craft, house renovation, make something, personal, Uncategorized

New Cushions!!! finally

I was all “I’m gonna sew the day away and keep making great progress on the quilt on my design wall” last night; and this morning that changed to “Yeah, but if you go ahead and knock out the cushion covers you’ll actually FINISH something today”…
And that’s just what I did!

Now, I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I bought ALL the supplies in July. July, y’all! And I’m just getting these made. Sheesh!

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But! They look ah-mazing!! Yes, I should have matched the print on the boxing BUT I didn’t think about that ahead of time (I was ALL inspired, y’all!) so I just made do with what I had. I mean, they’re finished, so it’s a win in my book. Just don’t point that out to me because I’ll cut you. But not with my fabric scissors 😂😂😂

The fabric is from @dwellstudio and I absolute lerv it!! Even husband was on board and I was certain he’d object.

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We picked up these chairs 5 1/2 years ago at @kudzuandcompany, a cute antique shop near here. They are super cool, crazy comfy, and look really great by the fireplace in our kitchen. It’s the perfect spot to relax, get warm, and enjoy a warm, adult beverage in the winter.

 

craft, embroidery, make something

Ada, the spider

There was a spider outside my window. She was HUGE, and beautiful, and that’s saying a lot from someone that does NOT like spiders. I watched her weave and repair her web daily and was generally fascinated by her.

Ada had 8 legs and ate a moth in her web, so her name (created by a friends daughter) is entirely appropriate.

Inspired by my 8 legged friend, I designed these. A year ago, I was going to embroider this and share her with you. I can’t seem to get that done (darn life getting in the way and all), and I think she’s SUPER cute, so I’m sharing the embroidery design with you.

It’s a PDF that you can print at home. ADA with the web (ADA), and ADA solo, (ada_solo).

I don’t like spiders. I do like her. Enjoy!

book, make something, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilt block, quilt design, quilting, quilts

100Days100Blocks2018

If you don’t follow me on Instagram – you should, by the way 😉  – then you might not be aware of the #100Days100Blocks2018 Sew-A-Long going on right now. My friend, Angie, over at Gnome Angel, is the woman in charge and you can find all the pertinent information here.

banner 100 days

Basically, it’s a 100 Day sew-a-long making all 100 blocks from Tula Pink’s City Sampler book. You will need to book to participate but I can tell you that the instructions are easy to follow and the blocks go together very quickly. It’s a GREAT way to build some skills if you are a beginner and a fun quilt to make for quilters of all ages. Besides, it’s a block a day. You can handle that, right?

I made Block 54 – you can read about that here. Online, you can search using the hashtag #100Days100Blocks2018 to see what quilters around the world are making. It’s been fun to see all the blocks people are making.

You’ll have to follow the appropriate people to win – there are daily prizes and larger sponsors. I’m giving away a copy of my book!

And, between now and the end of the sew-a-long I am offering 20% off at my store using coupon code 100Days100Blocks2018.

 

make something, quilt, quilt block, quilt design, quilt patterns, quilting, quilts

What if I fly???

 

For a long time I have wanted to put my quilt designs into the world. Over the years I’ve had lots of people ask but I was never quite ready to take a leap of faith. I would dabble here and there, but it never went further than that.  Maybe I was scared? I mean, I’ll be honest. I was scared.

The past several months I’ve been pondering taking leaps of faith. Jump and a net will appear. What if I fall? What if I fly? Will people like what I make and actually buy my designs? They’ve asked; I just haven’t listened.

falling

Soooo, the impetus to this really happening, a sign I couldn’t ignore, was a shop in Texas reaching out to me. One of the employees made a quilt using my All Squared Up pattern from the Quilt Shop Sampler magazine in 2007. They needed patterns. Did I have any?  Well, yes, and no. The pattern was written – had been for 12 years – but I didn’t have any physical patterns. So, I moved quickly, grabbed the quilt from Intown Quilters so I could snap a photo, and voila!

It began.

I’ve been gearing up for this for a while, but if I don’t take a leap, it’ll never happen. So this is me at my jumping off point. Taking a leap. It’s exciting, and scary at the same time.

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I have five, YES, f-i-v-e, patterns in my shop. You can find them here. All PDF’s available for immediate download, and paper patterns/wholesale options available for shops (just email me).

A few are tried and true favorites patterns, and some are new. I have more coming down the pipeline. Take a look, leave a comment, and if you find an error, please let me know.

Happy Piecing, y’all!

 

 

make something, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts

Please, Enter a Contest

I know I write and sing the praises of perfecting technique. I think it’s important and I’ve seen far too many quilters give up because of issues they couldn’t navigate. And it’s not that you have to be perfect with your piecing (except me, I admit I have a problem) but because it’s important to know how to trouble shoot and solve problems. I also think if you know how to do something correctly, then you gain the freedom to figure out other ways to achieve your desired end product, either correctly or not; AND that gives you a greater depth of knowledge if your wonky way works, or doesn’t.

That being said, I also think you should put your work, perfect or not,  in shows from time to time.

Seriously.

Judged, juried, judged and juried. I know it’s fairly intimidating to enter a quilt into a show. No one wants to have a quilt rejected from a show OR read negative feedback regarding their work. Heck, I submitted a quilt into Paducah and was nervous they wouldn’t accept it. I was also anxious to read judges comments about my quilt. BUT it’s important to get feedback away from your echo chamber and get new eyes on your work. If you want to improve your quilts, one of the best ways to do it is to get constructive criticism. Even if it’s tough to stomach.

It’s an honor to be juried into a show, and my quilt going to Paducah was no exception. I love my quilt, and AQS liked it enough to have it juried into the show. Big applause, right? My quilt didn’t get any ribbons though, so naturally I wondered what was wrong with it in the eyes of the judges.

When my quilt was returned last week I TORE into the box to see the comments. WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY ABOUT MY QUILT?

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You can read the comments above but what it came down to was aesthetics. Some of the design elements of my quilt didn’t appeal to the judges and THAT IS OKAY.  I like my quilt as it is, and I appreciate the the judges offering their feedback.  While this quilt won’t EVER get changed, and I love it the way it is, the comments give me design options to consider in the future.

Will I ever make this quilt again? Probably not. Will I ever have dense border with some kind of intricate piecing? I’m not sure. But if I do, I have points to ponder from an aesthetic standpoint and if I know how to make the pieces fit together (see paragraph 1), then I (or you) have the ability to make your vision a reality. Possibly without a world of frustration, too.

Happy Piecing!

featured, make something, quilt, quilting, quilts

Here I Come, Paducah!

When I was 18, I worked part time (summers, holidays) at a local quilt shop. One of the women that worked there had a quilt hanging in the shop. It was an American flag and the words to the Pledge of Allegiance were in the white stripes. The quilt had been to Paducah and won a blue ribbon – perhaps it even won best of show?? I can’t quite recall, and it’s been (ahem) quite a few years.

Anyhow, I remember all the fuss about the quilt from women that would come into the shop. Those ladies would go on and on and on about MaryAnn and her quilt. Keep in mind that at that time I was just starting my quilting journey and I was VERY impressionable. The quilt was lovely. Really, it was, and who doesn’t like an American flag quilt? but the thing that always stuck with me was what an honor it was to have a quilt juried into the AQS Paducah show.

Because of those early experiences, I really wanted to get a quilt into Paducah one day. It’s been a goal for a very long time. 25 years later and that hasn’t left me. Actually, being juried into ANY show is a big deal and a HUGE honor, but for some reason (see above) this show has always been in the back of my mind.

I’ve thought about it over the years, and have contemplated entering a quilt. Honestly, I was scared – what if they didn’t like the quilt?? Maybe getting over the fear (kinda) is something that happens in your 40s….you realize that the worst thing that’ll happen is they say no. And no is okay. Disappointing, but okay.

So, fast forward to December 1, 2017. I entered The Bride Wore Pink to the spring AQS show, crossed my fingers, and hit the submit button.

Yesterday I received an email letting me know that my quilt, The Bride Wore Pink, was juried into the show.

Y’ALL!! I’m so excited!!!!

The Bride Wore Pink

 

craft, make something, quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing

Product Review – QuiKraft Spray Glue

My friend, Charlene, recently introduced me to a new spray glue that is coming to the US later this spring. It’s called QuiKraft Tack by Siliconi.

I am telling you, people, that you want a bottle of this stuff!

Seriously. You will want this as sewing room staple. It’s fantastic, and I will use it to spray baste for a long, long time.

Here are my thoughts on the QuiKraft glue, and some rambling about machine quilting, so bear with me. I promise it’ll make sense in the end.

For many years I have sent my quilts out to my friend Regina. She’s a longarm quilter, and her work is incredible! I’ve sent my quilts out for two reasons:

  1. The quilts actually get finished and
  2. I wasn’t willing to put in the time to machine quilt my quilts.

 

Number 2 is the real doozie here in that my unwillingness to do the work meant my work didn’t improve. My quilting was okay, but I always wanted it to get significantly better. Sooooo, since this year is about me finishing projects, I decided that finishing them on my own would be part of the package. I know that won’t always happen, but it needs to happen more. It gives me a chance to work on my machine quilting, so it’s not all bad.

One of the reasons I HATE machine quilting is the basting process. It is tough on my back, and crawling around the floor is just not fun.  I need a better table to baste (that’s coming soon) so I don’t have to suffer when I baste quilts on the floor….however, after using the QuiKraft I decided that I can stick to the floor for a little bit longer.

I decided to test the spray glue on Q man’s quilt. He painted the top, and I knew if I messed up he could paint another. That’s horrible, I know, but it’s also true. Like other spray glues on the market, it’s easy to use. You shake the can, spray about a foot from your project, and put the pieces together.

I started by taping my backing fabric to the floor (unlike this photo, remove threads that run across the center of your backing)

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then put my (franken) batting on top of the backing fabric. Also not pictured, smoothed out batting.

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Last, put your quilt on top to make the sandwich.

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Once that’s was situated, I folded the top half of the quilt top and the batting onto itself. The goal here was to work on one half of the quilt at a time.

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Shake the spray glue can well then spray it 10-12″ from your project. I sprayed the backing AND the batting. I sprayed about 6″ X width of quilt each time. After I sprayed, I carefully rolled/repositioned the batting that had been glued to the backing and worked my way up the quilt until I got to the top. I repeated this on the other side of the quilt to glue my batting to the backing.

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After I glued down the batting, I repeated the same process to glue the quilt top to the batting to complete my quilt sandwich.

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Regarding gluing the sandwich together:

  1. It’s MUCH faster to spray baste than pin baste
  2. This glue is VERY easy to use
  3. Low VOC, which is nice since I’m basting this on my basement floor. There is hardly ANY odor so I didn’t have to worry about passing out from fumes.
  4. It was very easy to clean up any over spray from my floor (truth – my kids may have done that with their socks)
  5. The glue works.

There are many reasons I liked working with the QuiKraft glue, but I think #5 is what sticks out in my mind the most (get it? sticks? glue?). I’ve tried other spray basting glues before and never felt they worked well enough for me, or I felt the need to iron my sandwich together AFTER spray basting to make sure all the pieces were secure.

Anyhow, working in 6″ X width of quilt was manageable and allowed me to smooth out any small inconsistencies in my sandwich as I worked. I didn’t have a huge area on my quilt, backing, or batting with glue and the inability to glue it down cleanly.  Smaller working space meant I could accurately spray baste my quilt and get it down securely.

I’m about halfway through quilting Q man’s quilt, and haven’t had any problems. No part of my sandwich has come unglued while I work and that’s made machine quilting significantly smoother than pin basting or having not-so-great-sandwiches come apart for one reason or another. I haven’t had any gumming on my needle, either. Another HUGE bonus.

Because my sandwich has been so secure, quilting has been a breeze. IMG_3126

I have 3 more rings to quilt. Knowing I’ll be able to tackle those with relative ease and no sandwich issues makes me significantly less anxious about the process.  The right tools make everything enjoyable.

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Close up shot. You can see where I needed to replace my stippling needle. You can also see my work on spirals. Spirals are the death of me so I’m really working to get those down. I don’t know why I have such a mental block on them.

I highly recommend this project, and I’m eager to spray baste another quilt later this week.

To keep up with news, I recommend you follow @quikraft_siliconi on Instagram. I know they have some fun plans for the spring, and this way you’ll be the first to hear!

Acrylic with fabric medium on PFD. Quilted on my Bernina 770QE with Aurifil 50wt. thread.  75/11 needles.

 

 

family, make something, personal, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts

On Making Resolutions, Not Making Resolutions, and Sweet Things

I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I have enough to keep up with on any given day and the thought of adding to my already lengthy list is daunting. Plus, it’s always a disappointment if I can’t keep a promise to myself for a year. Why set myself up for failure, right?

Enter being alone…sewing…head going…..then poof! I blew up that thought when I made a quiet resolution to myself. Dang it!

For every NEW quilt I start, I’m going to finish a work in progress.

It’s a good one, but this must have been a complete moment of weakness; or me looking around my space realizing I’d have more if I finished some projects.

The plan: if it’s been cut, partially pieced, blocks made but need to assemble the top, partially quilted, WHATEVER, then it’s time to finish that project.

I am allowing myself one small stipulation: finished tops don’t count.  I can fold them up and put them in my cabinet to be quilted on another day.  Fast forward to a year from now when I’m complaining about all the quilts that need quilting. Here’s hoping that’s not the case. Note: I’m grateful for long arm quilters. Anyhow, at least if the mess is off my floor, I’ll have some room to move. That’ll be nice. I could use more space. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

The first project I’m tackling this year is a quilt for my husband’s aunt. Several years ago she asked me to make a quilt from her children’s clothing. She has 5 (yes, F-I-V-E) kids and had a great, big basket of things for me to use. I cut a bunch of things into 5″ squares and put them together with a sashing and I never. liked. the. quilt.

It was somewhere between a large wall and small lap quilt. I didn’t like the pieces just sashed. There was no pizzaz, and I knew I could do something I liked FAR better. 4 squares were larger so I used them as cornerstones, but then the borders were too wide, and the quilt wasn’t quite proportional. I didn’t like my border choice for that quilt, either. Also, if I’m making a quilt from clothing from 5 babies, then said aunt should be able to snuggle up under it. I mean, those are years of precious memories. Diaper covers, cross-stitched bags, flannel blankets, and loads of other sweet, sweet things.

So I sat on it.

For two years I sat on a (small) almost-completed quilt because I didn’t love it. It was okay, but that’s not okay for me.

So I stewed, and mulled, and processed, and let it muster until the lightbulb went off. And THEN, when the inspiration hit, I was able to pull the trigger. Sheesh, y’all! This quilt is going to be ah-mazing!! I’m so excited about it. I can’t wait for you to see the finished project!

Let me also add (completely-ish off topic) that sometimes waiting is the best thing you can do for a project. I am one of the most impatient people I know, so that really means something coming from me. But it’s true. I am so glad that I waited and didn’t finish this quilt. It’s definitely worth it!

Back to the quilt. When the lightbulb came on at 3am one morning (thank you insomnia, Carrie Bloomston, and That Little Spark), the quilt came together.

I spent the last 2 days reworking the top. I have the center blocks assembled, and plan to sew them together today. Plans for the rest of the week include inner and outer border, then determining quilting situation.

Here’s a sneak peak.

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Enjoy!

family, featured, holiday, make something, quilting, quilts

Let’s Talk About Big Stitch Quilting

I was introduced to big stitch quilting in 1993. Maybe 1994? It’s been a while and I can’t quite remember the exact date.  25 years and all. Anyhow, I was working at a quilt shop during my summers home from school, and a woman that taught classes there used big stitch quilting for a lot of her quilts. It was new to me. I’d never seen it. I’d only seen teeny, weeny hand stitching – all very traditional (and lovely) – and I immediately fell in love! I thought it was the coolest way to quilt.

Ever.

I mean, tiny stitches are great but who needs 11 or 12 stitches an inch (and I most definitely couldn’t do that when I started!) when I can get away with 4 or 5, right? Besides it’s so much faster.

The first time I made a quilt with big stitch quilting was for a Christmas gift for my Dad. I used reproduction Smithsonian prints (very masculine and I still love those fabrics) and a 12 weight cream colored perle cotton. I probably (details are fuzzy here since it’s been a while) struggled to get the thread into the needle because I didn’t know to use a needle with a bigger eye. I have vague memories of fighting with a needle threader?? Nevertheless, I somehow managed to make it happen.

And I was so proud.

And I showed my quilt to said friend and she (very kindly) gave me a lesson.

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BIG STITCH QUILTING MEANS THE STITCHES ARE BIGGER. NOT ENORMOUS.

If in an ideal world of hand quilting you get 11 or so stitches in an inch of quilting, you should have less with big stitch quilting; meaning your stitches are bigg-er. 

Yeah.  So that sank in for a bit. My stitches were HUGE.  I ruined my Dad’s quilt. dang it!

So, while I was a little brokenhearted about that – you know, messing it all up (even though the quilt isn’t messed up it just has really. big. stitches), I took it as a lesson to learn about this new art I was exploring and went on my way. My Dad was (and still is) none the wiser, and loved his gift. He and Mom still have it over a railing in their house. I had to text mom for photos, in fact. 🙂

To be honest, I didn’t use big stitch quilting on another quilt for a while. I was afraid I’d mess it up. Again. That was DEFINITELY a mistake. Mess up. Learn. Move forward.

So, moving right along through the next decade or two, I would occasionally pick up big stitch quilting again, always careful to make my stitches bigger but not ridiculous.

The most recent (ahem, I say recent loosely) projects are baby quilts. One for my youngest son (he’s almost 8) and another for a friend that just had her first baby.

See how the stitches in the left photo are really big? They shouldn’t be quite so large. Remember, they need to be bigger than traditional hand quilting but not HUGE. You can see 25 years of progress in the right hand photo. Big stitch quilting should be closer to this. Bigg-er than traditional hand quilting stitches.

When you first start, your stitches won’t be small. Even big stitch quilting. That is okay. Keep practicing until you find your rhythm. You will get there. Promise!

Do:

•Use a 12 weight perle cotton. You can use a slightly thinner or thicker thread, but I have found it’s a good weight for big stitch quilting.
•Use a longer needle with a larger eye. I like to use a sashiko needle, but there are big stitch needles in a variety of sizes. Buy a few and experiment
•Remember that you want your thread to fill the hole in the needle (or close to it). If the opening is too large, your thread will fray and eventually break.
•Practice, practice, practice!

Don’t:
Get discouraged. My first big stitch quilt had ENORMOUS stitches. It’s okay.

Remember:

•Handmade isn’t always perfect.
•Handmade has mistakes.
•Handmade with love is better than anything you can buy. Imperfections and all.

family, holiday, kids, make something, personal, sewing

Adventures in Cosplay

I’ve never dabbled in cosplay. Whip up a costume? Sure. You need a Jedi robe? I gotcha covered.  Usually when I do make a costume, it’s quick and easy. Down and dirty. Nothing too elaborate.

But armor and helmets? Nope. I’m at a complete loss.

Usually costuming my kids doesn’t cause me any anxiety or stress until October. You know, when I have to figure out how to make a costume for one of them. According to thing 1 and thing 2,  I can make everything. I love that they think that. I love that I usually can make them happy (enough). Dabbling in a new medium to make it happen? Well, it made me a little nervous, and the last thing I needed or wanted in the days leading up to Halloween is to have a costume idea implode.

This year, littlest child was Spider-Man for Halloween. Easy-peasy, bought a costume. Done. Truth be told, he’s had a Halloween plan since last summer and  has been happily wearing his costume for months. months, people, months. 

Then oldest child chimes in on the subject. He wanted to be a Destiny 2 Warlock. WHAT?! I didn’t even know where to start, and after looking at the picture of the warlock online, I was really lost. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin so I thought on it for a while. I wanted something relatively easy that would get the look, but it didn’t have to be a full set of armor. At least in my mind.

warlock

It took me some time, but I figured out how to modify the costume using a black bathrobe. I found an image with the graphic S wanted to use. I cropped and enlarged the image in Photoshop, printed it, traced the reversed image (thankyouverymuch, technology) on fusible, then applied it to the robe.

bird web

Then I  made the front panel with some Kona yellow and charcoal. The charcoal tail was long enough to wrap and twist around his stomach so it kinda resembled the stomach armor. Enough for a 10 year old kid for one night of the year.

Then the helmet. The dreaded helmet. I had visions of heavily facing some black, grey, and yellow fabric and making a hat until the child found a pattern. I didn’t love the directions, but the images of how to assemble the helmet helped me figure out how to assemble the helmet (sort of) correctly.  The pattern was easy to download and print, and there aren’t a lot of pieces to make it.

pattern

Per the instructions, I used 10mm EVA foam. If I knew last week that a lighter, better foam was available to make the helmet, I would have gone that route. Sadly for me, I found better foam at market then didn’t have time to run back to the booth and get some before heading out to catch my flight. dang! But I’ll know for next time, so that’s good.

market foam

The foam is easy to cut if you have a FRESH X-acto blade. I realized halfway through I needed to change mine so some rough edges are visible. The edges with the new blade are super smooth. Unfortunately, you can’t see those.

I struggled to get the foam to mold the right way. I didn’t have a heat gun. I’m sure the higher temps would have been better than my hair dryer. I also wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. Bend, heat, repeat, and hope it held the shape. Super glue did a great job holding the pieces together but I did have to work to keep the pieces and the glue in the right spot until it took a little bit.  I’m sure there’s a less messy way to get the glue onto the foam than my approach. I was definitely feeling clumsy with this hat. The pieces were big, and not bending quite the way I wanted.

I give myself a solid C- on the helmet. You can see in the image below that S painted it so some of my mistakes are a little less visible.

halloween

You can also see that the helmet was too big. Instructions say it’s one size, and it’s definitely big. Knowing what I know now, I’d change a few things to make V2.0 better. There’s a definite learning curve to this stuff, and I’m sure a LOT of tips out there to really fine tune your work. Next time, I’ll know where to look.

Perhaps even next time, S will wear the helmet while we trick or treat.

Yep. I held it the entire time. 🙂