Wednesday, August 31, 2011

unexpected sewing tools

Aren't they the best? You know, all the things that you use in your sewing that you didn't find at the quilt shop. A few of my favorites are painter's tape, metal washers, and plastic chopsticks from Ikea. Go check out the great post on Generation Q today and learn about all different types of tools and tricks to help you with your sewing and quilting projects. But beware, you just may be headed out to the hardware store to pick some of them up!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fat Quarterly Designer's Challenge

The awesome folks at Fat Quarterly invited me to participate in their latest Designer's Challenge. Each designer was given one of these very cool Canvas Samplers by Basic Grey and some of their buttons, and then we could embellish it however we wanted. Hop on over to Fat Quarterly to find out how I designed my canvas and see my finished project.

Thank you Fat Quarterly and Basic Grey for inviting me to participate. I had a great time and I love how my canvas turned out!

Monday, August 29, 2011

quilting tip : using painter's tape as a stitch guide

I'm working on a new quilt that I wanted to finish with straight line quilting. I typically use my sewing machine foot as a guide to determine the width of my quilted lines, which means they are usually about a quarter of an inch wide. I really love the result of quilting like that, but it takes a long time to finish. Seriously, a really long time. And I just didn't have the time to spend on this quilt because I've got a deadline that I need to adhere to on it, and I also wanted to incorporate some other quilting techniques in it, so I used some blue painter's tape as a stitch guide instead.

I love this stuff! I'm surprised how often I use it in my studio. Thankfully, Jeff uses it a lot too, so we usually have a bunch of it on hand.

I cut and measured a piece of tape, folded it in half over itself, and adhered the open end of the tape to both the top and bottom of my presser foot.

I use the edge of the painter's tape as a guide, keeping the edge of the tape running along the previous line of stitches. With this technique, my quilting lines are just about three-quarters of an inch in width. If you want your quilting lines to be farther apart, you could use a longer length of tape; if you'd like them more narrow, just use a shorter length.

So far, this little trick is working out really well! Hopefully it will work well for you too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a bit of a birthday tradition

I truly have the best costumers. I've had the opportunity to work with people from all over the country (and the world, actually) in my esty shop, and the one of the best parts is working with repeat customers. Case in point, I've worked with Aga O'Neil for at least three years now. She originally contacted me to make her daughter's first birthday outfit. Then, the following year, she contacted me again to make her daughter's second birthday outfit, and now it's become a bit of a yearly tradition.

Here's a montage of her daughter's first three birthdays. Such a beautiful little girl and look how she's grown!

When her second daughter was born, I made the girls matching holiday dresses. How sweet are these sisters?!

And of course, the tradition continues with her younger daughter. Here she is with a custom birthday shirt that I made for her first birthday. Aga asked for an octopus, and this is what we came up with.

If you are in the Kennewick, Washington area and need a photographer, please check out Aga's photography site. Her work is beautiful!

Monday, August 22, 2011

sugar creek score

I ran to my local Jo-Ann this weekend to pick up some thread and I found some of Denyse Schmidt's new Sugar Creek line of fabrics there. I bought a total of ten prints, all in the blue and green colorway. They are so fun! These fabrics have a bit of a rougher hand than Picnic and Fairgrounds, Denyse's first line for Jo-Ann that came out earlier this year, so I only bought half a yard of most of the prints. Here are some of my favorites.

I love this blue floral swag print with dainty white flowers.

And this modern green floral and bud design.

I bought a full yard of my two favorite prints, including this large scale floral

and this floral tile print, which is my absolute favorite of the line.

The Sugar Creek fabrics work really well with some of the prints from Picnic and Fairgrounds, and while their texture is not quite as smooth or nice as the earlier line, I think they would be fine to mix together. Now, to find the right project for them!

Friday, August 19, 2011

a woman's work is never done

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I love the quilts of Gee's Bend. I was fortunate enough to see one of the exhibitions of the quilts when it traveled to Cleveland in 2004. Jeff had seen it earlier at the Whitney and he knew that I would love the show, so we made the four hour drive from Cincinnati to the Cleveland Museum of Art. At the show, I bought the catalog from the exhibition and it is one of my favorite quilting books, but in all honesty, I have never read any of the essays in it before. I've looked at the gorgeous photographs many, many times, but that was it.

We had to drive to Tennessee for the funeral of Jeff's grandmother who passed away this week, so I brought my Gee's Bend catalog with me for the trip. And I finally started to read some of the essays.

And I'm glad I did. As a crafter/designer/quilter/small business owner/blogger/aspiring pattern writer/etc who is also a wife and mother of two young children, I often feel like a chicken without its head, running around from one task to the other, and still trying to find the time to express my creativity. And then I read this passage:

Their aesthetic is purposeful, composed with the speed and authority and a quiet hum, an occasional prick if the finger, the spreading out of the cloth, smoothing it to see that the pattern is emerging as desired, the interaction with others, the folding up of the quilt and putting it away. Unlike a painting or drawing that can be put up on an easel, contemplated or admired, a quilt in progress must be set aside, stored in a safe place until the next available free block of time. The quilt will be beautiful when it is done, but while it is being done--and because a woman's work is never done--it might just look like some "needlework." Never mind that the artist is walking around, walking briskly of course with that pattern in her head while taking care of her seven or more "head of children" and tending to whomever else is in need around her--up the road, across the road, around the bend, in the next town--trying to get all of the crops in, picking cotton, braiding hair, soothing the furrowed brow of an overworked husband who had a run-in with the white man in Rehoboth or Montgomery or somewhere out in the country; learning that she is pregnant again, still walking around with those multicolored patterns in her head, those patterns that will not let her go, will not release her, will gently tug at her until she has manipulated them, until she has conquered them, until she has brought them under her spell. (from the introduction, written by Alvia Wardlaw, pg. 18)

While my life is certainly quite different than those of the women of Gee's Bend, I can relate to the feeling of having so much to do in such a limited amount of time. But if they can do it, and do it as brilliantly as they did, I have nothing to complain about. I have lots to do, and it is true that my work is never done. But I'll get to it all, eventually. It just might take a while.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

pigeons and purl

I'm finally getting around to posting more pics from my trip to New York a couple of weeks ago. Since we returned, it's been crazy (both good and bad), so it's taken me longer than I thought it would to go through the few hundred photos that I took. While I was in NYC, I stopped at Purl Soho.

I have dreamed about that place and it's just as gorgeous in real life as it was in my head. It was so tempting to buy lots of things, but being on a bit of a fabric budget, I only indulged in one of their fabulous scrap packs.

So much inspiration! Seriously, inspiration was everywhere in that store.

And speaking of inspiration, I loved all the pigeons I saw in NYC. Of course, we have them here in Ohio, but there was just something about these birds.

I love how iridescent their feathers look in the sunlight.

And now I want to do a series of pigeon paintings. to find a few more hours in the day to get them done!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

commissioned Seuss quilt in progress

I'm working on a commissioned quilt for a special little boy using Robert Kaufman's Dr. Seuss fabrics and here are a few photos of it in progress. The buyer is allowing me to make whatever design I want, which is always fun! I used the Dr. Seuss panel as a staring point and fussy cut each design to use as the center of large improv log cabin blocks with big strips of the bold fabrics.

I love the little area of striped fabric in this block.

And the little fussy cut Cat face in the top tier is fun!

And here he is again with a little pink fish!

I'll be using solid white fabric for the sashing and borders. I'm not sure what the binding will be, but I'm thinking of using the aqua and red stripe. This quilt will be queen sized when it's finished, so I've still got quite a bit of work left to do!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

why I love Ohio in August

I love Ohio in August because you can pick up all sorts of yummy, home-grown fruits and veggies, literally on the side of the road. There are quite a few places around here that put up little produce stands in front of their houses at the peak of harvest season. This is one of my favorites and it's just about a mile from my house.

Nothing fancy, just an old farm table on the side of a state highway. Last night they only had cucumbers, giant zucchini, and fresh springs of basil, but I was there the other night and got the best cherry tomatoes!

They had lots and lots of cucumbers!

Nobody mans the stand. There is a coffee can sitting on the table where you pay by the honor system.

You can see, I think they're trying to get rid of all their cukes because they've marked them down to 10 cents a piece. I wish I had the time to make some pickles!

Gotta love Ohio in August!

Monday, August 15, 2011

paint chips and solid fabrics

Do you remember my tutorial from a few weeks ago on how to choose solid colors for quilting by using paint chips? The lovely folks at Robert Kaufman generously sent me loads of Kona Cotton for a project I'm working on for Fat Quarterly, and I wanted to show you how using those paint chips really works well to help you design a project .

Here's Kona Curry with the paint chip Santa Monica Blvd.

Kona Butter and Deep Cowslip 2.

Kona Mustard and Bee's Wax.

And finally, Kona Stone and Toll Booth.

Since these colors are not next to each other on the Kona color chart, it would have been very tough to see how they'd work together. Using the paint chips to choose colors worked really well, and I'm very pleased with the resulting color combination that I came up with. I can't wait to see how this quilt turns out and I really can't wait to show the results to you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Action Kivu fundraiser

Many of you have probably seen this already, but if you haven't, I wanted to share some information about a fundraiser that Alissa Haight Carlton of Handmade by Alissa is spearheading. She's put together some amazing prizes you can win by donating money to Action Kivu, an organization that provides the Democratic Republic of Congo's victims of violence with the opportunity to rebuild their lives on a foundation of hope, dignity, and economic self-sustenance.

Action Kivu helps women and children through two programs, The Kivu Sewing Workshop and Education Assistance for Children. In the Kivu Sewing Workshop women who have been victimized by unimaginable acts of war learn to sew, knit, and embroider; they learn these skills so that they can become seamstresses and work to provide for themselves and their families. Action Kivu also works with primary schools in Congo to pay for the education of children who have been afflicted by the conflict in the area. Without that help, many of these children would not receive schooling because it's often too expensive for their families, and the government of the Congo does not help with the cost of education.

I urge you to watch this video from Action Kivu's site to learn more about them and meet some of the people behind the organization.

Unbelievable, and completely unimaginable, right? Nobody should have to go through anything like that, and you're probably asking yourself how you can help. Here's one way you can, and have the chance to win some yummy fabric too. Check out Alissa's site and read about her fundraiser for Action Kivu. There are some amazing prizes, including everything from a bundle of Denyse Schmidt's new line of fabric that isn't even in stores yet, a gorgeous quilt made by Anna Maria Horner, and lots of rare, out of print fabrics too, including the ever illusive Flea Market Fancy! Choose what prize package you're interested in and then donate the coordinating dollar amount and you're entered to win that prize. The fundraiser continues through this weekend, so get your donations in. Alissa's goal is to raise $15,000, and she's over half way there. Let's help her exceed it!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

designer of the day on Stash Books blog

It's me! How fun is that?! Check it out on the Stash Books blog here. Are you familiar with It's from the people behind Stash Books, and it's a great site where you can purchase pdf patterns from independent designers and download them instantly. No more waiting for someone to email you a pdf pattern; once you purchase one from PatternSpot, there is no waiting, so you can get started on your project right away! My Yield Quilt Pattern is available there, and I'm working on more that will be available there soon as well.

Thanks so much to the great folks at Stash Books and for featuring me as the Designer of the Day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

5 years ago today...

I became a mom for the first time, to the best little boy in the world. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown by. From a tiny little peanut that weighed just over 6 pounds...

to this big kid who is in the 98th percentile for height and weight. Of course, it's kind of tough to get a good, genuine smile from a five year old, at least when Momma has the camera out.

And more often this is what you get, because you know, it's all about the pirates and cowboys these days.

You've got the best imagination. You've never met a stick that you couldn't play with, and imagine that it's a horse, or a blunder buster, or a dinosaur bone. You are kind and sensitive too, and such a sweet big brother to your sister. Most of the time. And I'm so proud to be your mom. Happy fifth birthday, Aidan!

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