Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Weeks 1-4

This fabulous Farmer's Wife Quilt Along (FWQAL) started earlier this month and ... well ... I just couldn't help myself.  I've never done a quilt along before and after reading about it here and here (and then again here - Monica, someone owes you a toaster-oven!), I was totally hooked.  It seems like so much fun I just have to play along.

I'm making my blocks 4-1/2" instead of 6" (finished).  My best friend tells me I'm very annoying when I do stuff like that.  She thinks I have a problem with authority.  What can I say, I like little!   ;) 

I actually started making 3" blocks - and they were just so "oh-my-stars" fabulously teeny weeny - but because the fabrics I'm using have more larger scale prints, I was running into trouble with "blotchiness" - especially with the really small pieces ...

So I'm settling for 4-1/2". ;)

Now I'm a few weeks behind on FWQAL postings so I'll catch up today and then post the group's planned 2 blocks/week. 

I'm using my beloved Lecien "Flower Sugar" fabric (again) and I've decided to make my blocks in color pairs so every week will have a different color theme.  Here's what I've done so far.

Week 1 - All the colors - blue, green, yellow, pink, red (my plan is to use red as just an accent here and there) and white.

#73 - Rainbow Flowers

I'm not sure why the pattern had these 3 corner squares made in the same fabric as the adjoining rectangles.  So, I didn't follow the color placement from the book (I do that a lot).  I like how this block turned out.

#43 - Garden Path

I followed the book's fabric placement this time and I just love it. 

Week 2 - Pink, Green & Red

#1 - Attic Windows

#16 - Calico Puzzle

I'm really liking the gingham here and the pinwheel effect.

Week 3 - Pink ;)

#19 - Checkerboard

I love checkerboards.  I really do.

#111 - Churn Dash

Week 4 - Blue, Yellow & Red

#21 - Contrary Wife

I used to have blue & yellow Laura Ashley wallpaper in my kitchen until we renovated a few years ago.  These blocks make me miss my old kitchen ...

#10 - Bow Tie

Yeah, I kinda went way off track with placement here.  No bowtie to be seen.  But I love this block!


Project Simplify - Giveaway Winner

Hello hello!  Hope you had a great weekend.  I'm still alive ... the Harrier mosquitos didn't quite suck me dry. ;)

Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment.  I read every single one and I so enjoyed hearing which quilts you loved most.  Seems like Moonlight and Flower Garden are the favorites.  But so is the Sugar Rush bag - which I didn't even think anyone would mention - but you guys are so awesome to say!   Thanks. ;)

Ok, here are the winners:

The "Little Ruby" pillow (cushion) cover goes to Lisa in Texas.

And the Ruby Layer Cake goes to Tami.

Congratulations ladies! 

Tomorrow I've got something I've been DYING to share with you.  I'll give you a hint.  It's initials are FWQAL ...


Project Simplify - Giveaway

Don't you all think it's time for me to have another Project Simplify giveaway?  Yeah, me too!  ;)

I mean, this project is all about Camille's book, right?  And she & her mom design fabric, right?  And Camille did give me this very fabric that I used to make this pillow cover.  I think my "Little Ruby" pillow here would love to live with a Project Simplify reader. 

From Bonnie & Camille's pretty imaginations, to Camille's sewing room, to my sewing machine, to your home.  I like that idea very much.

So, if you'd like a chance to win this pillow (cover only, not the filler) ...

Wait.  Hang on a sec.  I'm not done.  The comments some of you left on Wednesday that reminded me Ruby wasn't yet available in stores got me to thinking. 

See, Camille ALSO gave me this yummy Ruby layer cake.  Cause she's just that nice.

I WAS going to keep it for myself.  But now I feel all guilty that I've had a chance to play with Ruby and you haven't.  (Plus I still have a FQ bundle for myself.)  So I'm going to share like my mother taught me and offer it as a second giveaway!

So here's the deal.

Two separate giveaways.  First name drawn wins the pillow cover.  Second name drawn wins the Ruby layer cake.

To enter, leave a comment telling me your favorite quilt or pillow from Project Simplify so far and why you like it.

Comments will close 9:00 pm EST (North America) on Monday, June 27th and I'll announce the winners on Tuesday the 28th.

Good luck, everyone and enjoy the first weekend of summer!  I'll be busy fending off mosquitos that are this big ...

Seriously.  I might need a transfusion by Sunday.


Project Simplify - Day 36

The last pillow for the week is called Happy-Go-Lucky and is based on the quilt from the next chapter. 

I was ready to tackle a new FMQ (free-motion quilting) design and thought what better way to practice than on a little pillow?


When I bought this book and became inspired to learm FMQing, one of the designs Camille mentions is called "Stones" (also known as Pebbles - I think the size determines the name) and she used it here.

Now, you may be surprised to learn this about me, but I tend to be quick to judge.  Sometimes a little too quick.  (That disturbance in the force you just felt was the collective eye-rolling & head-nodding by everyone who knows me well.)  I'm notorious for dismissing new things at first glance.  What can I say?  I'm a work in progress. ;)

See, I've seen Stones before and it doesn't really ring my bell.  I mean, it's rocks - not to be confused with "it rocks".  Rocks are rugged, hard, dirty and ... well ... they're just not what I would call pretty.  (Diamonds don't count, by the way.)  I remember thinking that in my mission to learn FMQing, I was NEVER doing Stones. 

Now, feeling a little sheepish, I confess that for some reason unbeknownst to me, I got the urge to try it.  Go figure.


Camille suggests starting out by practicing with pen & paper.  Kay. 

Fine.  Easy.  (Boring.)

I was always the student in class who would listen to the very beginning instructions and then miss everything else - usually important stuff - because I was so anxious to get going already!  (Then I'd get in trouble ... )


Practice with real fabric.  Oh goodie!

Attempt #1:

(Insert hysterical laughter here.  No, seriously, go ahead!  I let any pride fall away from me since the last time I tried a new FMQ technique.  I am now officially immune to abject humiliation.)

Clearly, I lost something from the pen to the needle.  Hmmm.  Let's look online for a video, shall we?

Ok.  Got it.  Avoid thread play (go over previous stitches EXACTLY). 

Attempt #2:

Hmmm.  Not much better. 

Let's watch the video, like, 20 more times...

Dude!  What happened?  Something just seems to have clicked here!  (Again, the trick for me is to SLOW DOWN.)

I'm telling you, making these Stones kinda freaks me out.  It's weird how it looks so ... organic ... and it just sorta ... happens.  Bizzare.  And yet very, very cool, I have to admit.

So here's the pillow.

Totally awesome, right?!

It did take quite a while to FMQ - almost 2 hours - an eternity compared to loops or a grid.  The lady in the video wasn't kidding when she said this design is best for SMALL areas. 

I guess rocks do rock after all!


Project Simplify - Day 35

Today's pillow is called Dream Big. 


When I was trying to decide on fabric for this pillow, it suddenly occurred to me - what would Project Simplify be without some Bonnie & Camille fabric?  Oh how I love that feeling when inspiration hits.  Sometimes it really does feel like lightning!

In fact, Lady Camille herself gave me this fabric at Market.  (My cup really does runneth over ...)


I adore making checkerboards.  And when I'm making something - either from a pattern or working freestyle - I always seem to look at fabrics as darks & lights.  Because this little baby charm pack didn't have enough squares for the pillow requirements, I thought I'd supplement with white. 

Ah, white.  I love white.  I really do.  I'd say 95% of the quilts I've ever made for myself have white in them.  (And the ones that didn't have white have all been given away!)  My kitchen is white, my bathroom is white, all the wood trim in my house is painted white, all my sheets & towels are white ... (I think you get the picture).

So here's "Little Ruby" ... on a white chair ...  ;)

By the way, if you didn't know, this line of fabric was named after Camille's grandmother.  Isn't that just the sweetest homage ever?  Telling me something like that when I have PMS can make me cry ... just sayin'.

I struggled a bit on the fabric for the inner border.  At first I wanted a nice vivid red.  But the truth is  A)  I would have had to butcher a FQ from my big Ruby bundle and  B)  I was already somewhat traumatized from using up my cutie little baby charm pack  (sniff ...)

Sorry, but I just wasn't emotionally ready for that.  ;) 

So white it is.  I honestly do like how it makes the checkerboard float.

I copied the top-stitching design idea from the book.  Super easy.  I think I like it because it's sort of a modern take on my (yawn) cross-hatch.

Have I become, like, so totally annoying with my cross-hatch this and cross-hatch that?  Sorry.  I guess I'm just so surprised at how limiting my "repertoire" was until I took on my FMQ challenge.

I mean, don't get me wrong.  I ADORE cross-hatching.  I really really do.  But because it was the ONLY thing I ever did, now that I'm trying out new things and learning FMQing, I feel a lovely sense of freedom, and ... choice.  That's it.  I have more options now.

Oh, and one more thing - you might want to check back here with me on Friday ... ;)


Project Simplify - Day 34

Pillow #2 is based on the "Coming Home" Quilt.

I had a few charm squares left over from the quilt and thought a pillow would make a nice compliment to the table topper (my helper has informed me she's keeping it ...)

I chickened out on the top-stitching (again) and did the 'ole cross-hatch.  But I regret it now.  Because the quilt & pillow don't have the same finish, they don't quite look like a set to me.

Oh well, they're so easy to make I'll do another one - properly, this time. :)

And I did my sneaky pieced back again.  It works like ... a charm! 

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)


Project Simplify - Day 33

Dear Readers,

This post originally contained the word "schwack".  Now, I grew up with the word meaning "lots and lots" and have used it often - with that definition - since I was a little girl.  But it was just brought to my attention that this word in the Urban Dictionary means something VERY different ... and offensive.  My deepest apologies if you thought I was being rude or disrepectful in any way.

Sincerely, K

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Welcome to Pillow Week everybody!

I'm very excited  - 4 quick, easy & fun projects in one week so let's get started.

The first pillow is a derivative of the last quilt I made - "Spot On".

Now, I COULD have made this pillow with the same fabrics as the quilt, but I just so happened to have a HUGE pile of "Simplicity" (a line by 3 Sisters for Moda) charm squares that I knew would be perfect for this pillow and I'm ready to use up some of these squares I've been hoarding for - what - three years?  Four years?  Too long.

I fussy cut the middle circle - it says "Family". 

And I really liked doing the swirly twirly FMQ on this pillow.  (Yay me!)

I strayed from the instructions a little here so I could use up even more charm squares by piecing them together to make the pillow back. 

Notice how I matched the squares that overlap?  (S.M.R.T.  that's me!)

Hmmm, what else can I make with these pretty squares? 

Told ya I had a huge pile!


Happy Father's Day

Go get the man (men, boys) in your life and tell them a quilt blog has a Father's Day gift for them.

Watch to the very end.

May the force be with you. ;)


Project Simplify - Day 32

Okay.  It's official.  "Moonlight" is a keeper. 

Blue is his favorite color and there are soooo many pink & girly quilts in this house.  The guy deserves one that ... well ... he likes for reasons OTHER than because his wife made it.

So much for going traditional with this quilt ... despite using prints like a fine houndstooth, classic acanthus leaf, delicate florals and a sweet plaid, this quilt looks really modern to me. 

About the name - my helper & I talked about where you can draw inspiration from when choosing a name.  We focused on the colors & shapes.  I suggested "Arctic Circles", but she's only in Grade 2 and informed me that, "I haven't learned anything about that in school yet, Mummy."  Her sister suggested "Dancing Circles", but again the assistant explained to us - with all possible conviction of an 8 year old - that didn't make any sense AT ALL because the straight lines in the quilt would not allow any dancing to go on.  (I love hearing their thought processes .. kids are so funny!)

So "Moonlight" it is.

I had quite a bit more back-piecing to do for this one than the previous two Project Simplify quilts.  I just used up a bunch of fabric pieces that came in the "Glace" kit.  (Yay!)

Next week ... pillows!


Project Simplify - Day 31

I made a few last minute fabric changes with this quilt. 

First, I had to banish the paisley print.  This post I wrote a while back will explain why. 


Too bossy.

Second, I planned to use this pretty print for the border. 

I thought it would frame the quilt nicely.  But when I got to the border part, I found it too overpowering. 

The cream just looked waaay better.

Ya know, this is one of the things I love about quilting.  You start off thinking you're in charge, but somewhere along the way the quilt takes over and starts telling YOU what it wants to look like.  Then you have a choice: either obey the quilt and do what IT wants you to do, OR be stubborn, ignore it and then have it hate you for the rest of it's life (and you it). 

I have chosen wisely ...


Project Simplify - Day 30

Geez, I had a string of bad luck with this quilt!  (All me, NOT the book!)

First, my border piece was short by about 2 inches.   (Because I'm using yardage that may have been previously cut, sometimes I have to wing it.)

Then this ... my bobbins ran out with, what, 3 feet to go?

And this ... my binding was short by, what, an inch?

And then this!  What are the odds of a binding seam landing exactly on a corner? 

No, seriously.  Anyone know how to calculate odds?  Six seams, 4 corners, 280”  ...  I really want to know!

As you've probably noticed by now, I retreated to the safety of my boring cross-hatch topstitching for this quilt.  I know, I know.  But I really like how it compliments the diagonal sashing and contrasts with the circles.  Ok, plus I needed to soothe my ego a little after the last chapter. ;)  I promise to get back in the saddle for the next quilt.

I went with blue thread because I like how it gently pops on the cream background.  My other choice was cream thread, but then I'd have these weird lines - only in one direction - on the sashing. 

And red thread would have been too Amityville Horror for me.  (I read the book when I was about 13 ... I'm still traumatized!)


It's What I Do

This is what I like to do for little girl birthday gifts instead of buying toys or loot bags.

Fabric is from the Flower Sugar FQ bundle by Lecien I got at Quilt Market last month.

Whenever my girls attend a birthday party (either as a guest or the hostess) I ask them to find out what the other girls' favorite colors are and I make something special for each with their initial.  You can't imagine how happy I was that the favorite colors turned out to be red, yellow & blue - no two colors the same -and that the Flower Sugar bundle had these fabrics!  (But I was surprised there wasn't a pink girl in the group ...) 

The pink for the monogram came from my scrap bin and matches the pink in the prints almost exactly.

I'll show you what they turn into when I've got them done.


Project Simplify - Day 29

(Sigh.)  Time for a cup of tea ...

This happens to me once in a while when my hand accidentally moves the stitch selection wheel on my machine as I'm shoving a large quilt through.

I think there's a way I can lock the machine from doing this, but that would A) require me to remember how to do it or B) dig out my manual  ...

Me pick PINK! ;)


Project Simplify - Day 28

I'm a cheater.  And I'm not afraid to admit it.

Yes, sometimes I look for the easy way out and bend the rules a bit.  In this case, I'm talking about the circle template for Spot On.  It requires enlarging.  I don't mind.  I'm lucky to have a printer/fax/copier thingy here at home. 

But I was thinking more about my little helper and making tracing easy for her.  So instead of making a template as per the pattern, I rooted around my kitchen for something round.  The best I could do was a plate that's about 1/4" smaller than the actual template.

It was so easy for her to use.  (Yes, that's a Laura Ashley saucer!)

I don't think the quilting police will come and arrest me because the circles are a smidgen smaller than the pattern said.  

But in case they do - and you'd like to make my prison stay more comfortable - I like Ghirardelli brownies (with chopped walnut, if you don't mind), Irish Breakfast tea and Japanese craft books & magazines

Thanks in advance.


Logic is TOTALLY Overrated

So.  My husband was at Costco the other day and came across two women & a toddler, who was sitting in the cart. 

Halfway through the store the little one got antsy and started demanding her freedom. 

The mom said, "You have two choices:  either sit here in the cart, or let your Aunt carry you."

Little's response?   "Me pick PURPLE!"

Next time someone offers me two unacceptible options, I'm picking PINK!


Project Simplify - Day 27

Well, after MUCH fabric play & yardage consideration (I kept running into the "crap, I don't have enough of that fabric" problem) I surprised myself by going with this two-color grouping which is mostly Roman Holiday, and the blue and cream tonals from Glace - another 3 Sisters Christmas line (the same line Camille used for this quilt in the book) that came in a kit I've had for a while.

I mean, I love two-tone quilts and I really love this smokey blue-gray & cream combo (with little hits of red!).  But for some reason I was trying really hard to use the entire Roman Holiday line. 

For years I'd walk into a store, see a quilt and want those.exact.fabrics to make it for myself.  I had trouble imagining quilts in different colors.  I know lots of other quilters struggle with the same issue.  Let's face it, fabric ain't cheap and making quilts - especially big ones - is an investment in both time & money.  And believe me, I've made my fair share of costly "experimenting with fabric" mistakes.

I'm still not the world's best fabric picker for quilts.  I really admire people who can walk through a quilt store, "cherry pick" bolts from all over the place and put together a fabulous fabric collection for a quilt. More often than not, I rely on a fabric line when I make a quilt.  But time and experience has made me a little more comfortable & confident with my personal fabric likes & dislikes.

Plus - just a personal goal - I'd like most of the quilts I make for Project Simplify to look at least a little - and preferably a lot - different from the ones in the book, if only for those of you who are still learning to visualize quilts in different fabrics.  Maybe you'll be inspired to give future quilt designs a second look if they're made up in colors & prints that don't appeal to you.  You just might find an unexpected treasure!


Project Simplify - Day 26

Chapter Five - The halfway mark!

I really like this quilt - Spot On. 

Remember Donnie & Marie Osmond's hit "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock & Roll?"  This quilt - to me - is a little bit traditional, a little bit modern.  The large graphic circles strike me as contemporary, but the sashing & on-point set of the blocks reads traditional.  I think you could tip the balance either way with the fabric selection.

I'm going traditional with this fabric collection from a few years ago by 3 Sisters for Moda called Roman Holiday.  I'm a sucker for a good Christmas fabric line and 3 Sisters - more often than not - has me at "Hello". ;)

I made this quilt by Bunny Hill a few years ago for the shop and most of the fabric was from this collection.  It was so pretty I had to buy the FQ bundle (plus yardage, of course) for myself.

I also made this little wall hanging (my own design) a few years ago.  I hang it over my kitchen sink at Christmas time.  Kinda cute, no?

Hmmm, what a surprise ... it's cross-hatched.


Project Simplify - Day 25

I'm pleased to introduce you to "Flower Garden".

Sooooo pretty, isn't she?  Wish I'd had her for Easter.

The pain of top-stitching this quilt is but a distant (ok, not that distant) memory.  I really am glad, (and maybe kinda sorta a little bit proud) that I stuck with it.

We did have a little boo-boo.  Remember that thing I have about not letting the same print "touch"?  My helper & I have absolutely NO idea how this happened!

Oh well ;).

For the back, I still had some of the Robyn Pandolph I used for the last quilt back.  If I'd planned things out a little better, I'd have saved it all for this one - because the quilt top is mostly Robyn and I just like doing little things like that - but never mind.  I took a bit more yardage from my shelf (yay!) to complete the back.

Stash Redux:

  • Yardage - 3.7 yds / 3.3 m
  • Weight - 1 lb / 0.5 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 39.6 yds / 36.1 m
  • Weight - 13.6 lbs / 7.4 kg

Wow, can you believe it?  I'm halfway through the book!  Five quilts done - four more quilts & four pillow covers to go!


Oops, I Did it Again!

Ever since Camille gave me permission to blog my way through her fantastic book Simplify, I've been trying to think of a way to thank her. 

So when she mentioned how much she liked this bag I made based on her quilt pattern "Sugar Rush", I absolutely insisted on making one for her and I asked her to pick the fabrics.

Hmmm, I wonder what she chose ...

I'm off to the post office now! ;)


Project Simplify - Day 24

Kay.  You'd think I'd be used to making a fool of myself.  I admit it's getting easier, but still ...

See, when it comes to all things quilting I usually can pick up a new skill relatively quickly.  I think that must be why I love quilting so much - it's one of a VERY few things I can do well with little or no practice.  And I really thought that with the amount of time & effort I've invested already on this particularly elusive element of quilting, I'd be a lot further along by now.

Here's the latest damage ... (wimper).

This is supposed to be a neat, symmetrical design.  Not this wonky, amoeba-shaped ... mess!

It LOOKS so easy to do ... why can't I GET this?

I had a little (ok, an embarrassingly huge for someone my age) tantrum - which I kept on the inside, but let me tell you I was craaaaabby!  I thought, "Keep trying, you'll get better."  I didn't. 

I once heard that the definition of insanity was repeating the same action but expecting different results.  Well, it's official.  I'd gone banana-nuts-crazy.

But after, like, an hour of unpicking all 12 of these very badly stitched designs (seems my helper has lost interest in the job for the moment - I think I burnt her out), possibly a few bad words and an imaginary blog post in which I shamefully admit defeat, a light bulb came on.  I thought of trying a new tactic - s.l.o.w.i.n.g d.o.w.n.

And suddenly ... voila!

Still not as good as I'd like, but waaaaay better than when I started. 

But here's the thing ...

You know that saying "Can't see the forest for the trees"?  In this case, I think it means that if you look too closely at the details, the occasional imperfections that exist on a tiny scale can ruin your ability to appreciate a perfectly decent quilt.

This happens to me a lot - when I'm making something, I notice every.little.mistake.  But more often than not when it's all bound, washed and in situ, the little "blemishes" disappear into the overall loveliness of what I made with pretty fabrics and a pretty design and then, well ... just never mind the trees, I love the forest!

Here's a look at all three FMQ designs together in the quilt.

So if it's not too arrogant, I think I'll give myself a C+ or B- for execution ... ok, maybe a B ;) ... but a big fat A for effort! 

I can pretty much guarantee that I TOTALLY would have given up on FMQing by now if it wasn't for Project Simplify.  Thank you Camille for graciously giving me permission to blog my way through your book.  I know it was a big leap of faith on your part to let me - a virtual stranger with a fledging blog - use your book this way. 

And thanks to all you quiet and vocal visitors for hanging out here with me.   Your advise, encouragement & support mean so much to me.

I'm feeling much better now. :)