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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I usually rather like the fall, but this year I haven't really been feeling the love.  I've just been plain old grouchy.   But the sun is shinning today and there are so many good things around me.  Here are a few of my favorite things....

It was fun that the color of some fabric I just bought matched the color of the leaves that fell the next day.  

Rainbow piles of fabric trimmings.

Mini gourds from my neighbor's garden and chrysanthemums from ours.

Two year olds who insist on dressing themselves in their sister's way-too-big boots.

Making fancy bread inspired by this viral facebook video.  (Post by Iris Cohen.)

And small town homecoming parades and five year old's who tell you that they didn't throw the candy they were given because "if you do, you won't have any candy at the end of the parade."   Words of wisdom.  :)  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pre-Order You Can Quilt!

After my last post, I checked Amazon and You Can Quilt! is available to pre-order!!!  
Order a signed copy in my etsy shop or non-signed on Amazon.
I will meet Amazon prices, but do need to charge shipping.  The planned release date is February 2015 and I will ship out the books as soon as I receive them.

This is getting real!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

You Can Quilt!

Here it is!  You Can Quilt!  
It's planned release date is February 2015!!!

Just like the original We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler, You Can Quilt! devotes a chapter to each major piecing skill.

Chapter 1:  The Basics (cutting, 1/4" seams and straight line blocks)
Chapter 2:  Half Square Triangles
Chapter 3: Quarter Square Triangles
Chapter 4:  Flying Geese
Chapter 5:  Wonky Piecing
Chapter 6:  Improvisational Piecing
Chapter 7:  Foundation Paper Piecing
Chapter 8:  Curves
Chapter 9:  One Patch Blocks
Chapter 10:  Applique
Chapter 11:  Inset Seams
Chapter 12:  Challenge Yourself!

My picture of the Flying Geese Blocks.
Each chapter starts with a simple block, followed by an intermediate block and ends with a more advanced block.  The idea is to start with a nonthreatening block and then to progress to the point where you know you could make any quilt that used that particular skill.  The instructions for the 36 quilt blocks are detailed, clear and beginner friendly.

I think this book is the most awesome quilting book ever!  (I might be a bit biased.)  But I put off sharing the book's cover for a few weeks for two reasons.  First, it features my "ugly" quilt :).  Second, this book is a must have for all quilters, not just beginners and I wanted to see if the cover could be altered to resolve those concerns.

I know AQS wants to market to beginning quilters, but this book is also perfect for all of us that are stuck in intermediate-quilter-land.  I had been quilting for years before I tried to foundation paper piece and I would never have tried to applique if it wasn't for my husband (read that story here).  This book is all about overcoming your quilting fears, trying out new techniques and building skills so you can make the quilts of your dreams.

This book is for you!  Your friend!  Your quilt group!  Everyone!

I will be sure post more information and sneak peeks as they become available!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2014

AQS Des Moines Quilt Show Recap

I had a lot of fun at the quilt show this week.  Somehow going to quilt shows always makes me think not really about the quilts I see (although they are Amazing) but about what I like and what I want to make next.

There were so many wonderful quilts, but my picture taking time was limited by my daughter.  I took her toy puppy for her to pull, the idea being that it would: 1. Keep her happy, 2. Keep her walking when she didn't want to be in the stroller (90% of the time) and 3. Because the puppy makes a small popping sound as it moves I could look at a quilt and still hear where she was and if the popping stopped or got too far away I could respond.  It worked ok.  :)

But the long and the short of it was that having a two year old with me made me have to be choosy about what quilts I took pictures of and I only took pictures of ones that I immediately "ahh-ed" over.

So here are my faves from the show (Some of the quilts are from the AQS show and others are from the local DSM guild.  I labeled the ones I had info for):

 LOVE the quilting

Love the solid red and white and the different sized blocks.

Love the log cabins mixed with blocks.  Very striking.

 Nice and graphic and scrappy.  Love the blues.

Cool quilting in the negative space.

Bright and fun.  The quilting was great too.

I want to make this type of applique quilt someday 

Here is the same quilt in a different colorway.  It uses my favorite color of blue for the background and I LOVE the fabric choices for these flowers!

The applique and quilting was perfect. 

 I loved the texture the serpentine stitch gave the quilt.

 I love rainbows and the quilting in the negative space was really fun.

 I really love wool applique.  I love the look and I love that you don't have to turn under the edges.  I don't like the price of wool.  Insane!  (Note the spiderweb quilting between the blocks.)

 Becca's favorite quilt was the one with the animals under it.  She stayed there looking at the animals for 15 minutes until I pried her away with the promise of candy from the vendors' booths.
I mostly like quilts with clear crisp colors (the exception being the beautiful wool quilts).
I like solid backgrounds.
I want to make an applique quilt like Aunt Millie's Garden.
I want to make a quilt with solids.
I want to make a quilt with different sized blocks.  (I already have an idea for this one.)
And I want to continue to improve my quilting.

What kind of quilts are on your bucket list?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It All Started A Year (Or Three) Ago...

This is me today at the AQS Quilt Show in Des Moines --- by a poster featuring the edge of my* quilt!    How in the world did that happen?

*I can't take all the credit.  Wonderful friends turned pattern testers piece the blocks.  Thanks!!!  Then I made a few more blocks, set and quilted it.

It actually started a year ago.  No, it started three and a half years ago when I started the We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler in May of 2011.  I wanted to stretch my quilting skills and try new things and thought that a quilt along would be a great way to learn new skills and encourage others to stretch themselves too.

Blocks from Flying Geese Month progressing from easy to challenging (L to R)
Every month the sampler would focus on a different a different quilting skill like half square triangles, flying geese, curves or applique.  And each month I would write or link to three quilt block tutorials featuring that skill.  The first week's block would be easy and straight forward, the second would be intermediate and the third block of the month would be challenging.

The Skill Builder Sampler ran for a year (you can find all of the posts here) and I learned tons both about quilting and writing.  I finally finished piecing the blocks into quilts a few months before my daughter was born (Sep. 2012) and it took another 6 months to get them quilted up.

So during the summer of 2013 with the quilts finished and the baby getting older, I found myself thinking about the sampler.  I thought the idea of having different skills with easy, medium and challenging blocks was brilliant.  Book worthy even.  I started thinking about some changes I would make (I couldn't use other people's tutorials this time!) and worked on fine tuning the quilt block choices.

The only problem was that I had 5 kids (one who didn't sleep through the night) and a full life of other responsibilities.  I would look up info on publishing companies and at writing proposals and then get overwhelmed and cry.  I knew I wouldn't be able to really do this until all of the kids were in school...four. more. loooong. years....cue more crying.

Then Marlene, who had participated in the quilt along, emailed me.  Her quilt had been accepted into the Des Moines AQS Show and had won second place!  We set up a time to meet at the show (one year ago this week!).  She was teaching a class based on the Skill Builder Sampler and we met later to discuss working together to turn the Skill Builder Sampler into a Block of the Month program that quilt shops could purchase and teach from.  Marlene had written up tutorials for the first 18 quilt blocks and suddenly it seemed like it might actually be possible to get the sampler published.

The King Sized Mock Up
However, it soon became apparent to me that I would not be happy with the Skill Builder Sampler being a Block of the Month program.  It was meant to be a book.  We wrote up the first two chapters (I think those were the hardest to write!) and sent our proposal in to AQS.  (That process will get it's own post later because I think there should be more written about the publication process.)

And on December 6th of last year I got a call saying they had accepted our proposal!!!!  And then the crazy reality of writing instructions for 36 quilt blocks and sewing king, twin, throw and baby sized quilts in just a few months set in.  It is amazing what you can do (and what you have to let slide!) when you have committed to something and have a deadline.

Fabric Pull for the Throw Sized Quilt
And that is why I didn't post very much this winter/spring/summer.  The manuscript and quilts were turned in on May 15th and I was burned out and needed a break from quilting.  (Never thought I would say that!)

A few weeks after everything was turned in, I got an email asking for permission to use the twin sized quilt in some of AQS's QuiltWeek publicity.  Yes!!!

And the rest is, the rest will be written about next week.  Right now it is time to make dinner.  :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Start Your Own I-Spy Quilt

This morning I cut up some 3.5" I-Spy charms and put them in my Etsy Shop.  Included in each charm pack are 30 unique fabrics.  Some of the prints appear twice in different color ways.

If you alternate the charms with a 3.5" solid squares there are enough charms to make a quilt that is 30" x 36" 21" x 28".  Add a small border and it is the perfect size for a baby quilt.  Or continue collecting fabrics for a larger quilt.

I cut up 12 sets of charms but I ran out of a few fabrics at the end and had to substitute some even cuter fabric for 6 of the charms in two sets.

If you are interested, click here to purchase.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Spy With My Little Eye...A Finish!

I am always amazed at how much I can get done if I actually work on something.  I started collecting fabric for I-Spy quilt 4 years ago and finally finished it yesterday.  It all started when I saw Amy Smart's vintage inspired I-Spy quilt.  I had always thought that type of quilt was too busy, crazy and (I have to admit) cheesy but her fabric choices made it super cute.

The neighbor girls helped hold up the quilt.  Thanks!
I didn't feel like I should be too picky about foot and hand placement since they weren't my own kids/husband.  :)
So I bought one of her 3 1/2" charm packs and started collecting fabric.  I swapped some fabric for I-Spy type prints, used some from a Japanese fabric exchange and found quite a few in my own stash.  There are almost 200 different fabrics in the quilt.  Insane!

I pulled the bag of charms out from under their layer of dust this winter and used them as leaders and enders, but last week I just decided to work on it full time and finish it up.

If I had it to do over I would probably choose a light tan for the background squares like Amy did so the whitish blocks would stand out more, but then again maybe not.  Most of the blocks do look great against the white.  I would also have removed any fabrics that I didn't absolutely love.  I thought it wouldn't matter if I didn't personally like every print included, but it bugs me.  Not a deal breaker, but something to keep in mind for other quilts.

All in all, I still think I-Spy quilts are busy and crazy but this one is my type of busy and crazy.  It will be fun looking at all of the different fabrics because while there a few I don't like there are Tons that I Love.  (I'm looking at you Heather Ross, mushroom and fairy tale prints.)

Finished size:  Approx.  57" x  69"
Fabric:  3" (finished) charms and Kona unbleached PFD (my favorite off-white)

Linking to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday