Saturday, June 30, 2012

big, big bento

It seems silly to make a Christmas quilt in the middle of a heat wave, but that's exactly what I did. I certainly don't need another Christmas quilt, but this fabric is waaaaay too good to pass up! I love that there is ORANGE in the FUN!
Pattern: A twist on the bento box pattern
Fabric: Technicolor Tidings by Connecting Threads
Size: 72" square

I must really love the bento box pattern, as this is my third variation. You can see the first one here and the second one here. I LOVE all of them that I've made, but this might just be my favorite yet!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

scrappy Sundays-our pattern testers

Cheryl and I had fantastic pattern testers for Sunday Morning Quilts. Today we want to feature their work because they are awesome, they did amazing work, and they helped us out so much!

I love seeing patterns sewn up in different colorways. Furthermore, I love to see how someone else uses a pattern and runs with it. It is so. much. fun. (It's especially fun when it is your pattern!) I hope you enjoy reading the stories behind their quilts, too.
Andrea tested the splash quilt. She posted about her quilt here.

Katherine tested the candy coated pattern. She posted about her quilt here.

Pam tested the high five pattern. She posted about her quilt here.

Pauline tested the up, up and away pattern. She posted about her quilt here.

Tara tested the gumdrop pattern and made these throw pillows. She posted about them here.

Terri tested the Scrapper's Delight pattern. These are her test blocks....destined to be a huge throw pillow. Beyond being a pattern tester, she was very generous to share her scraps with me. Several of the scraps in Scrapper's Delight came from her. She has the BEST scraps! In fact, her and I have done a good deal of swapping. I trade fabric from my stash for her scraps. It's a great deal for both of us! :)
Terri also made a version of the storage box pattern from the book using some of her treasured chocolate lollipop scraps. You can read her post about both here.

I'd like to say a BIG thank you to all the wonderful pattern testers! You ladies did beautiful work!

In the book we have a section called "make it yours" to accompany each quilt. We wanted to suggest alternate ideas for each quilt because we know that scrap quilts can never be replicated exactly. The goal is to enable you to use your very own scrap collection and put your own twist on each design. We want you to make a quilt that you will use, love and be proud of...all while reducing your scrap pile. So, go forth and "make it yours"!  :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

my online friendship quilt

I've met some great friends, all because of this little blog. Friends that I would not have met otherwise. It's incredible to stop and think about it and I'm so thankful! It's because of a few of those friends that this quilt came to be (as I wrote about in this post).
Isn't it gorgeous?!??! I am absolutely smitten with this quilt! It's got such a variety of colors and prints. It's truly scrappy, which I love. I could make a hundred quilts like this!
Thankfully my friends buy dark value fabrics. I would say that most-if not all-of the fabrics I contributed were light or medium values. The darks really pop! I need to start being intentional about adding more dark fabrics to my stash and then using them. They add so much depth, so much interest to a quilt.
For the back I used this LOVELY fabric (Picnic Rose from the Darla line by Tanya Whelan) that I was saving for just the right quilt. I had bought 5 yards of it last summer because I loved it and I got a screamin' deal on it. I knew I would put it to good use at some point. There wasn't quite enough for this quilt, so I patched in a scrappy pink stripe right down the middle. It added just the right length for the backing. An added bonus, I didn't have to worry about lining up the repeat in the fabric. Hurray!
For the binding I used a black and white stripe, a la Rita. Tara and I found this when we were shopping together last February at Mill End. We called it 'Rita binding' immediately and we bought the rest of the bolt, then split it. (It is made by Cranston Village Quilt Works.) I didn't know if I would actually use it on a quilt, although I hoped to when I purchased it. I don't use a lot of black and white fabric in my quilts (or any, usually), so it was a stretch for me. Once I decided I was going to use the black and white stripe for the binding, it prompted me to add some black and white prints into the patchwork mix as well. I'm very pleased with the results!
The striped binding adds so much, even to the back of the quilt. 
I'm happy to say I had great success with my concentric amoeba quilting. It was fun to do, went fairly quickly and it gives the quilt lovely texture and movement. I'm planning to do more of this quilting's definitely a keeper!

The quilt measures 64" x 88", a perfect twin size.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

how to bury knots when machine quilting

Due to several requests, I decided to write up a little tutorial on how to bury your knots when machine quilting. I've only been doing this for two weeks, but I do love how tidy it looks and how beautifully finished the starts and stops are. Here's one way to do it.

To start, thread your machine and pull your bobbin thread up. Pull both threads to the side.
Insert your fabric sandwich.
Insert the needle into your quilt sandwich. Your presser foot should be up at this time.
Now, you want to pull the bobbin thread up and through to the top of your fabric. To do this, put the needle down and bring it back up. Turn the wheel on the side of your machine back and forth by hand a bit while gently tugging on the top thread until you see a loop appear.
Use a stitch ripper to catch the loop and pull the end through to the top.
 Both threads should be on top of your quilt sandwich at this point.
Put the needle down into the quilt sandwich in the same exact spot that you pulled the bobbin thread through. Hold both threads to the side, put your presser foot down and start quilting.
 Once you are a few inches away from the starting point, you should have enough room to bury your knot.
 Tie a small knot using both of the thread tails.
Thread your tails onto a needle (a self threading needle works very well) and insert the needle into the same hole where the knot is, or just behind it.
Run the needle inside the layers of your quilt sandwich. It is a good idea to double check the back side to make sure your threads aren't visible there. Push the needle to the front of your quilt about an inch away from your starting point.
Pull your thread ends through and give them a gentle tug. Make sure the knot pops below the surface of the fabric. Use a scissors to trim the tails.
 Your starting point should look neat and tidy on both the front and the back! Isn't that slick?

That's all fine and well...but what do you do when you run out of bobbin in the middle of a quilt and you don't have much of a thread tail to work with? The photo below shows this. There is only about 1" of thread left.
In this instance, I like to flip my quilt over and work from the back side of the quilt. There is only about 1" of thread there, too.
So, I use my stitch ripper and gently take out a few stitches-just enough to give me some decent thread tails to work with.
Tie a knot. (You will notice that I had to tie the knot just above the thread on the don't want to tie it off in the middle of the two threads or the knot will sit right on top of the fabric and it will be hard to bury.)
Thread the needle....
and once again, insert it through the same hole that your knot is coming from.
Run the threads through the layers and to the side a bit. Give the threads a tug until the knot disappears under the surface of the fabric. Trim the ends. The knot should be completely hidden. To start quilting again, flip the quilt over and begin in the very same stitch where you ended. Hurray for seamless starts and stops!

I hope that all makes sense! If you give it a try, I'd love to hear about it. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments.

Monday, June 18, 2012

sewing with my girl

It seems like there is always a lower corner of my design wall that my daughter has taken over and I don't mind. Not. one. bit. But, designing leads to wanting to sew. She's been continually asking me to teach her how to quilt and I can only put her off for so long. (It's so hard for me to stop what I'm doing and take the time to teach her...I'm selfish with my sewing time!) It seems to me like she is too little to start sewing, but I'd hate to miss my window of opportunity. 
look at those little hands using her mama's ginghers.
aren't they precious?
(i'm going to have to print out this photo and
hang it in my sewing room somewhere.)
Today while my boys were at summer school and a friends house, I took a break from my sewing and we started sewing up one of her designs. It's made from scraps, naturally. She made a slab! I'm so proud of her. Of course she had a lot of help, but it's a good start. It makes me grin seeing hello kitty front and center.
She keeps telling me that she wants to grow up to be a quilter. That's such great news! Maybe between the two of us we can make a dent in my stash. Wouldn't that be something?!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

scrappy Sunday-the men in our lives

Since it's Father's Day, Cheryl and I thought it would be fitting to share about the men in our lives and how they supported us (and continue to support us) in the writing of the book.

I read somewhere that if you are going to write a book it is very important to have your family and friends supporting you and fully on board with the idea. My greatest fear going into this was that I was going to put my family through the ringer. I was concerned about adding unwanted stress to my life and more importantly to my family. They are certainly more important than any achievement that I pursue. Now that we are on the other side of things, I can not tell you how unfounded that fear was. All in all, it was such a good experience. It was a A LOT of work, yes, but my family supported me, cheered for me and helped out along the way. We are stronger because of the whole process, and I couldn't be more thankful.
This quilt is called chocolate covered cherries. I made it for the book and I struggled with it through some of the design phases. Eventually I finished it, but didn't love it, mainly because I was not thrilled with the color combination. (Ironically, I had chosen that color scheme to match my living room.) I waffled back and forth for weeks on whether or not I should remake it. I knew I didn't want to include a quilt in the book that I didn't LOVE. On the other hand, I had so much work to do, I didn't feel like I had time to redo it. 6 days before our quilts were due to ship, my husband said the fateful words "you know you aren't going to be happy unless you remake it." I argued that I didn't have time...the quilts were due to ship in less than a week. He reminded me that I had made more quilt in less time before. He was right. At that point I knew what I had to do. It was "game on" and I raced against the clock. I sewed like a mad woman for those few days. That quilt has a LOT of pieces! I still cooked and cared for my kids and slept a little bit, too. Did I mention that my husband was working out of town at this time? We joked that it was probably for the best. I was so wrapped up in my quilting and he was so wrapped up in his work project that we would have had more issues trying to get along if we were under the same roof at that time. :) I was able to finish the new version of the quilt (and finish another quilt) in 5 days. Thankfully I don't have to sustain that pace all the time. I recall my fingers being very, very sore. But in the end, it was well worth it. I'm thankful that my husband gently pushed and encouraged me to remake the quilt. What a difference it makes to have someone believe in you and stand behind you, helping you to do your very best. I'm so thankful to have him!
This is the new version, Candy Coated, which you might recognize from the cover. I remade it to match the color scheme that Cheryl and I had chosen for the, grey and red. It's a big improvement from the first version! I was happy to include this one in the book. :)

My little men (11 and 9) have been supportive, too. My 9 year old begged me for a signed copy of my book and was relentless until I gave him one. That night (and maybe a few nights in a row) he took it to bed and read it before he went to sleep. Isn't that so precious? That made my mama's heart melt, big time. He also asked me to come into his class for career day. I got to share with the 3rd graders about being a quilter and an author. It was quite fun to see their reaction when I told them that I started the book when they were in 1st grade. My son was very happy to have me there and enjoyed being my assistant. He's such a sweet boy!

My 11 year old took the book into his class for one of his share days and would have taken his favorite quilt, too, had I let him. He took some of my business cards and handed them out to his teachers and to the librarian as well. One of the paraprofessionals later told me how proud he was of his mama. Again, my mama's heart was melting. He got his very own signed copy of the book, too. The funny thing was that he critiqued what I wrote to him. He said it wasn't very original, but it was alright...he liked it anyway. I just had to laugh. He's sweet too, but with a little sass thrown in to keep me on my toes.

I think my dad is pretty proud of me, too, although he isn't the type to come out and say so. You have to read between the lines with him...and that's the way it's always been. I can tell by the amount of questions he asks about the book and how often he brings it up. He's pretty special. It just so happens that chocolate covered cherries are one of his favorite candies. Maybe I should give that quilt to him.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


The winner of Vanessa's book make it sew modern is Emily Norman.
Thanks to all of you who played along!

Friday, June 15, 2012

being responsible

I haven't had a ton of sewing time this week, but I've been squeezing it in where I can. I've been dying to start a bunch of new projects (and I mean a bunch!), but I'm being responsible and working on my WIP's instead. Man, that is hard to do!!!
Today I'm trying to power through and finish this quilt top. It's king size. The sashing finishes 1"! The fabrics are all by Connecting Threads...I LOVE their stuff! The cotton lawn is from this line, and the sashing is white from their line of fabulous solids. The tutorial for the pattern is here. I'm looking forward to stippling this one up so I can use it on my bed before summer is through. That's my goal!

Earlier this week I was also being responsible by doing some landscaping. I'm not into yard work at all (I'd much rather quilt) so my front yard was looking very sad and pathetic. Thankfully, I had a few of my neighbor friends (that actually enjoy that sort of thing) pitch in and help out.
My kids were part of the work crew, too. We made some significant improvements in just one day! We even had fun in the process. Who knew?

(don't ask me why my son is laying on the sidewalk....)
What a significant improvement! It feels so good to have this done!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

make it sew modern

My friend Vanessa wrote this great book all about adding texture to your world. It's definitely her niche and she does it well. I've tried a few projects from the book with much success. The book is full of all kinds of smaller projects (and a few quilts, too) that are sure to inspire.
The first project that I tried sewing was this great adorable dress.  (The image is from the book.) I fell in love with as soon as I saw the photo. You can see the dress I sewed for my daughter here. As I said before, the ruffles were a bit of a pain, but were well worth it in the end. The instructions for the dress have you measure your child, so the dress is sure to fit your little girl to a T. A custom fit garment is a fabulous thing! My daughter has worn her dress and loves it. And she looks pretty darn cute in it if I do say so myself.
The second project I tried from the book was the decorative balls. (The image above is from the book.) I did this craft with my kids. My 11 year old and I ended up doing most of the gluing. He thought it was great that I actually let him use the hot glue gun. It was a nice afternoon activity, except for burning our finger tips! (I've gotta look into a low temp glue gun.) But again, the results were worth it.
My son did so well with his...he picked the green color and did it pretty much on his own. I think he did better than I did. :) We've only made 3 so far, but have plans to make at least a few more...or enough to fill up the tray. It's going to add some fun color (and texture!) to my coffee table. Hurray!

Now, for the fun part! I have a signed copy of the book to give away to one of my readers, compliments of Vanessa herself. If you would like to enter your name into the drawing, please leave me a comment in this post. In your comment I'd like you to include what your favorite summer time beverage is...just for fun. Only one comment per person and also, please make sure that there is a way to contact you in the event that you win.

Monday, June 11, 2012

can you help?

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I love to support Margaret's Hope Chest and the work that they do. I'm happy to be teaming up with Carin once again. I wrote up a tutorial for a very easy ragged square block, which can be found here. Would you be willing to make a block (or several) and mail them to Margaret's Hope Chest? Then, on the weekend of August 25th, we are planning a sewing party where we, along with several West Michigan quilters, will be assembling the blocks into quilt tops. (More specific details to come.) I'd love to have them flooded with quilt blocks so we will be busy all weekend!
Just a few things....
Please make your quilt blocks monochromatic as stated in the tutorial.
The deadline for this project has been extended and is now July 31, 2012.

This would be a great way to use up some stash for a great cause. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks in advance!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

scrappy Sundays

photos from Sunday Morning Quilts
all photos taken by and property of C&T Publishing
Welcome to scrappy Sundays, a new series that Cheryl and I are going to be writing over the next several weeks to highlight our book Sunday Morning Quilts. We thought it would be fun to share some behind the scenes of writing the book, tell stories about some of the quilts and share alternate ideas that we've sewn up. We also plan to highlight the work that our awesome pattern testers did and more. At the end we will have a link up party where you can share your work and give your scrappy testimonials. We think it will be a lot of fun! Of course there will be prizes, too. 

We've started a flickr group where you can share photos of your quilts or projects that you made based on the book Sunday Morning Quilts. We want to see what you are making..and we want to see your scraps! Perhaps a pile of unsorted scraps to start with, then show off your organizational progress. We love seeing scraps in action!

We aren't making any promises, but if you have a question that you would like answered in regards to the book or the writing of the book, we will try to work that in, too. So ask away!