Entries in Project Simplify (69)


Project Simplify - Day 7

After a little deliberation I settled on these four prints for the blocks, a stripe for the inner border & a large print for the outer border. 

To help my little assistant & I know which fabrics we're talking about as we build the blocks and lay out the quilt, she named the block prints as follows from top to bottom:

  • Pink Funky Roads
  • Kisses
  • Funky Hearts
  • Daisies

What's with all the "funky"?  Especially for an 8 year old?  I don't think funky is part of the vernacular for today's youth - unless I'm your mom.  And we played this game every afternoon when big sister was in Grade 1 because that's the only way I could bribe you into having a nap with me.

And I started calling these two images Funky Flowers & Funky Pony because I grew up with film classics like this and chart-toppers like this

In that case, not only is funky part of your vernacular, it's practically genetic!

(Whoa, was THAT ever an unexpected trip down memory lane.  Anyone else as grateful as I am that white satin jumpsuits are no longer in style?)


Project Simplify - Day 6

All right, is everyone ready for Chapter 2?  Let's go!

I made this quilt several weeks ago for my friend’s fundraiser and I have to say I don’t mind one little bit making it again ...

... this time using girly fabrics!  The Lizzie Collection by Anna Griffin

I bought this adorable FQ bundle – on impulse – at Quilt Market Minneapolis 2010 Sample Spree with my younger daughter in mind (let’s just all admit that ANY Sample Spree purchase is impulse!)

I've already used some of the fat quarters - she chose them for this year’s backpack (and of course she took all the pinks!).  But I still have plenty of fabric to work with here.


Since I don’t have any full yardage from this fabric line I’m adding a pink - Simplicity by 3 Sisters - for the background.  I’ve had it for about 3 years.  And I'll need to be a little resourceful for the borders (I have an easy solution for those).

I really love this pink and am feeling just ever so slightly panicked about using it ‘cause, you know, I only have like maybe 5 metres or so left … (give your head a shake, girl!  Not like there will never be another pretty pink fabric made ever again!!)

One last thing - I have a little idea floating around in my head involving these yummy trims.  If you're at all familiar with Camille's designs you will know where I'm going with it ... :)


Project Simplify - The Winner Is ...

(I know, I know.  I could have used a random number generator.  But this was way more fun!)

 ... Lisa L!  And to everyone who participated in my first giveaway - seriously - thank you for not letting me look like a total blogging doofus :)

Now, I didn't mention before that I still had leftovers because I didn't know what to do with them. 

That is until I read Julianne's lovely comment about making a quilt for her local Children's Hospital.  Julianne, I'm sending these leftovers to you!

One last thing, I just want to say how sincerely grateful I am to every single one of you who've found me here are willing to spend some of your time keeping me company.  I really do appreciate it.


Project Simplify - Giveaway

Look what accidentally happened to the leftovers!

How about a giveaway to celebrate a successful first Chapter? My helper & I would love to find a good home for this little package.  Just leave me a comment saying ... well ... anything nice, and you'll be entered to win.

This giveaway includes:

  • fabric requirements - precut by yours truly - to make the same quilt top I made with one little change:  the background fabric is red paint spatters instead of the multi-colored flowers (but still from the same fabric collection)
  • extra yardage (red checkers) in case you'd prefer to make regular binding instead of the raw-edge
  • a little label - also from the same collection - that says "Memories are made of this"

It does NOT include:

(My home is smoke/pet free ... unless you consider dust bunnies pets ... then I have a few.)

Comments will close 9:00 pm EST (North America) on Sunday, April 10th and I'll announce the winner Monday morning on the 11th.

(I'm very excited about this - my first giveaway.  But also kinda nervous.  If no one enters, I'll give the prize to a local guild so they can make up the quilt and donate it to a charity of their choice.)


Project Simplify - Day 5

Backing, binding & naming.  Boring?  I think not!

I'm a back piecer for a few reasons:

  • I use up leftovers of almost any size (which helps on cost)
  • I like how it gives the quilt a little extra personality
  • It makes for a nice surprise - almost like a two-sided quilt

You like?

I tried a new technique ala Simplify - raw edge binding.  I hadn't heard of it before and when I looked at the pictures was reminded of rag quilts.  Now I don't have anything against rag quilts per se, they're just not my thing.  But I did see a pretty nice one lately that's got me thinking a little differently about them - as has this binding technique.

So I was open to trying something new.  Know what?  It was super easy.  And if you're going for a casual, fun look this is definitely worth considering.  See?  (I l.o.v.e. scrappy binding.  Love, love, love it.)

When you're making, say, a baby quilt or don't have much time to make a little gift, a technique like this is great to have in your repertoire - no binding to hand stitch is a real time-saver.  It only takes a few extra minutes to de-fray the fray ;) .  (Right now I'm wishing I was a talented fibre artist so I could make something cool with this pretty mass of thread instead of just throwing it out!)

Now, what's in a name? 

If you've ever had the honour of naming a living being (human or animal), you've felt the weight of such responsibility (at least that's what it was like for me ... twice!)  Thankfully, a quilt won't resent you when it's a teenager.  I always name my quilts.  It's a reward for me.  But I wanted my helper to have the fun and without hesitation she chose "Summer Day".


Alright.  Let's see where we are.

  • Make quilt in Chapter One for charity - check!
  • Tackle free-motion quilting - check!
  • Have fun with daughter - check!
  • Meet lots of super-cool new people in bloggyland - checkity check check check!

Stash Redux:

  • Weight loss - 4.64 lbs  or  2.11 kgs 
  • Yardage loss - 8.14 yds  or  7.44 m

Tomorrow I have a little surprise for you.


Project Simplify - Day 4

The bad news: 

Grrr #1 - I hate it when this happens (the edge of the quilt got caught underneath while I was top-stitching and I had to take the stitches out and redo that little bit).  If this has never happened to you, I'm totally jealous.  If you know how to stop it from happening, please tell me!  It happens to me too often.

Major Grrr #2 - Not sure how this happened - probably when I had my piles lined up on my sewing table.  We would have FOR SURE noticed these two blocks with the same square of fabric next to each other while we were doing the big layout on the floor - my helper was very diligent.

The good news: 

Yay #1 - Thank you so much everyone for your advise and tips.  They really helped.

Yay #2 - I did it!  I free-motioned the entire quilt!  Wohoo!  It was so much fun, once I just relaxed and found my groove.  Apparently, part of my technique requires my tongue to copy the movement of my hands - outside my mouth.  Or for my lips to purse tightly and prevent my tongue from escaping altogether.  Who said quilting was attractive?

(One of several little oopsies that I'm daring to show you.)

While I was machining, my girls noticed right away that I was doing something different and they were quite interested.  I even had a little audience for a while, which was nice.  "It looks like you're scribbling with your sewing machine," they said.  I agreed.  It felt like I was scribbling.

But now in my house "Loops" is officially renamed as "Swirly Twirly".  THAT'S a great name.  Thanks, girls!

This block is in the last part of the quilt that I "Swirly-Twirlied" so it's much better than the first corner (above). 

It reminds me of the quilt I made when I was learning how to hand-quilt.  You can really tell which was the first block I did and which was the last. 

I like the "historical" aspect of it - seeing where I began and where I ended up.  Do you have a project (quilt or otherwise) like that lying around to remind you how much you've improved at something?

So, not exactly blue-ribbon-quality but a respectable job, if I do say so myself.   I'm happy to report that I'm encouraged by these results and can't wait to freestyle the next quilt!


Project Simplify - Day 3

Ok.  I'm DE-TER-MINED to get this free-motion thing down.  The book just makes it seem so easy-peasy, lemon squeezy.  (Don't know what free-motion quilting is?  Here's a quick video.)

History:  I got my first sewing machine for my 15th birthday.  I loved it.  I set it up in my bedroom and used it a lot.  It was great for sewing a straight line but I could forget about reversing, buttonholes, major thickness (as in quilted bags).  At the time I didn't fully comprehend the severe limitations of my machine. 

I took a machine-quilting class (in like 1993) but my results were as crappy as my machine and I just assumed I was a genetically lousy free-motioner.  The end.  Not in the cards for me. 

In about 2004 I got a really sweet Pfaff and I went from being an "ok" sewer to ... if I may say so ... a really good one.  My machine can do almost anything I ask it to - except make my morning cup of tea :).  There is definitely something to be said for using good tools.

So when I tried free-motion again I was better than before, but not perfect.  And there's the problem (another one ... ) - I'm a perfectionist.  That DOESN'T mean I think I'm perfect.  It means I loathe not being able to do things perfectly and if I can't nail it on the first or second try, I'd rather give up.  I know, I know, totally immature and not very attractive.  But I'm working on it.  I'm trying to be ok with "my best at the time" instead of "the best or nothing at all".

Blah, blah, blah.  Enough about that.  Back to the quilt already!

In the book, this quilt is top-stitched with classic stippling.  I was introduced to it  as “dog-boning”.  I don’t know if it's the name or what (why couldn't it have been called "Feather in the Wind" or "Wandering Fairy" or even "Toddler at the Park"?), but it never really excited me.  Now loops - that's a style I can get behind!  Funny, there isn’t much difference between the two but for some reason I just prefer the look of loops.   So this is the first design I'm attempting.

I had four leftover blocks (on purpose) so I sewed them together to use for practice.  But free-motioning didn’t get off to a good start.  First, I forgot to tighten a screw and the foot fell off, breaking a needle. 

Then this ...

(Deep breath.)  It’s NEVER a good day when you need this ...

But a minor tension adjustment later and I was back on track ... sort of.

Here's a bit of my practice swatch.  (Please don't laugh too hard - you have no idea what it took for me to show you this!) 

I felt like my brain had zero control over the operation - lots of involuntary jerking & zagging - and possibly (probably) the occasional bad word.   I know my stitch length needs work.  Some places have a distinct "connect the dots" look.  I gotta get used to the concept of pedal to the metal, which according to my manual is the secret.

Clearly more practice is required. 

I hate practicing. 

(Someone please cue the violins ... )


Project Simplify - Day 1

Hello, hello!  If you missed Friday's introduction check here and you'll be up to speed :)

When I first thought about doing this project, I saw my quilts looking quite different from those in the book.  My stash has a “shabby chic” flavour.  I definitely gravitate towards soft, light fabrics.  The more pink, the better. 

But I do have a few stacks of brights and settled on this collection to make “Square One”, which is similar to the American Jane - "Snippets" used in the book.

I bought this happy fabric when it first came out in 2007.  I’m a big Susan Branch fan (fabric, patterns & scrapbooking stickers/paper/stamps) and was excited when this line came out. 

I bought almost every print and planned to make this & this – one for each of my girls.  Well, I did make the red one - for the quilt shop where I work - but then I don’t know what happened.  Guess I'd satisfied my red pinwheel craving.  (Although thanks to Carrie's post last week, I think I feel a new craving coming on!)

Love these cute little quotes on the selvedges. 

From top to bottom they read:

  • It’s believing in roses that make them bloom.
  • The strongest of all warriors are these two:  Time & Patience.
  • Creativity is really the structuring of magic.
  • No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.
  • Today, if you’re not confused, you’re just not thinking clearly.

And my personal favorite:

  • "Stay” is such a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary.

I just added it to my sidebar.  (Thank you Susan!)

In my defense, I have made a few things with this fabric.  A couple of years ago my girls were taking an art class and needed something for their pastels & charcoals etc.  So I made these little bags which have become their Nintendo DS storage/travel cases.


Every year, I make my girls a new backpack for school.  When I first started (in 2005), I was in charge of fabric selection.  But that control didn’t last long.  Soon they wanted to choose and the conversations would go something like this:

Her:   “Mommy, can I have this fabric?”

Me:  “No, I just bought that.”

Her:  “What are you going to make?”

Me:  “I don’t know yet.”

Her:  “How about this?”

Me:  “No, I have plans for that fabric.”

Her:  “This?”

Me:  “No (can’t come up with a good reason and she doesn’t understand the concept of hoarding yet).  How about this?  This is really pretty, don’t you think?

Her:  “No, I don’t like it.” 

Then we’d go to the fabric store and buy something they liked.   I think you're starting to understand why my stash is out of control ...

This year my 9 year old finally wanted this fabric for her backpack and I made a lunch bag with matching placemat too.


But that backpack & lunch kit didn’t make much of a dent.  Let’s see what making a quilt will do ... :)


"Project Simplify"

Hello & welcome to “Project Simplify” – my plan to:

  • reduce my fabric stash (& finally learn how to free-motion quilt already, I’ve only been quilting for 24 years!) as I
  • make every quilt/pillow in Simplify with my daughters so I can
  • donate (quilts & pillows, not daughters) to help raise money for non-profit organizations and hopefully
  • inspire you to reduce your fabric stash (if you want/need to) for a good cause as I
  • share my journey with you
  • Oh, and there just might be a giveaway or two!

How did I get here? 

Well, to say I’ve become borderline obsessed with Camille’s book lately is an embarrassing accuracy.  I hope you won't think I’m banana-nuts-crazy but - in the interest of full disclosure - I’ve been carrying it around with me everywhere.  (For example, when I had to take my little one to the hospital to deal with this, I wouldn’t leave the house without it – you never know how long a wait you'll have in the Emergency Dept. and I needed something pleasant to pass the time.)  I love the photography and the projects look like so much fun (and pretty, and easy). 

I met Camille at Quilt Market in Minneapolis 2010.  She’s so nice and I’ve been reading her blog since.   I’ve gotten to really like her as a mom, a quilter and a very creative person.  For me, her blog has been a source of beautiful pictures, charming tales of motherhood and general quilting loveliness.

Now, I have a problem.  Well, two.  (Ok, several.  Way too many to mention.  But only two that pertain to this conversation.)

  • I have a hard time making a quilt for myself  “just because”.  My house is too small for a prolific quilter and I’m running out of beds ... and sofas ... and closet space.
  • I’ve been “collecting” pretty fabric for a long time and have this fear of cutting it & sewing it and using it up until it’s all gone and I don’t have it anymore. Clearly this hoarding thing isn’t working for me.  I need to let my fabric fulfill its destiny by making it into quilts for people to love.

Last month I received a request for a fundraiser donation.  I quickly selected some fabric from my shelf and whipped up one of the quilts in the book.  I was done in a few days.  That felt so good – helping a worthy cause, making something from the book and using up fabric I wasn’t ever likely to use for myself. 

A few days later I found myself feeling very stressed (ok, maybe it was a hormonal PMS thing) as I faced the overwhelming task of organizing my fabric.  This is what it looked like AFTER five hours of re-folding & rearranging.  I didn't think to take a before picture.   I would have been too embarrassed to show you anyway.

Obviously, my fabric addiction is way outta hand.  There's more in those boxes, in the cupboards below and under my rather large sewing/cutting table.  Plus the shelves are deep and even more fabric is hiding in behind many of those piles.  I thought, “I reeeeeally need to get rid of some of this stuff.”  Followed by, “Maybe I should make another quilt for the fundraiser.” And then “I really want to make more quilts from Camille’s book.”  These three ideas – and having recently watched the movie “Julie & Julia” - suddenly converged into an idea:  “Project Simplify”.

So here I go.  I’m so excited.  Over the next few months I’ll be sewing my way through the book - starting with Chapter 1 - and sharing with you things like:  when & why I bought fabric, what (if anything) I’ve previously made from it, the process of making each project, the experience of including my daughters (8 & 9 ½), the finished quilts & pillows and whatever else happens along the way.


#1 - NO BUYING FABRIC.  None.  Not even a little FQ.  I must make due with what I have. 

#2 - Get over fear of free-motion quilting and just do it already!  If that means hours of practice (and I hate practicing) then so be it.  I've had it up to here with my safety-net crosshatch!  I really need to expand my top-stitching repertoire.  Seriously.

#3 - Donate at least four quilts and all four pillow covers to fundraising intitatives to raise money for causes that are important to me and/or you, dear audience.

One more thing, just for fun:  I see this project as a "stash diet".   During the marathon five hour tidy-up I was reminded of just.how.heavy fabric is!

And as many of us know, when you go on a diet, both weight & inches are very important things to track.   It’s motivating to see results.  I think it’ll be fun to see how many pounds/kilos & yards/metres (in fabric) I use up. 

Maybe you’ll be inspired to simplify your stash and share your time & talent - as a quilter - for a good cause too.

Wish me luck and I'll see you next week with the first quilt!

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