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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Giveaway Winner!

Happy Saturday!  Time to choose the winners for my Fugly Fabric Party giveaway!

Okay y'all, I'm leaving the two Random Number Generators on this post because I really did use them to choose the winners, but the numbers disappeared!  If you know how to make the generator thing behave for next time, someone please enlighten me!

Rosa was comment number 85 and she wants the fat quarter bundle!
The next number I draw will receive the camo fabric if she wants it.  If not, I'll generate another number!
Quilting Tangent was comment number 63, and is the winner of the camo fabric!  
Congrats, ladies!  And thanks for giving my fabric a new, loving home!
Thanks again to all who entered!  

Edited- Sadly, Rosa lives outside the United States, and the giveaway was only open to US residents since shipping can be so expensive.  I generated another number and lucky commenter number 23 is Diana!  Congratulations, Diana!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Needle and Thread Thursday, and a Dash of Luck!

Welcome to Thursday again!  Well, my scrappy improv quilt, Serendipity, is finished, so it's time to move on to something new!  I'm excited to share my latest project with you.  This, my friends is a pile of pieces of Happy Go Lucky fabric, all ready to sew into HST's, and strips for churn dash blocks- hence the "Dash of Luck" post title.  Cheesy I know, but that's how I roll.  ;)

 Don't you just love looking at a sharply cut stack of fabric?  I know I do!

I have a date with my sewing machine this evening to start making some progress on these!  Now, take a look at some of the fabulous projects that caught my eye last week!

Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts shared this simple, but pretty quilt.  Quick and pretty is right up my alley!

Susan at The Bored Zombie shared this really cool two-sided quilt!  Even the binding is two sided- you should hop over and take a look.

and Jess at Quilty Habit shared this stunning Dresden Rainbow quilt.  The story Jess shared with this quilt is wonderful, and her post is full of close-ups of each Dresden.

I am truly inspired by you each and every week and look forward to seeing what you're up to, so without further ado- let's party!

Just play nice, y'all!  :)

1.  You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post to make it easier for others.
3. Spread the word and post my button or a text link.  Please find my new button on my sidebar!
4. Spread the comment love far and wide!
5. Following me is not a requirement to link, but is so very appreciated!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quilt Photography- or, I Am Not a Shutterbug

Beth at Plum and June is hosting a monthly quilt photography link party to help raise the level of blog photography for those of us who struggle with it.  I have to admit, I am not a shutterbug.  Although I want my blog photos to be nice and clear, and have good color, I don't fuss with the artistic side of things.  So, this is definitely a stretch for me.

I'm taking advantage of this brand new bundle of fabric that I just picked up yesterday for this shoot.  To keep things real, I'm going to share my photos unedited (they are uploaded at their original size, but displayed on X-Large), and let you know what I like and don't like about them.  Then I'll edit a couple of my favorites to see the difference.

This is my favorite of all of the pictures I took.  I pretty much LOVE everything about this picture, with the roses in the background slightly blurred, the stack of fabric slightly cut out of the frame and slightly crooked, and the warm feeling of the photo in general.  I took this in my backyard.  The sun is shining brightly, but the fabric itself is in a shadow, and the light is just right I think.

Ok y'all, I started with my favorite, so it's all downhill from here, haha!

This one was taken in the same spot, but on a white sheet, and no natural background.  I think somehow the white backdrop cools the colors off, and takes away from it.  That seems weird because you would think that white would show the fabric best, but in this case, it doesn't.

I actually don't think this one is bad, if you can ignore that the bottom two fabrics are completely obscured by the grass!  The green sets the colors off nicely, and I like natural elements in my pics.  I can't really decide whether or not I like the fabric stack leaning.  Maybe it makes it more interesting, or maybe it's just annoying.

Now for the inside photos!

This one was taken in my dining room, which has lots of natural light in the afternoon.  My table is dark cherry, so the sheet makes a better backdrop.  This one could use some cropping at the top.

Another one in the dining room on the white sheet.  I don't really think I like the shadows that were created in this picture, although the fabric does jump right out.

So, here's the thing- I actually don't mind editing my pictures, and since I exclusively use my iPhone, I don't really think there will ever be a time when I won't need to edit at all.  Here's the trick I've found to using my phone-  When I email my photo to myself, the phone gives several size options to make the email file smaller.  I always email the photo at "Actual Size" which is the biggest.  This gives me a HUGE (like 2500 pixels) photo to start with, and keeps the quality good.

I use picmonkey to edit, and although it does annoy me that I can only upload one pic at a time, I like the features it has and it's easy to use, so I'm okay with it.  Every single photo on my blog is cropped, resized (to 600 pixels wide), and sharpened slightly.  If I need to, I'll also add light to my photo.

Here are the two outside photos edited-

Both were resized to 600 pixels, cropped very slightly, and sharpened.  To me, the difference is monumental.

My two favorite inside photos-

With the inside photos, I still cropped, resized, and sharpened, but I also had to do a little bit of color adjustment.  The white sheet and indoor lighting were cooling off the warm colors too much, and the colors didn't look "true."  I increased the exposure, decreased the contrast to soften the shadows, and then saturated the color a little bit.  They're okay, but the outside photos are much better.

I want good photographs on my blog so I always take outside photos if at all possible, but I won't delay posting on a project if I can't get outside pictures.  On the rare occasion when the weather is bad, or if I'm trying to get a post out at night for a particular reason, I just do what I can and hope that my writing and my projects speak for themselves.  

You should hop over and check out some of the great photography posts at Plum and June's Quilt Photography Workshop.  And since this fabric stack is brand new this week, I'm also linking up to Sunday Stash which is being hosted by Heidi at Fabric Mutt this week!


Finding something good without really looking for it.  In this case, of course, I wanted my end result to be beautiful, but I still think that Serendipity is the perfect name for a quilt that is sewn together with more of a method than a plan, from the scraps that happened to be in my baskets.

Mr. MQI has been out of town this weekend, and Janet from Simply Pieced came over yesterday for a sewing day.  Our kids played together, and we were able to get a lot accomplished.  I finished the quilting on Serendipity last night and put the binding on this morning.

I absolutely love this quilt with all of its bright colors and irregular design.  It's just so fun to look at all of the different fabrics and see pieces of the quilts I've made in the past.

The finished quilt measures 84 x 96 inches and was quite a challenge to quilt!  I quilted with a wide-ish stippling.  I could really have chosen any color for the backing since there are so many colors in the top, but is it really any wonder that I picked my favorite color?  I swear, I don't really plan it, I'm just drawn to greens!

The lime green polkadots look great with the improv blocks and don't add too much busy pattern to an already busy quilt.  I'm so glad I had enough blocks to put a couple of rows across the backing too.  The binding is Kona Purple, and I really like the little bit of contrast it adds.

I've decided that I'm keeping this quilt for myself, so I can hang onto a tiny piece of all of the other quilts I've made and loved, that have gone onto new homes.

Creating something so beautiful from humble scraps?  Definitely Serendipity.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Oh, the Fugliness of It All- a Giveaway!

Lucy At Charm About You is hosting the Fugly Fabric Party.  You know how rescue groups take unwanted pets and find new, loving homes for them?  Yeah, it's basically like that, but for fabric!  All of the unloved fabrics of the world deserve a new home where they can be used, right?

So, I'm having a giveaway with my contributions to the Fugly Fabric Party!  First up is a set of 24 fat quarters.  They're all quilt shop quality fabrics.  I ordered a grab bag set of a ton of FQ's one time, and actually used most of them, but these just aren't my style.  To be fair, some of them aren't truly hideous, but they just don't quite fit with the kinds of quilts I make.

Now, my second offering, I knowingly purchased.  Perhaps you remember my brother in law's Outdoorsman's Quilt?  Well, I purchased the camouflage fabric with my calculations for regular 44 inch fabric.  Well, that fabric was 57 inch fabric, so I had a LOT of leftovers.  It's licensed Mossy Oak camouflage, and was not cheap.  I have three big pieces that I'm guessing total 2-3 yards.  I just can't fathom another use for this fabric, since this quilt was so different from what I usually sew.

So, what do you need to do to win one of them?  Easy!  Just leave me a comment letting me know which one you would like.  Next Saturday, on 8/31, I'll randomly choose numbers to pick the winners!  Followers get a second chance to win.  Just be sure to leave a second comment to let me know how you're following!

Oh, and one other thing- be sure to leave your email address if you're a no-reply blogger so that I can contact you.  Wordpressers- you also show up as no-reply to us Blogger users (I hate that), so leave your email address too!

Sadly, I can't ship outside of the US.  

I hope this neglected fabric can find a home where it will be used and loved!  Check out Lucy's Fugly Fabric Party for other fabric rescues out there!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Needle and Thread Thursday, and Scraps... Busted!

Welcome to Needle and Thread Thursday!  For anybody that missed last weekend's post, I have now completely finished all four memory quilts made from my grandfather's shirts.  You can read more about them HERE.

Lately though, I've been plowing through my scraps as quickly as I can sewing scrappy improv blocks.  And this evening, I got through all of them!  Oh yes I did, y'all!  I used every single bit of my scraps to make these 70, 12.5 inch improv blocks.  That's enough for quite a large quilt, plus some blocks for the backing.  Woo hoo!

Okay, to be completely truthful, I did save some white strips that are wide enough to use in my quilt labels.  But that's it!  The rest of the scraps are in there.  I hope I can get the top stitched up for a Friday finish!

Check out these empty scrap baskets!  They probably won't be this way for long! 

Now take a look at some of the fabulous projects that were linked to last week's Needle and Thread Thursday!

Miss Muffet Quilts shared this Simply HST quilt!  

Janet at Simply Pieced shared her progress on this stunning Arkansas Traveler quilt.

and Kim at Windsor and Main shared her Low Volume Love quilt.

I'm so excited to see what you're up to this week!  For anyone that missed it last week, please grab my new NTT button.  Since I've redesigned my blog, your old one won't work!

My Quilt Infatuation

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="My Quilt Infatuation" /> </a>

So, let's party!  Remember the friendly guidelines-

1.  You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post to make it easier for others.
3. Spread the word and post my button or a text link.
4. Spread the comment love far and wide!
5. Following me is not a requirement to link, but is so very appreciated!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Calling All Scrap Lovers! An Improv Piecing Tutorial

When I blogged about my scrappy improv blocks, I had several people mention that they were afraid to try it with their own scraps, since there really isn't a true plan for sewing.  It does take some time to get used to sewing with reckless abandon in an improv style, but I thought that a few guidelines might help some of you take the plunge.  Once you get the hang of it, this method of sewing is so much fun, and it's a great way to use whatever fabric you happen to have.

The first thing you need to decide is how big you want your blocks to be.  I use a 12.5 inch square ruler, and I find it makes things much easier.  If you would rather use a regular quilting ruler, that's fine too!

Get all of your fabric ready and divided in whatever way works for you.  I have my scrap baskets divided into cool, warm, and neutrals.  I also don't distinguish between scraps and strings.  They all go in together, and you'll love using both with improv piecing.

Start by sewing two pieces of fabric together.  It's helpful if the sides you're sewing are similar in length, but not necessary.  When you're finished sewing, just take your scissors and trim the excess.

Add another piece to any side you choose.  I always try not to sew around the first piece in a regular way, so that it doesn't end up looking too much like a log cabin block.

If you don't come across a piece that is long enough to cover the side, or if you just want some variety, piece a couple of scraps together to make them long enough.  As your sides get longer, you will have to piece smaller scraps to get enough length.  Try to avoid sewing too many long strips on the sides or your block might end up looking like a log cabin instead of an improv block.

I don't press my block until the end when I'm sewing like this, but you can if you choose.  Continue adding to your sides until you have a block that is about 3-4 inches bigger than your square template.

I know you're wondering why you are making blocks that are too big, but just trust me.  The part that will make your blocks really special is coming up.

Give your block a press and take it to your cutting mat.  Line up your template along one edge of your block.  Check our those extra side strips!  Cut them off with care and don't throw them away.  You'll need them later!

I know when I look at quilts that are improv pieced I'm always impressed by the tiny little strips and fabric bits that seem so perfectly placed within the blocks.  Well, you can get those neat little pieces without actually sewing teeny tiny pieces.  We're going to use those fabulous little trimmed strips in your next blocks!  One or two of those strips can really add a lot of interest to a block full of bigger pieces.

If you really get on a roll, you can always make a really big improv block and cut several blocks from it!  This also gives you the freedom to use pieces that are a little bigger, because there is a good chance that they will get cut when you cut your blocks out.

You can do improv piecing with a planned color palette as well!  If you choose to use scraps though, just remember that the beauty of a scrap quilt isn't fully realized until all of the blocks are together.  In my opinion, that's when scrap quilts really show their wow factor!

I really encourage you to try some improv piecing.  Once you get the hang of it, it's a lot of fun, and I think it's really great for getting your creativity and sewjo going!

Editied 8/25 to add- Here's a picture of the finished quilt, just in case you're wondering how it looks when the blocks are all put together!  You can check out the post with more pics of the finished quilt HERE!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Houston, We Have a (Scrap) Problem

Do y'all remember the shot of my scrap baskets I posted last week in my Full Stash Disclosure?  I've been saving my scraps to someday be able to make a perfectly beautiful scrappy quilt.  I love scrappy quilts, especially when they are filled with cherished bits and pieces of fabrics you love.  Anyway, if you missed them last week, here's a picture of them, with scraps divided into warm, cool, and neutral baskets.  Remember, this is the "before" shot.

Divided into neat little baskets, I thought, "hmmm... these are totally manageable, and I probably have enough for a nice sized scrap quilt now."  I can probably bust these scrap baskets in a few hours.  Yeah.  Riiight.

Last night, I started sewing improv style (or slab style) and making 12.5 inch blocks.  And I kept sewing...and sewing...and sewing.  I've now finished up 32 blocks!

I've really grown to love sewing this way, and it's such a natural way to use scraps!  So, are you ready to see my scrap baskets after all of that sewing?  Here they are!

Yeah.  Almost completely full.  Still!  I don't really know how that's possible (I'm convinced they're reproducing when my back is turned), but I'm coming to realize that I may have enough scraps in these baskets for a couple of quilts, or maybe one gigantic one with an awesomely pieced backing.  

Y'all know me- I'm a one project at a time kind of girl, so I'm just going to keep at it until these baskets are empty (or almost empty).  

I laid out four of the blocks so you can get a bit of an idea of how the quilt will look.  I really love the whole fabric explosion look, and I love that I can look at the fabrics and see little bits of the quilts I've made and loved, that have gone on to new homes.

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