Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Queen Bee

Did I mention May was my month to be Queen Bee in my Bees? Here are the blocks I have received thus far.

The block is called Mondrain on page 116 of the 99 Modern Blocks book.  I asked for a warm palette (red/yellow/orange/pink) with a hint of green here and there. I think they have turned out wonderfully! I still have 7 or 8 to receive and I can't wait to see how creative each of them are!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

new beginnings

I am happy to announce that I have finally gotten most of my WIPs finished and will be starting some very exciting new projects shortly. These blocks are for the Believe Circle of do. Good Stitches for May.

This was my first time making a granny square block and man do they go together fast. I might put a tutorial up in the near future. All you need are 2.5" squares. It is a great scrap eater. 

As for new projects, we got our supply list for the first week of Handstitched camp. Next week I will have a new needlebook, an embellished tank top, and the first installment of my Medallion Quilt to proudly show off. Here is a sneak peak at the colors I have chosen for the Medallion quilt. 

If you were wondering, yes, that is my precious Mustard Wallflower. Yes, I did cut it. Gasp! It was actually incredibly hard to do. Particularly because I had to fussy cut it and use a little more fabric than I would have liked. Sigh (it's just fabric, it's just fabric). At least it will get to be the focus of my quilt!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beads of Courage and a gadget

So for all those who want to participate in making bags for Beads of Courage, I have made a flickr group here where you can find all the information. If you haven't heard of Beads of Courage, definitely visit their website or my previous post. They need quilters to make and donate these easy to make little bags so that seriously ill children can keep the beads that they receive during milestones in their treatment. The whole organization is helping to keep kids diagnosed with illnesses motivated and encouraged. Lets all chip in! The bags hardly take any time to make!

I actually have a gadget in my sewing room that pertains to these wonderful bags. It is literally called That Purple Thang. This 'thang' is good for such a myriad of things. Relative to this project, it has a slot in it through which you can slide the ribbon and then slide the tool through the bag. This will easily guide your ribbon into the bag without any effort at all.

The thang is also good for turning projects inside out. It can perfectly push out corners and is not too pointy to poke through your stitching (I have had that happen before). Another great feature is that you can use it to hold down or help guide the ends of your fabric through the presser foot. I am known to use just about anything in arms reach, but this tool is safe for fabric and for me (unlike a fork, or a permanent marker). This thang seems like a weird thing, but it was one of the first tools given to me when I started sewing and one of the tools I use the most. It has no true intended purpose but is good for just about everything.

What's going on in my life right now? Well, I am sewing like a crazy person because I have so many simultaneous projects happening. (Why do we do this to ourselves?!) I am desperately trying to wrap some of them up before Rachel's Handstitched class starts. I got new fabric in the mail today for my medallion quilt. There is nothing more exciting than opening up new fabric. I bought it from Hawthorne Threads (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to shop) because they have this awesome color matching tool.

If you have or find a fabric you love, you have the option at the bottom of the page to click on any of the colors in the print, and it will take you to all of the other fabrics they sell that match that color. You can even sort them by color dominance. When you are trying to match fabric for a quilt online, it is REALLY helpful.

Hopefully I will have some fun things to show soon!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Retro Flowers Quilt Along: Wrap Up

So we have done it, we have made it to the end of the quilt along! I have seen some beautiful quilts coming together in the flickr group and I am so excited to open submissions and begin the contest for the three grand prizes!

Thank you all for participating! This was my first quilt along, and I have learned so much from everyone's feedback. It was so fun and I definitely plan to do another one in the near future!

Ok, submissions. I know everyone wants to know how to get their quilts in the running for the three 75 dollar gift certificates from Fat Quarter Shop that we will be awarding! We tried so set up a regular linky party on both of our blogs, but we didn't have any success. SO! Our new plan might actually be simpler. We have created another flickr group called Retro Flowers Quilt Along Submissions. All you have to do is join the group and upload a picture of your finished quilt. For judging purposes, it might be good to include a close up of the quilting if it is hard to see on the full shot of your quilt.

Here are just a couple of the ones I have seen go by in our flickr group!

by Niveas

by meltingmarion

by knottygnome

by Jenn

Submissions will close June 1 and we will make our decision. Don't forget, it won't just be me and Bianca deciding. Rachel from Stitched in Color, Nova from A Cuppa And A Catch Up, and Christina from The Sometimes Crafter will all be helping us make our decision. I hope everyone is as excited as I am!!

I also want to give a big thank you to Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring the prizes throughout our Quilt Along. They are fabulous, and if you have not checked out their website, you should definitely go see all of the fabulous things they have to offer!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

let's do some Good

Have you ever heard of Beads of Courage? I recently found them and absolutely LOVE what they do. Bead artisans from all over the world are making and donating magnificent beads to hospitals that treat children. Whenever the children have to go through any of their treatments, they are gifted one of these incredible beads. As they progress through whatever treatment is necessary for their illness, they gather these beads to incorporate in a string of small beads signifying their milestones. It keeps helps keep them motivated, inspired, and encouraged.

How does this program effect us as quilters? These wonderful kids need bags for their beads!! These bags take no time at all to make and will be making a difference in the life of a sweet child. I would like to get as many people together as possible to make these with me for this organization. You can make 1 or 5 or 10; anything makes a difference. Feel free to reach out to your guilds, bees, and/or groups of quilting friends. 

We are modern quilters, and I have seen some beautiful work done by all of you. Let's get creative with our bags. I hope to try to incorporate pattern, fussy cutting, adorable fabric, and color (all of the things we love most) to gift these kids with bags that keep them inspired and strong. 

Being a part of do. Good Stitches has really helped me to see the potential we as quilters have to use our talent to help other people, particularly kids. I think this is a really wonderful cause, and I hope some of you are interested!

Below is the tutorial link for the bag and some details. I am thinking about opening a flickr group, just so that people can easily find me and/or the information. If you are interested in making even one, please comment so that I can know if we even need a group for organizational purposes. If there is just a small interest, I can just be in direct contact with those who want to participate.

Feel free to take this in to your own communities to help hospitals near you. I am hoping to distribute the bags I receive to the organization itself rather than to a specific hospital, so that they can then send them to any hospital that might be lacking. 

Now lets make some bags!!!

Here you can find the original instructions from the Beads of Courage program itself. On Craftsy, Amanda Pazak has graciously created a PDF pattern for these bags that is free! Here is her bag:


You can make large bags or small bags, the large being 12"x9" and the small being 10"x7". 

Each bag can be made with just 2 fat quarters and a piece of ribbon.

The bags need to have the Beads of Courage label stitched on them, so you are welcome to request them from the website, here, or I will hand stitch them on before sending them off. 

I really hope you all get as excited about this as I am. I think this is a wonderful cause, and it takes almost no time at all to contribute. Keeping these kids inspired, encouraged, and strong is an amazing undertaking for the doctors and nurses who care for them. Let's help keep up the smiles with some adorable handmade bags for their handmade beads!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Retro Flowers Quilt Along: Hand Quilting

It's the last post the the QAL already! I can't believe it. I can't wait to see all of the beautiful finished quilts. So for those of you not quilting your Retro Flowers on your sewing machines, here are a few tips, links, and suggestions for you hand quilting pleasure. 


Anytime I quilt a quilt by hand, I use Quilters Dream Cotton batting in my quilt (my link takes you to a queen size piece, but the packages come in many sizes so be sure to look around). It is super soft and super friendly to the hand quilting process. 

When you make your quilt sandwich, you want to be sure to pin it in place prior to quilting it. Regular safety pins work fine, but I am partial to these quilting safety pins because they have a bend in them that makes them go through all three layers and pop back up with astounding ease. 

My absolute FAVORITE thread to quilt with is Perle Cotton. I don't have a specific place to tell you to get it because I generally find it in my local quilt store. I am sure you can find it online, but I don't have a great place yet to buy it. Suggestions welcome!! Anyway, it comes in different weights so you can use it in many different projects. For quilting, I generally stick to the Number 8 weight, but it is not uncommon to see the Number 5 or others used. 

Another option is regular DMC embroidery floss, and it is incredibly easy to come by. It is sold in almost any craft store as well as places like Walmart that have a craft section. 

You also want to make sure you have good needles that will adequately accomadate the heavier weight thread that you will be using for quilting, as well as an embroidery hoop. The hoop I have is a hand me down from my mom and is a large wooden 12 incher. I like being able to work in such a large space before having to move the hoop, but something smaller like an 8 inch hoop would work perfectly fine as well. 

Depending on the pattern you use, it is a good idea to have a marking tool to trace the pattern if need be. Later in the week, I will be posting about a couple different kinds (gadgets galore!), but you want to make sure you use something that is intended for that purpose and will come out in the wash. Pencil is REALLY hard to get off of fabric. Just fyi. Many stores care disappearing markers or chalk pencils, all of which will dissolve in the wash. 

I also just learned that many of these pens can be set with sun. Did you know that? Even if it is a disappearing pen made specifically for tracing patterns on fabric, you can permanently set it (to where it will never come out) by leaving your marked up fabric in the sun. I am going to check all of my pens to see if they come with warnings! And with that fun fact, lets move into the how to's of hand quilting. 

How To:

There are some great resources out there if you are just jumping in to hand quilting. My favorite is a tutorial by Rachel at Stitched in Color. She does a great job explaining all of the basics. You can also find some great tutorials on youtube.

So I made my quilt sandwich (backing, batting, quilt top), and got all the pieces pinned together. For tips on a great quilt sandwich, check out this tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman. I try not to leave an area more than approximately 6 square inches unpinned. The larger areas you leave unpinned, the more room the fabric has to move out of its happy place in the sandwich. 

It is also important to start your quilting in the middle of your quilt whenever possible. This allows you to accomadate any fabric that might move during the process. As you work outward, you can smooth and re-adjust the three pieces of the sandwich as needed.

I will be quilting around each of the petals approximately 1/8th of an inch off the petal itself. This puts the stitching right in the middle of the white around the square points (as shown below). 

You want to bring your needle up from the back to start with and pull your knot through so that it sits inside the sandwich in the batting. Again, for a great explanation of this whole process, see Rachel's tutorial. After that you want to try to just rock your needle down through the sandwich and back up again, picking up a couple stitches. I personally don't like to have more than three stitches on my needle at a time, particularly when going around curves. 

Once you get the hang of it, that's really all there is to it. You just keep going until you have quilted your whole quilt! My personal attraction to hand quilting is how soft the finished quilt is. Many quilts that are quilted by machine or long armed feel stiff when they are done. Hand quilting allows the quilt to maintain its ability to drape and be super snuggly. Not to mention that the hand quilting gives a unique look that you can't achieve any other way. It involves patience, but the end result is rather beautiful and definitely worth it. 

Some Great Examples:

There is so much room for creativity in hand quilting. Here are a couple examples of other great quilters who have taken on the challenge of hand quilting this pattern. Rachel used a basic running stitch in the seams or 'ditch' between her blocks. 

Made by Rachel at Stitched in Color

Katie silhouetted the shape of the flower with kind of a rippling effect moving out from the center of each petal in her pillow. (she also did all the piecing by hand!!!!)

Made by Katie at There and Back
Made by Katie at There and Back

Both of these are great examples on how to get creative with your quilting. Don't be afraid to play with color or do a pattern that is out of the ordinary. Sometimes the quilting can be the most breathtaking part of a quilt. Happy stitching and I can't wait to see the finished quilts, both machine and hand quilted! Make sure you hop over to the Flickr group and show us your work! Also, be sure to stay tuned for instructions on how to enter your finished quilt for the grand prizes!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gadget Month: Heat Press

First, and most importantly, I am signed up as a camper for Rachel's Handstitched class over at Stitched in Color. Can you say excited? Everyone should jump over and look at it. There are 3 levels of classes you can take. The Basic class gets you the fundamentals of each project, Premium gets you all the fundamentals plus things like an ebook and video tutorials, and then the Camp gets you the whole show. It involves interactive chats, merit badges, and prizes from Rachel herself. Camp is capped at 20 people per camp (2 camps), so get over there quick!

Now for today's 'gadget'.

Have you ever had enough pieces of batting in your sewing room to finish a quilt but never a continuous length that would do the trick? Problem solved.

I always feel cheated when I have a ton of batting lying around that is too small to use. When I came across this product, I was astounded. Heat Press is like batting tape...only better. It fuses the pieces of batting together so well that you would never know it was not a whole continuous piece.

It comes in a many different sizes, but my roll is 1.5 inches by 15 yards. So you can see below, I have my scrap batting ready for action. 

All you do is cut a piece of Heat Press and lay it over your seam.

Then you iron it on. You have to be really careful about your heat settings depending on what kind of batting you are using. Synthetic batting can melt really easily and do a number on your iron. The Heat Press package has some suggestions on the kind of heat to use, but you should always try a small test piece before ironing a large area. 

Back to the fusing. Personally, I like to do a piece on the front and back of the seam, just for a perfect seal. This, however, is not necessary. The tape will stay happily in place. 

As you can see, it looks no different, but the pieces are fused!

I couldn't find a way to take a picture of the awesomely fused pieces, so this is the best I could come up with. Haha. This product is definitely useful to have, especially if you are in a pinch and you don't have time to run out to the quilt store. You can find it online or in many local quilt and craft stores. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Time is certainly not standing still...

How is it already May 8th?

My gadget month is almost 1/3 over and I haven't posted anything! I guess I have some catching up to do. Has anyone else been ridiculously busy this spring?

Anyway, here are a couple quick ones that are definitely worth the while. My next few will need a little more explanation.

First we have True Grips by The Grace Company. You can buy them just about anywhere, often at your local craft store. They are made for sticking to the bottom of your rulers or templates to keep them from slipping. They really work!

These awesome things were REALLY hard to take pictures of. My camera had no want to focus on something so see through.

If you look closely, there is one stuck in the corner of my ruler. I know there are many products that do similar things, but these are cool because they come precut and they definitely stay put. 

Next, you will find one my absolute favorite sewing room tools. Have you ever needed to mark a diagonal line on a square for a half square triangle or some flying geese? This baby makes it soo easy. It's called the Quick Quarter by Quilter's Rule and you can get it either 8" or 12" long. 

All you have to do is lay it on your square with the corner of the tool lined up with the corner of the fabric, and then take your fabric pen and mark in the precut holes. I am not sure why it is so much better than using a regular old ruler, but it saves a ton of time and is totally accurate!

Last but not least, is a beautiful picture of my finger. This gadget, again, was very hard to take a picture of because it is see through. This is Thimble-It by Colonial and you can find it in most craft stores. It's essentially a manufactured callus. Stick one of these delightful things on your finger, and you never have to mess with a thimble again. Hand sewing is pain free!

I will be posting more frequently during the rest of May as I have so many things to include in gadget month. If you have anything that you think totally needs to be featured, that you couldn't bear the thought of not having in your sewing room, feel free to email me, flickr message me, or let me know in a comment. I would love to hear about the things that you can't live without!


I haven't shown any of my bee blocks from April! Well here they are!

For Marian in We Bee Modern. This block goes by many names, but in the 99 Modern Blocks book, it is the Parisian Star on page 128

For Caroline in We Bee Modern Too. This block is called Lemons and Limes and is on page 102 of 99 Modern Blocks

Last but definitely not least are the blocks for the Believe Circle of Do. Good Stitches. Jenn had us use the Octagonal Orbs pattern Elizabeth Hartman created for the Modern Quilt guild. I think these will make fabulous quilts for some wonderful kids!

Friday, May 4, 2012

And the winner is!

The winner of the jelly roll of their choice from Fat Quarter Shop is......


I apologize that I only know your email since you are an email subscriber, but I will be contacting you by email soon! Until then, hop on over to Fat Quarter Shop and check our their amazing Jelly Roll selection!

Thank you to everyone who participated. Don't forget, there will be more prizes at the end of the quilt along! Three lucky winners will get $75 to Fat Quarter Shop! Who doesn't love that!? Happy sewing!