Category Archives: Bees, Swaps, QALs, and Hops

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

My-Bernina-440-02

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)

Meet: My Machine Blog Hop

Sew at Home Mummy

 

I’ve been asked to participate in a blog hop all about sewing machines.  I love my Bernina so of course I said yes! If you are looking for a new (or first!) sewing machine, this blog hop will help you out a lot. Here are the scheduled dates and stops:

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)

There will be giveaways and other fun stuff along the way. See you then!

Late Night Sewing

Since Ben has started going to bed alone (progress! We have been co-sleeping and it can be a roller coaster of good and bad), nighttime is my favorite time again. It means at least a couple of uninterrupted hours of sewing. Tonight I pulled out my courthouse step blocks from the Second Time Around the Block bee. Man, I love this quilt already!

Courthouse steps was perhaps not the wisest choice for a bee since it requires accuracy – or at least consistent inaccuracy – and that is tricky with twelve different quilters and machines. Most of the blocks are precisely 12.5″ or very close to it, some need a little fudging and some are way off. But that’s okay because they’re all beautifully sewn and the ones that don’t work on the front will work on the back. The steps pattern looks pretty obvious in the photo though it is less obvious in person. I’m hoping it will become more apparent as I get more blocks sewn together. I didn’t plan this quilt and I was expecting to have to make a lot of blocks to make the ones I received fit together, but I’ll only have to make six. If I had planned, the four color layout would be consistent and repetitive but I actually like the scrappiness of this no-plan version.

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Courthouse Steps

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The Courthouse Steps block is a variation of a log cabin block. It traditionally has red center squares and a variety of light and dark fabrics that give you a chessboard effect on your finished quilt top (example here). This is the block I’ve chosen for my turn in the Twice Around the Block Bee. This tutorial is mainly a how-to for my bee members but will be useful for anyone else who wants to try this block. I’ve chosen fabrics in four colors (red, green, blue, and white) for a Christmas-y quilt.

To make one block like my sample block, you will need:
5 green strips, measuring 1 1/2″ wide by varying lengths (the longest strip you will need is 12.5″)
5 white strips, measuring 1 1/2″ wide by varying lengths
5 red strips, measuring 1 1/2″ wide by varying lengths
5 blue strips, measuring 1 1/2″ wide by varying lengths
1 pink center square, measuring 2 1/2″ square

*A note about cutting*
This block is very scrap friendly. Scraps will need to be at least 1 1/2″ wide. I used fat quarters for my fabrics and was able to get 12 strips from each. I highly recommend using a Shape Cutter from June Tailor to cut your strips. It is fast and makes the cuts more accurate. (fabric needs for an entire quilt are given at the end of this post)

Piecing the Block

Take your center square and choose two strips in different colors. One strip gets sewn to the top of the block; the other strip gets sewn on the opposite side. I’ve chosen red and white strips in the example below.

Press your seams to one side (I pressed all of mine away from the center square) and trim the excess fabric. You can be a lazy quilter like me and trip the edges carefully scissors at your machine:

or you can trim them with your rotary cutter:

I used both methods for my blocks and they all came out to 12.5″ in the end. Do whichever method works for you. Add your next two color strips on the opposite sides of the block. After a few rows you will have something that looks like this:

Continue to add strips to each side until you have a total of 5 strips in each color. This is what your finished block will look like:

When you put two blocks together, you can see the secondary pattern start to emerge:

pattern

Pretty, huh? The cutting part is tedious, but the piecing is fast and easy and the finished look is definitely worth the time. I hope you all try it! And I hope my bee members enjoy making these.

*For a 96″ x 96″ quilt, you will need to make 64 blocks. Fabric requirements are 22 dark fat quarters, 19 light fat quarters, and 3/8 yard of your center square fabric.

snowmaggedon

That is how the weather man described the weather we’ll be experiencing tomorrow – snowmaggedon. After four snow days last week, I’m pretty sick of the cold but I honestly don’t mind one more day cooped up inside. It will give me some quality time with my new sewing machine.

I bought a Bernina Aurora 440 QE on Monday. I’m thrilled with her so far. Thrilled! She sews like a dream. I can’t wait to test out some free motion quilting with the stitch regulator. This new machine has definitely given me some creative drive. I finished my seriously overdue November block for the Ringo Pie bee.

The theme was sweets.

ringo pie - November

My original block idea was a disaster. Paper piecing from someone else’s pattern is one thing, but it’s a whole different game to come up with your own workable pattern. It’s a fun challenge, though, and I just may figure out how to make that block work.

DFW readers, don’t forget that Dallas Modern Quilt Guild meets on Thursday! We’re having a binding workshop you won’t want to miss. Details here.