Wednesday
Aug292012

A Little More About Me ... and (Another) Giveaway!

Greeting from this Cloud #9 I've been on for the past week, thanks to all of you! :)

Today I was very graciously invited to be a featured designer over at ShabbyFabrics' blog

(Say WHAT?!)

I was asked to write a little bio of sorts about how I got to be here as a new pattern designer.

Even if you've been reading my blog since I started, you will learn new things about me that I've not shared before. 

Don't worry.  I spared you from such minutiae as being born feet first, wearing a headgear for 2 years, accidentally lighting a classmate's hair on fire (he was not hurt) and scuba diving with stingrays.

PLUS - Shabby Fabrics is also having a giveaway - or rather FIVE giveaways!  I sent them a signed copy of each of my new patterns and if you leave a comment over there (not here!) you will be entered to win one of them!

So click on over to The Shabby blog.  I hope you enjoy my story.

Monday
Aug272012

THE Best Thing EVER!!!

Ok.  Got a little "good news - bad news - good news" scenario going on today.  But just to clarify, the good news is TOTALLY AMAZING and the bad news isn't really bad at all because the other good news totally cancels out the so-called bad news and is - in fact - THE BEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD! 

Well, except for when the doctor told me "it's a girl" ... twice ... and probably "will you marry me?" ... yeah, that's way up there ... oh, and "I do" should also probably be on that list.

But OTHER than those times ...

Good News:

You know ShabbyFabrics.com?  You may have noticed the pretty ad over there to the right.  Well they liked my Honey Bee Bag so much they went and MADE IT INTO A KIT!!! 

Somebody please pinch me 'cause I'm having a hard time believing this isn't a dream.  "Thank you Shabby Fabrics!"

Bad News:

I used Lecien's "Durham" fabric collection to make the pattern cover sample because I love it.  It is exactly my taste.  It has the perfect style and colors for how I envisioned the Honey Bee Bag - all romantic and garden party-ish.  And it (was) a current collection. 

However, it seems I'm not the only one who loved that fabric line because it is more or less sold out. 

I know ... but just hang on a sec ...

As a long-time quilter, I completely sympathize with the disappointment of not being able to get "that exact same fabric" on a pattern cover to make a project.  So I know what some of you are thinking.

But all is not lost.  Really!

Lemme 'splain.

(squeal!)

Super Awesome News:

To make the Honey Bee Bag kits, Shabby Fabrics dug into their very exclusive reserve of the most beautiful and discontinued fabrics in the history of shabby style quilting fabric mankind the universe and found some ...

wait for it ...

Moda's PARIS FLEA MARKET!

If you're familiar with this fabric collection, you totally get what I'm saying here.

PFM (a 3 Sisters design) came out almost 10 years ago and is pretty much impossible to find.  Unless you haunt eBay every single day and are willing to pay like a kajillion dollars for a fat quarter. 

I remember the first time I saw it in a local quilt shop.  It's hard for me to explain how I felt.  Goosebumps.  Accelerated heart rate.  Love at first sight sort of thing.  You know - like when time slows down and everything else in the room disappears.  Like that.  It was the most incredible fabric I'd ever seen. 

Ever. 

As in like EVER ever. 

I hope at least some of you can relate to having a similar reaction to fabric so I don't sound like a total wingnut here!  LOL!

Remember the Daisychain Sampler I finished not too long ago?

You guys, I used the colors in Paris Flea Market to pick my embroidery floss!

Anyhow.  I have a lot of Paris Flea Market in my stash that even now - after all these years - I still can't bring myself to use.  Which is why I am in near disbelief that my very first pattern is now available as a kit with my ALL-TIME-FAVORITE fabric.

If you're even HALF interested in making the Honey Bee Bag, do yourself a favor and go get this (VERY LIMITED) kit.  Asap. 

I promise you I'm not the only salivating, rabid PFM fanatic out there.  And if I hadn't actually written the pattern myself and didn't already have tons of yardage, I would be buying all the kits for myself.  Ask my BFF.  She'll tell you I am SO not even joking about that.

One more thing.  All 5 of my new patterns are available over there too, in case you wanted to do some one-stop-shopping. ;)

Ok.  I'll try to calm down now.  I think it might help if I go cuddle with my PFM stash for a while.  Thank goodness I didn't have to sacrifice any of mine for you to have the joy of owning that kit!

Saturday
Aug252012

Folks, We Have a Winner ...

... and her name is Kim P in Australia!  Congratulations Kim and thank you everyone so much for your amazing support of my new shop. 

I am humbled to the core and very excited to get working on some new patterns for you to enjoy.

Wednesday
Aug222012

Pretty by Hand is OPEN!

(cheery little bell ring)

Come on in!  So nice of you to stop by today.

Please notice my logo in the left column of my blog there ... click on it and you will be magically transported to my new pattern shop.   (Can you tell I'm older than the interweb?)

Yes, FINALLY.  I've been dreaming about this day for a VERY long time, often feeling like a turtle moving through molasses ... uphill ... backwards ... sometimes without a map ... often without a clue!  LOL!

But I made it.  And I owe a lot of thanks to so many people who have helped me get here - including all of you dear sweet readers.  Your support and enthusiasm for my work has given me the courage to try.  

So here is my first batch of 5 patterns for your consideration.  I can't begin to explain how much I loved designing and making them all.

#1 - Honey Bee Bag

This purse I showed you last week that you were all so totally nice about?

This is what it turned into. 

Sometimes when I design something, I get it right the first time.  But not always.  As much as I truly love the "practice" version, I knew I could do even better.

So I remade it with Lecien's "Durham Collection" (designed by the very talented Brenda Riddle) and added just a wee bit more embroidery.  The knots on every seam corner are also on the original design - they're subtle but add that ... little something extra. 

(They also hide some of the seams that didn't quite match up.  But let's keep that a secret between you and me, kay?)

And you guys, the hexagons & triangles are TOTALLY MACHINE PIECED!!!  That's right, no English paper piecing ... so this purse goes together much quicker than you think.

However, a few things inspired me to add the honey bee.  First, beehives and honeycombs always come to mind when I work with hexagons. 

Second, about 8 years ago I sold my first original hand bags at a local shabby chic shop called "Honey B's".  It closed a few years ago.  But in honor of the owner - now friend - who was so supportive of my work and  validated me as a quilter, bag maker and designer, I named my first pattern after her shop.  "Thanks Barb!"

By the way, all the embroidery in this pattern is optional.  The purse would look just as lovely without the bee.  And wouldn't little glass or pearl beads add so much romance in place of the knots?

#2 - Round Pencil Case

Way back last September I made up these little cases for my daughters and posted them on my blog. 

I couldn't believe how many of you asked for a pattern.

Sorry it took me so long (turtle in molassas) but here it is.

The pattern includes 3 different ways to make this cutie little case:

Patchwork - make the body with squares

Scrappy - use a different fabric for each part of the case

Lace Trim -  I simply couldn't resist!

I used mostly Lecien's "Old/New 30s" fabrics with a little "Flower Sugar" and even a few of my favorite bits of Bonnie & Camille's "Ruby" & "Vintage Modern" (by Moda).

#3 - Molly Messenger Bag

This messenger bag I made up - also for my daughter - also posted on my blog - got lots of pattern requests too.

She used her bag for the entire school year and I'm happy to report it still looks great.  Even after being washed.  Several times.

Fabric is Rachel Ashwell's "Wildflowers" from Shabbyfabrics.com

Pattern #4 - Cherry Blossom Baskets

You may remember the story of how this quilt was born. 

It turned out so well I couldn't NOT make it into a pattern!

I wrote the pattern so you can choose your preferred construction method - EITHER with templates OR foundation paper-piecing.

And there are just a few embroidery stitches (that really do make the quilt, I think).

Stitch guide included.

#5 - Farmhouse Parlour

Another Quilt Market design that has a permanent home in my livingroom.

Now. 

Yes, this quilt is put together with inset seams.

BUT WAIT! 

Hear me out.  I know many quilters are afraid of inset (also called "Y") seams either because they are intimidated or they've tried them with less than satisfactory results.  I totally get that.

So I made the pieced hexagon blocks in this quilt nice and big so the inset seams are easier to manage. 

And I wrote this pattern with a (confident) beginner quilter in mind.  I've taught many quilt classes so I tried to give as much detail in the pattern as I would if you were sitting beside me. 

So don't be scared.  Give it a try and give yourself the gift of leaning a new skill.  This design simply can't be reproduced any other way.  And it is SO worth the time.

Oh, and the fabric I used - Lecien's "Antique Flowers" - is available at Shabbyfabrics.com as well!

By the way, all patterns are available in your choice of either a paper or PDF version.

Ok.  Now for the fun stuff. 

I also have a giveaway.  Remember this pretty little pincushion I made a few months ago? 

I've been waiting so I could give it a good home with one of you. 

And it will probably come with the little cupcake pin too, just sayin'.

To enter the giveaway, leave me a comment telling me which is your favorite pattern. 

And if you make a purchase before the giveaway ends you can enter twice!

Comments close Friday August 24th 6:00 pm, PST and I will announce the winner Monday the 27th. 

Ok. 

Now I need a really big cup of tea. 

And some chocolate. 

With hazelnuts in it. 

                    *               *               *               *               *

PS:  On a very personal note, I chose to launch my shop today in memory of my dad who left this world way too soon ... before he could be a grandfather and before he could see me try to do something he always told me I should - write my own patterns.  Today would have been his birthday.

Oh darn.  Now I need a kleenex too!  LOL!

Tuesday
Aug212012

Bursting

You guys.  

I've been on the verge of happy tears for the past 4 days because of all the comments you left me saying how much you really like my latest design and how much you would love to make one too.

I don't know how to say this.  I love blogging.  It motivates me to do my very best when I make something.  And then I get to show you what I make.  And you get to tell me what you think.  And lucky me you are always so complimentary and appreciative and just make me feel so happy.

Yes I like to show you my things because who doesn't enjoy a little external validation now and then?  But I also like to show you what is possible in my little world.  And I LOVE inspiring people to dream about making pretty things, to want to make pretty things and/or to actually make pretty things.

Creativity is an amazing thing.  Somehow I've always known that being creative - especially with needles and thread - makes me happy and keeps me sane.

So. 

I have a something new to show you.  Something I've been working on for a very long time.  And I'm practically bursting at the seams.  (The Queen of Punny strikes again!)

But I must wait for one more day to show you my new something. 

See you tomorrow.

Friday
Aug172012

I'm in Love

Remember these from waaaay back in April?

Here's what I turned them into.

Is it normal to be in love with something you make?  Don't answer that.  I don't care.  Because I.LOVE.THIS.PURSE!

I don't know how else to say it.

The colors ...

The hexagons & triangles ...

Little embroidered knots ...

And I love how the quilting on the base turned out.

You with me now?  Am I pardoned for loving it?

Thanks.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday
Aug152012

Hypothetically Speaking ... 

... how bad would it sound if I said I finished FMQing this quilt before the holiday laundry was done? 

If it doesn't sound too bad, then I confess. 

But if it sounds horribly wicked ... forget I said anything.  Kay?

Here's how it turned out.

I did my favored swirly twirly with the occasional flower.

Loving how the soft curves and loops of the top-stitching totally contrast with all the strictly horizontal and vertical lines of the piecing.

And the soft pink thread?  PERFECT for all that white background and over-the-top pinky, flowery wonderfulosityness! 

(But really ... was there ANY doubt about that?)

Now to the binding.

I had a bazillion options.  I suppose I should have used up more scraps.  But as much as I love scrappy binding, I thought it would have been too much here.  (Maybe not ... total judgement call.) 

I seriously considered a solid white, but decided against that thinking it would look too ... stark(?) against all the busy prints.

So I hummed and hawed my way thru my stash and settled on this happy bubbly dot. 

Perfect colors, volume, and just plain ... happy!

Now for the rest of the week I'll be sitting outside on a grassy knoll beside a pool hand stitching the binding watching my kids swim.

Sunday
Aug122012

There and Back Again

In case you couldn't tell by the lack of postings here lately, I was on holidays.  We went to visit my sister & brother-in-law in Iowa.  (I know.  Even the US Border Patrol guy wondered about that.  If my sister wasn't so totally awesome - I'd trade her in for one who lives in like Paris or Rome.  Or maybe even Africa!) 

And by "went" I mean "drove" ... as in about 5,000 miles there and back.  Whoever invented Nintendo DS and portable DVD players deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.  Seriously.  Seven (very long) days of nothing but the license plate game would make even the Dalai Lama go completely mental!

Anyhow, we caught a little "Old Faithful" action in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

This was pretty cool, getting up close and personal with a bison - also in Yellowstone.

That's my pink elbow in the rearview mirror.

Apparently I was talking all soft & gentle-like to this guy when I was taking his picture.  I was too busy hoping he wouldn't go psycho on our van to notice what I was saying.  My kids thought it was hilarious.

And then said hi to these guys in South Dakota ...

As is appropriate for most children, mine were thoroughly unimpressed.  I cut them some slack 'cause we're Canadian - or as my 9 year old said, "We're not United Statians, Mom!"  But I know they'll thank us when they're older for the experience.

Ok.  No more holiday photos.  Promise.  ;)

So now I'm home and totally overwhelmed with laundry and all the other stuff that piles up while one is away.  I also need to spend some time with my girls - my sister sort of hogged them - (ok, that's not entirely true ... it's more a case of she's the amazingly fun aunt who takes them to the water park and has spa day and bakes apple pie for breakfast, and I'm just the boring mom who makes them empty the dishwasher and brush their teeth.)

Oh.  And there is the small thing of me having some really big news to share with you VERY SOON!

So I'm here.  Just not sure what the next few weeks look like - exactly.  But I'll keep you posted (pun intended, tee hee).

And if I'm lucky I'll even get to work on her.

Now that she's all pinned, I can hardly wait to FMQ her. 

I'm thinking pale pink thread.

Go figure.

(Ok, ok.  Back to the 3rd of 957 loads of laundry.  Whoever invented holiday laundry should be condemned to 20 years of listening to me sing!)

Thursday
Aug092012

Quilting Downs and Ups

First, the down.

I reeeeeeeally don't like pinning quilts.

Like, really really.

I'm more of a "sitting on a chair" sort of person, less of a "sitting on the floor" kind of person.  And because I don't like crawling around on my hand & knees in some seriously uncomfortable - not to mention undignified - positions, AND because this is one of the biggest quilts I've made in a while (about 80" x 86") I procrastinated getting this pinning job done.

Last time I mentioned my averison to pinning a few of you extoled the virtues of spray-basting.  I do use spray-basting for little projects.  But for big quilts like this, I'm cheap.  And that stuff is expensive.  For me, one can of spray is about the same price as a yard of fabric. 

(Plus almost all the windows in my house were nailed/painted shut by the previous owners and I can't "air out" the fumes very well.)

So I suffer for my craft. ;)

But on the up side - and totally unrelated to pinning - I found a way to use my precious strips of scrap gold ...

I sewed them into the quilt!

Although I'd like to think I would have come up with this cool idea all on my own, I can't take all the credit.  This quilt is Amanda Jean's design and she gives a few "freestyling" suggestions for this pattern, like this.

I just scattered them across the quilt here and there as little surprises. 

They're so small you don't even notice them really unless you're looking for them.

Freaking LOVE them!!! :)

Monday
Aug062012

"Memories,

(singing)

like the corners of my mind,                                                                       Misty water-coloured memories ..."

(record scratch)

Sorry.  I've been told (repeatedly) that I shouldn't subject anyone to my singing.  By all accounts it's pretty awful.  I only know of one person in the world who disagrees ... and that's me.  In my mind I sound EXACTLY like Barbra Streisand.

And Celine Dion.

And Barry Manilow.

And the Doobie Brothers.

And Abba.

And Shirley Bassey.  (I do an awesome "Goldfinger", btw, 'cause I sing "FING-GAAAA" just like she does.)

ANYHOW.

Memories is what I want to talk about today.  Not like the ones I just had about my dad's record collection, but rather the quilting of them.

My new scrap quilt - inspiration/pattern courtesy of "Sunday Morning Quilts" - is a virtual patchwork (pun intended) of memories. 

Every single piece came from my stash.  Most came from my scrap bin. (Guess I just outed myself for "liquidating" didn't I! LOL!)  So I can look at each little bit of fabric in this quilt and remember any number of things:

  • when, where, why I bought it, or
  • who gave it to me
  • what I made from it
  • who I made it for
  • why I made it

Here, let me take you down my memory lane for a second.

Made my first set of drapes with this Laura Ashley fabric.

You may think by looking at this pretty little print that I had a very lovely bedroom in my childhood home.  You would be wrong. 

I WAS allowed to replace the hideous 1960s gold polyester fire hazards that I probably could have sold for a million dollars to the Madmen set designers.  But I was NOT allowed to replace the 1970s beige walls and 1980s dark chocolate carpet.  But at least my homemade drapes went with the Holly Hobbie paint by number art on the walls that my Aunt made for me & my sister when we were younger.  I am not even joking about that. 

This is the very first thing I ever bought on eBay - Laura Ashley fabric. 

I know. 

Shock and awe.

Walked into a local quilt store, saw the entire line of this fabric, died, went to heaven, came back and bought ALL of it. 

Then crossed my fingers that I would get pregnant and have a baby girl so I could make something for her.  Lucky for me I had 2 girls ...

and enough fabric to make a quilt for both of them with the stuff ... which oddly enough I don't really care for so much anymore. 

The fabric, I mean, not the girls. ;)

Leftovers from my most recent MBOM quilt.

A bit of Susan Branch fabric that I fussy cut.

Because it just so happens we were married at 4:00.  And plus I really like clocks.

Made a skirt for my kitchen sink with that fabric.

Scraps gifted to me from my BFF when she was cleaning out her scrap bin. 

She's not burdened with sentimentality like I am.  She's lovely.  

And I totally admire her aversion to clutter and hoarding.

From a placemat I made for my daughter's school lunch bag.

I could go on for hours but I'm afraid your eyes would start to roll back into your head and then you'd lose conciousness, 'cause it just occurred to me that telling you ALL about my scraps and their histories is probably a lot like me trapping you at a cocktail party and forcing you to look at all 5,673 of my vacation photos, LOL!

But my point - and yes I have one - is that there's something so magically and exponentially special about a scrap quilt vs any other.  It's a treasured trail of bread crumbs left by a quilter along his/her journey of passion, creativity, growth & evolution as a person who expresses themselves by making things with fabric.

At least that's how I feel. 

I don't know how you feel about scrap quilts.  But I'd bet the farm if you don't at least PARTLY agree with my above declaration then you simply haven't made one yet. 

Either that or you're totally dead inside. 

In which case, "Don't come any closer ... I'm armed with a rotary cutter ... and the safety guard is OFF!"

Thursday
Aug022012

A New Word is Required in the English Language

... to describe how I feel about these little itty bitty pretty trimmings.

I'm thinkin' stately, gilded shadow box above the fireplace ... behind bulletproof glass ... and a 24/7 security guard.

Seriously you guys, I'm not kidding! 

Ok, maybe just a little.

But I do love 'em.

Yeah, no.  "Love" doesn't work ... need a new word.

Monday
Jul302012

The Cost of Quilting ...

... can be surprisingly and sometimes even painfully high.  Ya know what I mean?

But you guys, making this quilt isn't costing me a single penny! 

Lemme 'splain.

As all quilters know, there are special ... um ... "financial exemptions" allowed when calculating the cost of making a quilt. 

For example, once fabric goes into the scrap bin it is determined - by definition - to have "no financial value". 

In other words ... it's FREE!

Which is why we don't feel so bad when we donate our scraps.

Or - perish the thought - throw them out!  Gasp! 

But if you read Sunday Morning Quilts you will NEVER throw out ANY fabric scraps ever again.  EVER.  You will also know how to organize, store and USE them.  Just think of all the free quilts you can make!

 

PS:  If you're an accountant, I apologize if my logic causes you to hyperventilate.  Just breathe slowing into a paper bag with your head between your knees ... it works for my husband.

PPS:  I will neither confirm nor deny reports that I ... liquidated ... any fabric from my "valuable" stash yardage for this quilt.

Thursday
Jul262012

Low Volume?

What the heck is THAT? 

I mean as in quilting, not as in "Turn that music down 'cause I can't hear myself think"  or "Dude, that color belongs back in the 80s".

Well, maybe you already know what low volume means. 

But apparently I've been quilting under a rock because it's been around for a while and I've been clueless.  HOWEVER, I finally got an invitation to the party from Amanda Jean & Cheryl and I am TOTALLY OFF THE HOOK STOKED about it!

In fact, I'm about to make my very first "low volume" quilt.  (Eeep!)

Never in a million years would I have thought of making a quilt with all my low volume (a.k.a. "white") scraps.  I don't know why.  It makes perfect sense ... now that my scraps are organized by color, that is. 

My whites bin is chockerblock FULL of my most favoritest prints ... TONS of whites/creams with small prints ... mostly little pink flowers.

(I know, I oughta warn you to sit down before springing that sort of earth-shattering revelation on you ... tee hee)

I'm tellin' ya ... NOTHIN' is floating my quilting boat right now like looking at all this white, pretty, floral, girly, scrappy, fabric-ribbony goodness.

It is just the.best.thing.EVER when I learn something new and super cool!

"Amanda Jean & Cheryl, YOU GUYS TOTALLY ROCK!" ... she said with the volume cranked WAY UP HIGH!

Monday
Jul232012

R.O.Y.G.B.I.V.

In case you're like me and made it to adulthood without knowing what that means (it's true ... my daughter enlightened me when she was in Grade 2) it stands for the colors of the rainbow in order.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Purple

(Let me clarify that I DID learn the colors of the rainbow in school, just without the acronym.)

In this amazing new book by Amanda Jean and Cheryl, they recommend sorting fabric scraps by color.  

Well, smack me up side the head with that one!  LOL!  Why on earth didn't I think of that?!  (Amanda Jean, thanks for letting me share this information!)  It SEEMS so obvious to me now ...

They also suggest asking a friend to help sort unruly scrap collections. 

Well, I wasn't prepared to lose a friendship over my scraps (even my quilting friends would probably rather have a root canal than deal with that monster!)

HOWEVER, since I spent a combined 18 months pregnant and a total of 60 hours in labour, and have lost COUNTLESS hours of sleep that I will never.get.back, I figure MY DAUGHTERS OWE ME!!!  So I dumped my scrap bin into the middle of the floor, gave them 7 bins and let them go at it.  

And then I fed them water and stale bread when they were done.  ;)

But most importantly, look what I have now!

(Am I the only one who is totally disturbed that pink is not in the rainbow?)

It feels so good looking at my "organized" scraps!  I can actually see potential here. 

And inspiration.

Just like Amanda Jean & Cheryl said I would.

But this trick is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the really amazing information in their book.  They go much farther than just sorting scraps by color.  You really need to get "Sunday Morning Quilts"

Just sayin'.

Thursday
Jul192012

Sunday Morning Quilts

Hey y'all!

I wonder if you guys have seen this book yet. 

It came out a few months ago and - as with any good quilt book I buy - I've been studying it ... a LOT.

It's more than just a pretty book with great modern quilt designs (which isn't why I bought it, 'cause I'm not much of a "modern" quilter, per se.) 

I'd consider it a mandatory textbook for all quilters on how to manage fabric scraps (which is EXACTLY why I bought it!)  And when I say manage, I mean everything from acquiring to classifying to storing to using.  It's the A-Z encyclopedia for fabric scrapology.  I kid you not.

See, I have a serious problem with my scraps.  Don't know what to do with them ... can't bear to part with them.  And if you're a quilter like me who hasn't yet figured out how to cope with scraps, then you know what I'm talking about.

Exhibit A

I've already started using some of the things I learned from Amanda Jean & Cheryl (the brilliant authors of the book) and let me tell you ... I've finally found a cure for what has been my nightmare of a fabric scrap bin these past 25 years. 

Seriously. 

Stay tuned.  ;)

Monday
Jul162012

Farmer's Wife Quilt - The Big Assembly

I wouldn't be surprised if you thought I was ignoring my FW quilt because you know how OCD I am with block placement and all my silly rules about colors and prints etc. not touching and all that.  Some of you even (rightfully) poked fun at me and how hard a time I was going to have with the layout process of my 98 blocks.  Remember the nightmare I had with only 12 blocks?!  LOL!

Lucky for me I still have a few brain cells that operate on common sense and they made me realize it was totally, utterly and completely IMPOSSIBLE for me to lay out this quilt AND follow all my rules ... AND keep my sanity.

So.

I let all my silliness go ... (ok, maybe just most of it ...)

I really only made sure that:

  • the reds were evenly distributed (100% successful)
  • the blocks - which I sorted into "lights" and "darks" - weren't clumped anywhere (mostly successful ... found a few problems after the top was put together ... I just practice taking deep breaths when I notice them)
  • and of course I tried to avoid any obvious color/print touching (much leniency was required in this regard)

So now let me show you how it all came together. 

It's not often a quilt looks as good or better in real life than it did in my mind when I started.  It's always still a bit of a surprise to me.  Sometimes I'm close, others are total disappointments.

But never mind.  My Farmer's Wife quilt is an unmitigated success.  For me.

Remember my pink sashing disappointment ...

because I was trying to make my quilt look like this ... ?

Well, I officially forgive that pink fabric for not cooperating because I gotta say, I'm THRILLED with how the white turned out.  I especially love how the white background blocks "float". 

The red.  Ok.  I'm not much of a red girl ... unless it's for Christmas or Valentine's Day.

However, from the very start - before I even made my first block - I pictured this quilt with red ... sparkle ... you know?  I didn't want any bold or heavy redness so I carefully used it just as little bits here and there.

For the few red (& white) only blocks I used prints that weren't dark, but had lots of white or other colors in it, like these.

(There's a reason why this block is going on the back ... )

And the red posts?  They finish at a mere 3/4" and seem to hold everything together.

When I stand back and squint my eyes to look at this quilt, I'm fascinated by the pretty, "random" geometric pattern created by the red punctuations.  (I overexposed this photo to help you see what I mean.)

Oh, and one more thing about the posts.  I wasn't wild with the finish in the book and how the outside posts were cut in half. 

That would have driven me banana nuts crazy.  So I made mine full squares.

And I am so pleased with how the light blue side-setting triangles frame the blocks without being too .. chunky.  Subtle, but effective to my eye.

Also the book only has one large border.  I wanted something a little different.  So I added an inner border the same fabric & width as my sashing.

And then I went with this happy blue dot - mostly because I have limited "Flower Sugar" yardage in my stash. 

But I wonder if I had a choice of every print in my quilt that I would have picked this one anyways.  It's perfect.  Grounding, happy, love the personality of the dots ... it's strong enough to hold up as a frame, but not too busy as to take the focus away from the intricate piecing in the blocks.

No, it's not pink. 

And no, I don't care. ;)

For width, the outer border finishes the same width as a block (4 1/2").  It always seems logical to me to repeat a dominant measurement from the body of a quilt for the border. 

I'm also going to bind it with the same border fabric.  I was originally planning either red or scrappy, but now I think both those options would be too much.  I'm just gonna keep it simple.

Now.  I'm still not sure about these blocks being stuck in the bottom corners.

I don't know why, but I assumed the signature should go in the bottom right corner .... you know ... like where you sign a letter.  That is until someone suggested placing it in the middle.  Oh that would be so nice!

And I'm not happy with the other horizontal striped blocks so symmetrically placed.  Looks ... predicable?  And maybe boring.  Not sure what I mean.  So I'm thinking about moving at least one of them. 

But I haven't yet.  Cause doing stuff like that makes me cranky. 

Sigh.

I should probably just do it.  I think I'll be unhappy if I don't.

Oh WHO AM I KIDDING?!! They are staying put.  The end. ;)

And a quick mention about this "Flock of Birds" block ... I set it so the birds are flying east ...

... 'cause remember my crazy birding sister?  She lives east of us.  So the birds are flying in her direction.

But now to the quilting decision.  I have a habit of cheaping out on things sometimes - either with the border, or the backing ... or in this case, the top-stitching.  And then I live to regret it.

I can do it myself with a cross-hatch - classic, acceptible ... but not necessarily the best option for taking this quilt to the next level of amazing, right?

I could free-motion quilt it, but my FMQ repertoire is limited at best and totally inappropriate for this quilt at worst.

So lucky for my I've let my BFF talk me into having it longarmed ... so now I'm saving my pennies.

Friday
Jul132012

"With Fabric & Thread" Marigolds and Jam Placemats II

So I started out with this ...

and these ...

and turned them into these.

What do you think?  (They've already been laundered ... hence the wrinkled/puckered appearance.)

And they're even reversible! 

I forgot to pick fabrics for the "back" but I lucked out with these stripes that came from the same collection as the gingham.

You know, this pattern is a great introduction to scallops if you've never tried them before. 

But you want to know the best thing about these pretty placemats?

They're gonna make my cooking taste better ... and my cooking could use all the help it can get!

Speaking of which, where are the takeout menus?  Mama deserves a break after all that sewing!  LOL!

Or should that read:  The family deserves a break from my cooking?

However you want to spin it ... works out for me. :)

Wednesday
Jul112012

A Love Letter of Sorts

Joanna Figueroa wrote a curious thing in her book, "With Fabric & Thread". 

In the Introduction, she wonders who will read her book and what things people will make from her patterns.  I want Joanna to know that among what will surely be thousands of creations inspired from her book there is a very special, very pink quilt that was made by one kindred spirit for another - by one quilter for another - by one mother for another - as an expression of warmth, hope and above all, love.

                              *               *               *             

Sigh.

Somewhere between me planning this quilt and me finishing it I received some scary news.  A very dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

I've known too many women now who've faced this disease, but she is the first who is my age (younger, in fact).  I met her 7 years ago when our oldest children were in the same pre-school class.  But we didn't really connect then. 

No, it took another full year later when our little ones were again in the same class.  Quilting came up in a conversation we became fast friends.

After a while she started saying things to me like, "You HAVE to start a blog", "You HAVE to write your own patterns and sell them online" and other such silly nonsense I didn't understand.  I'd never heard of a blog.  I didn't know I could do anything online except buy stuff on eBay!  LOL!  I was totally clueless.

And as I'm apt to do if I don't understand something, I filed her words in a drawer in the back of my mind under "Sweet Encouragement That Makes No Sense".

And then she moved away.  Four years ago last week, in fact.  It was sad and painful for my soul.  We kept in touch, a little.

(Note:  I purposefully chose dotted prints for the backing.  I wanted this quilt to feel very happy and I can't think of a happier print in the world than dots.  And these polka dot/roses are most especially awesome for this quilt)

But then she did something that changed my life.  No exaggeration.  In fact, if it weren't for B, you and I would have probably never met.  One day, quite out of the blue in January 2010, she sent me a book - Tara Frey's "Blogging for Bliss".

I shamefully admit now that when I first read the title I kinda felt like a kid on Christmas morning opening what was sure to be an amazing gift from Santa, only to be majorly disappointed by a pair of really ugly socks.  I remember wondering why on earth she'd sent me THIS book!  I don't know anything about this stuff ... I'm not even INTERESTED!  I really thought she knew me better.  I wished it had been a pretty quilting book or something like that.  ("B, I know you're reading this ... tee hee!")

So I set it aside and forgot about it.  Until many weeks later when my husband needed to be in the hospital for a few hours of testing (he's fine).  I didn't want to pay for hospital parking, 'cause that's like at least a few FQs worth of change, but there's a Tim Horton's coffee shop across the street where I could park for free (less the cost of a cup of tea and a donut).  I will never know why, exactly, but on my way out the door I grabbed that book and stuck it in my purse.

I was only a few pages into the book when doors started opening and lights started turning on to rooms in my mind I didn't know were there.  NOW I get what B was trying to tell me!  OMG I TOTALLY GET IT!!!  THIS is what I want to do!  I got really excited.  Turns out she knew me better than I knew myself.

And now she needs a whole lot of love & support.  I wish so badly I could be there to give her a hug and fix her a cup of tea and take her mind off things with idle chit chat about quilting and stitching and kids and stuff like we used to.  But I can't.  What I can do is send her my love the best way I know how.  With my sewing.  Funny how the universe made me make this pretty pink quilt ... that I KNOW she LOVES ... at this very exact moment in time.

I started this quilt for the pure joy of making things.  And I finished it with the pure joy I have for my friendship with her.

I don't know what B will do with this quilt.  I imagine she might snuggle under it while watching tv.  Or nap with it when she's exhausted.  Maybe wipe her tears on it when she's having a really down moment.  Or barf on it while enduring chemo.  Or hang it on the back of a chair or sofa as decoration.  Or maybe even let her daughters play tea party on it. 

It doesn't matter to me. 

The only thing that matters is whenever she sees this quilt she will remember I love her and think the world of her and I'm sending her my very best thoughts and prayers ... always.

Love you B! xo

Monday
Jul092012

"With Fabric & Thread" Marigolds and Jam Placemats

Today's Show-And-Tell is again brought to you by "With Fabric & Thread" by Joanna Figueroa.

This project is from the "Dual Projects" section of the book, meaning it combines both sewing & quilting techniques.

Ok.  Can I just take a second to say "Wow!"?  These placemats are fabulous. 

Oversized, scalloped edged, quilted, REVERSIBLE, great for featuring pretty fabrics ... just the kind of placemat that would make me drool if I saw it in the store (and then not buy because they'd cost a fortune!).

As is often the case with me, the hardest part was picking fabric for my placemats. 

Let me qualify that by saying ONE of the fabrics - by Susan Branch (love her) - was a sure thing ...

I mean COME ON!  If you had like 10 yds of this stuff in your stash, and it was 5 years old, and you had a reason to make placemats, and you DIDN'T use this fabric ... well, I'd be calling the quilting police to have you arrested for the crime of wasting an opportunity to use appropriately themed fabric. ;)

It was the coordinating print that gave me trouble.  (Not enough yardage of this, that color doesn't work, not ready to part with that one yet ... )

Then I noticed these diagonal checks from Rosalie Quinlan's "Folkheart" line ... FOUR of them!

Since I have a family of 4, I think these colors will make for a very happy summer tablesetting.

And now can we please have a moment of silence to acknowledge the total awesomeness of these color matches?

...   ...   ...

Thank you.

Thursday
Jul052012

How This Quilter Mends Pants

Ok.  I hate mending.  Seriously.  I would rather make something from scratch than mend.  Even hemming pants or reattaching a button ... yuckeroni.

HOWEVER.

If I can figure out how to turn a mending chore into some semblance of a quilting task ... well ... THAT is something altogether different.

This is a pair of my daughter's leggings with not one, but two holes.  (She's an overachiever in this department.)

Not expensive.  And she'll probably outgrow them next week.

But never mind.  I've got an idea.

                         *               *               *               *

I drew a few hearts on my computer, printed them out, traced them onto fusible web, made fusible patches from pretty coordinating fabric (Lecien's Flower Sugar) & found matching thread. 

Then I spent all of about 10 minutes at my sewing machine.

Tada!

Only the top and bottom hearts are covering holes.  But they're so far apart I thought it would look better with a few connecting elements. 

I don't think anyone would ever guess this was a patch job! 

AND she really likes them.  Bonus!