Monday
May292017

happy flower qal week 13

This week's original block has a super large - and very dark - green plaid.  I did my best to find something similar in my stash.  Not nearly as large and not nearly as dark.  And I'm super ok with that!  LOL! (And yes my yellow/blue triangles are reversed ... by accident, not on purpose ... but I don't think it matters in the least.)

Original Block # 25

I think this little love bird is one of my favourite applique blocks in the quilt.  Simple, sweet, and charming.  In case you didn't know, Lecien has a cheater panel with blocks from this quilt.  I literally cut this birdie out of the cheater block and appliqued it onto my background. And that thin Tilda stripe ... home runs all around for that print!

Original Block #26

Monday
May222017

happy flower qal week 12

Gosh are these scrappy blocks ever fun!  Kinda like ad-lib cooking ... "a little bit of this, a pinch of that, a handful of this ...stir it all together and voila!"  Delicious eye candy :)

Original Block #23

Original Block #24

 

And we have another "freebie" this week - a single beautiful print to feature as a block all by itself.  This sweet hatbox by Atsuko Matsuyama is one of my very favourites.  I find it hard to use as patchwork, but this ... this is the perfect application!

Tuesday
May162017

happy flower qal week 11 - part deux

Like the seriously scattered donut I am these days, I totally forgot to finish adding all the photos for this week's qal.  Actually, I forgot more than that.

Here's the deal.  I made a bunch of blocks starting way back in February. Knowing that I'd be busy with my new fabric job and Quilt Market, I prepared blog posts through the end of May. At least I THOUGHT I did! Looks like I didn't quite finish.  And then my computer crashed.  And then ... well, life continued to happen.

So when I wrote this week's post, I wasn't 100% happy with either block and still planned to make another set.  That hasn't happened yet.  I'll try to get them done next week.

In the meantime, here are my other blocks.

Monday
May152017

happy flower qal - week 11

This week was ... charming (and not in a good way.)  I made each block THREE times! 

Original Block #21

 

 

 

Original Block #22

But I guess it is true that the third time is the charm. :)

Monday
May082017

happy flower qal - week 10

Yet another "make-it-do-even-though-I-have-enough-fabric" block.  My favourite so far.  Really loving it. 

Original Block #19

Silly little leaf.

Original Block #20

Because I made my Farmer's Wife quilt entirely out of Flower Sugar, I'm deliberately avoiding it this time.  Not because I don't still love it, but because I need something different.  The background fabric for this block, however, is an exception.  One of my all-time favourte prints in the history of forever.

Monday
May012017

happy flower qal - week 9

This week, the pieced block is a combination of piecing and applique.  I made the wheel first, added the "hub cap", and then appliqued it onto the background. (If you ask me if I'm bothered that my circles aren't perfectly round, I'll tell you "not in the least", but on the inside I'll be curled up in the fetal position, gently rocking myself in comfort as I weep silently.) 

Kidding. 

Maybe. ;)

Original Block #17

To avoid that fabulously loud backgroud from showing through, I cut away the fabric in the middle after I finished appliqueing the wheel in place.

Pretty pink tulips.  My favourite! :)

Original Block #18

Monday
Apr242017

happy flower qal - week 8

Here's another obviously "made-wrong-on-purpose" block.  And I love it.  :)

Original Block #15

I wasn't thinking too clearly when I chose the fabrics for each petal.  I tried to copy the original, but the middle petal on each flower that is the same and pointing at each other? ... Yeah, that bugged me.  So I replaced one of them ...

Original Block #16

MUCH better!  I'm all good now.

Monday
Apr172017

happy flower qal - week 7

Loud and proud!  Definitely stretching myself here.  But I think it works and I like it, even the stripes that I didn't worry about orienting.  They just went where they went and that was that.

Original Block #13

This was also a little weird for me, to not have all the same - or even similar fabric for each petal.  But again, I think she'll be a happy flower in my Happy Flower Quilt. :)

Original Block #14

Monday
Apr102017

happy flower qal - week 6

Ok.  So, as I pay attention to the original quilt block fabric placements, some have a very "scrappy", "make-it-do" quality, which is just soooo attractive in a vintage quilt and what some quilters find so appealing.  But quilting has evolved from a genuine make-do necessity to what we mostly do today, which is ... you know ... NOT that! (Just ask my credit card.)

Whether Atsuko deliberately chose mismatched fabrics to make her blocks ultra scrappy, or whether she was using original feedsacks and genuinely had to exercise the whole make-do approach, I find myself wanting to copy her.  This makes me laugh.  I kinda almost feel like a fraud, deliberately throwing in weird, arbitrary prints when I have more than enough of any given print to make the block "properly". 

But I think it's fun.  It's actually more work for me to try to make something look both wrong AND good at the same time!  LOL!  Oh this is just so silly.  And I love it.

That said, the jury is out for me on this block.  It definitely looks "wrong", but I'm not convinced that it looks "good".  I'll keep an eye on it.  It might blend in well enough as the quilt grows.  In the meantime, I loved putting the little umbrella bird - courtesy of Miss PamKittyMorning - in the middle. :)

Original Block #11

A little more embroidery this week with a two-toned stem.  Again, easy enough to make it a thicker one with fabric, if embroidery isn't your thing.  I think I should have stitched the second row closer, so they are touching.  But I'm pretty sure I'm not going to fix it.  I'm calling this one DONE!

Original Block #12

Monday
Apr032017

happy flower qal - week 5

So.  If you're sewing along, you noticed that this block has a gentle inset seam.  If you don't want to give it a whirl, or you're not having much luck putting yours together, can I suggest making a simple 9-patch?  :)

I was really excited about how mine turned out, until I looked at it from a distance and then I realized the blue triangles sort of blend into the green. :(  All that work to show off a fun design and you can't even really see it.  Sigh.  Oh well.  I think I'm gonna leave this one as is.

Original Block #9

I liked stitching on a darker background for this one so the little lily-of-the-valley bells show.  Not my best applique job with the bell shapes.  But it's good enough for me.  But I might change that one leaf with the circle ... my eye goes straight to it!

Original Block #10

Monday
Mar272017

happy flower qal - week 4

I'm so inspired by all the blocks I see popping up on Instagram with the #happyflowerqal!  Remember, you can join in at any time. ;)

Original Block #7

First try - this one ... mmmmm, I didn't like how dark the blue middle looked and I found the pink corners too light. 

Sooo...

Second try - aaah, MUCH better!  (Those bunnies!!!)

This week's applique block is a "freebie".  You only had to pick one of your favourite prints!  I'm more or less following the colours in the original quilt, so this print was the closest I could find.  I think it works out pretty nicely.  But I'm giving myself the option to move/replace it when I'm ready for the big assembly.  So let's call it a placeholder for now, shall we?

Original Block #8

Monday
Mar202017

happy flower qal - week 3

I dug a little deeper into my stash this week.  I'm liking these ...

If you look closely at the original block, she used the same fabric for each pair of geese, but used 2 different prints for the sky for each pair.  I thought that was pretty cool, so I did the same.  But I messed up on the orientation.  Oh well.  I don't think it matters.

Original Block #5

And we have our first little bit of embroidery for this one.  Just a simple outline and fill.  But this piece would be easy enough to applique with fabric instead, or even just skip it altogether.

I lined my light green leaves with Presto-Sheer to block the strawberries from showing through.  Worked great.

Original Block #6

Monday
Mar132017

happy flower qal - week 2

Alright!  How is everyone doing? 

Having fun? 

Getting inspired? 

I'll take that as a yes! LOL!

Here are my blocks for this week, using mostly Lecien's latest Old/New 30s collection, with a few prints from last year's line for good measure.

Original Block #3

Original Block #4

I might redo this one ... a bit too much "roundy" going on here.  But I just love that cherry cameo print!

Monday
Mar062017

happy flower qal - week 1

Ok everyone, here we go!!!  FINALLY, right?  Feels like we've been talking and waiting and anticipating for months.  Probably because we were.  tee hee

So let's just jump right in.

As I mentioned before, Atsuko Matsuyama designs fabric for Lecien and she came out with a new Old/New 30s collection specially for the publication of the English version of her book, including a cheater panel that replicates some of the blocks in the quilt.

 

  Original Block #1

 Her fabric designs are feedsack-inspired, as the name of her collection reflects, so there are lots of very bright colours.  I made these first two blocks with this new collection, which is in stores this month.

 

Original Block #2

First I made this one (quite a while ago ...)

But then I made this one when I recieved the new Lecien fabric. Now I can't decide which one I like best.  Kinda loving the hot pink flower above, but also kinda loving the blue greenery below.  Thoughts?

If you're posting on Instagram, remember to #happyflowerqal so we can all admire your lovely blocks too! As I hinted before, there will be some giveaways throughout this QAL and I believe winners will be chosen from all the posts that are hashtagged with "happyflowerqal".  Just sayin'. ;)

xo k

Friday
Mar032017

Happy Flower Quilt-A-Long ~ Details

I meant to write this post sooner, but ... never mind ... it's a long "but".  Suffice it to say, here it is.  I'm just going to ramble a bit here, mentioning all the things that come to mind that I think you might want/need to know, if you're thinking about - or have already decided to - join me and my cohosts, Melissa from OhHowSweet and Wynn from ZakkaArt, two very talented and lovely ladies that I'm lucky enough to call friends.

WHAT ARE WE MAKING?

This QAL is for the pink quilt on the cover of the book, not the other projects in the book.  Altough between you me, I really think you'll want to make some of the other projects, if you haven't already. ;)

RULES 

There are only two, but they're VERY important.

#1 - Please own your own copy of Happy Flower Quilts, or borrow it from the library.  As an author myself, I understand how much work goes into writing a book.  I have a great deal of respect for Atsuko Matsuyama - the incredible fabric and pattern designer who wrote this book - her time, her talent, and the publishers who work so hard to bring her creations into your hands.  I also know that this book is well worth the cover price.  There are so many wonderful patterns - the quilt blocks themselves are worth it, but you also get 29 more project patterns and tons of inspiration.

#2 - Please refrain from pubishing - online or elsewhere - any information that would allow someone to construct any part of this quilt without the book.  More specifically, please don't publish cutting instructions or templates.  Please DO write about tips or tricks you might like to share with your readers about how to construct the blocks, like how you do inset seams, or what kind of thread you like to use, or how you make your own templates, how to embroider certain stitches, etc.  There are so many things you can share with your social media audience without violating copyright laws.

If you participated in the Farmers Wife QAL a few years ago, you may recall that the author was frustrated with people blogging detailed posts about what size to cut each piece and how many pieces for every block.  And rightly so.  That's just not cool.  I hope we will all respect copyright laws and respect Atsuko's work.

Thank you so very much for your cooperation.  It is deeply appreciated.

SCHEDULE

We officially start Monday, March 6th.  We will post two blocks/week until all 99 blocks are finished - so we'll be done February 2018.  That might sound scary and intimidating, but we're in this together.  Slow and steady, and all that jazz.

I'm going to make the blocks in order as they appear in the quilt, starting with the top left corner.  Every week I'll have one pieced and one applique block.  But you do whatever you want, whenever you want!  It's is completely up to you.  Start late, finish early ... do what works for YOU.  There are no penalties for not keeping up or doing your own thing.  This is totally casual!  The point of a QAL is to motivate, inspire, teach, and hopefully entertain.  Rumor has it that there may be giveaways throughout the QAL, and winners might be chosen from hashtags. ;)

Speaking of hashtags, please use #happyflowerqal for all your posts!  We'd love to see your blocks.  Feel free to include info on your fabric choices too.  We're always interested in that sort of thing. ;)

My cohosts and I PLAN to post every Monday.  I emphasize PLAN because I'm sure there will be weeks when one or more of us aren't able to post for one reason or another.  If you're posting your progress, join us on Mondays or feel free to set your own schedule.

SUPPORT 

As much as I would like to be "tech support" for this project, I have a full-time job.  Add to that my family and home, and ... other things ... I simply don't have time to answer questions and offer help.  So ZakkaWorkshop - the publisher of this book - set up a Facebook Page (click HERE) for QALers to post, share, ask, answer, learn, chat, connect, inspire ... all that really good stuff that comes with a QAL.  I'm super excited about it.  Make sure you join.  I'm hoping some of you expert quilters out there will lend a hand to the newbies.  So if you as me for help, the best I'll be able to do is direct you to the Facebook Page.  All questions posted there will be answered.  That said, I've written some things below that you might find helpful.

TECHNICAL STUFF

This quilt is make with 99 blocks - 50 pieced blocks, 34 applique blocks (a few also have a bit of embroidery details) and 16 squares that are simply a pretty fabric. 

Because this book is published with both imperial (inches) and metric (centimeters), it was impossible to include cutting dimensions for both measuring systems for all the blocks, even the super easy ones.  That's why all the pieced blocks are made with templates.  Most of them are very easy to construct, but there are a few with inset seams.

If you're not a huge fan of templates, you can sometimes get away with measuring the templates and then cutting the fabric without them - but this only works for really super basic shapes.

Now don't panic.  I have a few ideas if you don't enjoy applique, or embroidery, or complicated piecing. 

To avoid applique, make 2 of each pieced block.  Or make 50 pieced blocks and 49 simple blocks with a feature fabric.

To avoid embroidery, most can be relpaced with thin applique pieces or use a pretty trim like a thin ricrac (for stems and vines), or buttons (bird eyes), or simply omit the stitching altogether.

To avoid complicated piecing (there are only a few blocks with inset seams), replace those blocks with duplicates of your favourites, or again use a simple square of a fabulous print.

You could also just do half the blocks and make a smaller quilt, or just make a few blocks and turn them into a table runner, a cushion cover, a mini quilt ... we are a really creative community so we can turn just about anything into just about anything else!  LOL!  We're awesome "problem solvers", aren't we?

APPLIQUE

There are soooo many methods to hand applique.  By machine is definitely the easiest and quickest.  I machine applique more often than I hand applique, but for this project, my preferred way is how I was taught when I took a Baltimore Album class in 1999 - freezer-paper ironed and pinned to the fabric, and then I needle turn the edges.

I only mention that in case you were wondering.  But I have friends who hate this method and use other techniques quite successfully with beautiful results.  If you're new to applique, check with your local quilt shop to see if they're offering a class, I'm sure you can find videos online to help you along.

Also, when I applique a lighter piece of fabric onto a darker/printed fabric, I line the fabric that is being appliqued with Presto-Sheer.  It's a super thin, fusible interfacing that either eliminates, or greatly reduces, any "shadowing" from coming through.  You can find it on-line if your local quilt/fabric shop doesn't carry it.

I use Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage "Straw" needles for my applique. 

I use silk thread for my applique.  I mostly use a cream and pink because that's what I have.  But I recently bought a red and darker grey for this quilt.

EMBROIDERY

I'm pretty sure there are only 3 types of stitches in the entire quilt - back stitch, outline stitch, and a french (or colonial) knot.  That's it - the 3 most basic and beginner stitches there are.  And you don't need many colours either.  The embroidery is mostly for stems and leaf details.  There are a few knots for bird eyes and flower centers.  There's really not much at all.  I think you can get away with a pink, a yellow, and a few greens.  Maybe a blue.  (Unless you're going for a non-conventional colour scheme.)

I use Jeana Kimball's Embroidery/Redwork needles and COSMO floss for embroidery.

FABRIC

See previous blog post.

In case you didn't know, Atsuko designs fabric for two companies - Lecien and Yuwa.  Her collections for Lecien are called Old/New 30s, and her designs for Yuwa are called 30s Collection by Atsuko Matsuyama.  I was actually quite surprised when I rounded up all my Atsuko prints from my stash.  I have a LOT!  LOL!  If you are new to her fabrics and you like them, her latest collection for Lecien will be in stores this month.  I'm going to make my first few blocks with that new fabric for you to see, and then I'll be diving deep into my stash.  Can.hardly.wait!!!

Ok.  Hope that helps!  I really hope you join Wynn, Melissa and me on this year-long journey.  We're going to have beautiful heirloom quilts at the end!

xo k

Thursday
Mar022017

Happy Flower Quilts ~ My Fabric Pull

The Happy Flower QAL starts on Monday!  Are you ready?  Are you as excited as I am?  Please feel free to grab this banner for your blog if you like. :)

I've had some requests to share the fabrics I'll be using.  I meant to show these sooner (sorry).

So here's a quick tour of the fabrics I've pulled from my stash for the QAL.  I'm sure I'll be adding to these throughout the year 'cause new stuff is always coming out that I simply can't resist. ;)

The original quilt doesn't have much - if any - purples, oranges, and browns (or blacks).  Not sure if I'll be adding some to mine or not.  We'll see. 

It looks to me like Atsuko used either mostly original or reproduction feedsacks used for her quilt.  And wow are they ever bright!!!  That must be why I love it.  And why it's so happy.  I'm more or less taking my fabric choice cues for colour/print/scales from each block, as best I can.

Friday
Jan272017

enchanted blog hop ~ and a giveaway!

Enchanted!  It's the new fabric line by Dodi Poulson of Sashgal for Riley Blake Designs.  Dodi kindly invited me to be part of her blog hop and when I saw that squirrel print, I simply had to say yes!  Super cute, no?

When I don't have a lot of time to sew, but I want to feature a fabulous print, I go straight to a tried and true favourite pattern - in this case I used a stand-by bag pattern by Tilda from her Sew Pretty HomeStyle book.  This pattern never lets me down and it shows off this most adorable squirrel print perfectly.

This collection is full of cute, fun prints in sweet and interesting colour combinations.  That navy ... wish I'd had more time to play with them. 

To enter Dodi's giveaway for a chance to win a bundle of Enchanted fabric, please visit Dodi’s blog, Loose Threads (www.sashgals.com) and leave her a comment.  One entry per blog post, per day of the Blog Tour, there on Loose Threads.  Enter every day to increase your chance of winning!!!

Good luck to you, dear reader, and congratulations Dodi for a lovely, enchanted fabric collection. xo k

Monday
Jan232017

happy flower quilts blog hop ~ plus a giveaway!

Warning:  Super long blog post here.  Might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea and a snack before settling in ... ;)

Whew!  I think this book has got to be the most anticipated publication for people like me who can't get enough pretty-pink-sweet-floral-fun-cute-feedsack-Japanese-style sewing and quilting projects. :)  Happy Flower Quilts indeed!

I've owned the Japanese version (at least I think it's Japanese .. it may be Korean ... not entirely positive ... if you know please clue me in) that was originally published in 2009 for about 6 years now and it is my hands-down favourite quilt/craft book.  Until recently, I always referred to it as "That-Pink-Japanese-Quilt-Book".  And it took me a few years to connect the author as one of my favourite fabric designers, Atsuko Matsuyama (she designs for both Yuwa and Lecien).  It's like she crawled into my brain and my heart and wrote this book just for me.  I know she didn't ... we've never met.  But that's how much I relate to the lovely projects that fill the pages of Happy Flower Quilts.  I flip through it regularly, I fantasize about making everything in it, I study the delicious fabrics and the beautiful photography, and I've even made a few things from it. 

Fun fact:  I was hired as one of the technical editors for this book.  (Still can't believe I had the honour.  Thank you again zakkaworkshop for asking me!)  Kinda weird/marvelous how the universe works.

The invitation to be part of this blog hop was more like a gift because it gave me the perfect excuse/opportunity to make what I've always considered the best project of all ... the sewing kit. 

It is hard to pick a favourite ... all the projects are so pretty.  But there's just something about this kit.  I've spent a LOT of time studying it and enjoying the photographs. 

Fabrics ... I ended up using a whopping 23 prints for this project.  But I probably auditioned 3X that.  I heart my stash. :)  Most of them are by Atsuko and a good number of them have been in my stash for several years.  I followed many colour/pattern cues from the book.  I normally wouldn't even think of using a green/white gingham for a spool.  But that's what Atsuko used for hers and if it's good enough for her, it's definitely good enough for me. 

Templates ... there are several templates for this pattern.  If you're going to make this kit, please note that some templates have the seam allowance included and some do not.  Don't worry, they are all clearly marked.  The only "tricky" one is the pouch body.  But graph paper is so awesome.  Otherwise, it's super easy to simply add the seam allowance with your quilting ruler and rotary cutter.  No stress. :)

(Haha!  I just noticed that I photocopied the templates from my Japanese copy.  The new book is ALL in English, I assure you!) 

In the interest of full disclosure, I had plenty of "do-overs" with this one.  I was quite determined to make my kit as close to perfect as I could get.  After wanting to make it for so many years, I wasn't about to settle for anything less than my best.  Most of my redos were the result of my ever changing mind ... and too many fabric choices ... if there is such at thing ;). 

I "committed" to the cover feature fabric 5 times and changed my mind on the cover border fabric two or three ... once after I'd made all the spools.  But now I get to make something with the leftovers ... yum!  :)

I changed my mind 3 times for the ruler pocket fabric (and messed up once because I had the rectangle going in the wrong direction) but I know I finally got it right.  I also found that the bit of lace for the pocket didn't look right with the lacy, vertical stripe print I chose, so I simply left it off (after much hemming and hawing, because you know me and lace ...).

I had to unpick and resew the zipper like 4 times too.  If you don't get it exactly centered, the two sides close a bit wonky and the corners don't line up.  Mine is still just ever so slightly off, but I finally had to leave that one to Jesus. ;)

Also, just a quick note, the pattern doesn't explain how to deal with the closed end of the zipper when you're installing it.  And there isn't really a clear photo of it in the book.  It took me some fiddling around, but I finally got it.  So here are a few photos of mine for reference, if you need it. 

And don't even get me started on the covered buttons!  LOL! 

At one point I even asked my husband for his opinion.  Of course he picked wrong, tee hee.  But oh are they ever fun to make and I'm going to enjoy finding ways to use the spares. 

I went with these ones because of the zipper.  That zipper is an "ok" pink (not perfect, but it was literally the only option available), but it doesn't match anything else in the case.  So I found this print (cue the angels) to help the zipper pink play nicer with everything else.

That said, all my nonsense is really one of the most fun parts of making - for me.  It's not a waste of time.  I love playing with fabric.  I enjoy that balance of technical, creative, and emotional exercise that comes with making.  I like discovering what works and what doesn't - according to my eye.  And I'm happy to say that at the end of the day, I wouldn't change another thing about my beautiful sewing kit.

Speaking of changing things, I did alter the pattern a bit to suit myself.  Nothing major, just a few little things.

On the cover, I flipped the direction of the word "Sewing" so that it would be right side up when the kit was closed.  And I prefered the border edge with the pincushion so I switched the borders.

I quilted the inner lining because I know that after time and use, the center fold line will get creased.  Quilting the layers together will minimize that inevitable crinkle.

My scissors don't stay put when I open and close the kit.  I made my scissor pocket slightly taller to accommodate my 4" gingher scissors, (they are the best looking pair I have for this kit, plus they work great for fabric, as well as thread when I'm on the go) but that didn't quite solve the issue.  So I'm going to remove the ribbon tab and replace it with a tie for the handles.

I was having a hard time making the corners on the scissor keep and ruler pocket nicely (perfectly) squared.  So instead of making one front and one back of each piece and then sewing around, leaving an opening, and turning right side out ... and then trying to make the corners perfectly square, which I rarely am able to do even when I clip the corners and trim the seam allowance inside ... I did this:

Worked like a charm.

Instead of buying a strip of leather for the thread holder, I used a satin ribbon from my stash.

The pincushion is supposed to be held in place with velcro (loop and hook fastening).  I've never been a huge fan of velcro.  Stuff gets stuck to it and as a mom, I now associate the sound of velcro separating with little people's shoes.  LOL!  I used a sew-in magnet instead.  The pattern also calls for plastic to form the pincushion bottom.  I didn't have any on hand, but I did have some kraft-tex.  It worked great.  I'm thinking you could also use thin cardboard like from a cereal box.

One note about the pattern - the book doesn't include how much to overlap the petals on the pincushion when you're gathering them together with a running stitch.  My overlap is 3/8".

Oh, and I stuffed my pincushion with ground walnut shells (you can find it in a pet store under reptile bedding ... gross, I know) to make it nice and hard.

I used a sew-in magnet for both the little pouch closure and the fastener to hold the pouch to the kit.  I figured that pressing on a snap would be cumbersome if there was - for example - a thimble in the pouch.  But a magnetic snap is easy peasy to deal with.

The literalist in me needed to have silver pins in my pincushion and these ones make me deliriously happy!  I used this fabulous COSMO silver thread.  I know, I know, metallic thread is NOT fun to stitch with, you're probably thinking.  And before I used this product, I would have agreed with you whole-heartedly.  But this stuff is different.  I don't know why or how, but it's a total dream to use.  Honestly.  And then finding these silver beads that I bought years ago for some long forgotten project - probably something I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine once upon a time - was like finding a pot of gold silver at the end of a rainbow!  Don't they make the perfect pin heads?  I started looking for pink beads, but I found these hidden in the same box.  (Not going to tell you how long it took me to even find my bead stash ... ugh!)  But it is moments like these when I nod my head in thanks to the younger crafty me who wasn't afraid to try new things and managed to stock my craft room with many treasures that really do "come in handy some day".

The same literalist tendency led me to these perfectly silvery/gray prints (Lecien's Flower Sugar) for my thimbles.  We all know someone who has/had one of those super cool china thimble collections, right?  For me it was an aunt, who ironically didn't even sew.  Well, that's kind of the look I was going for when I fussycut the fabric for this coordinating pair.

These simple buttons are the result of a ridiculous number and combination of auditions.  Lordy.  I originally had a red heart button that ... ok, it was perfect.  But then again, it just wasn't quite right for some reason.  Can't explain why.  No logic, just a feeling.  So on the 147th dig through my button box, I came across this sweet little flower from my daughter's red cardie (circa kindergarten, sniff!) and that makes me so happy to have it here now.

Another tip: Add the buttons after you've sewn the cover patchwork together.  The buttons can make it difficult to sew perfect 1/4" seams.  Just sayin'.

Oh, and one more thing, the little flower zipper pull you may be wondering about?  Sorry, but if you ask me where to get one, I am of no help.  I bought it at Quilt Market 6 or 7 years ago and I can't remember the name of the vendor.  If you want to find something like it, I recommend looking for leather zipper pulls on Etsy or eBay.  But it really is the sweetest little accessory, isn't it?  If anything I've ever made deserves such a thing, it's definitely this kit!

And now - after all that, plus 6 years - I have THE perfect sewing kit for the Happy Flower QAL I'll be hosting with my friends and fellow Atsuko fans, Wynn and Melissa

(Yes, I've already make a few blocks ... shhh!)

We're starting on March 6th, but I'll be sharing more details in an upcoming post soon.  Hope you will join us!

There's a lot of applique and little bit of embroidery required for the QAL so this kit will be my constant companion throughtout the QAL.  Sorry not sorry if you see my kit a lot for the next year.  ;)

Ok.  If I haven't convinced you to get this book for your library (and quite honestly for your creative soul), there are a lot more inspiring projects and delightful eye-candy coming up for you to enjoy throughout this blog hop.  Here's the rockstar lineup of fabulously talented ladies, plus a fabulously talented gentleman, that you should follow on Instagram if you don't already.  (Oh my goodness I can hardly wait to see what they make.  I feel like a 7 year old on Christmas Eve!)

January


25 Lisa @aspoonfulsugar aspoonfulofsugardesigns.com
27 Sarah @Sarahedgarprettyfabrictrims alittlehappyplace.blogspot.co.uk
30 Minki @zeriano minkikim.com
February

1 Heidi @fabricmutt fabricmutt.blogspot.com
3 Clara @claralovestosew Instagram Only
6 Ange @alittlepatchwork alittlepatchwork.wordpress.com
8 Erin @whynotsewquilts whynotsew.blogspot.com
10 Lauren @transientart transientart.com
13 Sedef @downgrapevinelane downgrapevinelane.com
15 Ayda @cafenohut cafenohut.blogspot.com
17 Renee @sewnwithgrace sewnwithgrace.com
20 Heather @vintagegreyhandmade vintagegreyhandmade.blogspot.com
22 Melissa  @ohhowsweetco ohhowsweet.com
24 Greg @greydogwoodstudio greydogwoodstudio.com
27 Stacy @stacyolsondesign stacyolsondesign.com
March


1 Wynn @zakkaart zakkaart.blogspot.com

 

Ok. 

I'm really serious about getting as many of you as possible to join our QAL to make the quilt on the cover of this book so how would you like to win one of 10 - yes, TEN - copies of this book?!!!  Zakkaworkshop has generously agreed to give a free copy of Happy Flower Quilts to 10 Pretty by Hand readers.  To enter, please leave a comment here telling me what sewing project you're working on right now.  If you're between projects, tell me what you last finished or what is next on your list.  OR any one of your WIPs will also do.  That's it! 

This givewaway closes Friday January 28 and is open to everyone internationally.   I'll announce the winners next week.

Wednesday
Dec072016

clasp hardware love

For YEARS I wanted to make a little pouch with a hardware clasp.  And for YEARS I was kinda terrified of them.  I'd see so many cute ideas on Pinterest, but the assembly was mysterious and scary to me.  I didn't understand how it worked, or if I could do it.

Turns out it's easy as pie!  Really.

I made this one ~ yet another last.minute birthday gift for my daughter's friend ~ in less than 2 hours.  And I wasn't rushing either. 

The birthday girl's favourite colour is pastel green.  I was impressed that my daughter picked this lovely stripe from Scrumptious by Bonnie & Camille a few years ago.  I didn't tell her it was aqua. ;)

I was pretty happy when I found that lace in my ribbons/lace drawer.  And I was even more surprised that my daughter let me use it!  I thought for sure she'd dismiss it as "too old lady", as she's most apt to say with everything I like.  But because the kit cover photo has lace, she was good with it.  I found that lace many years ago on eBay and only use it for special projects.  I was glad I only needed to sacrifice a few inches for this purse.  I always wince just a bit when I cut it.  But it's always for a good cause.  And I believe that beautiful things such ought to be enjoyed.

I sometimes wonder about who made it, when, where, why ... like was it a young Miss making it for a hope chest?  Or a mother making it to pretty up her pillowcases?  Or a Grandma with fading eyes but who could still crochet by memory because she'd been doing it for decades and had made miles of it?  Was it made on the other side of the globe or just a stone's throw away?  What was she thinking about as she made it.  (Is it sexist of me to assume that it was made by a woman?)  And what would they think about how it came to be in my sewing room via the internet and all that?  LOL!  I'll never know, but it's fun to imagine. 

Now, these projects do require attention to detail.  But there are templates with seam lines and matching up points to help you cut all the fabric pieces accurately, and sew them together accurately to ensure a perfect fit.  And the instructions are very easy to follow.  This one ~ the Bauble Clasp Purse ~ even has a nice gusset to make the pouch roomy, and also pretty. ;)

I get mine from ZakkaWorkshop.  They have a great selection of sizes and styles. 

And now apparently I need to make another one for someone in this house.  Santa sewing is more fun, and less stressful, than stunt sewing! :) xo k

Monday
Dec052016

quilt petite blog hop

One of my favourite things about being part of this amazing, creative, online community of ours is having the opportunity to celebrate the successes of so many talented people that I'm honoured to call friend.  Sedef from Down Grapevine Lane is one such lady who has published her first book!  Adorable.  Sweet.  MAJOR eye-candy!  These are just a few words that come to mind as I marinate in the pages filled with fun projects and beautiful fabrics.

I chose the mini quilt called "Nine Patch" as my project for this hop.  I had so.much.fun pulling all my favourite fabrics in my favourite colours!  And it went together so quickly.  Super fun for any skill level. :)

I made a few little changes to my verison.  Mine only has 9 blocks instead of the 16 shown in the book because when I made the block with the fussy cut chocolate, I knew it would look best in the center of the quilt - bull's eye style ;).  And I was inspired by Sedef's embroidered running stitches to add little colonial knots around my blocks. 

Congratulations Sedef!