Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Making Progress

Well, I have been making some progress with my scrap hexagon quilt.  While looking for something else in my sewing room I found the purple and orange block.  It is a leftover from my Flower Garden quilt and fits right in.  If I remember correctly I have a few more extras.  Maybe it is time to do some cleaning....

Linking to Fabric Tuesday and WIP Wednesday.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Best Foundation Paper Piecing Class EVER is on Sale!

Carol Doak's Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing

I've got the foundations printed and fabric picked for on of February's At the Fair Mystery Quilt Blocks.  It is going to be Amazing!  Seriously, it is one of my favorites in the quilt.  It looks so complicated but comes together really simply with foundation paper piecing.  A few years ago I was terrified of foundation paper piecing.  Then I tried it and it wasn't bad at all - totally doable!

But my comfort and skill grew by leaps and bounds when I took  Carol Doak's Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing at Craftsy.  Carol is the Queen of Foundation Paper Piecing and goes over every step in detail.  And her tips for making sure all of the seams and points line up is simple yet brilliant.  She is a great teacher and I cannot recommend her class enough.

I am sure you have heard that Craftsy is having a sale this weekend on tons of their classes.  If you want to learn how to or feel more comfortable foundation paper piecing Carol Doak's Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing is the class to take.  It is worth every penny (especially at $15 off regular price!).  The sale goes through Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

**affiliate links in post**

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Scrap Hexagons

I finished going through all of my small scraps (less than a fat 1/8 of a yard) and cut them all up into hexagons.  It is kind of fun to see what fabric I use the most of.  I have tons of red, pink, yellow, aqua, green and black/gray but I was surprised how little blue and orange I had.

I decided to try something different with this English piecing project.  I am making overlapping large hexagons.  The overlap will keep things interesting and will help to use up odd numbers of hexagons.  I am really liking it so far.  I don't know if there is such a thing as improvisational English paper piecing, but I think it will be a lot of fun to make up the design as I go along.  I am aiming for a lap sized quilt.

I set aside all of the strips that were too small to cut hexagons out of.  They range from 1-2.5" and are 4-42" long.  They would be perfect for a string quilt, but I don't think I am going to get to that any time soon.  So, if you would like them, leave a comment and I will send them to you.  (First come, first serve.)

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday and WIP Wednesday.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Christmas Quilt Finished...before Christmas!

 I ended up finishing this quilt before Christmas and I love it!  I love the colors and the fabrics.  I am super in love with the red polka dot flannel backing.  It is so nice to snuggle under.  It is still on our couch and I don't know that it is going anywhere soon.  (Kinda like the ribbon on the columns.)

I was planning on straight line quilting on either side of most of the seams but about 1/2 way across the first row I remembered how much I hate straight line quilting.  I feel like any wavy-ness in the line shows up a ton and I was wrestling with the quilt non-stop.  I didn't wear my quilting gloves like I normally do and wonder if that was part of the problem.  But I didn't think that I would need them with the straight lines.  Anyway, I quilted the bottom of each row 1/4 inch-ish from the seam.  

I was really frustrated with my inability to do the cool straight line quilting everyone else seems to do so easily and well, but a day later I decided that I actually liked it with less quilting.  I think sometimes we can forget how beautiful our quilts are just with the piecing.  It is nice to take a quilt "to the next level" with quilting but a quilt can be just as beautiful and enjoyed just as much with simple quilting.

I hope you had great holidays.  It has been bitter cold here and all of our quilts have gotten a lot of use.  But I can tell it is getting warmer because the cat meows at the door to go outside instead of me having to forcibly throw her out the door twice a day to do her business.  :)

And now that the kids are back in school there might also be more time to get down to the business of writing about some of the other things I have been working on!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

What's Going On

So this afternoon after wrestling with an uncooperative computer, I sent out the first installment of the At the Fair Mystery Block of the Month.  The block on the left is my coloration and the block on the right is the coloration of the original tile block at the fair grounds.  If you would still like to sign up click on over to my Etsy shop and the first month's files will be immediately available for download.

 Earlier this month I was able to go and visit friends in New York City.  I brought some English paper piecing to work on during the flight and got one of their girls hooked on it.  We decided to go to the fabric district to look for some fabric for her to work with.  (I wanted to go anyway.)  Most of the shops carry apparel fabric (there was one street with 4 spandex stores!) but we asked in one shop if they had any remnants we could buy and the owner gave my cute little friend some fabric for free.  While wandering from shop to shop I realized that I need to sew more.  There are so many wonderful things to make and beautiful fabric (and trim!) to make them out of.

A bank facade inside the museum.  The street lamps use to stand outside the Met until the lights were updated. 

I think my favorite part of the trip (aside from just hanging out with my friends) as visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was AMAZING!  Some of my favorite things were seeing all of the real rooms from different time periods.  The Met is immense.  I kept saying I was going to leave and then I would get sucked into "just one more exhibit".  I really liked the exhibit of mourning dresses from the 19th and early 20th century.  And I got a new quilt idea from a jade (?) piece of art found in an Egyptian tomb. 

Then I was home again just in time for Christmas.  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year's celebration!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Working on the At the Fair Mystery Block of the Month Quilt

So last week I finished up my triangle Christmas quilt (I'll post pictures later) and have been working on the At the Fair Mystery Block of the Month Quilt.  I LOVE the first block and wanted to give you a sneak peek at the blocks for January.

The large block measures 36" square.  After making it I decided that the second block for January needed to be less intense and made the 8" bow-tie block.  I love bow-ties.  They are so classic.

I am using a mix of Micheal Miller Cotton Couture and they are great - such a smooth hand.

One more artistic shot.  If you want to participate in the At the Fair Mystery Block of the Month click here for more details or sign up here.

Linking with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, December 1, 2014

At the Fair Mystery Block of the Month 2015

It is no mystery that I love going to the Iowa State Fair every summer.  Love it!  The first time I went I was taken by the tiled quilt block frieze that runs around the exterior of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center.  I fell in love with it and decided that some day I would reproduce some of the quilt blocks in fabric.  That day is today and you can join me too!  It is going to be epic!

The At the Fair Mystery Quilt Block of the Month is based on the 26 of the tile quilt blocks on the exterior of the Exhibition Center and measures 96” x 92”.  The blocks range in size from 36” to 8” square.  On the first of each month in 2015 you will receive, via email, a PDF file with clear, detailed instructions for two or three quilt blocks.  The instructions will include color diagrams, pictures and foundation paper piecing templates, when necessary.  The quilt blocks will be made largest to smallest to make best use of fabric.


When I started drafting the blocks for the quilt I quickly realized that they would need to be different sizes.  Some of the simpler blocks can be made in the smaller 8” size while the more detailed blocks require a much larger size to make the piecing manageable.  What started as a necessity quickly became the base for a unique quilt layout.  There is nothing boring about this quilt!  Over the course of the year we will make:  1 – 36” block, 1 – 32” block, 5 – 24” blocks, 3 – 16” blocks, 15 -12” blocks and 11 – 8” blocks.

Full and detailed instructions for setting the blocks will be provided in December 2015. 

Fabric requirements:

For the At the Fair Mystery Quilt you will need a total of 14 yards of fabric.

If you wish to use the same background in all of the blocks you will need:
·         7 yards of background fabric
·         7 yards of a variety of solid or print fabrics (yard cuts of two or three fabrics recommended)
·         1 yard of binding fabric
·         3 yards of 108” backing fabric

Pick fabric that you absolutely adore!  You will be working with this fabric all year and you will not want to work with fabric that you think is just ok.  Large scale prints will be appropriate for the jumbo blocks and smaller scale or tone on tone prints for the smaller blocks.  I would recommend including some solids so that there is a clear contrast in fabrics, especially for the smaller blocks.  For background fabric, choose a solid color that contrasts well with your prints.

I will be using Michael Miller Cotton Couture in the following amounts:
  •          7 yards Bright White
  •          1 yard of Shell, Turquoise and Sail
  •          ½ yard of Apple, Limeade, Sea Foam, Clementine, Tangerine, Berry, Bubblegum, Mango and Lemon
  •          1 yard Clementine for binding

Skill Level:
Adventurous!  The variety of block patterns and sizes will keep this quilt interesting, but there are only a few basic techniques: half square triangles, quarter square triangles, flying geese and foundation paper piecing.  All techniques will be thoroughly explained with step by step photos and illustrations.


A flickr group has been created for this quilt along.  Post pictures of your fabrics, blocks and finished quilt at: www.flickr.com/groups/fairquilt.  I can’t wait to see them!

Cost:  $35 for the entire year!  If you sign up after January 1st all previous months' PDFs will be emailed to you within 24 hours.  Sign up here!  You are going to love making your At the Fair Quilt!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Emily's Pinwheel Star Tutorial

About a month ago my 14 year old daughter Emily was playing around with EQ7 (I love seeing them get into quilt stuff too!) and came up with this design.  I really liked the pinwheel in the star and decided to make it up into a 12" block to go with my other Meadowsweet star blocks.

I thought other people might like to make it too, so here is the tutorial:

To make a 12" finished Pinwheel star, cut:

4 - 3.5" squares
4 - 4" squares
1 - 4.5" square

1 - 4.5" square

4 - 4" squares

 2 - 4" squares

Cut the 2 of the print squares on the diagonal.
Cut the 4.5" white and pink squares into quarters along both diagonals.
Draw a line along the diagonal of the four white 4" squares.

Lay out the white, pink and print triangles as illustrated.  Sew the white and pink triangles together.  (Tip:  Feed the triangles into the machine blunt end first.)  Press.  Sew the print triangle onto the pink and white triangle unit.  Press and trim to 3.5" square.  Make sure that the seams all run into the points.

Match the white 4" squares with the remaining print and yellow 4" squares and make 8 half square triangle units as illustrated above.  Press and trim to 3.5" squares.

Lay out all of the squares as shown.  Sew together into rows.  Press.  Match seams and sew the rows together.  Press.


Such a cute block.  I just need to make a few more for the quilt!  Have a great Thanksgiving week!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Real Life/Quilt Life Balance

So, I haven't touched my sewing machine since I posted my mile long WIP list last Wednesday.  Kind of a bummer.  I have drafted some blocks and dreamed/planned different quilts and quilt-alongs (like I need anymore projects!)  but no actual sewing.  And yet I still feel fairly guilty about my "quilt life" interfering with my "real life" responsibilities.   Do you ever feel like that?

I guess I feel like I should have everything under control/perfect in my "real life" before I focus on my quilting.  Like the leaves from our 11  (!!!!) trees should be raked and disposed of, the wallpaper that I started to strip (5 layers!!!) should be finished and painted, the floors should not make your feet stick and the dishes done before I lose myself in sewing.  Logically I know that those things will never be completely done.  There will always be something for me to do/clean.  I need to find a way to balance and integrate my sewing so that it complements, not overpowers, my everyday responsibilities and vise versa.

This week I decided to move my sewing stuff back down to my basement sewing room.  I had moved everything upstairs while I was writing the book but now that I don't have to sew all-the-time it is kind of a pain to get it out to sew for a few minutes and then put it back.  So I have spent the last few days popping downstairs for a bit to clean and sort my sewing room.  My plan is to run down there for a few minutes (or more!) everyday to do something/anything creative.  I might not be able to put a lot of time per day into sewing, but goodness knows I could replace my Facebook "brain breaks" with a sewing "brain breaks" instead.

Dealing with scraps was my first priority.  There were tons of scraps in piles all over the sewing room.  After folding and storing the larger scraps (fat 1/8th and larger) I sorted the smaller scraps by color.  Then I admitted that I never really use those smaller scraps, so I decided to cut them up into rough hexagons for a future English paper piecing project.  Maybe like this one?  This morning I worked my way through the reds.  It was fun to see fabric that I had used in other projects again.  Any piece that was too small to cut a hexagon piece out off was thrown away.  Yes. Thrown. Away.  With the exception of a few strips that I will hang onto just in case I feel the need to make a string project.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Once I am done I'll give away the scraps to whoever wants them.  :)

Just taking a few minutes this morning to cut up those red hexagons gave me a fabric fix.  Here's to taking a bit of time each day to enjoy some fabric beauty.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Works In Progress - The Unabridged Version

Yesterday At the Heart of Quilting, a local long arm quilting store, needed someone to pretend to be a customer while Channel 5 made a commercial for them.  I was more than happy to oblige, especially since they said I could bring in a quilt to quilt while they were filming.  Sweet!  It was all low key and fun.  I love free motion quilting on a long arm and told them that when all of my kids were in school that I wanted to come down to Des Moines all the time to quilt.  Since time was limited, I brought my smaller I-spy quilt did a large all over flower design.  The quilting really shows up well on the back.  I used minky fabric for the first time as a backing.  It is awesome!

I have been getting a lot done, but I still feel like I am drowning in projects.  So I want to get old school WIP Wednesday today and make a comprehensive list of my WIPs.  I didn't think there were this many....

Needs Binding:
1.  I-spy quilt
2. Hexagon Christmas pillow

 Needs Quilting:
1.  Megan's Star quilt
2.  Christmas triangle quilt
3.  Star Flower quilt
4.  Diamond Christmas pillow

Needs a Border:
1. 1930's Sampler
2. Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt

Needs to be sewn together:
1. Yellow/purple triangle quilt
2.  Tree skirt

Needs a few more blocks and to be sashed and set:
1. Meadowsweet star quilt
2. Dresden plate quilt

Fabric that I want to do something with:
1.  Jelly roll of Kona solids
2.  Jelly roll of Lotta Jansdotter fabric
3.  A rainbow pack of vintage sheet fabric

Need to get rid of:
1. Coral and black baby quilt top
2. Brother's blue quilt (totally messed up the quilting on that)

Quilt Ideas:
1. Iowa State Fair Quilt made with solids
2. Simple patchwork with my special "sweet" fabrics
3. Fun improvisation (multiple ideas there)
4. Selvage pillows/quilt/skirt/etc
5. Scrappy hexagon quilt
6. Christmas pillow with selvage trees

12 active projects and tons in the wings...I think I have enough to keep me busy for awhile.  :)  What have you been working on?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.