as their countdown to Christmas and as their "birthday presents to Jesus". This has been one of the busiest Decembers I can remember. But my plan has worked. As I have consciously chosen to focus on acts of kindness, often setting aside my "to-do" list, and letting myself just help where it was needed that day, I have found the most beautiful Christmas spirit. It has made it a really special season this year.
I have also been trying to do a better job of recognizing the kindnesses given to me and my love ones, as well as the people I cross paths with. One example came as I went to pull out my Christmas ornaments. I found some ornaments (including this vintage glass Santa and the Swiss Frohes Fest) that were sent to me by just kind and thoughtful readers of my blog last year when talked about my love for vintage glass ornaments and collecting ornaments from other countries. What sweet gestures!
Thanks to all of you who are so generous with your support through kind and encouraging comments, and for just stopping by to say Hello! I feel continually blessed by the amazing and kind people found in this community.
I'm going to take the next week off to hang out with these guys as well as other extended family, maybe watch White Christmas a few more times, and take a nap or two. I hope you can do the same.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with those you love. Sending lots of love to you all from our house to yours!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A little British Fun and Keeping Christmas

Me and my Union Jack quilt
A few fun little announcements. Fat Quarterly (the online quilting magazine) has hosted a Quilting retreat in London during the past two summers. They just announced the teachers for the retreat this summer and guess who is going: Me!!!! Woohoo! I about died when I saw the list of others who will be teaching. They have n fantastic line-up this year. Including the amazing Jen Kingwell.  I feel a little like a
poser in comparison. I may have a Wayne and Garth "Not Worthy" moment when I get there.
retreat2014
BUT I'm beyond excited and still pinching myself a little bit. I still can't believe that I'm going to visit my favorite city in the world - London. Plus I can hardly wait to meet some of my UK peeps in real life. So much to look forward to! EEEeeek.
In other random, and British-related fun - I found out that Love Patchwork & Quilting generously featured this blog in a little blurb in their latest issue. (Pardon the picture quality. I pilfered this pic from Lori Holt who was kind enough to alert me.) What a lovely thing! Thank you Love Patchwork & Quilting!

Love Patchwork and Quilting is a relatively new quilting magazine out of the UK that definitely feels fresh and modern. To give you an idea, Allison from Cluck Cluck Sew made this quilt for last month's issue. If you want to check it out, LP&Q is offering a special trial subscription of 3 magazines for only $10. Details here.

And in other random, less-exciting news. Christmas is 5 days away. Holy Moley. This month has been crazy. I think I am finally getting my act together, but my front room looked just like this for 2 weeks. 
Many projects are simply not going to get done, but I have wanted to make a tree skirt for our bigger, family-room Christmas tree for years. This is the year I am bound (har, har, no pun intended) to get one done. Think anyone will notice if it still has binding clips on it? (I found the red dot fabric at Ikea last year. My friend Monica did the stippling for me.) Hopefully by Monday it will be officially finished and I'll post some better pictures.

I'm trying to do a better job to not getting harried by all the "to-do" lists of Christmas and just enjoy the moments. Yesterday was the Elementary school Christmas concert and my girls piano recital at a nursing home, interspersed with waiting in line for 45 minutes at the Post Office and trying to finish Christmas shopping. Fortunately the spirit of the sweet, musical moments dominated the other mundane stuff. And even in line at the Post Office and some other stores, I was touched by the cheerfulness and generosity of my fellow-folks-in-line. Three cheers for the best parts of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gift Certificate Giveaway from Southern Fabrics

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Today I have a super generous giveaway from online fabric shop, Southern Fabrics. Southern Fabrics operates out of Georgia and ships all over the world. They carry a great variety of lots of the latest popular fabric collections. Including:
and Alchemy, Amy Butler's latest collection for Westminster. Lots of vibrant color. I really like Joel Dewberry's latest True Colors for the same reason.

Right now Southern Fabrics is having lots of sales including 30%-40% off some great collections like Simply Color, French General, and some classics like Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane and Joel Dewberry's Heirloom at really good prices.

Today Aubrey of Southern Fabrics is giving away a $50 gift certificate to one of you lucky ducks. To enter, take a quick trip to Southern Fabrics and come back here to leave a comment telling me something you love. Giveaway open through Saturday, Dec 21 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

I really like Amy Butlers fabric line Lark! As always her fabrics are wonderful and are always hard for me not to buy each and every color and style in this line:-)
Thanks for the chance at your giveaway!!
*Jessica

To keep current on Southern Fabrics latest arrivals and sales, I highly suggest you follow them on Facebook, the Southern Fabrics blog, or twitter. And stay tuned for the end of the year Clearance Sale starting Dec 21 where you can save as much as 50%!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gift ideas for Quilters

I've been a quilter for sometime now and I worked in a local quilt shop for about 7 years. I always loved helping quilters and/or their bewildered deer-in-the-headlights loved ones pick out gifts at Christmas. So I thought it would be fun to create a list of gifts perfect for quilters. This doesn't just apply to the holiday season, but could be a good resource year round, or a subtle link to send to those you love who need suggestions for just the right gift for you. (wink, wink)

All of these are my personal recommendations - a list of some of my Favorite Things. I wish I could go all Oprah and pull out my magic elves and share them with you instantly. But sadly, I do not wield such power. So all I can do is present them as a list of helpful suggestions. This list is authentic - no one asked me or paid me to put them on the list.
I have included items in all different price ranges in case you're looking for that one great thing for someone special, or a nifty little gift for everyone in your quilting guild.


Notions: Notions are a great gift for quilters. There is always some handy new gadget to make our quilting-lives easier. Here are a few of my favorites.

One of my very favorite tools is the Omnigrid Portable Cutting & Pressing Station. This is half cutting mat, half ironing board, that conveniently folds in half and is easily portable, using the carrying handles. I take this with me when ever I go sewing someplace away from home because I can have a convenient place to both cut and press without having to leave my machine. I often use it at home for the same reason.
Another cutting mat that has been on my list for sometime that I finally got this year is the Fiskars Rotating Cutting Mat. (Omnigrid has one too.) This little mat is so useful for quickly squaring up blocks. It's one of those things I've lived without just fine for a long time, but I sure do appreciate how helpful it is now that I have it.
My two favorite cutting tools are the Olfa Splash Rotary Cutterand the OLFA 5-Inch Scissors. I love the Splash because it's relatively inexpensive, but it's sturdy, and because it's SO easy to change the blade. If you don't have a good rotary cutter PLEASE give yourself the greatest gift and get one. (My favorite are the Olfa's.) I promise it will make a huge difference. You will thank me and wonder why you waited so long. I received my 5" Olfa scissors at the Sewing Summit last year and have LOVED them. I keep them by my machine, but I also take them with me on the road because they are small and portable, but super sharp and great for cutting fabric.

Seam Ripper. Who can't use another seam ripper? I have multiple seam rippers located strategically throughout my house. My favorite is the Clover Seam Ripper
Clover Wonder Clipsaka Binding Clips. I have seen and heard talk about these puppies for a long time and finally got some this fall. And I add my love to the love professed by others. They are so handy. And my family walks with much less trepidation and fear of a random pin in the carpet after I have bound a quilt. The one thing that held me back originally was the price, but I found them for a GREAT deal on amazon here.

This is called a Wooden Iron. I saw these for the first time this fall at a sewing conference. It's a tool for quick pressing simple seams without having to get up and use an iron. I don't have one yet, but they looked so cool - it's definitely on my wish list.
Thread: some great thread options include Connecting Threads gift boxes or Aurifil Threads collections from Christa Quilts.

Fabric. Who can resist fabric. Precuts are a great option, but for me part of the fun of getting new fabric, is picking it out myself. I highly recommend Gift Certificates to fabric shops. Pretty much all of the online shops on my side bar (under Sponsors) or your local quilt shop will happily sell you or your loved one a gift certificate. Keep in mind - giving a gift certificate is not a cop out - it's like giving a present twice. First when they receive it. Second when they use it to buy something they love!

Another fun thing for someone who is just getting started would be a membership in a monthly club from online shops such as Pink Castle Fabrics or Marmalade Fabrics where they send you a bundle of fabrics in a new color each month. Perfect for stash building!
Speaking of subscriptions, one fun new option in the quilting-world is Quilty Box. This is a fun surprise-in-the-mail box of quilting goodness. I received one in October and was amazed by the quality it contained! Art Gallery Fabric, a Julie Herman Sidekick ruler and pattern, aurifil thread, needles, and a fun surprise. Each month is a box of new creative inspiration. You can find out more about subscription here. And between now and Dec 20 you can get $5 off by using the code Quilty 13.

Books: There are a myriad of amazing quilting books right now. One of my favorite new books of the year, and one that is so perfect for gifting because it has so many possibilities, is 500 Quilt Blocks by Lynne Goldsworthy and Kerry Green. 
This book is full of so much inspiration. I bought mine a few months ago and it is still on my bedside table because I love to read it just for the fun of it. In addition to all the block patterns and variations there are also some full quilt patterns and other projects. It's such a sweet book and I think it's the perfect gift for any quilter on your list because it appeals and crosses over to many tastes and styles - whether they're new or experienced, traditional or modern.
Handmade gifts: Let's be honest. It's hard to beat a handmade gift. These are just a few little suggestions of handmade gifts - some simple, some more complex -for quilting friends. A cute zipper pouch is always useful to anyone. (The little piggie pouch was a sweet gift from my friend Leigh.) There are lots of great zipper pouch tutorials. One of my favorites is Anna from Noodlehead's open-wide zipper pouch tutorial.

I also recently tried Anna's Divided Basket pattern. It takes a little more effort but the results are so great. I LOVE mine - it helps me feel so much more organized to have a place to keep all my supplies together. I can give a great testimonial that it has helped me misplace things far less frequently. I am really hoping to at least make a few of these before Christmas gets here.
A little pin cushion made from a small rice bowl is super easy.
Or a personalized magnetic pin case is also really simple and useful. I love mine so that I don't have to worry about dumping my pins when I'm sewing on the road.
And if you want uber-easy, these magnetic pin dishes are so simple and fast to make and customize - and are so useful. I used little rice bowls from Pearl River Mart for my pincushion and this magnetic bowl. Any Asian restaurant supply store would have an inexpensive variety. 

One of these pin holders with a bunch of new pins (because don't we all need new pins once in a while) would be a really sweet gift for a quilting friend. If you're looking for some quality glass-head pins, Westwood Acres has some really nice ones.
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Another adorable handmade gift is NanaCompany's Needle Book tutorial. This is one my sweet friend Calli made for me a couple of years ago. I love it so much.

Finally, a really fun gift would be the gift certificate to take a class, either at a local quilt shop, or online. You can Gift Any Craftsy Class by buying a gift certificate and then let the recipient choose the class that interests them most.

Most of these notions are found, not only at big box sewing-supply stores like JoAnn's, but also at other craft stores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby. You can use those great weekly coupons to get some great deals on awesome quilting supplies, extra rotary cutter blades, etc. But at the same time please, please remember to support your local quilt shop! You can't replace the expertise and customer service only found in local shops.

If you have other ideas of gifts perfect for quilters, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Happy Gifting!

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Union Jack quilt and bag tutorials

For the past few weeks I have been playing with those Union Jack panels from Riley Blake that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. 
Today I am sharing a super-simple tutorial for this "Jacks are Wild" crib-sized quilt, using the flags from the "Blue" Union Jack panel


This quilt was quilted by my friend Monica at American Quilting. I added a striped binding that I already had on hand. This quilt is going to a friend who lived in London and just had her first baby. I had wanted to make her a Union Jack quilt, but considering the fact that it took me 3 years to finish my Union Jack quilt, I worried that it would never happen. So three cheers for the cute panel blocks for making this quilt a realistic possibility before this child starts kindergarten.
I've also been playing with the "Orange" pastel panel to create some quick bags, using my Easy Fat Quarter Bag tutorial. These have gone together SO FAST.
The only modification is that I used a 12" x 20" panel and lining fabric instead of 11" x 18". Everything else is exactly the same.
I made both the purse and hand bag version. I'm hopefully going to whip out a few more of these quick to give to my girls friends as Christmas presents. SO cute.