Monday
Dec162013

2013 Holiday Tag-a-Long Week 2

"O Tannenbaum, o tannenbaum, how lovely are your branches."

I started this week's tags with a simple, traditional green tree.  Easy enough, right?  Yes, I thought so too.

Until I decorated it with little red colonial knots ... looks more like a bad case of chicken pox, doesn't it?  LOL!

Oh well.  I think the pretty floral Victorian scalloped oval setting takes your mind off the poxes.  And I'm so happy to have found an opportunity to stick another bow on something. 

But then I developed a pink itch that I really needed to scratch ... so why not a pink tree?

I dug out my pretty crystal sequins and clear beads to decorate and then just fringed the linen edges a bit for some texture.  I picked the aqua ribbon because of the few tiny aqua flowers in the fabric.

And then I went all aqua with the last tree.

I had a harder time coming up with a good-looking garland.  I tried a few different things before settling on these flower sequins.  Ooooooh, do I ever love how they turned out!

Oh, and I backed all three tags with the Kraft-Tex I mentioned last week.

So that's that.  One tree, three interpretations.

How are your tags coming along?  Are you getting inspired?  Remember to visit Amy over at nanaCompany to see her batch of the week!

Amy and I are going to try to put together one more set of tags for next week.  Keep your fingers crossed ... unless you're busy making tags ... then never mind. ;)

Monday
Dec092013

2013 Holiday Tag-a-Long

That's right, it's back!  My homegirl Amy (of the beautiful and always inspiring blog nanaCompany) and I had so much fun with our 2012 Holiday Tag-a-Long that neither of us needed any arm twisting to do it again.  So we're kicking off this year's holiday season with another installment of gift tag inspiration. 

As with last year, our goal is to:

  • have a good excuse to make stuff (like we really need one, but hey ...)
  • satisfy our creativity with things we have lying around
  • inspire you to have some crafty holiday fun too

Last year we came up with a starter plan of templates and a tutorial for you to use (which are always available both here and over at Amy's blog). 

But when Amy and I were making plans for this round, we both wanted to branch out with different materials and tag shapes.  Remember, this is a "no rules" thing we're doing ... it's all about having fun and making things your way.

So that's all the business up front.  Now lets get to the party in the back. :)  (Yes, yes I did just make a mullet joke.  And no, Billy Ray Cyrus did not once cross my mind. tee hee)

This year, my tags started as "just because" cross stitching with the book I bought a few weeks ago.  I made a bunch of these little things for fun with no plan in mind.  Only after I'd made a few did it occur to me that I could make them into tags.

First up, the basket. 

Stitching this one up was all kinds of crazy fun.  The basket part is done with an offset "X" in alternating rows and result is this really neat basket weave effect.  And the handle?  Don't get me started.  (Too late.)  It's made with a loose loop of floss that's wrapped with a bunch of little knots.  Oh man it was fun to make. 

I was intrigued with how Amy used felt for her tags last year so I decided to give it a try myself.  And I think I was channeling my long-dormant scrapbooker self because I started layering.  SIX layers later (felt, gingham, blue floral, more felt, the basket and finally the fabric tape) I had a tag.  I thought it would be fun to leave the basket and felt layers free, except for across the top.  The stitchery is backed with fusible interfacing to help prevent fraying. 

Next is the puddle jumper. 

Only 4 layers here - I fused the striped fabric onto a piece of Kraft-Tex (awesome stuff!) so the tag itself is nice and stiff.  Then I stitched the boot to some felt and glued the boot onto the stripes.  My original plan was to use the red gingham fabric for this tag, but when I put them together they were too busy.  However my PamKittyMorning stash came to the rescue ... and inspired me to dig out my scalloped scissors.  And you know me ... I gotta stick a bow on something every once in a while or I start to get all twitchy in one eye.

And then the bicycle. 

I took a cue from my Scrumptious bundle and thought a red & aqua bike would be fun.  The white scalloped backing is also Kraft-Tex and the striped fabric is fused onto it.  Then I fused the bike on top.  The sequins were an afterthought ... makes it look a bit more holiday-ish, I thought.

But then I had no room for a grommet so I just glued the ribbon to the back.

All right.  Do yourself a favour and go check out Amy's tags.  And then I'll see you next Monday with another set.  Remember to check out our Flickr Group for more inspiration.  And please add your photos too if you make any.  Amy and I love love love seeing what all y'all come up with!

PS:  I got a few questions about my cross stitch last week so in case you're interested, I usually use 2 plies of floss (except for smaller details like the spokes on the bike) and I favour 32 count linen.  The basket and boot are done on Belfast linen and the bike is on Evenweave.

Friday
Dec062013

in a groove

I'm getting my cross stitch groove on like I haven't in ... sooo so long and I am loving it!  These littles are so quick and easy to stitch up. 

That boot?  Only 1 5/8" tall! 

These will be keeping me busy all weekend ... and taking my mind off our -40 degree weather (which, by the way, is the same in both Celcius and Fahrenheit).

Stay warm!  xo k

Wednesday
Dec042013

a to z

It is no secret I love the alphabet.  And letters.  And small designs & motifs.  And Japanese craft books.  This tiny treasure has all of that and then some!  So it's no surprise that I bought it about 30 seconds after I found it on Etsy.  (And then spent quite a bit of time browsing this entire shop!)  Cover-to-cover cuteness ... all in adorable cross stitch designs.

You know, I was a hard core cross-stitcher for about 20 years.  It was my needlecraft of choice.  My Home Economics teacher introduced me to the humble X when I was about 13.  I became an instant addict.  Oh the kits I made, the patterns I bought (did someone say Paula Vaughn?), the floss collection I amassed, the aida cloth I went through (until I discovered linen!!!).

It took a serious amount of discipline to write this post for you just now ... because it's delaying my start time on what I hope to be the making of something pretty!

Monday
Dec022013

quilty fun sew along & blog tour: week 5

Welcome welcome to Week Five of the Quilty Fun Sew Along by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet and Fat Quarter Shop!  I was positively tickled when I got an invitation to play along. :)

If you're sewing along you've already visited the previous blogs on this tour to get your weekly assignments.  If not, you can check out Kerry's apples here, Amy's stars here, Rachel's Courthouse Steps here and Nanette's Baskets here.  You can also find a whole lotta inspiration on the Flickr Group ... tons of eye candy over there I tell ya!  If you're new to this sewalong, check here for all the details ... there's prizes every week, you know.  

So let's get to Row Five, shall we?

Flying Geese.  That is your assignment this week.  You'll find the instructions on page 26 of Lori's book and you can download the companion PDF here.

Now before I go on, I have a few things to say about flying geese.  I've made a lot of them over the years.  As in like a LOT a lot of 'em.  And I've made them with pretty much every method known to quilterkind.  So when I tell you that Lori's book has my favourite method of all time, I mean it.  There is no waste, no exposed bias edges ... I don't have to trim them to the correct size (which I almost always need to do) ... love it.

Not only that, but Lori somehow managed to make this method even easier and more accurate than I thought possible!  I love learning things that make my quilting life easier.  :)  One of her super smart tips requires a tool I don't own (but I have it on VERY good authority that Santa will be putting one in my stocking this year). 

It's December already (I know!) and I'm in the mood for a little festive colour.  So here are my super cute blocks in scrappy reds and whites.  I'm calling these my Christmas geese.  And these little fellas are ... well ... little! 

And now for this week's prize.  Fat Quarter Shop will be giving away two sets of Creative Grids Square Rulers, which include the 2 1/2", 3 1/2", 4 1/2" AND 5 1/2" rulers ... PLUS a package of their new Alphabitties!

So hurry up, go make your flying geese, and then upload them to the Flickr Page!  I'm dying to see them :)

Friday
Nov292013

worth her weight in gold

That is how I feel about my friend Laura.  I had the great fortune of meeting her several years ago when she was first starting her longarm quilting career.  Since then, she's become an extraordinarily talented longarmer.  I consider myself very lucky to benefit from her crazy mad skills. :)

For starters, Laura is an expert piecer.  Her own quilts are beautiful because she is meticulous and methodical and those qualities are in her longarming work too.  She has a deep understanding of the work and craftsmanship that goes into making a quilt top.  And as a quilter, she has a passion for patchwork.  She appreciates the art and the artists.

She also has a creative flair when it comes to longarm design.  She's always got great ideas to compliment and enhance your labour of love.

But my favourite thing about Laura is that she "gets" me.  She understands my style.  She knows my personality and knows what I like and don't like.  I never worry about leaving a quilt in her hands.  Ever.

(Funny little story ... if you have my book S is for Stitch, you can thank Laura in part for that too.  I had given her my original little girl quilt to topstitch after a few of my friends encouraged me to write a pattern for it.  I was in the process of making the boy version and happened to mention it to her.  She was expecting her first grandson and asked to see the boy quilt when it was done.  I showed it to her when I picked up the girl quilt and she loved it so much she asked if I would put together a kit for her.  Talk about a compliment!  Her appreciation and enthusiasm of my design really helped me muster up the courage to submit my designs to a book publisher.  So there's that story.)

I know many of her clients simply hand over their quilt tops to her and say, "Work you magic, Laura!"  That's exactly what I asked her to do with my Farmer's Wife.  I gave no other instructions.  And this is exactly what she did.  Every block is different.  But after admiring my finished quilt for a little while, I noticed something that fascinated and excited me about the top-stitching.  Laura artfully picked a few shapes, designs and motifs and then repeated them throughout the quilt.  I'd wonderied how she would stitch all 90+ blocks differently, but she did.  I'm sorry I don't have it in me to photograph every block individually. 

(I want to make huge postage stamp quilt with 3/4" finished squares JUST to have it all topstitched like the block above!!!)

I will be studying and enjoying her work on my quilt for a very long time.

I love the feathered border.  And I most especially love how she treated the sashing.

Thanks again Laura!  xo

And to all my American friends to the south, hope you're enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend!  I'll be out and about choosing window casing, baseboards and doors for the new house.

PS:  And for the record, I do NOT say "oot and aboot".  I do not know where that came from and I've never heard a fellow countryman say that for real.  It sounds hilarious when I hear an American making fun of Canadians about that.  It always makes me laugh.  But I want you to know that I don't sound like that.  Just sayin'. ;)

Tuesday
Nov262013

shabby fabrics giveaway

Today I need to show you something ... something really pretty.  I don't know if you know this, but Shabby Fabrics is one of my all time favourite online quilt store.  I became a customer when they were only on eBay!  That was a long time ago.  Since then, they have grown to be a trusted place for quilters to shop. 

At our cores, Shabby Fabrics and Pretty by Hand have the same passionate love of all things pink, feminine, romantic, cabbage rosy and sweet posy.  You can't imagine how proud I was that Shabby Fabrics was the first retailer to carry my patterns and was also the first business to sponsor my blog. 

So when they asked if I'd like to do a giveaway this week, of course I said YES!  Have you seen their latest Christmas quilt design?  It is offered as a Block of the Month project with the option of tradition or laser cut applique.

And they were very clever to figure out how to make the same design look quite different (day & night, literally!) with just a switch of one fabric.

Genius. 

I've made many quilts like this where each block is like a mini quilt all by itself - such a fun and rewarding process.  And then when you put them all together to make a big quilt, they become a show-stopping piece of artwork for your home.

This giveaway includes 2 items: the pattern set for this quilt AND the Embellishing kit.  The 101 piece Embellishing kit is pictured below.  Look at all the closeup photos and you'll see buttons, pearls, rhinestones, ribbons, jingle bells, snowflakes and charms ... everything you need to detail this quilt to perfection.

So if you would like a chance to win the pattern set and embellishing kit for this quilt, simply leave me a comment telling which version you prefer - Day or Night.  If you sign up for their newsletter here you can enter twice.  Or if you already subscribe, you can also enter twice.

This giveaway closes on Saturday 30st and I'll announce the winner on Sunday.  Good luck to you!  UPDATE:  Giveaway now closed.

Oh, and one more thing, Shabby Fabrics is having a Black Friday Sale this week ... details and coupons will be in their Friday newsletter.

Friday
Nov222013

the farmer took a wife ... 

 

... and then she made a quilt. 

These are only a few of the several dozen pictures I took the other day.  But it's the weekend already and I promised you something by now.  I want to write a more thoughtful and detailed post, mostly about the longarming artistry done by my friend (and I'm sure she has a magic wand in her sewing studio too), but I've run out of time.  So please know this is an abbreviated tour of my quilt with yet another promise to show you more next week.

Deal? ;)

Hope you have a good one!

Wednesday
Nov202013

s is for stitch giveaway alert

Hey!  I just found out that Quiltmaker Magazine is giving away books written by designers (including me holy cow!) who are featured in the latest issue of 100 Blocks ... how cool is that? 

Hop over to their blog and check out their pretty awesome giveaway.  You have until tomorrow (Nov 21st) midnight to enter.  Ooooh, I hope you win! :)

Tuesday
Nov192013

wallflowers

Ok.  No, this isn't wallpaper in my house.  I wish it was.  Isn't it just so pretty?  It is actually the back side of my Farmer's Wife quilt ... I thought I would tease you a little bit today before I show you the rest of the quilt later this week. 

Besides, these flowers deserve a post all to themselves, don't you think?

Thursday
Nov142013

a village of cabins and a whole lotta fans

Well this quilt certainly got done a lot faster than the last one. :)  I am so happy with how it turned out.  I think it's probably the most "modern" looking quilt I've made, even more so than this one I did last year ... maybe because of the little bits of black?  Maybe because aqua and this fun clear hot pink has a decidedly contemporary look?  I dunno.  Whatever the reason, I love it.  It's bright but not obnoxious.  It's fresh but not edgy.  It's traditional with a nod to the present.  (I wonder if modern quilters would consider this quilt "modern".)

Another little embroidered signature block in the corner.  Love.

More scrappy binding.  Also love.

I thought I started out with a good strong mix of darks and lights, but some of my darks were too light and some of my lights were too dark ... which resulted in a lot of schmooshiness.  But I like that too.  Sometimes that really hard contrast of darks and lights in log cabin quilts is a little too severe to my eye.  Not always, just sometimes.  But when I look at this quilt, the diagonal lines created by the block setting (and sashing) is a bit elusive - sorta there, sorta not.  I have no idea if that makes any sense to you, but I really love that effect.

And that baptist fan design I asked my longarmer to do ... you know, I've seen so many quilts done with this design and I always love it.  But whenever I've had to pick a design from my longarmer's library, I always pass on it for some reason.  Not sure why.  So this time I forced myself to use it ... love!

This quilt that started out because of a Blogger Bundle I made for Pink Castle Fabrics a few months ago (sold out!) is a home run for me ... wonder what's gonna happen when I get my hands on this bundle. :)

Monday
Nov112013

#737

A long long time ago in a land far far away my little sewing room here, I got it in my head that I wanted to design a block for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Magazine. 

Fine.  Nice dream.  Whatever.  Probably won't ever happen.

Then at Quilt Market last year, I happened to pick up an entry form. 

I brought it home.

It sat on my desk.

It got buried.

I found it.

I shoved it in a drawer.

It got buried again.

I found it again.

I pondered.

I got an idea.

I made (a few) test blocks.

I didn't like them.

I put them aside.

They got buried.

I found them.

I tried again.

And then a block was born. :)

I submitted it and then didn't hear anything for a very long time.  In fact, I thought my block hadn't made the cut.  But then many months later, I got a surprise email saying that "Gelato Italiano" would be published after all, as block #737. 

(Thank you for the photo PamKittyMorning!!!  I didn't get my copy in the mail yet ...)

My block ended up in the "mixed technique" section of the magazine because I used foundation paper piecing for the cone (or you can use templates), machine applique for the gelato and garnishes (or you can do it by hand), and then of course embroidery.

Now I know it looks like a fairly simple design at first glance.  And it really isn't difficult to make.  But you would not believe how much I hemmed and hawed and thought and thunk about every last detail - what fabrics to use, what order they should go in, should I use checks for all of the cones ...

how many mint leaves should there be, what flavour do they taste best with and what side should they go on ...

what fabric would be good for those little wafer stick cookie thingies that I've never had and don't know what they're called but saw lots of when I googled "gelato flavours". 

I think my very favourite part of this block is the stripey fabric I used for the stick cookie.  Seriously.  That thing makes me deliriously happy.  You would have carted me off to the funny farm if you'd watched me trying to get the exact right angle of the print on the cookie, and then the exact right angle of the cookie in the gelato. 

But one man's insanity is my salvation.

Oh, and can you believe I've never even had gelato?  I hear you have to go to Italy to really appreciate it -  there on the Spanish Steps, like Audrey Hepburn.

And then I thought it would be cute to embroider the flavours - in Italian - which I don't speak.  What words would look best in embroidery? 

  • frutti de bosco = "fruit of the forest", like blackberries
  • lampone = raspberry
  • pistacchio = ... uh, I won't sport with your intelligence here

What font looks the nicest?  What fabric colours best represent those flavours?

Oy yoy yoy.  I've designed entire quilts that were less stressful than this block.  I think I would have fretted less if Oprah were coming over.

Here's one of the rejects, with lace trim.  I decided to ditch the lace even though I like it ... didn't want to risk going overboard.  There comes a point where discretion is the best idea.

And that red check/dot print on the bottom ... I hope it looks like a tablecloth in a little Italian cafe.  That was the idea, anyways.  I was inspired by the spaghetti scene from Disney's "Lady & The Tramp".  (My sister and I had the read-a-long record when we were kids and I know that song by heart.)

Anyhow, I mailed this block last January and seeing it now in the magazine makes me smile.  A lot.  Maybe a little too much.  Would it be ok if I carried it around with me in my purse and stopped strangers on the sidewalk and in the grocery store to show them?  No?  That would be obnoxious?  Ok.  I probably won't do that.  But I will send an autographed copy to my mom.   

Now the lovely people at Quiltmaker's Magazine asked me to do a little giveaway for a copy of this very inspiring issue (the eighth!) to one of you.  If you'd like to enter, just leave a comment telling me your favourite flavour of gelato.  Or ice cream.  Or frozen yogurt if you're a health nut.

UPDATE:  Giveaway ended.

And go here to find a list of the other bloggers with a block in this issue too!  They're also doing giveaways.  My sweet friend PamKittyMorning is in.  But that's no surprise because she's been in EVERY issue!  She's my hero. :)

Friday
Nov082013

demilune

So.  Did you guess right?  To be honest, even I didn't know this was going to happen when I wrote that last post.  I was preparing to make my usual round pencil case.  But then all of a sudden and out of the blue I was inspired to make this instead (no pattern ... just made it up as I went along).  I love how this little zippered demilune case turned out.  Pretty, practical and perfect ... if I may say so. ;)

Now it's in the mail being delivered to someone special.  Somehow I never manage to make something like this and actually keep it for myself.  But I've said this before and I'll say it again - it's the making, not the having, I enjoy most about doing what I do. :)

Happy weekend!

Tuesday
Nov052013

my geese will not be flying south

I finished this quilt top ... when ... let me check my archives here ...

crikey!  seven months ago?  Give me a minute to process ... ... ...

Ok.  I'm good.

It's a design by a friend of mine, Miss Rosie

Well, her name is Carrie Nelson.  But she named her company after her beautiful dog Miss Rosie.  Carrie is so often called "Miss Rosie" that her return address mailing label starts "Carrie Nelson ~ The One Who Isn't Rosie".  She's lovely.  And hilarious.  And just then nicest person ever.

 

So this pattern is one of her famous Schnibbles, "Summer Day".  I was looking for a project to use up a Fat Eighth bundle of Strawberry Fields fabric and all my scraps from this quilt.  I was very happy to find that I had enough fabric to make a super huge Schnibble quilt.  I just kept making flying geese until I ran out of fabric.

I guess maybe I was anticipating summer when I started it.  Now summer is buried under a foot of snow.  But no matter.  My quilt turned out so bright and cheery that it warms up any corner of my house. 

(omg ... I just noticed the same fabric touching in the photo above ... the blue floral.  How did that happen?!  And why did the camera have to catch it?  Of 182 blocks in this quilt, I had to randomly pick that spot to photograph.  I need another minute here to process ...)

Ok.  I'm back.

Again.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love a scrappy binding?  This one was made scrappy out of necessity.  But I would have made it scrappy on purpose, even if I'd had yardage. :)

I had this quilt longarmed.  I just handed it over with no instruction at all.  I love how my longarmer went with a soft curvy design to contrast with all the geometry going on the in the patchwork.

And in case you're wondering if you can machine quilt over embroidery, the answer is yes.

Yes you absolutely can.  :)

Friday
Nov012013

ruler boxes

I love clever ideas.  Especially when they lead to cute & practical things, like these little ruler boxes I found at the Temecula Quilt Company.  I first saw them when I learned about their "S is for Stitch"-along a few weeks back.  Oh my gosh, they are sooooooo cute!

I also love antique things.  When we bought our soon-to-be-previous house I found a few vintage yardsticks tucked away between some studs in the basement framework - decades forgotten by the previous owner with the spider webs to prove it.  I kept them.  The sticks, not the webs.  I know they are still hidden somewhere in the basement (not sure where, exactly).  I'd like to say they will stay there ... but I'm not "ruling out" (hardee-har-har) the possibility of me taking them to our new house and tucking them away somewhere over there.

Happy weekend!  (Mine involves more snow.)

Thursday
Oct312013

happy halloween!

... courtesy of my daughters & the best gluten.free.chocolate.cake.mix ever.

Wednesday
Oct302013

thank you

Wow you guys!  I can hardly believe it.  Thank you so much.  I am both flattered and grateful. 

Maybe now I might start to believe I'm a little better than "just ok" with a camera. ;)  Honestly, I still feel like somewhat of a hack.  I only ever took one photography class once ... and that was over 20 years ago!  My favourite blogs are the ones that grab me by the eyeballs and don't let go - I know you know what I mean.  So I try very hard to give you something pretty to feast on in return.  It's very nice to know I'm getting it right.

But to my eye, there is still room for improvement and I will keep trying to get better, so you will keep coming back here to visit me. :)

Monday
Oct282013

almost finished ...

Just got THIS back from my longarmer.

In a word ... Eeeeeeeep! :)

I will show you LOTS of photos once I get the binding done, which won't take long because we just had our first snowfall yesterday (I know) and I'm in the mood to do little else but cozy things ... and binding a big quilt is just that very sort of thing.

Excuse me, but Netflix beckons.

Friday
Oct252013

persimmon & bordeaux

I know, I know.  More of my round pencil cases.  It's just that they are so fun for me to make.  And I really do prefer making gifts that are practical. 

You may be a little surprised to see these decidedly non-shabby chic colours here in pinkaqualand.  But I tailor the colours to suit the recipients. 

Besides, it's full-on Fall around here.  The ground is blanketed with layers of fallen leaves and I'm quite enjoying the warmth of these rich colours at the moment.  I even indulged myself last week with a very cozy, plum coloured, super-fine merino wool cardigan. 

Happy weekend!

Wednesday
Oct232013

what's pink & white & aqua all over?

The January Blogger's Choice Bundle I got to put together for Fat Quarter Shop!  You can sign up here to be notified when it's available.

Quick ... somebody pinch me! :)