Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Write, Review & Revise

It's hard to believe that the first quarter of the year has already passed! Even though I am not a disciplined "write, review, and revise" those New Year's resolutions that we all make, I have been thinking about my original goals that I set out to achieve. My let's-start-the-year-out-right goals were sparked when I had my "Eureka moment"... keep my projects small so I can try out a variety of quilting techniques. Well, before we go any further, let's just start by throwing that one out the window!

Gee... how do I transition from that into my latest WIP's (I'm sharing a little bit of the process now on Instagram)... well, this is essentially the review and revise part of my original goals. I know I am not the only one who struggles with the eternal dilemma of size... and as they say, size really does matter. My thinking behind making smaller projects was to try different quilting techniques, but the flip side of that is that such projects are not always practical. What do I do with a big stack of wall hangings?!?... and I think I am working on my one millionth pillow now! (that's what this one will be - ha!) With my Facing East blocks, I've far surpassed the baby quilt/wall hanging size a long time ago, and am now just two blocks shy of a lap quilt! Then I start all over again and think, what the heck am I going to do with a lap quilt? Well, you can understand the vicious cycle, right?

... but I am proud to say that I have been experimenting with my current projects. I recently visited a blog where the blogger shared her "flop moments" instead of a beauty touched up version of perfection... and I found it to be very honest and totally refreshing! So, with that being said, my latest experimenting has been with curved quilting, but let's just say that it didn't exactly go as I had envisioned... wanna have a peek at my big pull-just-as-many-hairs-out-as-you-do-stitches goof-up?

After much seam ripping... and I mean much seam ripping, I was finally able to get some nice circles. I'm not completely satisfied with my inner circles, and I can't say that I'm ready to do spiral quilting anytime soon... perhaps not even the wisest choice since I needed the spiral quilting to line up with the circle shape, but I guess it's all a learning process... which I think was exactly the core of my original goal in the first place. So, looking at it that way, perhaps I'm right on track!

Another question was what to do with the cut off triangles from the flying geese blocks... I really hate throwing these little guys away, so stitched the other side like you would HST's and I  ended up making this pinwheel strip that will actually be perfect for the back of the pillow.

What are you experimenting on this week?

Fabrics: Alison Glass, Sun & Handdrafted prints
Free Pattern: Heidi Pridemore

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Keep Your Bags Packed

I've never been a beach girl... sweating in the hot sun, sand in the most uncomfortable place in your bathing suit, sticky from all the sun block lotion, forced to just lay and relax with nothing to do... it's almost pure torture for me, not to mention there's no outlet to plug in a sewing machine! (yes, give me crafting instead of a book ANY day!)

Even though I can't always get to my sewing machine, I still very much enjoy hand sewing projects that can be transported from place to place... the couch, done while driving in the car, on vacations, and yes, even at the beach! And since I joined a local club that hosts a bi-weekly crafting group, it is necessary to have a good little number of those fun little hand stitching projects already packed up... crafting on the go!

Despite my need to craft on the go, ironically I'm not a needle turn applique girl and the thought of English paper piecing is just as unpleasant as sitting on the beach! (see above) But I always have my little crafting basket packed up, ready and waiting with those backburner projects that you have in the works for quite a while, like sweet and small applique butterflies...

...peeling the paper off the back of your paper pieced blocks...

....stacks of freezer paper hexies...

So, is it pretty obvious that I'm so totally crushing like a love-struck school girl on the new Alison Glass fabrics?!? With a fun little stack of strips like this, you can take them anywhere, pet them, lay them out in pretty rainbows, and put them back again to google them later.

All these WIP'S aren't quite ready for their time in the limelight just yet, as they will still be on the back burner for a bit... but linking up anyway to WIP Wednesday

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Buttoned-Up" Tutorial & Video

I figured that it was time that I share another tutorial, so as promised, here is the step-by-step tutorial for my "Buttoned-Up" pillow that I shared last week (scroll down for my video of these first steps!):

Download the "Buttoned-Up" template here making sure to print out to actual size. Finished button should measure ca. 7 3/4 inch (ca. 19.5cm) in width. Trace onto freezer paper and cut (4) templates. Cut out the inner circles as well. Place the shiny/slick side of the freezer paper on the wrong side of the fabric and lightly iron onto fabric. Cut around the template approximately 1/4 inch (ca. 1 cm) from the edge of the template.

For the center circles cut small slits towards edge of the small circle being careful not to cut into the freezer paper. For this I actually cut 6 slits that ended up looking like little flowers in the center of the circle.

For the outer edge of the circle, cut slits toward the temple approximately every 1/2 - 3/4 inch, also being careful to not cut into the freezer paper.

Using a glue stick, run a small stripe of glue to cover the inner edge of the small circles. 

I usually use a pair of pointed scissors as a turning tool as I secure the fabric to the back of the freezer paper template. You can of course use your fingers or another tool that you are most comfortable with.

Repeat the same steps on the outer edge of the button template, gluing the fabric inward on the template.

Here's a video that I did to show the whole process in action:

For the background of the pillow I sewed 4 - 11 x 11 inch (ca. 28 x 28) squares together and ironed seams open. Position the (4) buttons in each individual square one inch from the seam as shown. (Quilting will come later, I realized only after the fact that I didn't have an unquilted photo to show the button placement)

Stitch buttons in place as close to the edge as possible using invisible thread. You can use either a straight stitch or a blind stitch. I have an Bernina Activia 240 and use setting #43 when finishing with this option.

Once the buttons have been stitched in place, flip your pillow over to the backside and cut out the inner circle approximately 1/4 inch (ca. 1 cm) from the stitch line. Also cut around the inner circles of the button.

Using a damp cloth, slightly moisten the stitch lines. It's important to not over soak the piece.

At this point you can gently begin to remove the freezer paper from the backside. Also remove the freezer paper from around the inner circles.

Quilt as desired and add decorative stitches as desired. For my finished pillow I quilted the upper left and lower right squares vertically, and the upper right and lower left horizontally. Once finished quilting, trim to ca. 20 x 20 (ca. 50 x 50) square. I actually trim to the actual size of my pillow and do not include a seam allowance. This makes the finished pillow very full and fluffy since the stuffing looses volume after some use. Additionally, I finished the pillow back with G700 interfacing (German product equivalent to SF-101) and simple envelope closure.

Have fun sewing!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Buttoned-Up Pillow

It's no secret that I have a weakness for buttons. I love to add that extra little detail to a project that says I remembered everything... even the very smallest part. So in tribute to my passion for the pint-sized notion, my teeny little friends get to steal the show... and this time in XL size! It's been oh, too long since I've worked on a freezer paper applique project, and once I had started, I remembered why I swoon about the technique so much.

Another low volume fabric project was at the top of my list (and trust me, there will be more to follow!) Right now I am still "crushing" on the AGF Studio "Makers" fabrics... these fabrics are just so brilliant, and with that being said, one favorite deserves another with color accents of Basic Grey grunge.

I thought it would be fun to add an embroidered thread detail so the buttons would look like they had actually been sewn on.

... and I finished the back with two of my favorite Anna Maria Horner prints with a simple envelope closure. week I'll share a full tutorial on how I made this pillow, including the button template!

... and when I said that I really adore buttons... it was no exaggeration. I even gave these sweet, little accents thier very own board on Pinterest. What about you... any weaknesses for any other fun notions? 

Low volume fabrics in Germany from the "Makers" series can be found here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Keep the Volume Low WIP

In order to start working on my Facing East quilt I had to do some major (and I mean MAJOR) stash building. The concept of using low volume fabrics (read more on it here) is not exactly a new one, but the evolution of the designs available has grown to include some really fascinating and innovative fabrics. When I first started seeing a new wave of modern low volume fabrics pop up in various places all over the quilting scene, I was especially drawn to Carolyn Friedlander's brilliant "Ledger" fabric.

With that being said, I suppose that it might be more than obvious why I have been just itching to get my hands on fabrics from the new AGF Studios "The Makers" series from Art Gallery fabrics. (Look Book found here) I would have to say that they are the most brilliant low volumes as a collection that I've seen since Ms. Friedlander amazed us with her Architextures series.

... so absolutely perfect for another block for my quilt. The "I'm a Maker" fabric has, in just a few short days, already made it to the "eat-it-by-the-bolt" list...

... and the "Make Patterns" fabric falls into the "brilliant-on-another-level" category.

I decided to use this fabric for as well for the center circle of my "Makers" block... how could I not?!?

... oh, I've got a few other things in the works using these fabrics, but one thing at a time, right?

I made this fun board on Pinterest with some low volume quilting inspiration. What about you... do you like to work with low volume fabrics or do you prefer solids and more traditional background fabrics?

In Germany, you can find these and other Low Volume fabrics here.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Facing East" WIP

I had decided to put my Facing East quilt on hold until I could get a proper quilt wall in place. In the meantime my Swell quilt had sneaked jumped back into the WIP line while I was waiting for supplies to work on the wall. And as for the quilt wall you might ask, proper?... not quite. Functioning?...  yes (at least for now). So here is the current status of things:

Seeing the blocks up on a wall, I have a better feeling of which direction I need to go with my other blocks, espeically the color selections. I've got a lot of greens and pinks, which is to be expected, so working on new blocks limiting the use of those two colors is a little bit of a challenge. I'm limited somewhat by the range of Basic Grey grunge colors available... some blues and reds don't even come into question for me, as I am not the biggest fan of either. I obviously have to do a lot of re-arranging to get a good balance, but isn't that the beauty of a quilt wall?

Somehow, the first block that I made is still my favorite, and she is, of course, with pink and green. What about you, do you have favorite blocks when working on a quilt... it is usually the first, the last, etc.?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Behind the Scenes

How many times have you attended a movie, a theatre performance, an art show, a conference, or other major event and simply just soaked everything in and enjoyed it rather than stopping to consider, what really went on behind the scenes to make it happen? Having worked at several events and shows, including my dad’s art shows, I know firsthand the kind of energy, time, preparation, and to-do lists that one needs to make an idea turn into an end result. 

Depending on how much you know about me personally as a shop owner, you may or may not know that my “behind the scenes” is operating daily in a foreign language that is not my own to make the business run. If you know that much about me already, what you may not know is that over the past seven years, I have been the creative force behind the scenes, while my husband has been the “German voice” on the front end of things. With the curtain dropped and an up close look at our behind the scenes, the reality of it is that I am essentially a “one-man-show” with only partial abilities.  

When things were smaller, my husband’s work life was not as demanding, and there were no kids in the picture, running the one-man-show was doable. But now things are much bigger, my husband’s work life has doubled, there are TWO kids in the picture, and my passion to sew and create, the exact thing that drove me to start my online shop in the first place, must constantly take the backburner to everything else. The behind the scenes discussion has been going on for quite some time… should I keep it up? Should I go another direction? If not this, then what? Despite all the hovering questions, doubts, and unknowns, I have decided to leap. 

I have no landing plans, no safety nets, or predictable outcomes, but I am looking forward to my after-the-dust-has-settled moment. I don’t want to make claims of all the things I plan to do, or what I hope to have accomplished when it’s all over with, but the outlook is positive. The specifics are not etched in stone, but my general direction is clear. I am excited and feeling envigorated now about the “what ifs” that I will finally have the time to pursue. 

One small change is that what I plan to say in the future will be in my own language. Such a statement should not be taken as a shutting out or shunning statement against the very customers that have supported me over the past 7 years, quite the contrary, it is for you that I write this. But my plans are borne out of a deep inward yearning to function without the restrictive “verbal handcuffs” that come with operating in a foreign language. 

In any case, I hope you will join me as one chapter closes, and I begin writing the next!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Swell" Work in Progress

If you've been hanging around for at least a year or more, then you might remember this stack of fabrics and my original work in progress post... distraction #2,478 (or something like that). I've been asking myself how crazy it is that I have three, yup you heard right... THREE quilts in progress!?! They have all been set to the side for various, but all for very good reasons.

The current quilt that I am working on is Camille Roskelley's "Swell" quilt pattern from her Simply Retro book. The reason I put this one is hold is because of the same dilemma I seem to always run into with every quilt that I start... what size to make it? The finished quilt dimensions are about a large twin maybe full size, but of course we have a queen/king size bed, thus perhaps the expected back and forth... should I make it the same size as in the book? Should I make it bigger? If so, how much do I need to add... the questions got even more overwhelming to me as I considered each one. I finished the blocks to make the quilt as is a LONG time ago, but by the time I had decided to enlarge it, I calculated that I was only half way finished instead of being in the last lap of the home stretch... sigh!

Well, now she's been pulled back out, dusted off, and has been brought to the front burner to be finished off. It really helps a lot to have an actual quilt wall to see it all come together. It's been fun pulling out some of my old favorite Amy's, especially since I haven't seen them in a while... there's a total of five different collections represented here!

Speaking of back and forth debates... another question I've been pondering is whether to move my office and working space downstairs where there is almost triple the space - room for a quilt wall, space to spread out, room for a proper sewing table, storage space, and even a comfy space to relax, but no natural light. Option two is to stay put upstairs with my natural light, and closer to the center of things, but with limited space. Right now projects are always being shifted from one side to the other... any thoughts? 

Well, in any case, it sure is fun to dream... I could so totally see my finished quilt draped over this couch in the comfy corner of a new sewing space... hmmm?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday when all are awake on the other side of the pond!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


My original plan when I started making sewing models for our Kreativ Hamburg stand this fall was to make a mock skirt that I could later transition into something else. It made no sense to me to make something that could only be used for the show.... especially since my model has a (ah hum), slightly "trimmer" waistline than mine.

I used this great tutorial here for the arrow blocks... not to fret, no paper piecing involved. So, I thought that simple straight line quilting would show off the off-center design the best... and that's how I ended up with yet another pillow! (much more practical than a skirt that doesn't fit, right?)

After having cut my strips for the arrow tail into 45 degree angles, I thought it would be too bad to just throw away the sewn scraps... so, I decided to sew them together and make a cosmetic bag out of them, which has now become my sewing notions bag with my favorite and highly used sewing tools.

I love it when I find a way to use those wasted scraps. How about you, do you have any projects using leftover scraps or that you've transitioned from one project into another?... leave me a link!

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