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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to Needle and Thread Thursday, folks!  I hope that all of you in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week, and I hope you were able to snag some great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals afterward.  I have been sewing on a big commission quilt, using Brenda Riddle's Bespoke Blooms collection.  I'm not quite to a place where i can show good progress, but check out these soft lovelies.

Around here, I'm also gearing up for the Classic Meets Modern Block of the Month Quilt Along, kicking off in January.  If you missed my post with all of the details, you can check it out HERE  (ps- there are prizes!).  It's going to be so much fun, and the BOM format means that it will move at a fairly leisurely pace.  Hop on over there for all of the info.

Our last party was two weeks ago, and so many amazing projects were shared.  Check out this collection of shirt quilts by Shelley at The Carpenter's Daughter Who Quilts.  What a labor of love.

This fun, modern plus quilt is by Luna Lovequilts.

And finally, it just thrills me to see someone use and enjoy my tutorials to create something.  Take a look at this Home State Pillow by Danice at Homespun Hannah.

Before we party, I owe you a winner for the Black Friday giveaway sponsored by LouLou's Fabric Shop.  Comment number 35, Sherry VF is the winner of a $25 gift certificate.  Congrats, Sherry!  I'll be contacting you via email.  And a big thank you to LouLou's!

Alrighty y'all!  I sure hope you've had some time to sew something fun lately.  I can't wait to see it!

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!  :)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Black Friday Awesomeness and a Giveaway!

Happy Black Friday, my friends!  For all of you in the States, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday.  Now of course, crunch time for finishing up those holiday projects is really on.  Luckily, my favorite shops around the web are here to make that a little easier on you!  So, without further ado, let's get right to the sales and giveaways.

We're kicking off with Fort Worth Fabric Studio, where Black Friday deals have already been happening.  Don't worry though, the deals will continue through this weekend.  The best way to stay in the loop on the latest news is by signing up for their newsletter HERE.

The big news at Fort Worth Fabric Studio is that there is a massive giveaway with tons of different prizes, and you definitely don't want to miss out.

All orders over $50 placed through Monday, 11/27 will be entered into a drawing to receive a prize!  This photo shows just a sampling of everything they're giving away (can you believe there's more?), so head on over there to check out their goodies!

Up next is Lady Belle Fabric, where the sales are hard to beat!  There are special deals on bundles, kits, and even precuts!  You can also get a free Bonnie and Camille 4 piece bundle with a $50 minimum purchase.  As if that wasn't enough, use the code freeship for free shipping in the US.  Woohoo!
Lady Belle Fabric

At Shabby Fabrics, the sales have been happening all week as well, with a different awesome deal each day, but the real doozie is happening on Black Friday itself, with 50% off of their Sale Fabrics!

            Shabby Fabrics

And last, but certainly not least is LouLou's Fabric Shop.  On Black Friday, you can find yardage as low as $6.00 per yard, lots of precuts at 35% off, and even plenty of bundles at 30% off!

LouLou’s Fabric Shop
LouLou's is also sponsoring our giveaway today, a $25 gift certificate to spend on anything you like!  Hooray!

Okay, friends!  I know you're all ready to head over to these amazing shops and check out their gorgeous fabrics, but before you do, be sure to enter the giveaway!  Just leave a comment on this post to enter!  

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 the winners at next week's NTT (November 29th).

This giveaway has now ended.  Thanks so much to all who entered!  I'll announce the winner later at NTT!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Classic Meets Modern QAL!

My, oh my!  Where has the year gone?  It seems that the weeks around the holidays zoom by so quickly, which means that before we know it, it will be 2018.  Of course, the start of 2018 also means the start of the Classic Meets Modern Block of the Month Quilt Along.  It's time to get your fabrics picked out, because we will be kicking off in January.  Read on for more specifics, friends!

This pattern combines 22 classic quilt blocks in different sizes with a fun, modern layout to create a quilt that is a showstopper.  All of the blocks are constructed with basic piecing techniques, making it fun for beginners and experienced quilters alike!

Not a fan of all solids?  This quilt is super fun made with prints as well!  My good friend, Janet from Simply Pieced, made this quilt with her prized collection of Denyse Schmidt fabrics and slightly alternated the block placement, and it gives the quilt a completely different feel.  I love how it turned out!

If you're apprehensive about starting another project, don't worry!  This Block of the Month QAL is going to be easy and stress-free!  The pattern includes full-color illustrations for each, and we will complete just two blocks per month for 11 months. The final month, we'll layout and complete the quilt top!  Of course, we will have fun link-ups each month to share progress.  With this pace, it will be no trouble at all to keep up!

If you need even more incentive to jump on this bandwagon, consider the fact that when we link up our finished quilt tops, you'll be in the running for a few giveaways from my fabulous sponsors!

So, what do you need to get started?  Well, first you'll need the pattern, which is now available in my Etsy and Craftsy shops.  And you'll need to decide on your fabrics.  Check out the full listing of fabric requirements here-

If you want to make the quilt in the exact solids I used, you'll need Kona White, Steel, Royal, Turquoise, Pool, Berry, and Parrot.  This time around though, I'm using Moda's Acreage collection, and I can't wait to make a version in prints for myself.  These sweet beauties are going to make such lovely quilt.

Soooo... who's in?  Leave a comment to let me know, and get those patterns and fabrics ready!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Improv Planner Cover and NTT

Happy Needle and Thread Thursday, friends!  We are on the tail end of 2017, which means it's time for a brand new planner for next year.  I'm a 100% paper-planner girl.  At the end of the year, I always love flipping back through the months to see my notes, as well as review my projects and accomplishments.  As much as I enjoy doing that, there's nothing like opening up a fresh, new planner.  The blank pages hold so much promise for the upcoming year.

For 2018, I have switched from my usual Erin Condren planner that I have purchased for years, to a Quilter's Planner.  It may seem trivial, but I hadn't made the switch before because I like the personalization options and accessories that Erin Condren offers.  With Erin Condren, I could choose my cover design or even have my own logo printed on the cover, add my name to the cover, add a pen holder, a meal organizer, etc., none of which are available with the Quilter's Planner.

That being said, I absolutely LOVE the quilter-specific options in the Quilter's Planner that I could never get from my old one, and ultimately, I decided that was the most important.  Because the planner itself isn't personalized, I decided to sew a few of my scraps into a cover that makes this planner very "me."

For the inside lining, I used a fabric that I like, but have had trouble fitting into a quilt (we all have those fabrics in our stash, don't we?), and it looks right at home with the riot of scrappy color on the front.  I used a gorgeous print from the Joie de Vivre line by Bari J for the pockets, and some coral Grunge fabric to add a few fun details.

I made a little business card holder on the front pocket, and a pen and pencil holder on the back flap.  The pen/pencil pocket keep the planner from laying completely flat, but I decided I would rather that than have to fish around my purse for them.

You all know that I am first and foremost a quilter- not a bag-maker, or a garment-sewer, or accessories-maker.  This planner cover was a bit of a learning process, and I would like for it to be a little bit neater, but I'm happy with it overall.

Okay friends!  It's time to check out some of my favorite projects from last weeks' party!  Angela at Better n Dog Biscuits linked up her pretty Rainbow Bright quilt.

These Fancy Foxes by Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts are just adorable!

Buzzing Around posted this pretty quilt; so striking with the dark background.

And this paper pieced Highland Cow pillow by Made by Chrissie D is so much fun!

NTT will be taking a break next week for Thanksgiving, BUT definitely be on the lookout for my HUGE Black Friday sales post, filled with coupons, sales information, and even giveaways from my favorite shops.

Also, I'm planning to post the details for my Classic Meets Modern QAL this weekend, so watch for that as well.  This QAL will be starting in the new year!

Okay, let's link up, friends!

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!  :)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks- Centrifuge

Hey there quilty friends!  Welcome to my stop on the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 16 Road Rally blog tour!  I'm absolutely thrilled to share my block, Centrifuge with you.  It is in the pieced blocks section, and since they are arranged alphabetically by author, my block is at the very end and  super easy to find!

If you are familiar with my patterns, you know I love designs that have rounded elements mixed in, and blocks that create fun secondary patterns.  I definitely kept those features in mind when I designed this block. The block itself is made with basic piecing techniques, but when they are put together, they create some wow factor.

In this block, I used Kona Bluegrass, Navy, Pond, and White.  My original block in the magazine used Cloud 9 Cirrus Solid in Rain instead of Kona Pond, but when I got around to making my quilt, I couldn't get ahold of anymore.  Kona Pond is the closest, and it is a great match.  Since green is my favorite color, I let it take center stage in the block.  I love how fresh greens make me feel energized, while softer greens are so calming.

If sewing the snowball corners for the Centrifuge block seems daunting, take heart!  To keep your stitch line straight, many people recommend drawing a diagonal line across the back of your square as a guide.  I really hate this step, so I don't do it!  Instead, I use a piece of painter's tape aligned with my needle on my machine and table.  You can keep the corners of your square in line with the edge of the tape while you sew, and know that you're sewing a perfectly straight line every single time.  You'll zoom right through those corners in no time, with absolutely no line drawing.

As shown above, the Centrifuge blocks can stand alone to make a lovely quilt, but when I actually got down to making my quilt, I decided to play around and add a secondary element with pieced sashing and cornerstones.  

The pattern created reminds me of the intricate tile work seen in beautiful historic buildings, and I think it would look equally striking in prints as well as solids.

I hope you'll check out the amazing lineup of blocks included in the current issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 16.  I've already had the pleasure of thumbing through to see the wonderful array of creativity in the blocks, and I know you'll find lots in there that you love as well.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Home State Pillow Tutorial

Throw pillows are such a great way to give a quick decor update without breaking the bank; and what better way to show a little state pride and show off some cherished fabric bits!  I have always loved incorporating elements of text and geography in my home decor, and I couldn't resist writing up a tutorial so you can make one of these cuties for yourself.

As a Louisiana girl, born and raised, of course I made that state first...and promptly neglected to take photos of the process (oops!).  The second time around, I documented the steps properly for you, but instead I decided to make my current home state.

This tutorial is for an 18" pillow, but you can easily modify the instructions if you want yours smaller or larger.  So, let's get started!  You'll need-

*a handful of small fabric scraps for your state
*18" square of solid background fabric for your pillow front, I used Kona Prepared for Dyeing
*1/4 yard of black fabric for binding and "home" appliqué
*1/2 yard muslin for pillow lining, make sure you use 42" width
(muslin can be a little thin for regular quilting, but it works just fine for pillow lining)
*1/3 yard pillow backing fabric
*18" square piece of batting
*2.5" square, solid red fabric for the heart
*Heat n Bond Lite (you could make 4-5 pillows from a single package, depending on the shape of your states)

First thing's first, my friends.  You need to get the shapes you'll need for your pillow, namely your state, a heart, and the word home.  With a simple internet search, I found a state outline online for free.  This is the trickiest part of the whole process, so hang with me here.  Since this pillow is larger than a standard piece of paper, you will need to be creative to get the size you need.  I have a projector for trunk shows and classes I teach, so I was able to project the state onto my wall and trace it.  I know most people don't own a projector though.  In that case, print your state onto a standard piece of paper, and take it to a copy store and have them enlarge and print it for you.  It's not expensive to do this, and it's worth it!

Tennessee is a long, skinny state.  Some states just want to be difficult, and you just have to roll with it.  Since the pillow is 18 inches square, I made sure that it was about 16 inches at the widest point, so it would fit nicely.  Hmmm...that doesn't look exactly like Tennessee, does it?  You're right!  It's a reverse image, and that is super important.

Whatever method you choose, you need to be sure you trace a reverse image of your state.  This is true for any appliqué project you make.  To get the reverse shape of your state, just insert your picture into a word document, click on Format Picture, and then Rotate.  Click on Flip Horizontal, and your state will magically become the reverse image.  Easy as pie!

Whether you get your state shape from a copy shop, or use the projector method, the next steps are the same.  Just trace your shape onto the paper side of the Heat n Bond Lite.

I like to trim my state pretty close to the traced line.  By trimming the state, I only sew my scraps until I have a piece exactly big enough with very little waste.  There is no right or wrong way to sew your scraps.  Just grab pieces and sew until your piece is just a little larger than your state shape.  

If you need more guidance on improv piecing, check out my tutorial HERE, but keep in mind that for this project you will use the same method, but with smaller scraps.  If you're not into the scrappy look or want to match a specific decor, you can also choose to make your state from a single fabric you love!

Once you have your scraps put together, iron the Heat n Bond for just a couple of seconds to fuse it to your improv piece.

You'll follow the same process for the word "home" on solid black fabric, as well as the heart on solid red.  To get the reverse image of text, type your text into a text box on a word document.  Click on Format, then Shape.  Go to 3D Rotation, and in the first X box, type in 180.  That will flip the text on the page.  Since this is smaller than a regular sheet of paper, you can print it out easily.  Again, just be sure it is the reverse image.  

Just an FYI- I use the font "Better Together" and when I printed my word out, I used a black marker to make it just a little thicker, but you can use any font you like.  I actually used two separate sizes on the two state pillows I've made.  Just play around with it, and make it whatever size fits best with your state's shape!

Once you have all three of your shapes fused to Heat n Bond Lite, carefully cut out around each one.  Take your time around all of the little curves, and your patience will be rewarded.  When cutting out the inner loops of your text, you may want to use a razor blade or an X-acto knife, but careful cutting with small, sharp scissors will work as well.

Once your shapes are cut out, peel the paper off of the back of your state, position it on the 18" square of background fabric however you want, and iron in place to fuse it to the background.  Iron your state first and stitch around it with white thread, just a couple of millimeters from the edge.  After you stitch around your state, fuse your heart in place over your hometown, and stitch around it separately.  Then place and fuse your "home" text, and stitch it down.  I like to change my thread and use black for the text, which is why I do it last.

This is raw-edge applique, meaning that the edges of your state, text, and heart are left unfinished.  When the pillow is washed, the edges will curl and fray just a little bit, giving the pillow extra texture that I love, but the Heat n Bond Lite will keep it from unraveling too much.

To start and stop your stitches, you have a couple of options.  You can either backstitch to lock your stitches, or you can pull your threads to the back and tie them off in a knot (and trim the tails).  Since the state is larger, I don't have a problem backstitching to lock my stitches in place there, but the text is so delicate, that I like to knot my thread on the back to make it look neater on such a small space.

Ta-da!  At this point, if you don't want to make a pillow, this would be a cute little mini quilt, or it would even look great as-is framed as wall art.  This is destined to become a pillow though, so let's get to it!  To turn this into a quilted pillow, it's time to cut into the backing fabric and muslin.

From the muslin, cut
*an 18" square, plus two 12" x 18" rectangles

From the backing fabric, cut
*two 12" x 18" rectangles

This basic pillow construction is for an envelope closure backing with six inches of overlap.  It's quick to make, easy to change out the pillow form, and it looks very neat.  If you prefer a zipper back, or even another method, feel free to do that and just adjust your measurements accordingly.  

Before we even worry about the backing, use the 18" square of muslin, and 18" square of batting to make a quilt sandwich with your pillow top, and quilt it however you like, just as you would a mini quilt.  I decided to quilt an outline around the state, and stipple in the white background space with my favorite Aurifil 50 wt. in White.  This makes the state puff out a little bit and gives it a great 3D effect.  I quilted as closely as possible to the text, but didn't quilt through it.  This small space is a really great place to get creative with your quilting if you desire.

To make the envelope closure back, sew the 12" x 18" piece of backing fabric to a 12" x 18" piece of muslin, along the long, 18"side, right sides together.

Open it up and press toward the darker fabric.  This will be the finished edge of your pillow back.  Don't worry about the other three open edges right now.  We will take care of those soon!  Repeat for the other 12" x 18" backing and muslin pieces to yield two total backing pieces.

Time to attach those backing pieces to the back of your pillow front.  Place your state face down and lay the two backing pieces on top, lining up the edges with your pillow, and making sure that the two finished edges are positioned correctly, as shown in the photo.  Notice how those two finished edges overlap by six inches?  this will give plenty of room for the pillow to expand around the pillow form, and still stay closed.

With your walking foot, stitch all the way around the edge of your pillow to secure those two backing pieces.  I like to increase my stitch length just a little bit for this.  Start sewing on the side of the pillow, where the two flaps overlap, to help anchor them.  Don't forget to backstitch to start and stop!

At this point, even without the binding trim, you can see the pillow taking shape.  See why we didn't worry about the three open edges on those backing pieces?  When we attached them to the pillow front, they're all sewn up.

Almost finished!  This pillow just needs a binding!  I know that lots of people don't bind their pillows, instead choosing to sew the pieces right sides together, and then just turn it out.  That's fine too, but I like the little extra detail that the binding gives, and I love that with this method, there are absolutely no raw edges on the pillow, inside or out.  Just bind the pillow as you would a mini quilt, using two strips of black fabric, cut the full 42" width of fabric, selvage to selvage.  Since this is a smaller project, I cut my strips 2 1/4" wide for a little narrower finish, but you can go with 2 1/2" if you prefer.

If you need more guidance on machine binding your pillow, you can check out my full tutorial HERE (it's easy, I promise).

Once it's all bound, just stuff your pillow form in, making sure to push the stuffing all the way into the corners for a nice, full pillow.  This pillow has an 18" form, but if you like a super puffy pillow, you might like to use a 20" form.

I always love to find methods that are versatile.  The method I've shown for pillow construction is the same method that I use for any pillow, regardless of what I decide to do on the front.  In fact, you can check out my Christmas pillow tutorial HERE using the same steps.  

The process for appliqué outlined in this tutorial can be applied to lots of different things as well.  You can change the design on the pillow to suit a holiday or sports theme, or you can even apply the steps to appliqué something entirely different as I did HERE and HERE.  

Projects like this are perfect for sewing up a quick but thoughtful gift, or even for just taking a break from something bigger.  They are easy to personalize, and an inexpensive way to change up the decor of a room.  So, pull out some scraps and get ready to show your home state love!

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