Friday, January 31, 2020

Bloom-Topia: Release 1

Today I'm revealing my first blocks for the 2020 charity quilt along with Fat Quarter Shop, called Bloom-Topia. I'm thrilled to be one of the guest bloggers for this program which benefits Make-A-Wish of Central & South Texas. I'll be sharing my blocks with you twice a month. Will you join me in sewing along?

Both of the blocks in Release 1 finish at 12 1/2" square and are easy to construct. Remember, the block patterns are free, and they will be released by Fat Quarter Shop twice a month.  We quilters are simply asked to make a donation to Make-A-Wish.  (Links are included at the end of this post, for your convenience!) Here are my blocks:

Release 1: Over and Under Block

Release 1: Bright Futures Variation Block 

The original Bloom-Topia quilt designed by Fat Quarter Shop features the beautiful Summer Sweet fabric collection by Sherri & Chelsi for Moda. Isn't that a gorgeous, sun-kissed quilt?

As you have seen, I will be sewing my own version of Bloom-Topia featuring the earthy Harvest Road collection by Lella Boutique for Moda. For my neutral, I’ve selected Vanilla Grunge (30150 91)

The fabric requirements and pattern release schedule are available as a handy PDF you can print and refer to during the quilt along. Check out the links below to get the full scoop. It's not to late to join in the fun. Until next time, get carried away quilting along! 


Important Links:
Fat Quarter Shop: Release 1 Blocks
My intro post: Bloom-Topia Quilt Along
Jolly Jabber landing page: Bloom-Topia Quilt Along
Donation page: Make-A-Wish
Purchase a kit: Bloom-Topia kit
Purchase a backing set: Backing set kit

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Selecting fabrics for your spring sewing projects

Fabric selection ~ the quilter’s nemesis. Most of us feel some lack of confidence and unease when it comes to selecting fabric for our next quilting project. In fact, it can cause us to stop in our tracks. We purchase pretty new patterns and quilting books, and then they stockpile in our sewing rooms until we muster up some fabric-picking gumption. This is probably why so many of us love to purchase kits. Someone else has done the hard work for us!

When I am designing a new pattern, I try to make this process easier by doing two things: focusing on precuts and utilizing fabric designers with a proven track record. A quilt pattern built off of a precut (charm pack, layer cake, fat quarter bundle, jelly roll, etc.) gives quilters a big head start in fabric selection. Once we purchase the main item, let’s say a layer cake, we are often only required to purchase a neutral and maybe one or two coordinating prints. That’s not nearly as daunting as a pattern that requires us to purchase several prints in varying yardage.


Naturally, the other great thing about precuts is that they contain prints from an entire fabric collection. Everything is coordinated by color, scale and artistic theme. And the best fabric designers have a special knack for giving us fresh new collections each year that also blend beautifully with their past collections. That’s why I tend to gravitate toward a few favorite designers. When I have designed a new pattern that features a past collection by Fig Tree & Company, it’s easy to visualize how it might look in their new or upcoming collection. That’s a bonus for me as a pattern designer and as a quilter.


So why have I been talking your ear off about this today? Well, I wanted to give you a little gentle nudge to dust off some of those patterns you have stock piled but not yet sewn! I also wanted to highlight some beautiful new fabric collections from various Moda designers that would work well with my past patterns. Time to start planning for some springtime sewing!

Designer: Brenda Riddle
Collections: Finnegan and Bramble Cottage (in stores now)

Here is a layer cake pattern, Gumdrops, which I designed two years ago using a Brenda Riddle collection called Fleurs. I think you can easily see how Brenda’s current collections would be perfect for this pattern, which calls for fabrics that are sweet and soothing.

Designer: Corey Yoder
Collection: Sugar Creek (in stores now)
Collection: Canning Day (in stores February 2020)

Three years ago I released this fun charm pack table runner pattern called Diamond Trail, which featured Corey Yoder’s Sundrops collection.

I also made a second sample of my Perky Posies pillow pattern using a bright and cheery 2018 Corey Yoder collection called Sunnyside Up. Don’t those colors just pop off of that charcoal background fabric? You could achieve the same effect with Corey’s newest collections! Perky Posies is a charm pack pattern.

Designer: Fig Tree & Company
Collection: Catalina (in stores April 2020)

The upcoming Catalina collection by Fig Tree & Company has a wonderful spring-into-summer feeling, with warm yellows, three shades of blue, grounding greens and their signature red. Catalina is a delicious return to everything we loved about Fig Tree’s 2017 collection called Coney Island. I used that collection to design two patterns in 2017: PurelyPetals and Wall Flowers. Both patterns are charm pack friendly.

Designer: Lella Boutique
Collection: Bloomington (in stores April 2020)

Back in 2016, Lella Boutique released one of my all-time favorite collections, Olive’s Flower Market. It was a gorgeous collection of carnation pinks, soft chalkboard blacks, neutral-loving taupes and leafy greens. I designed a fun layer cake pattern called Window Garden which really allowed this collection to shine. In April, Lella Boutique will release her Bloomington collection, which is quite similar, but adds in a wonderful bit of teal blue. I would love to see my Window Garden quilt recreated with touches of blue!

If your local quilt shop does not carry these fabric collections, please visit my blog sponsors by clicking their logos on the left-hand side of this website. Most of them carry my favorite Moda designers. 

I hope today’s post provided you with the inspiration you need to plan your springtime sewing. Go and get carried away quilting, my friends!


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Star Watch: a sunny quilt featuring Calico Days by Lori Holt

I’m popping in today to share a cheerful, farm-fresh version of my Star Watch pattern, this time featuring the Calico Days collection by Lori Holt for Riley Blake Designs.

Sewn up in a sunny collection like this, Star Watch becomes a happy, scrappy jelly roll quilt. Simple log cabins provide the foundation for the quilt, while a row of sunny stars adds a playful twinkle.

Calico Days was released by Lori Holt a few years ago, but she has numerous collections that are just as darling. Any vintage-inspired fabric lines would shine with this pattern.

For my Calico Days version, I omitted the inner border called for in the pattern, so the completed quilt is just a bit smaller. This will be a wonderful throw or cuddling quilt to gift to someone!

My Star Watch pattern calls for using some of the jelly roll strips to create a scrappy binding, which is a fun finishing touch and so easy to do!

For more information on my Star Watch pattern, check out this link:  New pattern: Star Watch, a jelly roll quilt. The pattern is available on my Etsy Shop in PDF format

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, January 17, 2020

Cross stitch: getting started with a mug rug

Thank you all for your kind, funny and enthusiastic comments about our fish house. We continue to enjoy our time on the frozen lake, particularly when the neighbors wander over to visit and share their snacks. It’s like a block party on the ice.

Since my blog post, Stitching while Ice Fishing, I’ve taken baby steps back into cross stitching.  I have to tell you, I felt like a newbie, all awkward and unsure of what I was doing. After some minor struggles, I stitched a small practice piece which I made into a mug rug.

The Jack Frost’s Tree Farm kit (see earlier post) from Fat Quarter Shop included a large piece of Portobello Studio Line 30 Count Linen, more than I needed for the project sampler. So, I used a small section of that linen for my practice piece, and stitched up three trees from the kit patterns. This mug rug will serve as my inspiration to march forward with my revived hobby!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far. 

My eyes aren’t as young as they used to be. The last time I cross stitched was more than 20 years ago on Aida cloth, which has a defined woven pattern, making it easy to see where to place your stitches. While I love the flat, even weave look of linen, I had a difficult time finding the correct holes for my stitches, even with my progressive lens glasses. 

So, I ended up purchasing an OttLite lamp with magnifying glass. (Luckily, I found it 50% off at Joann Fabrics, so keep watching for sales.) The one I purchased can be set up as a floor lamp or a table lamp. I use the table lamp format, but I place it on the sofa next to my hip, positioning the magnifying glass/light between my face and my stitching. I may look like a dork, but it works so slick. I will probably use this for quilt binding as well.

Right off the bat, I goofed up.
On my practice piece, I accidentally switched direction in my stitching. (I clearly do not have the left to right, right to left habit down yet. I’m hoping that with more practice, this will become automatic.) I didn’t even notice my mistakes until I was sewing the piece into a mug rug. Oddly enough, the mistakes make me love it even more. I look at it fondly as inspiration to always do better. And heck, the little trees are still as cute as can be!

I have to pay attention.
I forgot how much counting and re-counting is involved with cross stich. I won’t be able to let my mind wander or go on autopilot nearly as much as I do at my sewing machine. On the plus side, I realized it’s very inconvenient to snack when stitching. So, this could possibly count as part of my weight control/exercise program. Ha!

I didn’t know which size and brand of needle to use.
This was another aspect of cross stitching that I couldn’t remember. After a bit of online research, I found that some people like a #24 needle, while others prefer a #26. I had Clover brand gold eye #24 needles on hand, so that is what I used for my practice piece. I also ordered Bohin #26 needles to test them out on the sampler.

I needed other new notions.
While researching the needles, I learned that linen cross stitch fabric can distort if using a hoop that is too tight or rigid. Many stitchers, including Kimberly Jolly, were recommending the
Q Snap tube frames, so I ordered two of those as well. I didn’t need any type of frame for my small practice piece, but I’m sure this Q Snap system will come in handy for my big sampler project.

If you are thinking about joining (or rejoining) the world of cross stitching, I hope this post will help you take your first steps. I would highly recommend starting with a small practice piece where you can work out the kinks.

Now I’m feeling confident enough to begin the Jack Frost’s Tree Farm sampler. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and any struggles I encounter along the way. Wish me luck as I get carried away stitching. I will wish the same for you!


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Bloom-Topia quilt along: fabric requirements available

Today is the kick-off for the 2020 charity quilt along, Bloom-Topia, with Fat Quarter Shop. I'm thrilled to be one of the guest bloggers for this program which benefits Make-A-Wish of Central & South Texas. The official block sharing begins on February 1, but the fabric requirements are available today!  I have the full scoop below, so read on . . . 

This year's quilt is an absolute stunner! The front features a glorious mix of blocks of different sizes, and the back features a fun pieced area which documents the year made. 

Pattern instructions are released as FREE PDF downloads twice per month, via the the Jolly Jabber (the Fat Quarter Shop blog).  We quilters are simply asked to make a donation toward the patterns we download.  (A suggested amount is $5 for each pattern downloaded, or a one-time lump sum donation.  All donations will go to the Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas campaign, with matching donations from FQS and Moda!)

As a blogger, I will be sewing along with you, and I’ll share my progress every couple weeks on my own blog.  There will also be updates on the Jolly Jabber, as well as on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I hope you’ll consider joining us in the fun!

Now you might be wondering, “Do I have to choose my own fabrics, or is there a kit?” The answer is yes OR yes!  You can sew along with your own stash of fabrics, or you can purchase a beautiful Bloom-Topia kit from Fat Quarter Shop! 

If you’d like to make one that looks just like the gorgeous photos I’ve shared above, then you’ll want to order the exclusive kit, which includes 11.75 yards of Summer Sweet fabric designed by Sherri and Chelsi for Moda Fabrics and Bella Solids fabric. This kit includes all fabric to complete the quilt blocks along with background, borders and binding for the 64.5″ x 82.5″ Bloom-Topia quilt. The kit also includes the patterns (you won't need to download the PDFs each month), a specialty template notion and a roll of Triangles on a Roll 3″ Half Square Triangle Paper. As a bonus, it comes packaged in an exclusive keepsake box with magnetic closure.

FQS also has an exclusive backing set kit, which includes 7.5 yards of Summer Sweet fabric, backing pattern, as well as an exclusive mousepad that will only be available with the backing set.

If you’d like to sew from your stash, then you’ll be joining me in an adventure!  I will be sewing my own version of Bloom-Topia featuring the lovely Harvest Road collection by Lella Boutique for Moda. For my neutral, I’ve selected Vanilla Grunge (30150 91).  I can't wait to show you my first few blocks!

Here’s a link to the fabric requirements: Bloom-Topia Fabric Requirements
Here's the Jolly Jabber page with all the details: Bloom-Topia Quilt Along
Here’s where to make your donation: Make-A-Wish

Have a wonderful week! 


Monday, January 13, 2020

Stitching while ice fishing

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes where the summers are short and the winters are long . . . and cold . . . and snowy. 

We aim to make the best of it during the winter months. As soon as our little lake makes enough ice, it becomes populated with a village of fish houses. My husband and several of the neighbors become evening and weekend fishermen. Occasionally I bundle up and venture out onto the ice as well, so I can keep him company.

Now don’t feel too sorry for me.  We are hardly “roughing it.”  This is my husband’s fish house, a 16-foot Ice Castle complete with an oven, television and cozy places to curl up and read a good book. It’s also a great place to snack or take a nap.  

Oh, and fishing, of course the fishing is really important too. 

It dawned on me recently that the fish house would be an awesome place to do some handwork, so I’ve decided to get back into counted cross stitch. I haven’t stitched for over 20 years, but the patterns today are so beautiful! My first project will be a wintertime sampler kit from Fat Quarter Shop called Jack Frost’s Tree Farm by Little House Needleworks

The kit includes all seven patterns in the Jack Frost series, the 30ct linen fabric, and all threads.  I will be stitching the series together to make the overall sampler, but a person could also stitch them individually as shown in the photo above. I took my kit out to the fish house to look it over, and now I can’t wait to get started. 

This past Saturday we spent several hours in the fish house, fishing and watching NFL football. The Minnesota Vikings lost in the playoffs, which was a bummer. But somehow the loss was easier to take due to our surroundings.

My sister and I used to go ice fishing with my Grandpa Ed when we were little, and I loved it. Grandpa had a curve-top vintage camper that he renovated into a fishing shack. He would rig up all the lines and send them down the holes. While we hoped to catch a bluegill or crappie, what we really enjoyed was playing cards and making jiffy-popcorn on the stove top. When we got restless, Grandpa would send us outside to skate on the ice. (For all you non-fishing folks, a crappie is a small panfish that makes a delicious fish fry meal. And just so you know, crappie rhymes with poppy.)

Someday, I hope we have grandchildren so we can carry on this tradition with them. In the meantime, I will enjoy reading, stitching or watching a football game with my hubby as he works to reel in his catch. I suppose I could become a fisherwoman myself, but I really just enjoy being out there.

Are you thinking about getting back into stitching? The Jack Frost patterns can also be purchased individually, in case you'd like to do a smaller test run. All of the Little House Needleworks patterns are so pretty!  

Thanks for stopping by, quilting friends! I'll keep you posted on my stitching progress.