Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fun with low volume

Hello sewing friends!  I’m pretty excited tonight because this week I received a sweet little wall hanging back from Barb, the LAQ at my local quilt shop, Quilts on Broadway.  I finished the binding lickety-split this evening (the piece is only 12” by 30”), and I have it hanging up already.  I am so happy with how it turned out.

This quilt is based off of the “Crops” block in the book Farm Girl Vintage by Lori Holt (Bee in my Bonnet).  If you read my posts on June 5 and June 19, you know I have been participating in the Farm Girl Vintage Sew Along.  Every week we make two, 6-inch blocks from Lori’s book.  The “Crops” block from week seven was one of my favorites, and Lori’s book included instructions for making a runner.

I had two goals in mind for this runner, which would be a wall hanging for me: 1) to use only scraps from my stash, and 2) to use low volume fabric for the background.  I’ve been going to my stash and scrap piles during the sew along, so I knew I could continue to meet that goal.  But I have not ventured much with using prints for backgrounds, so I knew that would be a stretch for me. I had seen several beautiful projects on Instagram using this technique, so I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go for it.  I’m so glad I did.  It was fun to do something different, and I think the end result is a sweet little quilt with a modern vibe.  I really love it.

From the moment I began working on this little quilt, I knew where I would hang it . . . in this awkward, skinny vertical space in the entry of our home.  But I also knew it might look a bit lonely in that space.  It really needed to be layered with something else to give it some weight.  Lo and behold, after the top was pieced and dropped off at the quilt shop, I found an old window that had the perfect dimensions to frame this little quilt.  Thank you to my shopping buddies (Brenda, Jacki, Mary & Jeanette) who helped me search for just the right window on our Ladies Out Pickin’ day.

By the way, after I typed the word lickety-split, I was curious to see if it was actually a proper word or a nonsensical phrase I had been using since childhood.  The definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “at great speed.”  We sure can bind at great speed when we want to hang up a small quilt, can’t we? ;)

Thanks for reading. I hope you will give low-volume backgrounds a try—you’ll be glad you did!  Here’s hoping you get carried away quilting often!


Note: to hang this little quilt on my window, I just sewed a very small sleeve and inserted a 1/4" dowel, cut to size, and hung that on two suction cup hooks.  Very slick!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coin purse crazy

If you read my blog post on June 12, “Conquering my fear of zippers,” you’ll know that I was quite proud to announce that I had made two zippered pouches . . . a first for me.  Then I got a little crazy and went on to boast that I would run out and buy several more zippers in several colors. I figured I had better be true to my word, so I did just that and put those zippers to good use by making 11 more little pouches.  To all my sewing friends who haven’t tried this yet, I encourage you to give it a whirl.  

After making those first two pouches in June and seeing how much my daughter liked hers, I knew I needed to make something similar for some women in my family.  I set my goal for the end of July, when we would be getting together with my husband’s family on one weekend, and most of my family the next weekend.  I decided I wanted to make a slightly smaller pouch, like a coin purse size, and push myself to be creative using the scraps and bits I had on hand.  It was a very fun process.  I know you would love it too!

Still feeling like a beginner at the pouch making, I wanted to have a pattern on hand to use as my crutch through the process.  I came across a free tutorial from Clover & Violet called “Ruffle Coin Purse.”  The tutorial has tons of pictures and excellent instructions. (Thank you ladies for being my crutch!)  You will want to check out the Clover & Violet website.  They have fabulous bag patterns in all shapes and sizes!

Coin Purse Crazy

Pictured below is the first coin purse I made.  You will see that I didn’t do the ruffle.  I really wanted to make patchwork coin purses in different designs.  But I still followed Clover & Violet's Ruffle Coin Purse” as my guide.  (At the bottom of this post I will include a few notes on how I deviated from their pattern.)

For the second coin purse, I wanted to show off more of the main fabric, so I used three slightly bigger squares of fabric instead of ten tiny squares and added a button just for fun.

After these two coin purses were completed, I was hooked. At that point I began making myself little kits to sew up when I had time.  This may have been the most fun part of the process . . . rummaging through scraps, pulling them together, cutting, and laying them out for later assembly.  I frequently called my daughter over to show her the latest coin purse kit and get her feedback.  She is such a good sport, and she has a very good eye!

The first coin purse took me about an hour and a half to make, but I was taking my time, making notes on my measurements, and mentally preparing to make more.  The remainder of the coin purses went much faster and the end result was so satisfying that I know I will make more in the future.  In fact, I have a little list of people I need to make them for!

I omitted the bottom horizontal piece on this front.
That little camper was just too cute to cut into!

Last weekend I was happy to hand out my treasures to the ladies in my husband’s family, and I will be passing out more this weekend when I see my mom, sister and nieces. I also shipped one off to my cousin’s wife, who is not a quilter, but is dear enough to read my blog and encourage me through her kind words.  While I’m pretty sure these women will enjoy their little gifts, it brought me so much happiness to make them for people I love that it seems like I am the true winner in the situation.  This is one of the reasons that we makers make, isn’t it?

Thanks for reading!  Here’s hoping you get carried away quilting often!


How I customized my coin purses:
(Again, many thanks to Clover & Violet for the tutorial!)
  1. I modified the size to be 5 1/2" by 4 1/2".  (My non-mathematical brain found it easier to divide the front into sections if it was 4 1/2 rather than 4 1/4 as was indicted on the Clover & Violet tutorial.  Please don't laugh.)
  2. Every coin purse front has a top and bottom solid horizontal piece measuring 5 1/2" wide by 1 1/2" tall.  That would leave a a middle horizontal section which needed to end up 5 1/2" wide by 2 1/2" tall.  There are many options for this middle section:
    • a solid piece measuring 5 1/2" wide by 2 1/2" tall
    • (10) 1 1/2" pieces sewn together in two rows of 5, creating a 5 1/2" by 2 1/2" piece
    • Any number (3, 4, 5) vertical pieces that are 2 1/2" tall, and when sewn together into a strip, become 5 1/2" wide.
    • And any other terrific combinations you might come up with!
  3. Instead of using interfacing, I used thin cotton batting. (I like a squishy, plump little coin purse.)  I cut my batting 5" by 4" and used spray adhesive to adhere it to the wrong side of the front panel and back panel so it stayed in place during assembly.  
  4. I added mini handles to each coin purse, using either twill tape, ribbon, or double fold and stitched pieces of fabric.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Seasonal quilts. . . that take several seasons to complete!

Oftentimes, making a quilt is long term commitment.  You really need to be in it for the long haul.  It’s easy to start a project, stop, start again, get interrupted by a smaller project, put it away, take it out, make some more progress, get sick of it, and then stick it back in a drawer.  Especially when, let’s face it, real life has its demands and joys and worries and activities.  It’s kind of a wonder that so many of us stick with it, and that we keep getting carried away by the next project  . . . or by the several current projects we have in the hopper.   Quilters don’t give up.  We just keep buying and planning and sewing, and occasionally finishing things.

This came to mind for me on Memorial weekend as I was rifling through my fabric dresser.  By the way, I do love this little $40 dresser I found at an occasional shop years ago, but I wonder how much longer it will hold my “organized” stash and in-progress projects.  But that is for another blog post, and for another honey-do list.  While rummaging around and trying to get organized, I actually came across a "Spools" quilt top I had pieced last fall.  I truly had forgotten about him.

I really am someone who likes to “sew the season.”  If it’s fall, I want to play with fall fabrics.   When the snow flies, I want to pull out the Christmas fabrics.  And, being a Minnesotan, once January rolls around, I want to bring out all of the pretty pastels and brights and hope they will carry me through until spring arrives, which might not be until May.  This poses a problem though, in that it turns most of my seasonal projects into  “next year” projects.


In November of 2013 I purchased the “Spools” pattern from Fig Tree & Company.  I also purchased from them a small fat quarter bundle which included three yummy butterscotch pieces to get started.  I then visited my local quilt shop, Quilts on Broadway, and picked up a few more fat quarters in butterscotch, black, grey and taupe.  I also pulled several pieces from my own stash.  It was coming together as a lovely, hodge podge of a bundle.  And then I put the whole shooting match in my fabric dresser and let it marinate  . . . FOR ALMOST A YEAR!  ;)


In August of 2014, probably in another fit of organizing my fabric dresser, I came upon the well-seasoned fabrics.  Summer was drawing to a close, school was just a few weeks away, and I had that autumn feeling in my bones.  I don’t think a farm girl ever gets rid of that feeling, no matter how many years she is off the farm.  I pulled out my home-made fabric kit, read through the “Spools” pattern again and figured it was time to get busy.

On August 27, I cut up all the pieces and was thrilled with the look and feel of these colors and patterns combined!  To me the fabrics read as, “Hello Autumn, meet a classy Halloween.”   I know the specific date that I cut up these lovely fabrics, because (as I often do when I get carried away) I shared a picture of my progress with my quilting BFFs from retreat.  ;) 

On September 7, I began assembly line sewing the spool parts and completed 1 of the 64 spool blocks.  Again I shared a progress picture with my dear quilting friends.   (Obviously it was some late night sewing . . . the picture is pretty dark!)

During spare bits of time last autumn, I finished that quilt top. I was so happy with the results.  But the snowy season was upon me, so I tucked the "Spools" top back into the fabric dresser.   And there it sat . . . for several months.


And now we are . . .  back to present time, the summer of 2015 where I have rediscovered this delightful gem and have high hopes that it will be draped over the back of my sofa this fall.  My seasonal project has become a two-year project. But . . . I am determined!!!  
  1. I will find some backing.  
  2. I will get this to the quilter.   
  3. I will complete the binding.
  4. I will have this quilt on the sofa before the trick-or-treaters knock on the door.  
  5. I will update my blog with a picture of the completed quilt. 
There, how’s that for making a quilting commitment?  Whew!  

Thanks for reading.  Here’s hoping you get carried away quilting often! 

Oh, and here’s to completing those seasonal projects within one season! ;)


Saturday, July 18, 2015

My 8-month Aloha Girl journey

My quilting friends all know that I have a particular weakness for anything designed by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree & Co.  Yeah, it might be more than a weakness. It might border on a sickness.  I should probably seek medical attention.  Perhaps there are fabricinitis injections I should be taking!

My ailment was never more apparent than with the latest Fig Tree & Co. fabric release: Aloha Girl.  I have documented my journey here, in hopes that it might help me find a cure.

October 2014
1.         On October 23, 2014, the Fig Tree & Co. blog features a photo of their newest line of fabric, Aloha Girl.  Aptly named, the fabric has a subtly tropical feel, with several soft and citrusy pastels, punctuated by a few designs in a royal blue.  The new line includes both pinks and peaches, both aquas and sky blues, yummy greens and yellows, and of course several creamy background prints. I immediately contract the illness.

2.         My first action that night is to show the husband and the kids. They’ve seen me in this condition before.  They know what to do.  Nod.  Smile.  “Yes, very pretty mom.” Nod and smile some more.

3.         Next up, I text a picture and giddy message to my friend Ibby and my mom.  They both respond with an appropriately high level of genuine enthusiasm, and I love them for it.

4.         Sometime that week, I email the owner of my local quilt shop, Quilts on Broadway. Barb, the owner, is also excited, and wonder of wonders, she invites me to sit in on her next meeting with her Moda Representative so I can see the fabric samples in person.  I may have fainted at that moment. That part is still a bit hazy due to the induced delirium.

November 2014
5.         After work on November 13, I zip up to Quilts on Broadway and sit in on the end of the Moda Rep’s presentation.  What a thrill to see samples of so many beautiful lines yet to be released.  Barb chooses the lines she will order and even encourages me give my two cents. She orders SEVERAL bolts of Aloha Girl and then sends me home with her Moda Piece Fall Market 2014 catalog so I can peruse it in the evenings all winter long.  Anticipated release of Aloha Girl:  March 2015.

6.         I wait.

December 2014
7.         I wait some more.

8.         The Christmas holiday draws closer and I receive some relief for my Fig Tree & Co. ailment by participating in their 12 Days of Christmas sale online.  This provides a temporary respite, but I am still longing for the arrival of Aloha Girl.

9.         On Christmas Eve morning, our little family of four exchanges presents before we gather with our extended families.  My gift from the husband is one of the best I’ve ever received . . . a really awesome gonzo gift certificate to Quilts on Broadway.  YES!!!  Husband of the year award has been secured.

January 2015
10.     I wait.

February 2015
11.     I wait.

March 2015
12.     I wait some more.

13.     On March 19, I receive an email from Barb.  ALOHA GIRL IS IN!! During my work lunch break I head to the quilt shop for a little oohing and ahhhing. I purchase only one charm pack.  There are many decisions to be made, and they must not be taken lightly!

14.     That evening, when the cherubs are away at their activities, I pour a glass of wine and lay out each 5 inch square on the kitchen counter.  I nibble my favorite pepperoni pizza and contemplate . . . Which pattern?  Which project?  Whatever shall I do? I spend at least an hour in this happy circumstance, flipping through patterns and books, auditioning each of them for the Aloha Girl fabric.


15.     I text several pictures to Ibby.  She helps me to narrow down my choices.  I have a plan.  I have several plans in fact!  I am in the throws of a full-blown Aloha Girl fever now.

16.     On the weekend I carry my precious gift certificate to the quilt shop and purchase another charm pack, a couple mini charms (they are so cute after all), a jelly roll, two apron panels, several fat quarters, and several yards of what Barb now calls “Taunja cream.”  Merry Christmas to me.  Thank you dear husband.

17.     The following weekend I quickly whip together a sweet table runner made from three Fig Tree Mini Charms (my new Aloha Girl and two I have been hoarding:  Avalon and Strawberry Fields).  I used the Mini Charm Mix free pattern from Fat Quarter Shop and I love the results of these three lines together.  With some darling dragonfly quilting done by Barb, the runner cheerfully graces my kitchen table. 

18.     That weekend I also break into the jelly roll to begin work on a large Aloha Girl quilt using the County Fair pattern by Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life. This pattern will be a great way to show off the fabric.

April 2015
19.     On April 11-12, I happily attend the same semiannual quilting and scrapbooking retreat I’ve been enjoying for over a decade now, with some of my favorite ladies.   I devote this two-day quilting holiday to working on three mini quilts featuring (naturally) my Aloha Girl stash.  “Stems” is a Fig Tree & Co. pattern.  The other two patterns, “dwell” and “round&round” are Thimble Blossoms by Camille Roskelley. I finish these at retreat and send them off to a fabulous custom quilter who will work her magic on these tiny quilts.
In progress at retreat: round&round mini by thimble blossoms

20.     During free evenings in April, I take my time and continue to work on the “County Fair” quilt. I also begin work on two Aloha Girl aprons which will be Mother’s Day gifts for my mom and mother-in-law.

May 2015
21.     By May 9 the County Fair top is finished and ready to give to Barb at Quilts on Broadway.  As a bonus, I now have several scraps I can use during the Farm Girl Fridays sew along!

22.     Mother's Day arrives and both of the moms receive their Fig Tree aprons.  They are too cute . . .both the moms and the aprons!  I thought this was a fitting gift for both of these lovely women.  My mother-in-law is well known as a fabulous cook, and she just happens to make the best cheesecake . . . the kind where you want to close your eyes when you are eating it, just so you can concentrate on how awesome it is!  And my mom makes the gooiest brownies with the best homemade chocolate frosting.  In fact, we’ve been known to make a pan of the frosting just to eat as a snack.
Linda, my mother-in-law
Brenda, my mom, with my daughter Haley

June 2015
23.     On June 1 Barb calls to tell me she has finished the machine quilting on my County Fair quilt.  I think it turned out fabulous--happy fabric, terrific pattern, beautiful quilting!  My daughter steals it away to the family room before I can even work on the binding! 

24.     On June 27 I receive a small, special package in the mail.  Nancy Gorres of Nancy Jolene Quilting has completed the custom quilting on my three mini quilts, the smallest of which is 11 inches square, and they are OVER THE TOP lovely!  There is so much detail, I just sit and admire them quietly, taking it all in.  I quickly bind them that weekend, and my daughter helps me hang them in the hallway leading to our guest bedroom.  Welcome home guests . . . come and stay a while . . . but you better like quilts! 



Wow . . . that was quite a journey.  We are now well into July, and obviously I am not cured.  I still have the fat quarters, tucked away in a special drawer, awaiting another special project for a special someone.  So apparently, my Aloha Girl affliction will continue.

And then of course, there is the new Fig Tree & Co. fabric, “Farmhouse” being released in a couple of months.  I see a new ailment coming my way.

Friends, it would really help me to accept my predicament if I knew there were others fighting the same battle.  Please share your stories so that we can all take comfort! 

Thanks for reading.  Here’s hoping you get carried away quilting often!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Social media has made me a fabric hoarder

I have decided that social media is entirely to blame for me getting so carried away with quilting.

I don’t think I’m passing the buck or shirking responsibility.  I sincerely think it’s true.  Remember the good old days of quilting . . . back when you maybe knew the names of one or two fabric designers . . . when the inspiration for your next quilt came from a book you might have had on the shelf for several years . . . when you chose fabric without a clue as to the name of the fabric line or the maker . . . and when you bought cotton thread without knowing (or caring) what brand it was?  

I remember those days.  I was a much more relaxed person, so content and oblivious to the big wide world of quilting.  Now I am a quilting social media butterfly.  I am checking Facebook, Instagram, blogs, Twitter and good old fashioned email to stay on top of the latest fabric releases, designer announcements, sew alongs and product information.  I plan projects based on fabrics I have only seen on the computer screen, which maybe won’t be released for months. I have become Instagram friends with lovely women who share my passion, but whose real names I don’t know. My i-phone loses serious battery juice every Friday evening as I check for sew along posts.  I text my best quilting friends several times a week, sending screen shots of things I find that have really sent me over the moon, even though I’m sure they’ve already seen these images during their own social media frenzy.  I am inundated with ideas.  I am blogging.  I have to make lists of all the projects I want to do.  I have to make lists of all the projects I am currently doing to remember what I’m doing.  I am on quilt media overload . . . and let’s be honest . . . I love it!

I was reminded of the power of this social media quilting frenzy the other night when I came across two pieces of fabric I have been hoarding for nearly a year.  Last fall I read a blog article discussing a Japanese fabric designer, Suzuko Koseki.  This led me to some on-line sleuthing to see examples of Koseki’s fabrics.  I will admit, I had never given much thought to fabric designers and the quilting industry outside of the United States.  It was an awakening for me.  Koseki’s fabric designs have a uniquely modern/vintage look.  They are very sweet, a bit nostalgic and the saturated colors are gorgeous.   She uses a lot of unique text prints (recipes, sewing pattern instructions, etc.) which add interest.  I was particularly drawn to a few lines which showed women shopping in Paris and women’s dressmaking patterns.

Prior to reading that blog article, I had never heard of Suzuko Koseki.  Thanks to that blog article, I widened my quilting world viewfinder and just had to get my hands on some Koseki fabric!  I could not find any at my usual shops (local or online), so I went the Etsy route to make my small purchase. 

I was thrilled to receive one fat quarter and one panel of beautiful Suzuko Koseki fabric, all the way from a shop in Singapore.  The fabric was the same price point as fabric in the United States, and the shipping was just over $5.  Tucked inside the package was a sweet little hand written receipt. It tickled me as much as the fabric. See the little note?  It is "Just for Taunja." 

I realize now I have been hanging onto that fabric for nearly a year.  The cornflower blue panel with the pretty shopping girl sporting a beret and bouncy ponytail has been sitting in the top drawer of my fabric dresser, just waiting for me to get my act together. It’s a shame.  It is such lovely fabric.  It needs to be used.  But if there is one thing I have learned in the past two years as a result of my quilting social media butterfly status, it is that favorite fabrics are quickly bought out, leaving disappointed quilters high and dry, with only the pretty online images remaining.  Social media has made hoarders of us all. I just cannot bring myself to cut into this treasured fabric.  

For now, my Koseki fat quarter and panel are back in the fabric drawer, awaiting that special project.  I’m also hanging onto the envelope and hand written receipt because in this crazy, online world, those pieces of paper also make me happy.  I’m sure I will find the perfect project for my Suzuko Koseki fabric very soon . . . probably on Instagram!

Thank you for reading.  If you have any project suggestions for my current dilemma, please let me know!  I hope you also get carried away quilting often!