Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Alle Vögel sind schon da!

Through my children attending kindergarden, I have naturally picked up on a few "standard" songs that everyone knows here in Germany... big and small alike. Even though "Vogelhochzeit" is perhaps my all time favorite German children's music, one particularly cute song that crosses the lips of just about every child almost as soon as they can form words is "Alle Vögel sind schon da" (translated, all the birds are already there... spring wants to march in!)

...  and these sweet winged creatures were the inspiration for my latest projects as featured in the June issue of Anna Magazin. (Oz Verlag, Germany)

For me, there is nothing more delightful than to sit with my morning tea and marvel at my little feathered friends busily hopping, fluttering, and flying from place to place.

Occasionally a bushy-tailed, four-legged squirrel scampering around at the same busy, yet happy pace....

I was actually able to "borrow" a couple design elements from the fabric itself as the inspiration for my embellishments... simply free motion outlining on felt.

Patterns & Sewing Instructions: Allison Richter as featured in Anna Magazin (Germany)
Fabrics: Cori Dantini, Good Company for Blend Fabrics, "Alle Vögel sind schon da" fabric kits available in Germany here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mother's Pickledish

Which crafter or quilter doesn't have at least one Pinterest board filled with inspiration and projects that keep calling, "make me, make me"? I found a mini quilt project recently, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it... here is my inspiration pin. Since I didn't have the book that was mentioned, I decided to use the free Pickledish pattern from Aneela Hoey. I did, however, make one minor change to her pattern. My fabric placement was way off when sewing the arches according to the directions, and I found I needed to add drawn lines to the arch template. Isn't that the beauty of a paper pieced pattern... just sew on the lines?

As part of my revised goals, it's been important to me is to try a variety of quilting techniques. Essentially the core of what I want to accomplish this year is to simply experiment.This mini project had me working on some curved piecing, which I've never really done in a quilting application before. I have to say that even though the technique has quite a bad reputation, I was pleased with the end result.

I really wanted to go with a dark background like in my inspiration piece, but in the end I felt like it was a nicer contrast with the low volume fabrics. Since I am using the piece on my table, I wanted to stick with some simple quilting.

I thought my Mother's Day bouquet of flowers looked custom made for my little table topper. When I'm not a pink and green girl, I'm totally an orange girl.

... and even my "big guy" gave me his own special bouquet. (he even did the flower arranging all by himself)

Much like Marianne Dashwood, I'm somewhat partial to freshly picked wildflowers to those grown in the hot house... how about you?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I've been doing a lot of experimenting these days.... things that I've had on my to-do/to-try list for quite some time. When I had visited the Edyta Sitar workshop at the beginning of  the year, as part of the workshop we received a kit for her Little Butterflies mini quilt. I had decided that this small project would be perfect for experimenting with free motion quilting. The whole time I was working on this, I have to admit that I was thinking.... how in the world would I be able to manage a whole quilt. Ok, ok, this is the part where I have to remind myself... little bites.

After working with these sweet butterflies, I knew I wanted to repeat this project, but with a modern twist... then it hit me that the handcrafted prints and sun prints from Alison Glass were just the thing - modern versions of batiks, if you like. So, my basket project, that I thought would be on the backburner for quite a while, actually moved to the front burner a lot faster than I expected. I still have a couple of bodies to finish, but it's amazing to me how the same project takes on a completely different look with just a little fabric change!

I also really like how the project looks totally different by framing out the butterflies. I do, however, have to give credit where credit is due... it was my husband's idea to offset the butterflies alternately. (how great is that that the hubster gives me input?!?) Now for my usual dilemma... say it with me everyone - SIZE?!? Either I add some offset borders to make this a small baby size quilt or I go all out and make it big enough for a bed, but then that in itself creates the next dilemma of how to quilt it. Any thoughts?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm a Maker

Sometimes you stumble onto an artist's work that really speaks to you.... as if your heart actually hears something, even though you may not even be able to put it into words what exactly you heard. For me Cori Dantini is one of those artists. And as if it weren't enough to have her work featured all throughout my whole entire house, what's more than exciting to me is that Cori puts her brilliant little pieces of art onto my medium of choice... fabric, swoon... and then comes the best part, getting the chance to create something fun with it!

Her latest fabric collection "The Makers" series holds a special place in my heart, especially since it covers a certain theme that is near and dear to me... 

I had to sneak a sweet little freezer paper gift tag in there somewhere just for fun...

Sewing Techniques: Simple piecing. Window - paper pieced, girl - freezer paper applique or alternative raw edge applique.
Fabrics: Cori Dantini "The Makers", Art Gallery: "Makers", Penquin & Fish.
House: Depot (Germany)
Paint Finish: acrylic/sand paper, decoupage

.... and because everyone needs friends:

I've had this sweet little miniature set that I had gotten from a friend a while back, and I've been waiting for just the right spot to feature these tiny little notions... I think they've found their new home, don't you?

Sewing Techniques: simple patchwork background, girl - freezer paper applique or alternative raw edge applique.
Fabrics: Cori Dantini "The Makers", various scraps from stash
House: Depot (Germany)
Paint Finish: acrylic/sand paper, decoupage

.... are you a maker too?

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!
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