Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Craft Everyday Keeps The Grumpies Away


How does the familiar saying go... "all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl"? If you happen to be a crafter like I am, and there's more time spent behind the computer screen than the sewing machine, then it's easy to see how one can hit that "I can't take it anymore point!" because of lack of creative time.


I've got a lot on my list these days that makes me feel like I am permanently parked behind the computer... making final corrections on my Lovebirds' Garden pattern, preparing presentations for two courses at Nadelwelt, adding five mini patterns and working on the Home Sweet Home applique sampler pattern... just to name a few.


Sometimes I need those 30 minutes here or 30 minutes there projects to give me the sense that I am still crafting despite the big to-do list on my desk. For me it's better to be working on something rather than nothing at all because I don't have the time to "think" myself back into a project.


Upon reflection, I suppose I have so many smaller in-between projects because I'm usually at that step in the quilting process with my larger projects where they cannot be easily started or stopped. Once you've put your project to the side because the kids are hungry, it's the end of the work day, emails need to be answered, or whatever the case, by the time you figure out where you need to start again, there is something else that need attended to.


So here's my "in-between" breather project ... a little starch applique Chuck Nohara project with the new Anna Maria Horner fabrics. Oh, come on, like you could stay away from a freshly delivered fabric package?


Do you get stuck because you only have 30 minutes to sew, and no start and stop projects in the works? Maybe Mell can help you get motivated with her #30minsewingdaily challenge.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mixed Medium Applique - Felt


I know that I've mentioned several times over the past month, how excited I am that I will be teaching a starch applique class at the Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe, Germany in May... perhaps what I didn't mention is that I am actually teaching two classes this year!?! So, right now, I've been busy working on a few samples on how to turn favorite fabric designs into felt applique shapes.

 

I've always enjoyed mixing different mediums with fabric... especially paper and felt. The main thing for me is that fabric has to be included in that mix. You may remember this pillow that I started the year out with last year... well, it has been my inspiration for this second class.


There are a lot of people who might enjoy applique, but don't feel that they are "artsy" enough to draw their own motifs, and let's face it - purchasing one pattern after the next can be kind of expensive. So, my thought was why not let some of your favorite designers give you a hand?


Over the next weeks, I'll be sharing the finished versions of these, but I thought a few sneak peeks might be enough to hold you until then. You've seen this project already, but now it quilted and ready to be finished.


So, what are your favorite mixed mediums to work with?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I've Got Your Back Covered


I wanted to talk about a quilting topic that doesn't get a whole lot of coverage (no pun intended) in the quilting scene... and that's the back of a quilt. So, what's your approach for the backside of your quilting masterpiece? I thought that it would be fun to share the current backing that I am working on, as well as sharing in one place all those quilt backings that are supporting the "stars-of-the-show"...


Pieced backing planned for my Home Sweet Home Applique Sampler quilt pattern to be released in May at the Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Since I've been quilting, I've ended up piecing the good majority of the backings for my quilts. Somehow, stitching two big pieces of plain fabric together, with a seam smack dab in the middle, was never very appealing to me. However, I find that I piece my backings often for quite another reason than putting orphan blocks to good use, although this is a fantastic way to give even those rejects a piece of the pie... this one for example.

  
Back of my "Chrunstile" quilt... I actually sleep under this one.

Often I might not have large quantities of a single fabric on hand that match my current project, and if I don't want to eat up all one favorite fabric "just" for the back, then I find that piecing is a good option. I'm always taken aback when people tell me that they actually like the back of my quilt better than the front, but I'll just leave that in the "things-that-make-you-go-hmmmm" category.


"Facing East" backing... this one actually got the "I like the backside better" comment.

... and perhaps we should just leave the topic of double-the-price fabrics that one pays in Germany on the backburner. This coupled with high shipping cost, and long waiting times, pushes me again in the same direction of pieced backs.


Back of my "Swell" quilt... another one that adorns one of my beds.

The stars are the "star" of my Penny quilt, but a simple backing was a good choice for a pieced backing.

I've always like adding just a little bit of the unexpected...  it's a little bit like ordering a crossiant at the bakery, getting it home, and realizing that it's filled with chocolate when you bite into it.


I was able to use up even more scraps not only for the front of my Scrappy Windmill quilt, but the back too!

So how about if I end things by sharing a little things-yet-to-come backing... the back of my Whirly Girl quilt. Just a little more quilting, and I'll be ready for my big reveal!


Looking for some more quilt backing inspiration? Check out my favorites on Pinterest.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Home Sweet Home Applique Sampler


My whole married life, I've heard my German husband quote from a famous American TV series that I've never really watched... "I love it when a plan comes together" (Hannibal's trademark statement from A-Team) As promised in my last post, January is "The Month Of The Quilt Top"... and not just one quilt top, but now three!?! So, how about if I formally introduce you to my third quilt top this month, which just happens to be my upcoming quilt pattern... "Home Sweet Home" Applique Sampler, and is to be released in May at the Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe.


With that being said, I suppose it might be obvious what nickname the month of February will have? I was thinking something along the lines of... "The Month Of Quilting" (no pun intended) Just so you know, quilting suggestions are more than welcome (wink, wink)


The whole concept behind my Home Sweet Home pattern is to offer applique shapes that are simpler, if you will, than many traditional blocks. I realize that a tiny Chuck Nohara block with a million leaves in one block is not exactly everyone's cup of tea, and can deter many quilters who have never tried applique, but would like to without feeling overwhelmed by all the tiny pieces.


I decided to highlight the applique blocks in a simple Irish Chain, and I love the delicate look of the Basic Grey Grunge in Freesia on the low volume background. I hope you are enjoying the purple, because it's going to be another repeating theme this year.


More about my Home Sweet Home Applique Sampler in the following weeks, but first thing first... I'm ready to kick off the "Month of Quilting"... what's on your list?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Year Of...


If January is any indication of what this year will look like, then 2018 will be "The Year Of The Quilt Top"... perhaps a small step up from last year's "Year Of The Pillow". In any case, January will boast at least THREE finished quilt tops... last week I shared my Summer Smoothie finish, today is Green Smoothies' turn, and the next flimsy finish this month, thankfully has nothing to do with smoothies... I just picked up on the repeating theme myself. 


With that being said, it looks like 2018 will also be "The Year Of Quilting"... with so many tops, what is a girl to do? I suppose I've been collecting so many quilt tops because quilting is my least favorite part of the whole process. I put it off, and I find that I really have to push myself and get mentally geared up to even get started.


... but January is the moth of goals, planning, resolutions, and good intentions, and since I've missed out on the last two Finish-Along quarters, there's no time like the present to get back on track... wanna a preview of what you'll be seeing with me? 

The first half of my year is pretty full and pretty planned out. The next quilt top you'll be seeing is my Home Sweet Home applique sampler quilt. This is my only quilt with a deadline... just in case you missed it - if you are in Germany (or close by), I am planning this quilt release parallel with teaching two classes at the Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe in May. It should be a good push to get this one quilted and written up by then, especially considering the fact that Lovebirds' Garden will be released in March - lots of corrections to do until then, but just to keep your appetite whet, check out what my pattern testers are doing in Instagram... don't you just love the diversity of projects?


The next pattern to be released will be Whirly Girl.... I suppose I better get a move on with this project considering how much progress Mell has made on her pattern testing version. Once I get a little further with the pattern, I will be looking for testers - no applique on this one! (how else do you think I could get Mell on board!?!


Lovebirds' Remix, which is a spin off pattern from my Lovebirds' Garden, is the next project lined up for a flimsy finish. My applique shapes are finished and just have to be glued on and stitched down... more than halfway there. Hmmm... maybe "Year Of Pattern Releases"  would be an appropriate title to throw into the lot? 


For fun, just to over promise, and under deliver, I'll throw my HST project on the to-do list... notice another recurring theme for one more title? "The Year Of Purple" Four purple quilts in one year, how did that happen?!? Seems a little fitting since it's Pantone's color of 2018, don't you think? Trust me, I couldn't have planned it even if I'd tried. 


Linking up with Finish-A-Long... so, what's on your 2018 list?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

That's A Wrap + First 2018 Flimsy Finish!


You may have noticed that it got quiet here. Last week I had to decide if I would finish my 2017 wrap up post, or take a spontaneous family vacation. Well, if you checked in last week, then you know which one I chose. But to make up for the missed post, how about if I start out the year with sharing my first flimsy finish for 2018?!? I'll give you all the specs once it's quilted, but at least for now, you can breath in a deep sound of shock when you hear that this bee quilt top won't be as big as I usually go. In the meantime, you can find the block tutorial here.


So, to get back on track with what happened this last year... I did manage two finished quilts in 2017. Do you remember my Tiptoe Through The Tulips quilt? This king size quilt is my biggest quilt ever, and due to it's sheer size and the fact that it was my second quilt pattern, it might actually be my proudest finish of the year.


My Prism Quilt finish was motivated by my self imposed deadline of finishing the first bee quilt before I start a new one. I wanted to get this one quilted before I introduced my new block to my bee mates, which just happens to be my flimsy finish for 2018! (Summer Smoothie)


I did actually I ask myself why I was only able to finish two quilts? Perhaps because it looks like 2017 was..."The Year Of The Pillows". In my defense, the pillows that I made were either gifts or smaller project samples from my pattern releases, not to mention that there is something totally satisfying in a fast finish without committing to a whole quilt... leaves room to try things.


But, 2017 was also "The Year Of Applique". I suppose when I look back, it's easy for me to fall into disappointment thinking that with "only" two finished quilts, I didn't get much accomplished... but I would like to argue that 2017 was my year in Rome... it wasn't built in a day, you know? Applique, specifically starch applique, has kind of become my passion this year... and if you have done applique before, then you know that it's not exactly production line quilting. Every little block with it's tiny pieces IS an accomplishment it itself. My aunt, who is a highly experienced quilter, reminds me that it's not about how fast you can finish a quilt, but about enjoying the process.


Another fun highlight of the year was the #30daysoffabricstacks challenge hosted by Stitched In Color... if you've been around for very long, then you already know that pulling fabric for a new project is my favorite part of the whole quilting process!... and here are a couple of my favorite stacks:


I actually had several flimsy finishes in 2017, and my Lovebirds' Garden is currently at the longarm quilter waiting for the magic touches to be put on. Writing my third quilt pattern, which is currently in my pattern testers hands, I still consider a "Finish"... the official release date is just around the corner in March!


With that being said, my fourth pattern is almost quilted, with my fifth and sixth patterns at the almost finished quilt top stage! More behind the scenes finishes than shared ones, but good things come to those who wait.

Hope you've had a great start into 2018, and as they say in Germany, have a "good slide" into the new year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Deck The Halls


When I shared the start of my brimfield blocks project a while back, someone pointed out that my all green blocks kind of look like Christmas wreaths. Hmmm... maybe it's true, or perhaps at this time of year, everything seems to remind you that there are only so many shopping days left before the big day of peace and love is upon us. In any case, I thought it would be fun to share the progress of my holiday boughs and let you decide.


As I had shared before, I've had it in my head for a long time to make an all green quilt. As usual, I really don't know how large I'll make this, but it would seem that I simply can't do small. The background is actually quite large, with an unfinished size of 16.5". I suppose I can trim them down later if needed, but it seemed like a good starting size.


This sweet daisy fabric has been in my stash for so long... waiting to be used before it landed in the "never-use-it... put it in the destash pile". I'm so glad I didn't give up on her, because I think she's finally found her project to really shine.


So, just think of these green wreaths as my way of wishing you the brightest, warmest, and merriest Christmas ever!
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