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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Solid Gems

I finally have a quilt top to show you from that stack of solids, and I couldn't be happier with the way it came together!

I wish I could tell you that I know every single Kona color in this quilt, but I just don't.  I do know some though, and just in case you're wondering, I know for sure that I used Berry, Purple, Orchid, Rich Red, Turquoise, Oasis, Tarragon, Royal, Candy Blue, Buttercup, Baby Pink, and two Cloud 9 Cirrus solids- Rain and Amber.  The names of the others have long been forgotten.

This is a design that has been hanging around in my sketchbook for a few months, and when I realized how many solids I had collected, I knew they would be perfect for this pattern.  I really had fun pairing the light and darker shades together to create the jewels in this quilt, and I think it is so neat how the paired colors create such different looking jewels depending on the light/dark color placement.

I'm naming this one Birthstones.  It looks like we have some rainy days ahead- perfect quilt and pattern finishing weather!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Party Time!

Happy Needle and Thread Thursday, y'all!  I've been working like crazy around here on another quilt made with all solids, and it's not a secret project; BUT I'm not really to a point where it is anything interesting to show you yet.  Soon...very soon.

I usually gravitate toward prints, but I pick up Kona remnants whenever I see them.  It occurred to me that I had amassed quite a variety of colors, so I started sketching out a pattern for them.  It's funny.  Even though I created this pattern specifically for these solids, my mind keeps wandering to all of the prints that would look awesome in the quilt as well.  It's hard to break out of the box!  Anyway, as soon as I can get the top together, I'll definitely share it;  but in its current state it's just a big pile of cut pieces.  Kinda boring.

What was NOT boring were all of the amazing links at last week's NTT.  This rainbow bargello awesomeness is from Myra at Busy Hands Quilts.

This scrappy quilt from Kris at Sew Sunshine is cute and fun!

and goodness gracious!  If you missed this quilt by Jayne at Twiggy and Opal, you really need to take a look.  SO. much. pebbling!

Alright, friends!  Party on!

1.  You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post (not to your home page!) to make it easier for others.
3. Please remember to 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!

*If you're new to the party, here's a helpful tip for linking up- select "Auto Crop"  when selecting your thumbnail photo.  For some reason, trying to crop your own image results in the dreaded "white question mark box," and we definitely want to see your awesome work!  :)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tips for Working With Liberty Lawn

Ahhh..., this is my favorite time of year for quilt photos.   Everything is starting to become green again, and my roses are in full bloom.  I enjoy the occasional breeze that gives a little bit of movement to my photos, though that was not happening today.  I finished up my Liberty quilt last week, and as much as I love this quilt, I definitely have some thoughts on working with it.


Let me just say that this, without a doubt, is the softest cotton I have ever felt.  It is woven with very fine threads, and feels very sheer and delicate.  The drape is just lovely.  This was my first experience with Liberty lawn fabric, and though I was definitely more careful with cutting to be sure that none was wasted, I didn't really do anything else differently than usual.  This fabric is pricey though, and there are some things I learned along the way about working with this kind of cotton.  I decided to compile a list of tips, in case you're thinking of buying some for yourself (and you totally should!).

1.  Press with a dry iron.  I usually press everything with starch, because I like my fabric nice and crisp, but I found that the Liberty was more easily distorted out of shape than regular quilting cotton with the added moisture.  Once I switched to dry ironing, that was minimized.

2.  Choose your other fabrics carefully.  The Kaufman Interweave in my quilt is a really awesome fabric, but it is quite a bit thicker than the Liberty.  It took a little extra care to keep my pieces properly aligned when I was piecing the blocks together.  The Liberty is a little slippery, and wanted to "walk" while I sewed (I don't use pins).

3.  Avoid pins...or at least avoid thick pins.  As I mentioned, I never pin while piecing, but I always baste using large, quilting safety pins.  I did baste this one with safety pins, but I only pinned on the chambray.  The Liberty lawn is so fine, I think thicker pins would leave holes that were noticeable.  I'm sure they would probably wash out just fine, but I would avoid it just to be sure.

4.  Spray AND pin baste.  Basting is the devil, and I think spray basting is the WORST.  I know that some disagree with me, but for me spray basting is messy, and my machine doesn't like it.  The few times I have spray basted, I ended up with terrible puckers on the back of my quilt because the fabric shifted, so I am not a fan.  I just stick with my good ole safety pins.  That being said, ordinarily, when you baste your quilt, the top sticks to the batting, and you can smooth it all out.  Not so much with Liberty.   Since the Liberty fabric is more slippery than regular quilting cotton, it doesn't stick as well to the batting, which can result in the top looking puffy in spots because of shifting during quilting, instead of nice and tight.  Next time, I will suck it up and spray baste first to stick that Liberty to the batting, then secure with safety pins to keep the back from puckering. 

5.  Wear grippy quilting gloves!  I always wear grippy gloves (like Machingers) when I do free-motion quilting, but if they aren't your usual thing, they are absolutely essential when quilting Liberty cotton.  Liberty lawn is so slick, I think they would even be helpful if you're doing straight line quilting.  They aren't expensive, and one pair lasts a long time.  Trust me on this.

Even though Liberty lawn is delicate, and takes a little extra care, it really is worth it.  I love the way my Liberty quilt turned out!  I decided to really show off these pretty prints with my Chapel Glass quilt pattern, and I used Kaufman Interweave Chambray in Black for the background.  I wanted to create the look of light coming through stained glass.  The chambray fabric is a black and white shot cotton, and although it is hard to capture in a photograph, it gives such great dimension to the quilt. 

Because I didn't want to take away from the stained glass effect, I chose to bind the quilt in the chambray as well.  I didn't want to frame the quilt at all, and instead, wanted to draw the eye straight to the Liberty.

Liberty fabrics are just so pricey, so on the back, I used a print from Kaufman's London Calling collection, paired with Kona Ice Frappe.  The colors of this print blend really well with the Liberty bundle, and although it isn't quite as soft and delicate as Liberty, it really is a gorgeous fabric in its own right.  It feels very similar to an Art Gallery fabric to me.

This quilt measures 57" square, and I'm calling it English Manor.  By the way, if you happen to have any additional tips for quilting with Liberty lawn cotton, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy, Scrappy Sewing Machine Cover

I'm so excited that I finally get to reveal a little bit of my recent secret sewing with you.  This project is one that I've procrastinated on for quite some time.  A cover for your sewing machine is super useful for keeping dust out, and I'm so glad I finally made one for myself.

I really am a creature of habit, and sometimes I just have to work through new things in my mind before I tackle them, and that was certainly the case with this project.  I knew that I wanted to do some improv appliqué, which would require the use of some interfacing (scary, right?).  When I finally got down to it, it turns out that it was easier than I thought it would be, and I'm thrilled to share the tutorial with you!

I decided to use this ahhh...mazing Pencil Me In bundle from Fort Worth Fabric Studio for the main body of my cover, and pair them with some of my favorite scrappy bits.  You can find this gorgeous bundle right HERE!  Since this project is smaller, I pulled some of the smallest pieces out of my scrap jars.  This is really the kind of project that you can customize and have fun with, though.  Make it your own!  By the way, if you love improv, but aren't sure how to do it, check out my full tutorial for improv piecing HERE.

The first thing you need to do is measure, measure, and then measure some more.  The cover is constructed with three parts- one main panel that "lays over" the front, top, and back of the machine, and two side panels.  You don't really want to have to fuss when you're pulling your cover down over your machine.  I think easy on, easy off is best, so you want to measure generously.   First measure the height of your machine and multiply by two (for front and back).  Then measure the depth of your machine from front to back.  Finally, measure the width from side to side.  Be sure you account for any parts that stick out from the main body of the machine, and add seam allowance !

My machine sits down in a cabinet and is used as a flatbed, so it only sits about 8.5" tall, and it is about 7.5" deep across the top.  Rounding up the height to 9" and rounding the depth to 8," my cover needed to be 26" long, and 18" wide.  Theoretically, you should be able to use the same height and depth measurements to determine the size for your side panels, but I would measure them, just to be sure!  I determined that my side panels should each measure 9"x 8."

Now for the fun part!  Make your top and side panels however you choose.  Think of them as tiny quilts and get creative!  I decided to piece a strip of each of the prints in the bundle, and add a little improv strip along the edge.  This strip will be the bottom on the back of the cover.  This takes a little bit of planning if you are using directional fabrics, like some of these text prints.  Keep in mind that the piece lays over the machine from front to back, so that means that the text has to be placed properly so that it is legible on each side of the machine.  If you orient the text all in one direction, it will be upside down on one side.  Press your main panel, and trim it to size if necessary.

Creating the appliqué for the front was probably the part that caused me the most angst (besides the measuring), but it really was a breeze once I got into it.  First, find a free clip art picture that you like, or draw something yourself if you're talented like that.  I found a cool sewing machine silhouette for mine.  Just make sure that you size the clip art so that it will fit properly on the front of your cover.

There were a couple of things I didn't like about the silhouette I found;  namely, I thought the base was too narrow, and there were some rounded parts that I wanted to square off.  You can see where I used a black marker to fill in the base, the hand wheel, on the spool of thread, and on the little part at the top where the needle is threaded.  Once you have your shape exactly the way you want it, glue it to a piece of cardboard, let it dry, and cut it out to make a template.  You can see that I cut off the narrow parts, like the needle and the crank on the hand wheel.

Time for improv!  I pieced some scraps into a panel that was just slightly bigger than my template.  Of course, you can choose to do any appliqué shape you want (or none at all). You can choose to use a solid fabric for this step, too!

Once you have your improv panel, apply interfacing to the back, ironing the "bumpy" side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.  Interfacing gives the fabric some stiffness to make it easier to work with, and will keep the edges from raveling, since I decided to leave the raw-edges.  I turned my fabric template over and traced around it lightly with a pencil on the interfacing.  (clearly, my template is a piece of a Christmas box- that's Santa, lol!)

Just cut around your shape and place it onto your main panel, wherever you want it!  I use basting spray to keep it in place while I stitched around it, but you can use pins instead if you'd rather.  I stitched right around the outside of the shape, and went around it twice to give it a sketchy

Then piece and trim your side panels to size.  I decided to add lots of color on mine, and made my panels completely from improv bits.

The next step is to decide on your lining fabric.  I used a giant black and white polka dot, and cut pieces in exactly the same size as my three panels.  I cut some scrap batting to size as well, and basted my three little mini quilts!  I hate basting spray, so I always baste my quilts with safety pins, but I keep a can of spray just for little things like this, where I'm not worried about the fabric shifting.

Time to quilt these however you like.  I did a pretty tight stipple all over on all three panels, and quilted right through my sewing machine appliqué as well.  

To assemble your panels, lay your main panel over your machine from front to back, and stand one side panel up in place.

With your walking foot, you'll be sewing the edges together, all the way around the side panel.  Flip the side panel, so that right sides are together, and carefully sew down the first side.  When you get almost to the edge of the first side, stop and align the top edges together.  Repeat this until you have the edges all sewn together.

When you get almost to the edge, stop and align the top edges.  Repeat this until you have the edges all sewn together.  It can get a little bit thick, but it isn't difficult.  Just take your time, and when you're finished, it will have a nice, boxy shape.  Then just sew the other side panel the exact same way!

To finish those inside edges, I made a binding strip measuring only 2 inches, and sewed it exactly as I would bind a quilt (tutorial HERE).  I cut my binding strips on the bias of the fabric to make it easier to ease around those corners, and though it definitely isn't perfect, it works.  Those corners get tight, but I didn't stress too much over it, because it is on the inside of the cover, after all.  Finishing the edges on the inside helps the cover keep its crisp boxy shape, and adds such a cute little detail.

The very last step is to sew a binding around the bottom edge of the cover, and I chose to go with the black word search fabric.  For this binding strip, I used a standard 2.5 inch strip, and I think it adds the perfect finishing touch!  Again, when you're sewing over that inner binding, it can get a little bit thick, but just take your time.

And voila!  All finished!  Just looking at all of my fun, scrappy bits of fabric against those grays and blacks puts a smile on my face every single time I walk into my sewing space!

I am absolutely in love with this little cover, and I can't believe I didn't make one sooner.  It is a perfect blend of form and function.  I hope you'll try it out!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April Winners and NTT!

Welcome to the downhill slide of the work week, folks!  I have to say that is one of my favorite parts of Wednesday evening/Thursday.  At this point in the week, I can almost feel the weekend coming on.  If you missed my post earlier today, I'm on cloud nine because I finally have my machine back!  If finished my Americana quilt , and am working to get my Liberty lawn quilt done next.  First things first, though-  I owe you three winners from last week's April Fabric Deals post.

As always, when there is more than one giveaway, I draw the winners in the same order that they are listed in my post.  The winner of the $30 gift certificate to Five Monkey Fabrics is Sonya, with comment number 40!

A rainy day is a great time to watch a movie or something on the DVR.... under a quilt, of course! Thanks for all the giveaways and discount info!

Next up, the winner of the Lush Lavish bundle, sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop, is comment number 88, Jennifer!

Reading and knitting. Oh, and baking.

And finally, Grandma, comment number 8, is the winner of the $25 gift certificate to LouLou's Fabric Shop!

We don't see a lot of rain here in Texas Hill Country draught, so we sit on our porch and enjoy the sound!

Congratulations to all three of you!  I'll be contacting you soon via email so that you can get your goodies!  Thanks so much to all 130 (!!!) quilters who entered!

Oh my goodness gracious!  The links from last week's party were absolutely delectable.  So much awesomeness all in one place, y'all!  This diamond quilt from Jessie at Measuring Success is stunning!

this Sea Glass quilt by Shannon at The Flemings Nine is in my favorite shades of blue and green!

and y'all know I cannot resist a rainbow!  This mini orange peel, rainbow goodness is from Jess at Quilty Habit.  Umm...Jess, I'm on board anytime you want to swap minis with me!  ;)

Okie dokie, friends!  Let's party!

1.  You can link finished projects or WIP's , but just keep it about quilting and sewing!
2. Link to your specific post (not to your home page!) to make it easier for others.
3. Please remember to 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!

*If you're new to the party, here's a helpful tip for linking up- select "Auto Crop"  when selecting your thumbnail photo.  For some reason, trying to crop your own image results in the dreaded "white question mark box," and we definitely want to see your awesome work!  :)

Back in Business!

Whoop, whoop!  I picked up my machine yesterday, and I am back in business, y'all!  I was without it for just under two weeks, but it felt like much longer.  As soon as I got home, I got her back in my cabinet, filled a few bobbins, and started to quilt, quilt, quilt on those projects that were waiting.  First up was this quilt for the grandson of a friend, who is due in May.

When I look at this quilt, I see classic Americana, and that's what I've decided to name this one.  My friend wanted a Double Slice pattern in these colors, and when I got the top together, I wasn't sure if I liked it, and even contemplated starting over.  I worried that since there isn't a ton of contrast in the chosen colors, that they ran together too much with such a busy pattern.

Sometimes I have a vision of a quilt in my mind, and if it doesn't turn out as I expect when it goes together, it's hard to evaluate the quilt clearly.  I ended up asking the opinion of a few friends who really liked it, and now that it's finished, I have to say that I'm happy with it too.  I think it just took a little while to get that initial vision out of my head.

I went with a denim chambray on the back, with some leftover strips for some added interest, and the bright red binding just pops against all of that blue and gray.  This quilt measures 54" square.

I'm working to finish up my other projects in waiting (including my Liberty quilt!) before my parents come in town for a visit this weekend.    I've been missing my machine so much lately, that I don't see a problem with quilting at all hours to make that happen!

ps- NTT is still on for this evening, but since I have three giveaway winners to announce in that post, plus highlights from last week, I decided to make two separate posts to keep the party post a reasonable length.  See you this evening!  :)

Friday, April 15, 2016

April Fabric Deals and Three Giveaways!

Happy Tax Day, y'all!  I know, I know.  Paying taxes isn't exactly happy or fun (and getting everything together beforehand is even worse), but hopefully after today, it will all just be a memory.  I don't know about you, but during my most stressful times, loving on a little bit of new fabric always cheers me right up.  If you're in need of a little pick-me-up, check out the amazing things happening at my favorite shops this month.  This post contains three giveaways, so don't miss out!

Kicking off this month's post with the first giveaway is Five Monkey Fabrics.  Five Monkey Fabrics is offering a $30 gift certificate to one lucky reader, and I know you'll have lots of fun deciding how to spend it!  I just love colorful fat quarter bundles, and these definitely do not disappoint!  Of course, they have yardage too, so check it out!

           Five Monkey Fabrics

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Pocket Pies are also a great way to build up your stash of totals and blenders.  Or, if you want to be absolutely certain that your fabrics are perfectly coordinated, their Friday Bundle Batch just can't be beat!

Right now, FWFS is having a sale on ALL Vintage Picnic by Bonnie and Camille.  This sale includes yardage, precuts, and patterns.  Use the code VINTAGE20 to get 20% off.  Woohoo!

              Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Shabby Fabrics has some big news!  Jennifer Bosworth, the owner and head designer has partnered with Maywood Studio to design her very own fabric collection call Welcome Home, Collection One.  The graphic shows a little sneak peek of these lovely fabrics, as well as the upcoming Block of the Month which showcases them, and the full reveal will be happening at International Quilt Market on May 20th!

            Shabby Fabrics

Have you heard about Fat Quarter Shop's Monthly Picks?  Well, they are just amazing.  At the beginning of each month, FQS chooses a Basic, a Book, a Pattern, and a Notion of the Month to highlight, and offers 20% off on them throughout the entire month!  Right now, the picks are fantastic, and the Basic is Kona cotton!  You can find all of the Monthly Pick details HERE!

Fat Quarter Shop is also generously sponsoring the second giveaway of the day, this 10 FQ bundle of Lush Lavish fabrics, by Katarina Roccella.  These fabrics are so gorgeous that I honestly can't think of a better name for them!

                    Fat Quarter Shop

Lady Belle Fabric has lots of awesome happenings right now!  They are having a sale with 15% off all bundles this weekend with no coupon needed, including Little Miss Sunshine and Mendocino (but excluding Liberty), plus a sample spree with Moda fabrics tonight at 7 pm CST!  Lady Belle has Coral Queen of the Sea Doll panels available, too!

                               Lady Belle Fabric

TODAY ONLY!!  Southern Fabric is having an amazing Tax Day blowout, with 25% off storewide, including clearance items.  Use the code black to take advantage of this amazing deal!  It ends at midnight EST tonight (4/15)!

          Southern Fabric

And last, but certainly not least is LouLou's Fabric Shop!  New arrivals at LouLou's include Volume II, Little Miss Sunshine, and Backyard Roses. Spooky Delight is expected to arrive any day. LouLou's also has lots of new preorders now in the shop, and don't forget, you can always save 10% on preorders using the code preorder.

LouLou's is also having a fantastic Tax Day sale!  You can save 20% off all yardage with the code taxreturn!  I am also delighted to let you know that LouLou's is sponsoring our third and final giveaway of the day- a $25 gift certificate to spend however you choose!

                 LouLou’s Fabric Shop

Okay, so I know you all want to know how to enter these three amazingly generous giveaways.  Simple!  April brings tax day, and plenty of wet weather, so just leave a comment on this post to let me know your SECOND favorite rainy day activity (quilting is the first, I'm sure- at least it's mine!).

Remember to leave an email address if you're a no-reply blogger, and only one entry per person please!  Unfortunately, replies to your own comment counts as an entry (the system numbers those, too), so remember to put your email address in your comment.  Additional replies/comments/entries are always deleted.  I'll announce a winner at next week's NTT!

This giveaway has now closed!  I'll announce the winners at this evening's NTT post!  If you missed your chance to enter, be sure to subscribe through email, or follow with your favorite blog reader.  I host giveaways every single month!

Good luck, and happy shopping!

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