Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mini Mini Sunburst Free Pattern

When Kitty first e-mailed me to ask if I would like to participate in a mini mini quilt swap, I sat there for a bit having an inward discussion with myself: Would it be fun to join a swap? Do I have the time? Will I commit to this and end up having another WIP just lying around waiting to be finished? Can I really sew something that mini mini? After much debate, I decided to just do it!

I knew that in order to be able to sew something so teeny, tiny, I would have to paper piece. I have noticed that the smaller my fabric bits get, the more crooked my seams become. Once I started sewing on my paper pieced Facing East quilt, I've never looked back and have become a total fan!

I thought that it might be fun to get more people in on the mini mini quilt craze and share my free "Mini Mini Sunburst Pattern" to tempt others to hop on board. WARNING: Use with caution. Making mini mini quilts is extremely addictive. Even just one mini mini project could lead to additional and frequent use. Mind wondering may occur and finishing current WIP's may become increasingly difficult.

Picking colors was not hard for me since Kitty and I share the same passion for color and all things Alison Glass. But when I was working on additional mini's I decided that I really wanted to push my limits and work with colors that are not in my usual palette of colors. I've been sitting on a fat quarter pack of Cotton & Steel fabrics from Sarah Watts for a long time. The designs are fantastic, and I really like the colors, but I have a tendency to mix softer shades with fairly bold colors because I prefer a stronger contrast.

It was a challenge to think muted, soft, and delicate... basically the complete opposite of every one of my other projects! I am always amazed at how designer's like Carolyn Friedlander can take the most quiet and understated fabrics and turn them into WOW - it really is an art all of it's own.

What pushes you or is challenging when it comes to working with colors? Do you have your "standard color palette" and stick to it, or do you force yourself to step outside that comfort zone?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome Distractions

Would you like to meet my latest distraction?... on my desk right now is a mini mini swap that tempted me to abandon set aside quilting on my Swell quilt. I'm super happy with the quilting progress that I've made... but gee, this thing is so big that I need to have several things going at once to keep things interesting. Next week I'll share my free tutorial for this little mini mini quilt, five inches to be exact, that I made for Kitty... but for this week I'll just leave you with the teaser.

Additionally, I finished a few blocks for a charity quilt that is to be auctioned off for the Free The Girls Project. The FTGP is a FAWCO target program which "focuses on women's rights as human rights, specifically in the areas of political empowerment and participation, economic empowerment, peace and security, and ending violence against women." (source) The project collects new and gently used bras, to then set up second-hand clothing markets, and then sell the bras that have been collected. Many of the women that have been assisted through this program are trafficking survivors, whom for several it is a first job and a reintegration back into society.

The block is appropriately named "Liberate", and is a free pattern for personal use or for charity quilts. This is actually the closest thing that I have ever done to a solids block, and I thought that my all time favorite, Basic Grey's grunges, were perfect for this block. It was fun for me to think about how the solids would work best together, and I am super excited to see how so many different blocks from multiple club members will come together in one big quilt.

Since joining a quilting bee this year, I am quite interested to see if there will be any challenges to making a quilt with blocks from various people, with a variety of tastes. Have you ever worked on charity quilts or quilting bee quilts with blocks from several different quilters? Was is a challenge, or did it come together quite easily?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Puppy Love Quilting

When it comes to quilting projects, sometimes I feel like a fickle, first grader... sending silly love notes like: I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no. Some days I check "yes", swooning over colors, fabric choices, and patterns. Other days, I check "no" and ask myself "what was I thinking? why did I pick that? and when will I ever get this frazzlin' thing done?!? I assume that I am not the only on who experiences the very Jekyll and Hyde-like mood swings that come with working on a long term quilting project.

While I am not about to spout sonnets of adoration for my Swell quilt, I am rediscovering a new found fondness that I had somehow lost along the very long way... especially since it's under the machine now! Since I opted for a pieced back, it once again added more time to the end being in sight, but as I am beginning to discover about myself, it would seem that I cannot do it any other way. 

By the time I got this quilt basted and under the machine, it was a good reminder of just how massive it has grown to be! Since I am straight line quilting, and my experience with erasable quilting markers has not been favorable, I decided to use painters tape. I notice a slight difference in the tape that I found here as opposed to what I know from being in the US, but it appears to be working quite nicely so far.

Are you a fickle, fall in love quickly with a quilt that you are working on type, only to find out that you fall out of love just as quickly if the project goes on for too long?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Life Happens

It doesn't always work out that everyday is a day at the sewing machine. Sometimes writing a sewing or crafting blog can be challenging because generally posts tend towards "look what I made this last week" or "look what I'm working on now", which can seldom give a real life glimpse into the everyday of a crafter. Explanations of "geee... life has been so busy that I didn't have time to sew this week" just doesn't cut it, and who wants to hear that post after post anyway? With that being said, let's just say that my crafting over the last few weeks has been that step back from the crafting room to enjoy the everyday... days of birthdays, new kindergarten days, not to mention the to-do lists that come with it all.

Amidst the business and whirlwinds of the past weeks, it was quite refreshing to carve out at least one evening of craftiness to work on what I like the call my "basket projects". It's that one evening out with my crafty circle of friends to catch up, chatter, and work on my already packed on-the go projects... you know, those projects that you don't intend to finish any time soon, but are the perfect take-it-with-you projects for the hands that just can't stay idle.

These little "orange peels" are the start of a table runner that I have planned using the raw edge applique Modern Beauty Block pattern from Pile 'O Fabric... did I mention that it's a free pattern? Unlike some other quilter's EPP is totally not my thing, but applique has my heart.

So, do you find it difficult to keep up with regular blog posts when the reality is that you are busy making real life happen, and escaping to the crafting room inevitably gets pushed to the bottom of the list?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Well, Not Mine Exactly

Despite the fact that I am notorious for starting a new project in the middle of an exsiting one, let me reassure you that this "new" project is not exactly MY new project. This summer I was asked if I would like to join a quilting bee, and I decided to jump in on the fun. We are only six bee members in total, but I really like the idea of being just a handful, which gives us two months instead of only one to finish blocks. With all that I have on my plate, not to mention little ones in the mix, I wanted to leave no room for "life getting in the way" of finishing up my blocks, so I decided to finish my blocks as soon as possible.

 I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous about making blocks for other quilters, and having other quilters make blocks for me. Every who sews has their own ideas when it comes to fabrics, colors, and design. In addition we all have our own opinions about pre-washing or after the fact, but with the great group of quilters in the mix, it helps settle any apprehensions that I might have had. So,... do you want to meet the other lovely quilters in the group? 

First let me introduce you to Claudia from Machen und Tun, since she's up first, and these are blocks for her quilt. I was absolutely thrilled when she requested some very colorful feather paper pieced blocks on a grey background fabric... ahhh, Claudia, you had me a paper piecing! You may have seen the free pattern around from Blossom Heart Quilts. The pattern reminds me a lot of the feathers pattern from Anna Maria Horner, which I made a pillow here, but used the freezer paper applique method. Since I'm a big AMH fan, I found it only fitting to make one of the feathers with her fabrics.

 The other quilters in the group include Mell from Melanie's Kunstraum, Yara from Qvilted, Daniela from Block M Quilts, and Vicky  from Veni Vidi Vicky. All the bee members have some link to Germany... either they are located here, or are German speakers, with me rounding out the somewhere in between category. If you are visiting from the States side, please drop by and say hello... and don't worry, all bee members either already write thier blogs in English or are fluent (oh, how lucky I am that the "international language" just happens to be my native language)

Are you involved in any quilting bees? What are your experiences with it?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

WV Quilt Festival Part II

Just ask the majority quilters how many WIP's they have in the works, and you might find just as many red-faced, embarrassed, sheepish, and purposefully underestimated answers that come back to you. (self included) We all ask ourselves continuously how this happens... sometimes there are legitimate reasons and answers, and sometimes we really can't come up with a proper excuse. Reality check aside, we all have that WIP pile.

When I shared pictures from my visit to the West Virginia Quilt Festival this summer, I knew that there were too many to share in just one post. Even though I am totally a picture girl, more is sometimes just more, isn't it?

Flipping for just a bit... picture this: Can you imagine going through your grandmother's belongings and finding a beautiful quilt top (aka WIP) made by her, a great-aunt, or some other family member...  and then having the opportunity to finish it? One of the special exhibitor's at this year's quilt festival does just that and was able to feature 40 vintage quilt tops that had been finished by various long arm quilters. How special to preserve that kind of history!

Some of these precious little prints gave me flashbacks to many of the the very quilts that I had wrapped myself up in for years. I found myself coveting a few of these fabrics to have in my own stash... swoon!

Mary Kerr, who organized the "Quilt As Desired" special exhibit, is a certified appraiser and business owner who specilizes in antique quilt repair and restoration. In addition, Mary is an award winning quilter and gives workshops about antique quilt preservation and quilting history. The original quilt tops on display ranged from 1890 – 1960 with the majority falling in the1930-1940 time frame.

The following two quilts perhaps gives an idea of the influences the quilting community might have seen at that time. My aunt had noticed two quilt tops with the same colors and motifs. They were two different sizes, but identical in color and design, which lead her to believe that they were perhaps a quilting kit that was popular then. It's fun to think of it as something similar to the quilt alongs that dominate the online quilting community today. Notice how two completely different quilters chose to finish the quilts.

With the online quilting community there is truly a real connectedness amongst fellow quilters. In contrast to those connections, somehow viewing this exhibit made me feel even more connected with those women of the past, knowing that I am now carrying on their own tradition...

... where the past crosses paths with the future.

All quilts shown were from the 2015 West Virginia Quilt Festival exhibit.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Great Harvest

When it comes to farm living, planting, growing, harvesting, and storing up so that the cycle can be carried on into the next year is central to the way of life. I've been pondering such things while working on my Farm Girl Vintage blocks, and I think that this verse tells of the wisdoms of planning and preparing for the things that are ahead: The ants are a people not strong, yet they lay up their food in the summer. Proverbs 30:25

Even though I did not grow up on a farm, I do remember canning yummy, homemade cinnamon applesauce with my mom. I can still see the funny little cone with holes with all that deliciousness oozing out the sides. Working in the kitchen with her on various cooking projects was also central to our relationship, and I so enjoy it when my boys climb up on the counter eager to help the same way that I did all those years ago.

My husband on the other hand, did grow up on a farm, and I always see the excitement in his eyes when the tractors are busily driving from field to field to "make hay while the sun is shining". It really is like seeing a kid all lit up at Christmas time. Farming is really such a part of him, that it almost makes me feel like it is a part of me too.

After I had made my first "Welcome Block", I knew I needed to make a second one. I've not yet decided size or purpose of this quilt, and perhaps two of the same blocks in a sampler quilt may not fit exactly, but I simply could not be stopped.

As summer is drawing to a close, I find myself looking towards the things that are to come. Have I planned enough, prepared enough, is my heart open enough to continue cyles that I want to pass on?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Swell Quilt Top Finish!

I guess when it comes to quilting I'm a debater... are you too? I'm almost always back and forth about some issue, putting projects on hold until I figure out my dilemma, and picking them back up again when it feels right. With that being said, it should be no surprise that this quilt top finish is certainly no exception. 

Just a few stats to bring you up to speed:

Quilt pattern: Camille Roskelley's "Swell" from her Simply Retro book.
Started: February 2014
Fabrics: Various Amy Butler collections and Kona Cotton white
Quilt top: FINISHED! (if I could figure out a way to make trumpets sound at this point, I would. Please imagine them now.)
Current Status: Working on backing, then once basted, under the machine for quilting!
Issues: Completed listed size (
63 x 75), but after much debate decided to make larger. Initially indecisive about whether to put border as shown in original quilt. Decided to leave the border off and extend the design.
Finished quilt top size: 83 x 91 in. (210 x 230 cm)

NOTE: When my 6'5" (195 cm) husband had to stand on a kids chair for this photo, and it still drug the ground... made me realize just how huge this baby has grown to be! (I have to admit I’m a little worried about getting  this thing  though my normal sewing machine to quilt). I am planning very simple quilting on this one, which will hopefully make this happen quickly.

Are you dragging your feet this week on a project? Having any size dilemmas? Any particular quilting issues?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Farm Girl Vintage Blocks

One of the joys of living is Northern Germany is the rain. (I hope the sarcasm is plainly obvious) With that being said, I've got a finish to share, but have been stuck inside these past days wishing for even the slightest little hint of sunshine to snap some pictures. So, if the sunshine won't come to you, then I guess you have to make it yourself.

My Farm Girl Vintage blocks are growing, and it's been fun to dig through my scraps, and even make a few new scraps for these blocks. I have to say that I am pleased with how much easier it has been to find that perfect little snippit now that my scraps are properly organized. I really love adding low volumes with just a little hint of color to these, and paired with these juicy blocks, it just feels summery even if the weather outside is not.

As always, size will continue to be my life long back and forth dilemma when it comes to quilting, and I am actually contemplating a small, little twelve block sampler. Can you believe it? On the other hand, these blocks are not only fun, but really addictive... but one step at a time, right?

While I found the 6 inch blocks to be unbelievably adorable, I really liked the idea of making larger blocks and chose the 12 inch version. It's also been fun looking at other versions of FGV projects on Instagram, and see what others are making.

What are you working on today?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday & Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Realistic Quilting

When it comes to my quilting projects, I feel that I am somewhat of a realist. It's never been my goal, or intention, to whip out one quilt after the next as fast as one can blink... in fact I've actually intended my long term projects to be just that, and something that I work on throughout the year. I want to enjoy the process, and be satisfied that a quilt is not something that is just thrown together over a weekend. (well not at least for normal people anyway)  I want the freedom to set something to the side if I am not feeling motivated or inspired, and pick it back up when if feels right. While finishing is so vital, setting time constraints for when is not. I've enjoyed moving at a snail's pace despite the fact that I know that such a pace does not exactly grow blog readership, but my projects are growing little by little, bit by bit... and believe it or not, I'm OK with that. As for the progress on my Facing East quilt... talk about a not-done-overnight quilt, yup, you're looking at the epitome of it!

Last week I shared my Scrappy Windmill quilt top finish, and after peeling all those papers out of the seams, I was more than ready to set it aside. Since it came together so quickly, I gave myself the liberty to do so, not to mention that I am waiting on the batting to finish it. My husband graciously took our two little guys for the weekend, and I was able to have some time to myself. Usually my sewing room is an explosion after being granted such freedom, but I had several things to ponder in my heart... thoughts of change, unanswered questions, and what if's. Things are shifting and moving, and the quiet and stillness was just what I needed. But nonetheless, after working so intensely on the quilt top, I just wasn't ready to pull out one of my tedious, long-term quilts.

You may remember me adding a few,... er, well, ahumm, several... ok, ok, a huge stack of fabrics that I hauled back recently from vacation. And while in the land of fabrics, I found that I simply could not resist the Farm Girl Vintage book from Lori Holt either. While these blocks are a little off the beaten path from my usual style, I found myself gravitating back to it.

You might notice several of those fabrics all sliced, diced, and sewn up together in these blocks. Working with low volumes with a little touch of color has been on my to do list, and up until now, my low volume's have essentially been black in the black/white category.

Somehow I'm still stuck on going for a fresh and juicy look... I really want to have colors that just pop! When I first saw the Word find fabric from Melody Miller's Playful collection, I have to admit that I wasn't too impressed... until I saw it live! Talk about a story change... for me THIS is the absolute perfect shade of pink!

... and my little house block ends up boasting not just one, but several favorites of mine... Alison Glass, Heather Ross, Cori Dantini, and I am just as smitten with the Eric & Julie Comstock Baby Jane in yellow.

What's your approach on long-term quilting? Do you take on year-long (or longer) projects or do you prefer quilts that don't need as much time to finish? 

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.
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