Friday, November 30, 2012

At the end of the hallway--A Bee Block Wrap Up

Here we are again at the end of another month!  It's time to link up your favorite projects that are hanging "at the end of the hallway".

I finished my last bee block the other night. I've decided not to join any bees for the next little while. I just need a little break. Although, it has been a fantastic experience. I've done so many blocks I never would have chosen to make. I'll join another bee down the road, but I need a little time off.

This is my last block of the year, completed for Lee from Freshly Pieced. I love how the block turned out. It's simple, and the colors she chose are great. It's going to make a very fun star quilt in the end.

I had fun last night going through all the blocks I've made over the past couple years. Here are many of the blocks I've created during my time in three different bees.
1. IMG_2875, 2. Sample block for my bee month, 3. Bee Block for Katie, 4. Lee's block for Sew Beautiful, 5. Bee block for Angela, 6. Krista's block for Stash Trad, 7. Bee Block for AnneMarie, 8. Block for Brooke, 9. 4x5 block for Jill, 10. Bee Block for Tiffany, 11. Bee Block for Wendy, 12. Block for Brioni, 13. Block for Corey, 14. Lynne's block for Stash Trad Bee, 15. Bee block for Cara's Quilt, 16. Bee block for Cindy, 17. IMG_8783, 18. Bee Block for Rachel, 19. Bee block for Felicity, 20. Bee block for Angela, 21. Bee Block for Andrea, 22. Bee block for Elizabeth, 23. Bee block for Brooke, 24. Charity bee blocks using Comic Burst, 25. Block for Amy, 26. Block for Elizabeth, 27. Bee Block for Amy, 28. Bee Block for Emily, 29. Bee Block for Cherie, 30. Bee Block for Lee

Now it's your turn. Link up a favorite project for the month of November!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Red and Yellow Scrappy Diamonds

I put this quilt together as a sample for Sewing Summit.  I wanted to create something new, but fairly simple using 45 degree diamonds.  I made it in the middle of the summer as I was preparing for the angles class I taught with Faith.

I chose scrappy red and yellow fabrics from my stash specifically with my SIL in mind since I gave this to her and my brother.  I tried out several arrangements with the yellow diamonds before deciding on the stripes.  I liked the simplicity of the stripes.  This quilt has already been shipped off to live in Boston with my brother and his little family.  We have their name for Christmas, and my siblings know when we have their name for Christmas, they get a quilt.  Boston gets COLD in the winter so I backed this one with minky to make it a great cuddle quilt.  The final size of this quilt is about 57” x 75”.  The diamonds are cut from 4” strips as shown in this tutorial.




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A "no-rules" project

After my post yesterday, I realized I wanted to start a new improv project (like I really need a new project). I love having a no-rules project. I enjoy creating something without much of a plan in place. It's fun to just sew fabric together and see where it takes you.

I've been itching to sew with this color combo--neutrals, browns, navy, and green. I also threw in a couple aqua solids, but I'm not loving those so they might not make the cut.  I started with the Modern Meadows flower print and pulled colors from that piece. Although, I'm not sure that fabric will even make the cut.  It doesn't seem quite right.

I'm not sure that this will really become anything much more than an experiment, but I had a fun hour of no-stress sewing last night and just experimented with colors, fabrics and improv stitching.  I needed that.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Being Creative vs. Creating

This idea of being creative rather than just creating has been on my mind quite a bit recently. I realized last week that lately I've just been creating.  Because I decided to try my hand at writing a few patterns from old designs of mine, my quilting time has been limited to reproducing quilts I've already made in the past. This isn't bad by any means.  I still enjoy simply creating, but I realized I truly miss being creative. I miss throwing blocks on my design wall and arranging and rearranging them until they look just right. I miss seeing my original ideas come to life in fabric. I miss the excitement when I realize everything about the design I've created is perfect (at least perfect to me). I have discovered I need a balance of creating and being creative.

All Sewing Summit attendees received an offer for a free Craftsy class, but the promo code for this didn't show up in my email until just last night.  I took advantage of the free class right away and signed up for Designing Modern Quilts by Weeks Ringle. This was the second class on my "must-take" list. Before heading to bed last night I listened to the intro lesson. I am quite excited for the class. Her first segment was insightful and well organized. I'm hoping to gain new perspective on my quilting. I feel as though I've been in a bit of a rut lately. I have been looking for an experience to challenge the way I think about my quilting and creativity. Being the mom to three busy kids who are still home most of the day, I find it hard/impossible to get out and take a quilting class. Besides, I'm not sure that many of the classes offered locally are really what I'm looking for. I'm hoping this class gets me out of my rut just a bit. (Don't forget the Craftsy sale on classes ends tonight.)

I'm always seeking out inspiration for new projects. As I'm trying to get out of my creative rut, I'm curious what inspires all of you in your projects, quilting and creating. Where do you look for your ideas and inspiration? What gets you excited to try a new project or idea?

Finally, just a shot of my current quilt on the machine. I'm quilting this project quite heavily. It's a lot of turning. Good thing it's a fairly small quilt. I'm really liking the results so far.

Here's to a creative week!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all those in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of lots of great food. My only assignment for dinner this year was a dessert (I was thankful for that). I made this amazing Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake from Our Best Bites. It was really, really good. There was only one piece left, and it had lots of competition.  
Source: Our Best Bites
We had a fun time with family and with our kiddos for the holiday. We talked with the kids about their favorite part of the day as we got ready for bed. Miss A reported that her favorite part was the Snow White dress-up shoes she found at her aunt's house. Miss C reported her favorite thing about the day was the Tinkerbell toy she found. Little Dude informed us that his favorite part was the noisy toy car he played with all afternoon. Good thing Aunt K has great toys at her house!

I had some good sewing time in the evenings over the past week. I amazingly sewed up two complete quilt tops. First I started a project with a new Lucky Penny Fat 1/8th bundle. I love the colors of this line. I also sewed a quilt top with the pinks and oranges from Madrona Road. I've begun working on a second pattern as I'm wrapping up my first one very soon. My next pattern is based on my lattice tutorial. The pattern will include blocks in four different sizes as well as a couple variations on the block style.  It's a simple and fast design that turns out really fun. 

I'm not venturing out tomorrow for any shopping. In fact the hubs offered to take the kiddos to the park for a bit in the morning so I can have some computer and sewing time sans kids. I'm hoping to use that time to baste my two quilt tops and make the final needed changes to my Honeycomb pattern!

For those of you who would rather do some online shopping instead of fight the crowds, here are a few options!

I'm offering 10% off anything in my Etsy shop right now!  Use the code THANKFUL10.


Craftsy is currently offering all their classes for $19.99 which is about 50% off the regular price of most classes. I just signed up for Machine Quilting Negative Space by Angela Walters. I'm excited to give their classes a try and have heard good things about this one.

The Intrepid Thread is offering 20% off your entire order only on Friday and Monday. Use the code BFRIDAY20 and CYMONDAY20 to get the sale for those days. These codes are only valid from midnight to midnight Eastern Time on Friday and Monday.

Westwood Acres has some fun items in her Thanksgiving Sale section. Check out the bundles available.

I Don't Do Dishes
Caitlin over at I Don't Do Dishes has a few fun sales going on this weekend. Notting hill is 10% off, no coupon code necessary. Orders of in-stock fabrics over $60 can receive free US shipping with code "HEYTHANKS" - free shipping is NOT valid on Pre-Order fabrics. Salt Water and the Pearl Bracelets are available for pre-order.

Pink Castle Fabrics
Pink Castle Fabrics is offering multiple sales including 25% off Kokka, Liberty Lifestyle,  Yuwa, and all in-stock bundles and precuts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Color Wheel Blenders

Not long ago I put together a blogger's bundle for Brenda from Pink Castle Fabrics. The bundle I chose is a stash-building bundle based on the color wheel.  Brenda kindly sent me my own bundle. (Edit--The color wheel bundle is currently sold out. A couple fabrics shown are out of stock. Brenda will be making a few substitutions and re-listing the bundle soon!)

Source: Pink Castle Fabrics
With all the color wheel swaps and projects I've done, there have been many questions about how I choose fabrics and decide on colors.  First off I like to have some basic reference colors to compare.  I made charm packs for our quilt guild from these Kona colors.  It gives me a good reference point when I'm debating on whether a color is purple or blue-purple.
Kona colors: Tangerine, Orange, Papaya, Canary, Lime, Clover, Jade, Pacific, Lapis, Purple, Cerise, & Red.
I organize my stash based on the 12 colors of the color wheel plus a box for pink.  The large majority of my stash is blenders: tone-on-tone, white-on-tone, dots, and small print fabrics.  I love being able to mix anything together.  When a print doesn't have much going on, it's easy to blend with other fabrics.  Large print fabrics are generally a bad choice for color wheel blenders unless it's white-on-tone or tone-on-tone.  I broke my own rule with the Field Study green print, but it was about the only true green I could find when choosing my bundle.  Green can be hard.

Building a stash based on color takes time.  That's the idea behind this bundle.  Most quilters wouldn't create a project with just these 12 fabrics, but it's a great starting point to begin pulling in other fabrics.  We'll mix up this bundle in the future and hopefully offer a new color wheel bundle in a few months.  When buying for my stash, I rarely buy more than a fat quarter.  When doing a scrappy project based on color, I want to use as many fabrics as possible.  I've found that blue-purple and true green tend to be the hardest fabrics to find.  I have very little of these colors in my stash.  Whenever I come across FQs in these colors I snatch them up.

Here are a few examples of my favorite types of blenders.

White-on-tone or Tone-on-white:
I love these type of prints.  They go with anything and are usually simple designs that blend very well with other fabrics.

Stripes:
I don't have many stripes I consider blenders, but these are a few I dug up from my stash.  The green Heather Bailey stripe is one I have used over and over again.  It's definitely a favorite.

Small prints:
Generally these are small designs with just a few colors.  They still read the color of the background fabric, but the simple patterns offer some variety.

Tone-on-Tone:
By far this is my favorite type of blender to have in my stash.  They are so versatile and easy to work with.  They are perfect for some of the smaller color wheel projects I've done.
Dots:
Every quilter needs a good selection of dots in the stash.  They go with anything.

Hope you all have a great weekend, especially those celebrating Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pink Castle Fabrics-- A New Sponsor

I've frequented Pink Castle Fabrics multiple times in the past.  Brenda has a great selection and variety of fabrics.  I even had the chance to meet her for the first time at Market last month.  It's fun to finally put faces with names.

Along with the great selection over at Pink Castle, there are a few particular things about her shop that I love. First off, I love the Stash Builder's section of Brenda's shop. You can search for great blenders by color. I have a post coming up later this week about blenders because I use them a lot, particularly in the color wheel projects I've done and have in mind for the future. Simply search for aqua, lime, grey, red, etc when looking for a particular color.


Next up I love the Blogger's Bundles section. Multiple bloggers have selected bundles for the shop. It gives such a great variety for quilters looking for something different when it's hard to break out of a line. I have my color wheel stash bundle in there for those looking to increase their variety of FQs in all 12 main colors (sold out at the moment). Right now I'm also really liking this bundle by Maureen Cracknell:

Finally, Brenda has an amazing selection of solids. She carries FreeSpirit, Cotton Couture, Bella, Kona, Dear Stella, and more. It's easy to search solids by color as well as manufacturer.

Check out their selection. Don't forget to follow Pink Castle on Twitter as well as their blog.  Brenda frequently posts sales that are too good to miss!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Don't Do Dishes-- A new sponsor!

I'm very excited to have I Don't Do Dishes on board as a new sponsor!  Caitlin's shop has been open about six months.  She has a great and growing selection of fabrics I particularly love right now.  I've mentioned before how much I prefer ordering fabric from owner-run shops because the customer service is always above and beyond what huge online stores.  Caitlin is wonderful to work with.


In the shop right now, she has Simply Color.  I love this line because of all the great colors and blenders.  I actually had a friend pick up a FQ stack of this for me at Market last spring and have finally started cutting into it.  I'm planning ahead and ordered some of the grey ombre from Caitlin for the binding.  I think it will make a very fun binding.  Simply Color is shipping for free in the US right now from the shop! (International shipping is very low as well).

I Don't Do Dishes also carries Madrona Road which was one of those lines I thought I could do without until I started seeing projects popping up with it.  Just yesterday I cut up my 3/4 yd of the brown haystack print incorrectly.  It was one of those dumb moments in quilting life.  I ruined a completely good piece of fabric by cutting every single strip too small.  Luckily Caitlin has the haystack print in the shop.  It got added to my order as well.

I Don't Do Dishes also just received Notting Hill in stock in the poppy colorway.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love this line as well.  When I saw it for the first time at Sewing Summit I knew I had to have some.  It is classy, has wonderful colors, and sophisticated.  I've used fabrics from several of Joel Dewberry's lines, and I'm thinking this is probably my favorite line he has ever created (which is saying a lot).  I ordered a few prints from Caitlin for a simple baby quilt I'm making for a friend.  I'm really excited to put this project together.  Caitlin is offering Notting Hill at an promo price of $8.88 right now!

Check out I Don't Do Dishes!  She'll also be receiving Salt Water by Tula Pink and the Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House into the shop next month!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quilts in my shop

I finally decided to list a few quilts in my Etsy shop. I'm rather attached to all my quilts, but I recognize that the pile is getting deep. Too many of my quilts are going straight to storage after I finish them.  I'm hoping to find these projects good homes. I may be listing a few more quilts in the near future. I'm just deciding which ones I can actually part with.

Scrappy Diamonds

Jewels

Farmer's Wife Sampler

Flea Market Fancy Quilt

Central Park Pillow Cover Set

How to Piece Hexagons: Part 2

Find the first post on how to piece hexagons here.

This second half of the tutorial shows how to piece the rows together. I admit this part of the tutorial is much easier to show in person. It's hard to visualize the process with just pictures. I might get adventurous and do a video one day. The pictures might not make complete sense until you actually try it. I know hexagons can be intimidating, but I promise they really aren't that hard. Give it a try and work through it with the steps in the tutorial and it will likely make more sense as you go.

First up we have two strips of hexagons that we sewed together last time.


Match up two seams to be joined. The pieced strips should lay offset like this.

Line up the edges of the hexagons and pin at the seam.

This part is a bit tricky to show, but everything should be folded out of the way.  Make sure the edges match up.

Now stitch just as we did before. If this is the edge of the project, simply start stitching from the edge of the fabric. If you plan to add more hexagons later on, use the tape as your guide and start stitching at 1/4". Stitch only to the seam line. Do not go past the seam. I will occasionally handcrank the last stitch and adjust my fabric as needed so I don't go to far. Stitching past the seam will create puckers. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam to secure.


Readjust the fabric and prepare to stitch the next seam down. Again fold all fabric out of the way and match the edges of the hexagons to be sewn together. Pin where needed. Notice on the front of the fabric piece, we only have one seam line to act as a guide. This makes it very hard to know where to stop stitching.

Flip the fabric over. There are two showing seam lines on the back. For this seam we will actually sew from the bottom seam to the top seam on the back of the piece. (The blue arrow shows the seam we just finished.  The black arrow shows our next seam to stitch.)

Sew seam to seam, backstitching well.

This method of sewing one seam on the front then flipping the entire piece to sew a seam on the back can be cumbersome, but it's well worth it to me because of the results. Actually seeing where you need to stop rather than "feeling" your way through it is much easier.

We've now sewn two seams. Continue this process down the strip until all sides are sewn together.

TIP: When stitching a seam, it's better to be a bit short than to go too far and stitch over the other seam line.

TIP: If edges aren't perfectly lined up, roll them together and hold with your finger as you sew to make sure they match up.


Press horizontal seams down.  Rotate pressing side seams to the left and right.


Once you've finished pressing from the back, iron well from the front, getting your points to lay nice and flat.


Done!!