Category Archives: Bees, Swaps, QALs, and Hops

More from the Farm

Farmer's Wife 1930s

The process of making these fiddly little Farmer’s Wife blocks is so much fun. I spent a couple of hours last week (watching The Americans on Amazon) pairing up fabrics for the next 30 blocks on my list. That bit was just as enjoyable as actually finishing the blocks.

The method I’ve figured out so far involves:

1. Pairing up fabrics with the same feel as the ones in the book

2. Add a sticky note with block name and number to the chosen fabrics

3. Use Marti Michell conversion guides to cut the pieces from her templates for each block and lay out the pieces on a small design board

4. Sew, press, and photograph! Post on blog and Instagram, of course! It’s much more fun when you share your progress and poke around the various quilt-along hashtags to see the blocks others are making.

Farmer's Wife 1930s

I added some more fabric since I posted last week, bringing my fabrics used up to six collections:

Bread N Butter by American Jane

Lighthearted by Ayumi Mills

Morningside Farm by Darlene Zimmerman

Retro 30s Child Smile from Lecien

30s Playtime Basics by Chloe’s Closet (I absolutely adore this entire line but have restricted myself to a few fat quarters I picked up at my LQS – Urban Spools)

Milk, Sugar & Flower by Elea Lutz (I’m adding some scraps as I finish cutting out my Star Blossoms quilt. This line will be sparse in the final quilt.)

90-Sara80-Patricia

79-Patience76-Nancy

69-MrsKeller

Some of my blocks have ended up a bit too large and I’ve lost my points – like the Mrs. Keller block above. I suppose I need to square up some of the components and be especially careful with the blocks that have so many pieces. I wonder if others who are using their own templates from the book are having this issue or if this is an issue with the Marti Michell templates? Or an issue with me?!

I’m collecting my blocks under a single hashtag if you’d like to see them all together (If you are also making this quilt, please do the same! I love seeing different quilters’ blocks all gathered in one spot.) Click {here} to see mine.

Springing Forward

Well, it’s about a million years since I last blogged. Whenever I look around and realize what day or month it is, I think “I can’t believe it’s the first of March already!” and look, here we are on the first of March and it’s practically spring. Life really does go by so very quickly.  I spent a good chunk of February extremely under the weather and now I’m making up for lost time.

I’ve been cutting out blocks to get going on my Star Blossoms quilt. I could not dig up the matching background fabric for the first and only block I made last year so I’m really starting over completely. Just plain, easy white Bella Solids 9900-98, my go-to white.

Star Blossoms QuiltThe fabric is Milk Sugar Flower by Elea Lutz. The cutest ever. Pink and mint and orange and red and aqua!

I’m also working on my Farmer’s Wife 1930s blocks! I bought the book for the first one and made zero blocks. This go round I bought the Marti Michell templates (which is quite an investment). The acrylic templates make the process much easier, at least for me. I hate making templates from template plastic. Marti’s templates all have those trimmed corners which make the blocks go together so smoothly, even with the tiniest pieces.

Farmer's Wife 1930s

FM1930s-01-AddieFM1930s-08-Aunt

FM1930s-10-Ava

So far three fabric collections have made it into my FW basket – Bread N Butter by American Jane, Lighthearted by Ayumi Mills, and Morningside Farm by Darlene Zimmerman. There’s plenty of fabric there but I may add a few fun FQs here and there as I go.  I absolutely love making these blocks and I think after I’ve finished the 99 (!!!) for the 1930s book, I’ll go back and do the original Farmer’s Wife.

Happy early spring to you all…

XYZ

VMQ-alphabet-quilt-6

Earlier this year I started Moda’s “Spell It With Fabric” quilt. You can download the free patterns for each letter {here}. Instead of beginning at the beginning with ABC, I started at the end with XYZ. I figured this was a good way to force myself to actually finish it, It worked! Well, almost. I still have to make the borders.

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I’m using Sweet by Urban Chiks, which is a darling 1930s-inspired line. The colors are soft and so feminine and candy-like. It’s an older line (2009ish) so very hard to find now (one of the benefits of hoarding fabric.)

VMQ-alphabet-quilt-1

I finished the letters and filler blocks this weekend at a retreat.  My plan is to continue the scrappy look with the borders, though I am a bit nervous how they will look since they are uneven borders meant to square up the quilt. We shall see…

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The filler blocks are a combination of Lori Holt’s crops and sunflower block patterns. These patterns are both in her {Farm Girl Vintage} book. I adore adore adore that entire book. Filled with cuteness.

My Small World QAL – Section 4

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Welcome to Section 4 of the My Small World QAL. There’s a little bit of everything in this section – Clam shells, Economy square, pin wheel, 60 degree triangles, Orange Peel, and embroidery! I’ve gotten off to a slow start with this quilt after choosing my fabrics but once I got into my rhythm I’ve loved working on this. The tiny pieces are fun and challenging.

One of my hurdles in getting going was template making. There are a lot of tiny templates for this project and I was overwhelmed every time I sat down to trace and cut them.  In the end, I took paper copies of the template pages to my local print shop and had them laminated. It cost me less than $4 and I have quite a bit more confidence in the accuracy. Plus they’re labeled!

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There are three things I couldn’t live without while working on this project – 1. Frixion pen, 2. Add a quarter ruler, and 3. Ziploc bags for keeping each section sorted. I trace my pieces with the laminated template and Frixion pen and then use my rulers and rotary cutter to add the 1/4′ seam. For applique shapes, I cut around the template, eyeballing the seam allowance.

Which brings us to my next hurdle – the applique. I’ve tried several methods in the past but my favorite has always been freezer paper. It involves quite a bit of prep but the results are pretty fantastic. Very crisp edges and perfectly shaped pieces. (Jan Patek has a wonderful video tutorial for this method.) If you have a Silhouette Cameo, I wrote a very basic tutorial on using it to cut your shapes that you can find here.

This summer hasn’t allowed me much extra time for applique prep so I’m keeping it simple with back-basting and needle turn. It took me a few rounds to feel like I was back in the hang of it, but now I’m in love with needle turn. It’s also VERY portable.

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-Section4-01

I use a bit larger seam allowance than most tutorials mention. Anything less than 1/8″ seams makes my edges fray and I can’t poke and prod it into submission.  Here’s my prepped applique piece – seam allowance marked and basted onto my background with a contrasting thread. I’ve marked lines on my background as well for a placement guide.

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-Section4-03

A quilter’s knot holds my applique thread in place (no, I’m not using a matching color. It doesn’t show since you work the stitches in the back.). I pull the needle up right at the basting thread.

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-Section4-04

An important tip is to keep the thread perpendicular to the fabric edge. If you are bit haphazard your shape can get skewed and wonky. I fought those wonky stitches in the binding of my first few quilts and they always looked twisted and ugly.

Then you sweep the seam allowance underneath the shape with your needle and take a stitch, hiding your thread in the fold you create with the fabric. Press with your finger as needed. You may also need to cut out the basting stitches as you travel around to give you room to push the fabric edges underneath.

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Here’s my finished block of orange peels and you can see a peek of my clamshells (which I just adore!  I want to make and entire tiny clamshell quilt.)

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-Section4-06

Excuse my untrimmed threads.

There are a few things that have helped me while working on section 4:

  • Edge-stitching each section as I completed it and going around the entirely of Section 4 once it was finished. This will prevent too much fraying on the edges and keep all those seams together while I work on the rest of the quilt.
  • Don’t press your background/sky as you sew. Just use your fingers to nest the seams as you go and press the whole thing once it’s all pieced.
  • Trim and square up as you go. Even the tiniest pieces! I can see a big difference in my pinwheels that I squared up versus the ones I just sewed together. Will it matter in the long run? No, but it makes me feel more accomplished to have perfect little points.
  • Pay attention to the pattern. I had to recut several pieces because I cut with abandon instead of paying attention to the direction of the template.
  • And there is a little cheat if all of the tiny pieces are keeping you from starting this quilt! The pattern shows with dimensions of the subsections of each section to help you keep things accurate. You can use some cheater fabrics or larger pieces cut to these dimensions. If applique is not your thing, put in a favorite print instead!
  • My main challenge with this quilt is honestly choosing fabrics. The pieces are quite small so many medium-scale prints won’t work and forget large-scale! I am trying to cut down the time I spend staring at and fondling fabrics by choosing colors that are similar to the original. There’s no such thing as the perfect fabric combination with so much going on in this quilt. You really can’t go wrong.

The only bit of Section 4 I have left to do is the embroidery. I have to think more on my plan for quilting before I get to that, though. I imagine I will add the embroidery on the top layer of my finished quilt.

I hope you are inspired by this wonderful Jen Kingwell pattern! Don’t forget to check in with my co-hosts on their blogs and especially on Instagram. There are so many lovely inspiration photos in the #mysmallworldQAL hashtag, as well.

Happy Sewing!

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

Little Joys QAL

I’m taking part in Fat Quarter Shop’s Little Joys Quilt Along! It features Elea Lutz’s brand-new Christmas line, Little Joys. She designed the fantastically pretty Flower Milk Sugar and this Christmas line is beyond cute, too.

We are making a Christmas mini quilt –

When this fabric came in the mail, my 3-year-old son was very excited because, well, Christmas! He wanted me to start sewing it together right away but I told him we had to wait a few weeks. Then he said, “And then it will be Christmas!” How sweet are they at that age?

Fat Quarter Shop has kits and the free patterns will be released one week at a time, starting July 8 (next week).

Here’s the full list of bloggers who are sewing along with us!
Sedef of Down Grape Vine Lane (@downgrapevinelane)
Nadra of Ellis & Higgs (@ellisandhiggs)
Tina of Emily Ann’s Closet (@emilyannskloset)
Greg of Grey Dogwood Studio (@greydogwoodstudio)
Jessie of Messy Jesse (@messyjesse1)
Melissa of Oh How Sweet (@ohhowsweetco)
Kristyne of Pretty By Hand @prettybyhand)
Kerry of Very Kerry Berry (@verykerryberry)
Lisa of Vintage Modern Quilts (@vintagemodernquilts)
Erin of Why Not Sew (@whynotsewquilts)

This will be an Instagram-based Quilt Along, so don’t forget to follow us @fatquartershop and @elealutz and use #LittleJoysQuiltAlong to show us your beautiful blocks!

My Small World QAL – Fabrics + Plans

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-00

Welcome to the My Small World Quilt-Along! I am in love with this pattern – like all of Jen Kingwell’s designs, it is unique and adorable. It combines a lot of traditional block designs and techniques, including a bit of embroidery. It’s meant as a wall quilt, finishing at around 33″ x 52″.  I’m going to make mine larger by expanding the background so it finishes around 88″ x 64″ – a better size for a twin bed or throw.

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-01

A quilt like this just wants to be scrappy and I’m happy to oblige. I pulled 14 fat quarters from my stash as a starting point and I’ll add scraps to fill in as a I go. I noticed while reading through the pattern that there are a lot of 2 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ pieces, which are great for Moda candy (2 1/2″ squares) and charm squares (5″ square) so I’m working some of those in from my stash, as well. My only rule is no pink or purple (at least not as a main color in the print).

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-02

I’ve also rounded up a selection of low volume prints from my scrap bin. I suspect I’ll end up having to purchase a few more once the main part of the quilt is complete. Low volumes are hard to come by and I’ve been using them up quite a bit in recent projects.

VMQ-my-small-world-QAL-03

My plan is to cut all the background bits first since those are rotary cut. I went through the pattern and made a tally of all the necessary pieces of each size. Then I’ll make my templates for the rest of the pieces and jump in with section one.

If you are joining us on this quilt-along journey, be sure to take a look at the erratum from QuiltMania for section 1. You can download that {here}.

And also pop by to visit my co-hosts! The hastag #mysmallworldQAL is already filling up with wonderful inspiration on Instagram.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

My Small World QAL

MySmallWorldQAL

Next week we are officially starting the Quilt-Along (QAL) for Jen Kingwell’s fantastic My Small World pattern. You can find the pattern in Quilt Mania’s special 2015 spring edition. It’s in bookshops like Barnes and Noble or get the digital version online {here}. NOTE: Looks like that’s actually a paper copy. See Kerry’s detailed post about where to buy, including online shops in the US that carry it. One is Happiness is Quilting, one of my local quilt shops. It’s a great shop so I’d recommend buying from them. 😉MSWqal300

I’m co-hosting with some super talented people. We will be posting on our blogs and quite a bit on Instagram, as well, so links for both are shown below. Be sure to check out the IG hashtag – #mysmallworldqal.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

I hope you can join us!

The Phoebe Foundation Sew-Along

The Phoebe Foundation logo screenres

I was recently contacted by a woman named Julia Rolando in Australia who was in search of some help for her charity group called the Phoebe Foundation. Julia and her husband started the Phoebe Foundation to honor the memory of their darling daughter Phoebe, who they lost to a congenital heart defect when she was just three years old.

The Phoebe Foundation works to make hospital stays more comfortable for young patients and their families in the Cardiac and Intensive Care Units. One of Julie’s goals is to create small quilts that the children can keep. These quilts will not only keep them warm, but they are an expression of love, hope, and prayer for these little ones with broken hearts.

Please help Julia and her small group of sewists to create quilts for these sweet little ones. She is asking for wonky cross blocks and has kindly provided a tutorial {download here}. She is asking for 10.5″ unfinished blocks, but feel free to make slightly larger so her group can square them up to the same size. If you have a small group in your guild or a group of quilty friends, it would be a great project to get together to make a set of blocks for a little quilt and post them all at once. Please keep in mind that these blocks will be incorporated into quilts for children under long term hospital care and/or palliative care, so think bright and cheery! Solids, stripes, polka dots are all great and simple choices for your blocks.  It’s important to use fabric that does not include any FOOD or DRINK related items, as children in the hospital are often under fluid and dietary restrictions and reminders of these items can be distressing.

The blocks can be mailed to:

The Phoebe Foundation/Julia Rolando
Care of Kinglake Post Office
1/14 Whittlesea Kinglake Road
Kinglake, Victoria 3763
Australia

I so hope many of you will sew along with me. I’m going to make a set of blocks for a boy and one for a girl. If you would like to share this info on your own blog, I’ve created a button that you can grab {here} or in my sidebar.

Thank you!Phoebe-Foundation-sew-along

The Never-Ending Quilt

Red & Aqua Quilt

Oh, this red and aqua quilt. I’ve been calling it the Never-Ending Quilt because it felt like I would never ever finish it. I’d grown tired of it, bored with it, so over it that working on it became joyless. I was determined to finish it because it was basted and partly quilted so it seemed like the worst was over. And also because I wanted those basting safety pins to use for the other 10 quilt tops I have waiting in the wings. Mostly that.

Red & Aqua | Detail

About half of the blocks in the quilt came from a Red + Aqua Bee I took part in almost three years ago. It was a mess of a bee where even the host dropped out, but I was one of the early months so I came away with most of my blocks (thank you, bee friends!) Oddly enough, I even received a block (maybe two) many months after the bee ended. The package was the original one I’d mailed, all shredded and taped up, and marked something like “address unknown/return to sender.” I expected that my package had gone astray and inside I would find the red and aqua strings I’d mailed out. But no. Inside were two finished blocks. I remember turning them over and over in my hands and looking again and again at the package, not comprehending. Until I realized what they’d done. I guess that is one way to save on postage. Oh, failing US postal service, you silly fool…

When I had all of the blocks together, I decided the quilt needed some pink so I made 14 additional blocks, ’cause why not? Why take the easy way out and just use the lovely blocks others made for me? Not this girl.

Red & Aqua | Detail

This vintage quilt top I found for a song was my inspiration:

Vintage String Quilt 2 (Detail)

{That quilt is badly made and mostly polyester but I just love it. Some day I will quilt it and use it.}

The jury is still out on whether the red sashing is a good or bad addition. But there is no doubt about the binding. It’s my favorite part. I love a scrappy binding (this one is made entirely with leftovers bits from my Black + Aqua Quilt which makes it even more awesome because I didn’t have to cut anything!).

Red & Aqua | Scrappy Binding

I basted this quilt when it was over 100 degrees in July and I was 6 months pregnant. You can assume that means I didn’t do a stellar job. Because I didn’t. There are some lumps/folds/puckers/acne. Quilt acne! That’s what happens when you baste with a basketball affixed to your midsection.

What to call the quilting design? Scallops? I love the look of it, but it was a bad choice for an all-over design on a such a large quilt (better suited to filler in limited areas). I will do this pattern again, but I will use it wisely.

Red & Aqua | Detail

I have a dislike/hate relationship with this quilt. We are working on it. Taking things one day at a time. It’s not you, quilt, it’s me. I need some space. It would be good for us to see other people. I’m definitely going to start seeing other quilts and lots of other fabrics. Truth be told, I’ve been seeing other quilts and fabrics the whole time you’ve been in the picture.

Red & Aqua | Back

One day, probably this July, in fact, I will be sitting on this quilt with my little family, listening to a concert at the Arboretum or watching fireworks in Fair Park, and I will love this happy and patriotic quilt, boils and all. But today I’m going to fold it up and tuck it out of sight while I work on prettier things.

Dimensions: 76″ x 78″

Fabrics: a huge assortment of red, aqua and pink strings, Lipstick Ta Dot from Michael Miller (backing)

Quilting Thread: Aurifil 50 wt #2600

Started: May 2010

Completed: April 2013

Meet: My Bernina 440 QE

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Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Meet My Sewing Machine blog hop. I’m glad you’re here!

I own a Bernina 440QE (quilter’s edition) that I purchased in 2011. It was my upgraded-upgrade machine (meaning it was my second good machine since I started quilting.) I tested Berninas when I bought my first nice machine (a Pfaff Creative Expression) in 2010 but decided they were too pricey. Then in 2010, I met a few women at the Dallas MQG who had Berninas and brought them to our Saturday Sews. That was fine. I was still happy with my Pfaff. And then our guild started meeting at the Bernina store and that was the end of it. That machine had to come home and live with me! At that point, I felt like I knew enough about quilting and sewing machines to deserve such a fancy Rolls Royce of a sewing machine.

There are two aspects of the Bernina that I ADORE. First, is the BSR – Bernina Stitch Regulator. I couldn’t free motion worth a swear word on my Brother, but was decent on my Pfaff. With the BSR, I can pretty much do any design I set my mind to and it looks pretty profesh. (You know, professional.)

Giant Scrappy Blocks | Detail

The second thing I love about my Bernina is what they call the Barbie case and all of those Swiss-made all-metal presser feet inside. Droooool.

My-Bernina-440-03

The foot I love most is #37, the 1/4″ foot. It sews a perfect scant 1/4″ seam. It was very smart of Bernina to make the foot numbers so prominent on each foot. None of my previous sewing machines were so user-friendly. There is one feature I would love to have – an automatic thread cutter.  The Berninas are also kinda noisy compared to many other sewing machines. Maybe that’s due to the all-metal feet and parts. Even so, I would recommend this machine to a friend. In fact, most of my friends have one. At retreat, we sit at the Bernina Table. It’s the cool kids table.

The Bernina is a majah (said like a Spice Girl, specifically Victoria Beckham) upgrade from my first beginner baby machine, a Brother something-or-other.  It was a $200 super basic machine that quickly fell apart when I started making a quilt every other week (no joke. I did that.)  I also own a Brother serger that is rarely used, and I do have  have a few other dream machines I’d like to own if I had the space.

Janome Horizon MC7700-QCP

These machines were in all of the workshops at QuiltCon so I spent an entire day sewing on one. And it was a dream. Super quiet, all of the bells and whistles. This would definitely be a delight to sew on every day.

Juki TL-2000Qi FS

I’ve never even tested this machine, but I’ve heard good things. It would be my quilting machine and I’d use my Bernina mostly for piecing.

Long-arm of Some Variety

I’ve gotten to play on a long-arm a couple of times, and I would LOVE to own one. That would necessitate a MUCH larger sewing room, but a girl can dream.

Speaking of sewing rooms, mine is jammed full of stuff very nice.  I have three windows so I get lots of natural light and hardwood floors that make it easy to sweep up sewing messes (charm pack dust, thread explosions, etc). I keep most of my fabric stashed away in the closet, but I like to display pre-cuts and neatly folded fat quarters because they just look so pretty.

Moda Pre-Cuts | My Studio
{Moda fat quarter bundles in aqua DVD holders from the Container Store}

studio: Aug 2012
{My cutting table from Martha Stewart’s collection for Home Decorators}
studio: Aug 2012
{Vintage shelf with pre-cuts. I store a lot of stuff in various glass jars like these and these.}

vintage chair - after
{My sewing chair – a vintage one that I painted and reupholstered}

fat quarter storage
{CD storage unit from Pottery Barn filled with fat quarters}

That’s my machine and my sewing space all in one. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to visit the others stops and sign up for the linky party.

SUNDAY, MARCH 17
Erin @ Sew at Home Mummy
Angela @ Heart of Charnwood
Shannon @ Crafty Turtle
Amy @ Stitchery Dickory Dock

MONDAY, MARCH 18
Ebony @ Love Bug Studios
Jaclyn @ Jaclyn Quilts
Amy @ Diary of a Quilter

TUESDAY, MARCH 19
Kara@ Me and Elna
Nerissa @ Nissa Made
Elizabeth @ Don’t Call Me Betsy

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20
Carly @ Citric Sugar
Celine @ Espritpatch
Patti @ A Yankee in Queen Liz’s Court

THURSDAY, MARCH 21
Stacey @ The Tilted Quilt
The Jolly Jabber Staff (Chelsey, Kimberly, Debbie)
Rachel @ Sew Happily Ever After!

FRIDAY, MARCH 22
Erika @ Sews it All (Bernina)
Lisa @ Vintage Modern Quilts (Bernina) {ME!}
Adrianne @ On the Windy Side (Bernina)