Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Free Aurifil Block of the Month May

Free quilt block pattern from Aurifil's 2014 Block of the Month
Can anyone else out there believe it is actually May tomorrow? MAY? Really? Didn't the school year just start a few months ago? Wasn't Christmas just a couple of weeks ago? May? This must be a sign I'm getting old(er). Well, here's the good news about May. It's time for a new free quilt block pattern from the Aurifil Block of the Month and this month the designer is yours truly = me.
The blocks each month are inspired by a woman in your life, and I chose my mom. She was always a sew-er and creator. She could make her own and our cloths, knit and crochet. I still remember when she took her first quilting class. I was probably about 11 or 12. After the class she came home and taught me how to hand-piece the block she'd learned in class. These are the first quilt blocks I ever made! I was so excited when I found them a few years ago. Who would have ever thought what quilting would become in my life!
Later I made a pink version of that design and my mom took the block and replicated it in a quilt for my room. I had this quilt on my bed for years and still have it now.
So this is the 12" block I designed for this month as an homage to that first quilt block I learned from my mom! I felt so lucky to have my month be May, just in time for Mother's Day! Here is the block I made for the Aurifil quilt and here is the block to go with mine. You can see that by using a contrasting color for the rectangles vs the same fabric as the center block can change the whole look of the block. Options! 

Here are the 5 blocks I've made so far. To get the patterns for each block, visit the list of Aurfil 2014 BOM designer interviews. Each interview has a link to a PDF pattern for the block that month.

If you've made any of the Aurifil BOM blocks, be sure to link up to the Aurifil Flickr group. Each month a winner is chosen from the photos in that group and the prize is a box of 12 large spools of Aurifil Thread. That's a $125 value and 17,064 yards of thread. For making a quilt block. What are you waiting for? I love the incredible variety of colors by Aurifil but I also love to buy a giant cone of a neutral and use it for everything. Those cones go on forever.
Speaking of Mother's Day, whether your mom is a quilter or not, here's an updated list of gift ideas for the quilters that you love.
And don't forget to stop by the blogs sharing some of their favorite quick-quilting tips as part of the Fabulously Fast Quilts party. There have been some great ones so far!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fabulously Fast Quilts and Quilting Tips

Fabulously Fast Quilt patterns by Amy Smart
Lots of fun stuff going on around here today! As you probably already know (because I can't stop talking about it) my new book Fabulously Fast Quilts came out earlier this month. Fabulously Fast Quilts is available on Amazon, the Martingale shop (where you can get an ebook version for free with your purchase of the hard copy) and if you'd like a signed copy from yours truly, you can order one through my shop 
Fast strip-piece quilt pattern, Zig, by Amy Smart
Clearly, I really like to make quilts. But, like most of you, my time is limited because of 4 kids, responsibilities at church, schools, writing and maintaining a blog, yard, a dishwasher that constantly needs unloading, etc, etc. Also, I have a short attention span. I'm always itching to start a new project. I'm pretty good at finishing my quilts, (well, most of the time) but that could have to do with the fact that I don't typically make a lot of really complex quilts. Or at least I like if they look complex, but in reality they are fast. There are so many great short-cuts when it comes to quilting and I like to use as many of them as possible to speed up the entire process.
Book: Fabulously Fast Quilts by Amy Smart
And hence, the idea for this book was born. A collection of 12 patterns - many that are pre-cut friendly -using quilting short cuts to help you create a gift quickly. Some of these patterns are definitely faster than others, but all use techniques to help you save time. Some patterns are inspired by traditional designs and methods, and others are hopefully something new entirely. I want this to be a good resource for finding a selection of quick go-to quilt designs. 
Quilts from the Fabulously Fast Quilt book by Amy Smart.
It's crazy to think that this process started almost 2 years ago. And I'll admit it feels very good to have reached this point! 
Green and white quilt pattern, Crossing Guard, by Amy Smart
This quilt is one of my favorites - it's called Crossing Guard. I want to make another in a totally different color scheme. Last week my friend Pink helped me scout out some fun locations to shoot pictures of these quilts. Our favorite find was an old turquoise barn (!) with an antique ladder hanging on the side (!!). We may have hyperventilated a little. (Four of the quilts are still with the publisher, so I'm going to have to shoot them when they come home in May.)
In honor of the release of Fabulously Fast Quilts, I asked some sewing and quilting friends to share some of their favorite fast sewing and quilting tips. Feel free to stop by each site to check out what they have in store. 

Quilts and patterns from book Fabulously Fast Quilts
In the mean time, thanks for all the support of Fabulously Fast Quilts. I am still slightly amazed by the whole thing. Thanks again SO MUCH for your support and big hugs to all of you!

Free Churn Dash Quilt Along tutorial pattern by Amy Smart
And speaking of quick quilt patterns, today starts part 2 of the Churn Dash Quilt Along at We All Sew! You can visit week 1 of the Churn Dash Quilt Along to find out about yardage requirements and choosing fabrics.
This week we will be cutting fabric and piecing blocks. CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 of the Quilt Along. It should be fun. (I hope!) I've figured out a good method for speeding up the process. Someone suggested starting a Flickr group so I did. Here is the link to the Churn Dash Quilt Along Flickr group.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mini Quilt with Cotton Supremes Fabric

A few months ago I was contacted by RJR Fabrics about creating a project with some of their Cotton Supreme solids. I had never used Cotton Supremes before and was really impressed. They are a nice weight - not too sheer - with a tight weave, but still have nice drape. I was given the choice of what colors to choose and when I saw the soothing, beachy shades of blue I was immediately drawn to them. (Maybe because they brought back happy feelings about our beach trip last year.) 
RJR has hosted a series featuring their Cotton Supreme solids. You can see the other designers and links to their projects at the RJR Facebook Page. It's really inspiring to see the variety of styles, projects, and colors used.
This is the little mini quilt I made solely with the solids. The colors I worked with are: Sea Glass (234), Blue Skies, (264), Cove (294), Notting Hill (309), Beach House (242), and Nile Green (90).  This little quilt (22.5'' x 22.5'') is a mini version of a quilt in my book, Fabulously Fast Quilts.
Here is the big version (63" x 81") from the book called Roundabout.
I had a little text print remnant on hand that worked perfectly for a pieced back. I quilted this little guy myself on the BERNINA 710.
And if these colors look slightly familiar, I liked them so much that I also used all of these solids in the Churn Dash quilt for the Quilt Along.
The official names of the colors I worked with are: Sea Glass (234), Blue Skies, (264), Cove (294), Notting Hill (309), Beach House (242), and Nile Green (90).  And RJR has a fat quarter bundle of these Cotton Supreme solids to give away. To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Giveaway open until Wednesday, April 30 at midight, MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

I love the soothing colors! Can't wait to have a take me away moment at the beach! Summer can't come fast enough.

For a great selection of RJR Cotton Supremes, check out Pink Castle Fabrics. They have most of these colors, as well as a huge variety more, in stock.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm hosting a Free Fast Churn Dash Quilt Along!

This week I am so excited to share a new free quick quilt pattern starting this week at BERNINA's We All Sew site. This pattern uses a "fabulously fast" technique for making a traditional Churn Dash Quilt.
You may remember some sneak peaks of the work on this quilt over the past months. It's so fun to finally be able to share the full pattern and tutorial.
This is the quilt we'll be making. A Churn Dash block is as traditional as it gets, but by playing with colors, prints and solid fabrics, you can create a very traditional or modern quilt design. The method for making this blocks is super slick with very little fabric waste.
For part one of this quilt along, we are talking about fabric choice. For this project I used a collection of solids including RJR Cotton Supremes (colors Sea Glass, Blue Skies, Cove, Notting Hill, Beach House and Nile Green) as well as Kona solids (Aqua and Leaf). I also wanted to incorporate a bunch of the "low-volume" (or low-value/contrast) prints that are so popular right now. This was a big switcheroo for my usual style of colorful prints combined with solid white. (Post edit: I used a lot of prints from Pat Bravo's Rapture collection as well as Alison Glass text prints and other assorted low-volume prints from my stash. Pink Castle Fabrics has Rapture in stock as well as most of the solids I used.)
The key to this fast design option is having two contrasting sets of fabric, in this case the bundle of solids and the bundle of low-volume prints. The low-volume prints and the monochromatic solids create a really subtle quilt. But this design works equally well in high-contrast, saturated colors and prints. For more discussion on choosing fabric and fabric requirements go Part 1 of the Churn Dash Quilt Along at We All Sew.

Come join the fun. This is a great stash buster. You've got a week to gather you fabrics. Next week we'll work on cutting and piecing the blocks.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I love this time of year. I love dying eggs. It must be the same "playing with colors" that appeals to me with quilting too. I am trying to do a better job each year letting go of Martha Stewart expectations and just enjoy the process. The results are still pretty, right?

I love Spring. I've been getting out on my bike again (yay!) and I love finding hidden gems like this one pink tree in an old fruit orchard full of blossoms. It's so nice to see the world turning green again and the gorgeous contrasting colors everywhere.

And I love Easter especially. I hope you don't mid if I get personal for a minute. As a chronic worrier (in a long line of chronic worriers) Hope is an action that I love, but find that I need to make a constant effort to choose. Because of Easter and Jesus, I know that I always have a reason to HOPE. Peace can come during hard times, I can be more patient and forgiving with myself and others, and the separation of  death is only temporary. This brief video is a gorgeous reminder of that Hope!

Whatever your faith or beliefs, I hope that you have a sweet and happy Sunday with those you love! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Weekend Sale and Giveaway from Green Fairy Quilts

Moda Fat Eighth Bundle - Daydream by Kate Spain
This weekend Green Fairy Quilts is having an amazing Easter Sale as well as a generous Fat Quarter Bundle giveaway to one of you! Just enter the code EASTER at checkout to get a discount on your entire purchase.

Green Fairy Quilts
Green Fairy Quilts is an online shop that specializes in carrying the latest Moda and Riley Blake precuts including  Fat Quarter BundlesJelly RollsCharm PacksLayer Cakes, etc. They always have the latest collections at the best prices. Frequent sales mean the prices get even better. They also have the option to pre-order up-coming collections months ahead to guarantee a new favorite arriving asap with free shipping!

Look Mom, no computer!
Green Fairy Quilts is owned and run by Judi and Clint Madsen. Judi is an AMAZING machine quilter.
Solar Flares
You can see more of Judi's incredible work on their Green Fairy Quilts blog.
Today Judi and Clint are giving away a brand new Fat Quarter bundle of the Fete De Noel collection - French General's newest Christmas line for 2014. (Doesn't that feel crazy that Christmas collections are already being released? A good way to get a jump start on next year! :)
This bundle is a $96 value. Yardage hasn't even arrived in shops yet! For a chance to win, sign up for Green Fairy Quilt's newsletter, and then leave a comment here telling me that you've done so. This is a great way to be notified of all of their future specials and incoming collections. Giveaway open until Thursday, April 24 at midnight MST.

And don't forget the Easter Sale. Enter the code EASTER at check out and get an additional discount on already discounted bundles and precuts - not to mention FREE SHIPPING on all US orders. An amazing time to stock up on all your pre-cut needs!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shimmer Stars Quilt

Last spring at Quilt Market, one of the fabric designers that really caught my attention was Jennifer Sampou in the Robert Kaufman booth. So when Jennifer contacted me earlier this year to see if I would like to play with her upcoming collection, Shimmer, I totally jumped at the chance.
Metallic in fabric prints are a huge trend right now and Jennifer's collection celebrates the spectrum of metalics in a subtle and contemporary way. I've been redecorating parts of my house and right after Christmas I found a bunch of great mercury glass pieces on clearance at West Elm and Target that were the perfect accents in my new room. 
So I chose the Steel colorway from Shimmer to work with because they play so nicely with those silver and gray mercury-glass-tones. I wish the camera captured better the subtle sheen of the metalic prints.
For years my taste in fabrics has been the bright primary colored, retro/vintage style. I feel like my tastes have evolved a lot and I am finding myself drawn more to of the sophisticated, sleeker designs. I really loved playing with these fabrics.
I did, however, use them in a very traditional design. I've made a similar quilt in bright solids. It was fun to try it with the more monochromatic Shimmer prints.
Because of the metallic sheen, the fabrics are just slightly heavier and stiffer, so to soften this quilt and give it some added texture I quilted it pretty heavily. I LOVE the result.
Jennifer has invited a number of other quilters to create with her fabric - I have LOVED seeing the variety of creations using the Shimmer collection! There are some seriously inspired quilts on this tour. You can check them out on the following blogs/dates.

For more Shimmer inspiration, checkout Jennifer's gorgeous Shimmer LookBook too. Shimmer fabrics are available at the Cotton Patch, JAQS Fabrics, and Hawthorne Threads.

Today I have a Charm pack of all the prints in the Shimmer collection to giveaway to one of you. Just leave a comment on this post. Giveaway open until Saturday, April 19 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

WINNER: HeatherK @ A Reformed Heath'nApril 15, 2014 at 7:51 AM
I love how traditional patterns can vary so much with different fabrics. The pattern really does seem to shimmer a bit with your choices.

Jennifer Sampou is also giving away a full Fat Quarter bundle of Shimmer on her blog. To read more about how to enter and the rest of the Shimmer blog tour click here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Break (?)

It's been Spring Break from school here with gorgeous weather that is making me crave summer, but I fear is just a tease with plenty of cold days to come first. 
We had part of the week in one of our favorite spots - Zion National Park.  It was nice to get away from life (Internet included) for a couple of days. The weather was gorgeous and warm. I grew-up taking the red rocks of southern Utah for granted as a kid. Now I can't get enough of them. I love Zion especially because the river that runs through it creates lots of green as well. In the fall it's spectacular.
Unfortunately we needed to cut our trip short because of a couple of sick kids. One who was throwing up and one who had what turned out to be pneumonia! Not fun. The epic week also included celebrating a birthday, Lacrosse practices, first bike-rides and sprinklers, and a trip to Ikea. So in other words, the usual. I'm kind of pooped. Maybe I'm not ready for summer after all.
In good news, my first shipment of Fabulously Fast Quilts arrived the night we got home! I'll start shipping out the pre-orders this weekend! A million thanks again to all those who ordered one. I'll be sharing more of the quilts inside as well as Fabulously Fast quilting-tips in the coming weeks. Hopefully you won't be utterly sick of it by then.

See you next week with an actual finished project to share!

PS: Craftsy is having a sale on bunch of their classes this weekend (including 50% off classes by Camille Roskelly and Angela Walters.)