Monday, April 24, 2017

No Scrap Left Behind blog tour

Today I'm excited to kick off a blog tour to celebrate my new book, No Scrap Left Behind! I've asked 10 talented ladies to join me in a celebration of SCRAPS! It's no secret that I find great enjoyment in transforming scraps into beautiful and useful finished objects. I sincerely hope that this blog tour (and book, of course!) inspires you to not only save your scraps, but to actually use them!
As a part of the tour, I asked everyone to share their scrap sorting/storing methods OR their favorite tips/tricks when it comes scraps. (You can see mine here.) These lovely ladies are sewing up some of the quilts and projects from the book, too! Personally, I am looking forward to seeing how others put their own spin on the patterns. I'm sure it will be very inspiring!
 
Here is the schedule so you can follow along:

Monday, April 24th Mary Kolb
Tuesday, April 25, Lee Monroe
Wednesday, April 26, Sandi Hazlewood
Thursday, April 27, Bernie Kringel
Friday, April 28, Erin Cox
 
Monday, May 1, Katherine Greaves
Tuesday, May 2, Tracy Mooney
Wednesday, May 3, Cheryl Arkison
Thursday, May 4, Debbie Jeske
Friday, May 5, Amy Smart
 
Of course there will be prizes, too! At each stop along the way, a copy of No Scrap Left Behind will be given away. If you are a winner and you live with in the US, you will receive a hard copy of the book. If you live outside the US, you will receive a digital copy of the book. Each participant in the blog tour will choose the length of time that their giveaway is open for entries.
 
Starting things off, is my dear friend, Mary, who is sharing the pincushions that she made from the book. She was my pattern tester for all of the pincushions and she did a great job on every single one. She was also a huge help to me behind the scenes. Last January, when it was time to send the quilts to California for photography, she came over and helped me de-thread, fold, tag and package up the quilts for shipping. She was a lifesaver! It was a HUGE undertaking that was so much easier thanks to the help of a friend. Be sure to check out her work here and enter on her blog to win a free book!

It is no surprise that I LOVE pincushions, so it was only natural to include patterns for several in the book. As much as I love big quilts made from small scraps, I also love small projects made from small scraps!
I also love polka dots, so I used all sorts of them for this pillow pincushion. This is a HUGE pincushion, but I love it because it's harder to lose under piles of fabric. (I speak from experience!)
This pincushion was inspired by my bright birch trees quilt pattern. I shrunk down the block into pincushion size, because we all know that tiny=cute!
This one is more of a needle sorter than a pincushion, but it is helpful for differentiating needles that are sharp and still suitable for sewing through fabric from those needles that have been used for sewing through paper and may be slightly dull, but still usable. I love this one to bits!
There are templates included in the book for making the word panels... you an either embroider them by hand or use free motion quilting. I've included printed and cursive words, or your can use your own hand writing, not mine. :)
And finally, I made a few skinny pinnie pincushions--perfect for placing right in front of the sewing machine. These are simple and straightforward, but easy to customize. The possibilities are truly endless.

Alright, that's enough for today! Now it's time to go sew something scrappy. Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 21, 2017

noodlehead pencil pouch

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

A few weeks ago, my friend, Anna, generously shared a tutorial for her canvas pencil pouches(available here) and I've been wanting to make some ever since. Actually, she showed the pouches on her blog before that, and I have wanted to make them since then, so it's been awhile! She has such a great style and aesthetic.... it's hard to not want to copy everything she makes. Her work is so inspiring!
I finally took the time to make a pouch yesterday, and I absolutely love it! It was a super fun project! (Incidentally, I used scraps that she gave me to make the pouch. So, double thanks to you, Anna!)
I love the color blocking on the pouch! So many possibilities!
I used zipper tabs to shorten a zipper that I had on hand, which seemed to work out pretty well. I have plans to make many more of these cute little pouches. The next one will probably be full on scrappy. (What a surprise!) I plan to use this one for transporting my rotary cutter and other sharp tools. That is, if one of my kids doesn't take it and claim it for their own. That HAS been know to happen....
This is kind of a silly project, but it will make me laugh for months to come. Awhile back, while I was shopping at SR Harris with my friend, Brianne, we came across this meat fabric by Dear Stella. It's kind of funny (and extremely weird!), so we decided that we needed to purchase some. I offered to turn the fabric into napkins, so we will each have a matching set of 4. They will be perfect for BBQ season!
And.... since no week is complete without the making of a pincushion, I spent some time playing with my tiny triangle scraps and made this cute little thing. (The pattern is in Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 1, which is available here.) I may make a whole series of these, one in each color....I have plenty of tiny triangles ready to go!

Oh! I almost forgot to mention! Next week I will be kicking off a blog tour to celebrate the release of my new book, No Scrap Left Behind. There will be chances to win a copy of the book each day of the tour. I'm excited to officially celebrate the release of the book and show more of what is inside. I hope you will join me.

That's it for me! I hope you have had a good week of finishing! Please link up, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

EPP methodology

Thank you so much for the great response to my focus quilt! Apparently I won't be making this quilt alone, which is super fun! I will be anxiously waiting to see other versions of it popping up. Thanks to all of you who purchased the templates!

I thought it would be a good time to share some of my methodology when it comes to EPP (English paper piecing). Please remember that this is simply one way of doing things, not the end all, be all. I hope you pick up some tips that will be helpful to you.

Printing and Cutting the Templates: 

I have been printing the trapezoid pages only (page 2 of the PDF) on card stock on my home printer. I print a few sheets at a time, as needed, then use a rotary cutter specifically for paper to cut them into strips. This is a great way to use blades that are too dull to cut fabric!
You will notice that this rotary cutter is clearly marked for paper. All of the inhabitants of this house have been instructed and coached about the usage of this and other cutting tools. (Read: my husband!) Ha!
Once the strips are cut, I like to use a paper scissors to cut the shapes apart. I find that it's more efficient to use a scissors for these short cuts. It's quicker than lining up everything with the ruler and rotary cutter. (This is just personal preference!)
I keep all the templates in this cute little box to help keep them organized, otherwise they would be floating all over the place. It's just the right size!

If your home printer doesn't like to print on card stock, you could always take the files to a copy center, like Kinkos or Office Max, and have them print the sheets for you.
I have been using my paper punch (by Fiskars) that I bought at JoAnn's to punch the hexagons. It's so quick and efficient! (And lots of fun, too!) The hexagons measure 1" on each side.

Cutting the fabric:
I have been using a 2 1/2" square (or so) for the center blocks. Fussy cut, of course!
 
I cut the strips for the trapezoids 2 5/8" wide x 20" or so. I like to cut these from fat quarters. If you cut the FQ the long way, it's just the right amount of fabric for the outside pieces of one block. (I love that it worked out that way!) 
 
I started by cutting my strips 2 1/2" wide, but after a few blocks, I determined that I really like having the extra 1/8" in the width of the strip. There is a little more fabric to wrap around the back side of the paper pieces, which makes it easier to work with. Small difference, big results!
 
Basting:
In this photo you can see how much fabric wraps around the back side of the papers. You may also notice that I trim the edges of the fabric on the hexagon to mimic the shape of the paper. I am a little bit particular and I like to have the back nice and tidy, too. I LOVE my Clover wonder clips for holding the fabric in place while basting. They are wonderful!
I like to thread baste the fabric around the shapes using Aurifil thread. I don't sew through the paper (I never understood that, but to each his own!), I just sew through the fabric. Once the fabric is basted in place, I trim the tails on the trapezoids down to about 1/4". Again, keeping things tidy is helpful!

Sewing the pieces together:
When it comes time to sew the pieces together, I've been using my collection of bobbin threads shown above. (The top one is available here.) It's a great assortment of colors and the thread is nice and thin, but strong. It doesn't tangle easily, either. If I am unable to find something that matches with my fabric from my selections above, I fall back on my trusty Aurifil thread in the color 2600, which blends with almost anything!
The block measures 6" across, and about 5 1/4" tall.
And here's a peek at the back. I could remove the center paper now, if I wanted to, since it is fully enclosed by other pieces, but I decided that I will leave the papers in for awhile yet. I can't wait to have a giant stack of these completed. I'm having SO MUCH fun with this project!

I hope that this post will help you along with your EPP!

Monday, April 17, 2017

focus quilt-the beginning

So far in my quilting journey, I've made 3 hand stitched quilts. They are really time consuming, but they are also extra special! Two of the quilts shown below are made from hand appliqued blocks, (which are then machine pieced) and the third one was English paper pieced, which means that it was all hand stitched, except for the binding. The first one is apple cake (center), the second one is oh my stars (right), and the third one, which is one of my most recent finishes, is called dot your i's (left). I love having a photo of all 3 of them together!
Why would someone want to hand stitch a quilt? Well, it's portable, for one. It's relaxing, (at least it is to me!) and it's a great way to slow down, but still have my hands occupied. Plus, it keeps me off my phone.
 
Earlier this month, I started a new long term project that I'm quite excited about! This quilt was actually my husband's idea. One day while he was at work, he texted me a photo of the bottom of this memo pad. It has a little focus logo thing (inspired by a camera lens) and he told me that he thought it needed to be a quilt! My first reaction was, "oh, my, we are in DEEP!" If my husband is seeing quilts in everyday places, we just MIGHT have a problem. Hahaha!
I held off on starting the quilt for several months, because I already had one long term quilt in progress. Even though it should have been easy, it took me several attempts to draw up the templates correctly. Then, I did some testing to see if I wanted to hand piece it or English paper piece it. After trying both, it was an easy decision to choose English paper piecing.
Here's my first block! Isn't it cute??? I decided that each block will start with a fussy cut center. It's a great way to use all those cutesy fabrics that I collect, but don't use all that often. (The only thing is, fabric selection kind of causes a fabric explosion. Ha! But it's totally worth it!)
Here are my first 6 blocks. I am already having so much fun making this quilt! Since it was my husband's idea, he has a vested interest in this quilt, so he gets to see each and every block. (He's already asked me if he gets to keep it, but I'm not sure that will be happening!)
It's way too early to determine the layout of this quilt, but it's fun to play around. I like them all nestled together like this. I don't think I will start stitching them together until I have A LOT more of them finished. Right now, it's fun to pick fabrics for a few blocks at a time and stitch them up, then repeat the entire process.
As I mentioned earlier, I tried hand stitching a block together with traditional hand piecing methods, but I was SO frustrated. It did not work AT ALL, but at least I tried. Since I didn't want to waste the fabric from my failed test block, I turned it into an itty bitty pincushion. Naturally, right!?!?!
I'm offering the templates for the focus quilt block for sale in my shop. (Available here.) The introductory price is $2.50, good for this week only. Next week the price will increase to $4.
 
This isn't a full blown pattern, but it includes 4 pages:
-one page of the quilt block assembled [2 up]
-one page of the trapezoids [16 up]
-one page of 1" hexagons [22 up]
-one page of step by step diagrams to illustrate block construction
Here are 3 more blocks that I completed over the weekend. I've already got fabric picked out for the next 3!
 
Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 14, 2017

harvest sweater complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

Last year, my one crafty goal was to knit myself a sweater. It's April, so I did not meet my timeline, but I am still very pleased that my harvest sweater is complete! I am over the moon with the results!!! After blocking the sweater, it has just the right amount of slouch and it feels so cozy. I don't know that I'm going to ever take it off. Hurray!
I am neither a photographer OR a model....so this photo was a huge stretch for me. (Thank goodness for cropping! Ha!) I'm also thankful for my tripod and a certain little girl who happened to be home from school that was happy to assist me. A big thank you to my friend, Suzanne, who suggested early on that I alternate skeins of yarn, which was a huge factor in the success of this piece. Another big thank you to my friend, Tara, who talked me into buying GOOD yarn for this project. It definitely was the right call. (I'm also thankful that my husband concurred and didn't gasp when I told him about how much it would cost. He's a keeper!)

The pattern is called harvest, by Tin Can Knits. I knit it on size 9 and 7 needles. (I had to go up a size to get the required gauge, because I tend to knit tightly.) The yarn is Madelintosh Vintage in the color Fog. This sweater is size Medium. I would highly recommend the pattern!

I didn't have a lot of time to sew this week, and when I did have time, I had a hard time settling into any one project. Don't you hate that? I guess that's all part of the process, as frustrating as that may be.
I did focus long enough to finish my daughter's placemat, which was designed by her and sewn by me. It was a fun project to work on together. I suggested a few times that we add two skinny strips to the top and bottom, to make it a bit more proportionate, but she declared it "just the right size". She's right, it looks just fine.
She picked a fun lime green print for the backing and we chose the navy polka dot binding together. I like how the navy binding ties in with the two navy squares in the middle. She has a good eye, that one! She also loves her Michael Miller Ta-dot fabrics. I can't imagine why.... (ha!)
This piece of patchwork has been floating around the sewing room for way too long. Years! It was high time it became a useful object, so I turned it into a skinny pinnie. It measures about 2" x 9.75", which is a great size to nicely fit in front of a sewing machine. I'm on a mission to fill up my "candy" bowl with pincushions again.... it's going to be so much fun!
 
Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday. It wouldn't be the same without you! Have a great weekend! xo

Monday, April 10, 2017

an almost finished sweater

Last night I finished knitting my very first sweater! I'm so excited that this project is ALMOST done! I had to laugh, because after I cast off the second sleeve, I tried on the sweater and THEN I realized that one cuff was about 3 rows shorter than the other. I had measured, but apparently not carefully enough! Doh! I decided to shorten the first sleeve rather than try to splice in a new strand of yarn on the second sleeve. My kids told me to just leave it, and that no one would even notice, but apparently they don't know me at all. Hahaha! Of course I had to fix it!
I have heard about blocking sweaters, but I didn't know much about it, so I used this helpful tutorial from Tin Can Knits. This morning I soaked my sweater with Eucalan (which was purchased at my local quilt/yarn shop) and now it is blocking. I found it kind of odd to place it on cardboard, but I guess it works.
I can not wait until it dries so I can wear it! Thankfully (?!?) we still have plenty of chilly mornings ahead of us, so I should have an opportunity to wear it this season.
I will try to get some photos of me wearing it, eventually! (Although I'm not looking forward to modeling it. Ha!)

Pattern: Harvest by Tin Can Knits (it's free!)
Yarn: Madelintosh Vintage in the color Fog
Start Date: December 2016
End Date: April 2017 (5 months isn't bad!)

Since the sweater was successful, it looks like my entire family won't be wearing matching hats and gloves after all. I bet they are sooo relieved!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 07, 2017

terrific tulip mini quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Last week, I had the chance to help out my sweet friend, Katherine, by testing her new block pattern called terrific tulip. It's a great pattern and it was a lot of fun to sew up! It was also a good exercise in following directions. (I am usually writing them, not following them. It was a nice change of pace! Ha!) Isn't the block cute?
This morning, I quilted it up and turned it into a mini quilt. It measures about 12" square. I think I love diamond crosshatching most of all for minis! The bias gingham binding makes a perfect finish, too, doesn't it? I love how it turned out so much, I immediately hung it up above my desk. It will make me smile every time I see it! I am SO ready for spring....
I'm not sure where I picked up this tip, but I read it somewhere awhile back. You can use your dull/used sewing machine needles to hang up your mini quilts on the wall. The needles are still fairly sharp and since they are rigid, they easily push into the wall. Works like a charm! I love repurposing things and I thought that this was a pretty genius idea. As an aside...I'm so thankful that my husband doesn't mind how many holes I put into the wall!
 
That's it for me today! Do you have a finish to share? If so, please link up. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! I really mean that! :) Have a great weekend! xo
 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

WIP Wednesday-quilting and some EPP

Thank you for your kind comments on my post about collaborating with my daughter! She and I appreciate your positive feedback very much. THANK YOU! :)
I've been working on my crayon challenge project for the upcoming guild meeting this month. (I'm only sharing a peek, since it's a challenge.) It's AMAZING how fast one can accomplish something when FOCUS is applied. Sometimes deadlines are great! :) This isn't my first time learning this lesson, but I almost always need the reminder! I hope to finish the quilting soon, so I can get on to the binding stage. I love finishing up a quilt!
I started an EPP (English paper pieced) hexagon project. I'm in the very beginning stages, but this project couldn't be more timely. Spring means track season, end of school concerts and activities galore. Most of the activities involve some sort of waiting around. I needed a new portable project, since I finished my dot your i's quilt, so this is a nice filler. I'm planning on making a throw pillow cover out of these hexagons, as kind of a warm up project. (More on that in a bit.) I took my sew it goes tote out for it's initial run and it is AMAZING!!! The pattern tote is available here. (It's a very involved pattern, but the results are worth it!) I think it's funny that the thread catcher (pattern is here) I made years ago coordinates so well with the tote. :)
For my hexagons, I'm using this paper punch that I purchased last fall at JoAnn's when it was 60% off. The cost of the punch was less than the cost of two packets of paper pieces, ready made! I'll need about a zillion hexagons, so it won't take long for this purchase to pay off. I'm using leftover card stock for my papers and the punch works SO well! The hexagons measure 1" on each side.

This is the reason I need a hexagon warm up project....
This isn't a WIP quite yet, but I'm planning on making a reproduction of this vintage quilt! I told my husband my plan, and he didn't bat an eye or discourage me one bit, so I think it's a go. Hahaha! I just happened to buy the end of the bolt of this orangey red solid on clearance (it's Cotton Couture by Michael Miller) on the same trip that I bought the quilt. I think it was meant to be! I'm excited to start a new LONG term project!

Monday, April 03, 2017

collaborating with my daughter, part 1

First off, thank you for all the kind comments on my happy quilt! I appreciate each and every one of them!

One of my goals this year is to collaborate with my daughter, who is 10, on some projects. She is an artist through and through and I love seeing things through her eyes. It's especially fun for me to see her color choices when it comes to fabric, as that is my medium of choice. This past weekend, we started working on a string quilt together. I have to admit, I had a bit of an ulterior motive. My string bucket (which is constantly overflowing) is not very inspiring to me. It's by far my hardest category of scraps to keep up with. She was more than willing to play with my strings... I didn't have to twist her arm at all! Hurray!
We decided to make 1/4 log cabin blocks. She chose the fabric and the arrangement, and I did all the sewing and pressing. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to relinquish control, it worked out surprisingly well! I am a little surprised that she limited her color palette this much, but I think she is doing a great job so far! The blocks are 6 1/2" unfinished and our goal is to make a baby quilt for one of her friend's soon-to-be-born baby brother. We will make either 36 or 48 blocks total. We worked on the blocks for about an hour or so before she was ready to move on to something else. I was fine with that, as I've learned that sewing with kids definitely works better in several shorter sessions rather than fewer, longer sessions.
For the past few weeks, she has been playing, sorting and arranging my 2 1/2" squares. (She set up a play store and everything!) Over the weekend, she designed a new placemat for herself. Again, she arranged the fabric and I sewed it up. She sure loves her blues and grays! Now I need to wait for her to pick out the backing and binding, as I'm sure that she will have strong opinions about both. :)
 
I'm thrilled with both of our projects so far. It sure is nice to have her help to use up some of my mountains of scraps. (haha!) Her fresh perspective is a welcome change of pace. Honestly, it isn't always easy to take the time to sew with her, but I'm always glad when I do.
 
Happy Monday to you!