Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blogger's Pillow Party

As I mentioned a few posts back, it's been my privilege this past month to be the judge for Blogger's Pillow Party hosted by the colorful and talented Rachel over at Stitched in Color. In keeping with the rules of this particular game I'm supposed to announce the winning pillow and feature it on my blog before the end of the month. Guess what? April is so missing a day, but despite that I'm ready to fulfill all my psuedo-contractual obligations and will not have to hand over my judge's tiara.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Lemonade by Erica:
First off, I want to say there were quite a few super-lovely pillows this month at Blogger's Pillow party, so the decision was not an easy one. What I enjoyed about Erica's creation was its simplicity and use of intense colors. I like the way she varied the placement of her strips and that she threw in a surprise square to keep the composition interesting.
Well done, Erica and thanks Rachel for asking me to be April's judge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Winners and More

Will the following people please raise their hands? Or maybe send me an email( with your mailing address.
what a neat idea! would love handwritten labels on all my quilts.
What a fabulous way to transfer text. I am itching to have a go! Please include me in your giveaway
I'm excited to go check out your pattern! I love your quilt. :) I am also so excited to try the transfer sheets! I am just starting out with free motion quilting, and it would be great to practice words! (Especially because then I can put my baby's name in her quilt when I finish it up!) Thanks for the chance to win some!
I would so love to try this...
Oh, I love, love, love your quilt! 
And I'd love the chance to win the Saral transfer paper! It's been on my list of things to pick up.

Congratulations to all of you! I'll have your sample packs out faster than you can start contemplating how much fun it would be to transfer and stitch the entire text of The Declaration of Independence.

I've got more to share with you all today. First off, has anyone else noticed that they are potentially reading this post along with 1000 other folks. Today I reached the 1000 followers mark and there's just something thrilling about that. To those of you who are new, welcome and I'm glad you stopped by. To those who've been here for a while, hey, it's nice to see you again.
May is looking to be super busy. This Sunday I'm teaching a nearly sold out workshop for the Austin Area Quilt Guild all about Improvisational Piecing. I've been designing and making these type of quilts for almost as many years as I've been making quilts. I'm going to be basing my class on a sidebar I wrote for Fresh Quilting titled 10 Ways to Love Improvisation and to help illustrate some of those ways I've been making a few sample blocks. Here's a little peek at one of the blocks that I got so excited about I decided to quilt and bind it.
Seeing as the workshop is this Sunday and I still have a couple other block samples I'd like to make, I don't think I'm going to let myself get that carried away again.
I am also teaching this workshop at CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Costa Mesa California, May 18-22. My Thursday, May 18, workshop is sold out, but the Friday, May 19, Improvisational Piecing workshop still has space available. And, if sunny California is not your thing then I'm also offerring this workshop at CREATE Mixed Media Retreats in not-so-sunny Chicago on Thursday, August 25.
Also, while I'm in Southern California I'll be teaching 3 other workshops at The Sewing Party in Laguna Hills.
Add to that a wee little talk I'm giving this coming Monday evening to the AAQG monthly meeting and I'm looking at a May filled with a little more than some flowers or pilgrims for that matter (don't say, huh? If April showers bring May flowers, then what do May flowers bring?)
So, if one of you 1001 folks happen to be at any of these event, please let me know. We'll work on our secret handshake.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fish Baby's Sweet Dreams

As I mentioned on Monday my Fish Baby Log Cabin quilt is featured today at Sew, Mama, Sew and along with a free PDF of the pattern the folks at Sew, Mama, Sew are offering 20% off my other downloadable patterns. Interested? Check it out here.

As to why I called the pattern the Fish Baby Log Cabin, I made the quilt as a gift for my swim coach Andrea Fischer, aka Fish. She and her husband are expecting a baby and I love to make and give handmade gifts. Perfect combination.
I also mentioned on Monday that I had a new Saral Paper project to show off as well as a giveaway of some Saral Paper sample packs.

I really debated about what I wanted to make this time with my roll of Saral transfer paper. I knew I still wanted to work with text but I also wanted to be able to stitch that text without the stopping and starting that the previous project called for. In addition I wanted the finished item to be useable in my home or on my body.
To that end I came up with this:

Like the potholder project I began by writing my text on the wrong side of the transfer paper as it was positioned on top of my fabric. Because the right side is coated with a transfer powder, my handwritten text was easily readable on the fabric. I then machine stitched the words using the transferred letters as my guide. This time however I didn't break off thread in between words but stitched ellipse-like shapes to move from word to word.
I'm calling this project the Sweet Dreams pillow sham because, with a nod to the Eurythmics, I repeated the phrase, "Sweet dreams are made of these." 
I sewed my embroidered panel to a wonderfully soft cotton stripe, backed the pillow with another cotton print, and lined the stitched sections with a cotton muslin. Top that off with a bit of Kona cotton in turquoise as a binding along the pillow opening and there you have it.
So, what say you? Are you ready to try some transfer paper? Because if you are, I've got 5(yes 5) sample packs to giveaway. These sample packs have an assortment of transfer papers that will allow you to experiment on all color of fabrics. This stuff works with both machine and hand embroidery and when you're done stitching, it washes out, so nobody knows it was even ever there.
Here's a thought: download the free quilt PDF and then when you're done, use the transfer paper to make a beautifully "handwritten" label.  Or download the free quilt PDF and decorate some of the strips with stitched poetry or silly sentiments. The sky's the limit. So leave a comment and I'll announce the winners on Sunday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Winner and Sneak Peek

I feel like I'm on a compressed schedule today because tonight is the beginning of Passover. I find this sense of being rushed a little disconcerting because I'm not actually hurried today. This is the first year possibly ever that I have been invited out for both seders. It's odd and also amazingly liberating. I'm only responsible for a few side dishes. Surprisingly though I feel pressed for time. I'm guessing it's an innate response based on years of actually being pressed for time the day of the first seder.
No matter. I'm going to take a deep breath and leisurely announce the winner of Jennifer Casa's book, TYV: Crafting with Kids.
It's Katy. She wrote:

Those scribblers look too fun! I LOVE doing art projects with my boys outside. Their favorite is finger painting- usually with paints but sometimes we use edible things like jell-o and pudding. The messier the better! I'm super excited we are expecting a girl to join in our messy but super fun art projects!

Congratulations Katy! Email me your address at and I'll see to it that you get your book faster than I can clean all the endless matzah crumbs that will litter my house over the next week.

I'll be absent from this space tomorrow and Wednesday, but I'll be back on Thursday to promote a couple of things. First, I've got a new project featuring Saral transfer paper that I'll be detailing as well as hosting a giveaway of several Saral sample packs. Also, as tesimony that on the internet you can be in two places at the same time, I'll be offering a free PDF quilt pattern over at Sew, mama, sew as part of their celebration of digital delivery sewing.
In an attempt to get you all excited about that and because I took the pictures so I might as well post them, here is a sneak peek of the quilt I created.
It's called the Fish Baby Log Cabin. Any guesses as to why?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crafting with Kids Blog Tour or Why You're About to Become Jennifer Casa's Newest and Biggest Fan

You know why you're about to become Jennifer Casa's newest and biggest fan? Because of this:
Jennifer has published her first book, Teach Yourself Visually: Crafting with Kids, and it is beyond terrific. The book features 75(yup, 75) fun, doable, educational crafts that you can do with your kids or, in my case, your neighbor's kids. Each project, most of which use items you already have even if you're not a crafty person, are simply explained and then each step is illustrated with a photo. The projects are divided up thematically such as seasons or holidays or educational, so you can easily flip to the type of craft you'd like to do. Best of all, these are projects that kids can really do themselves, not something so elaborate that they'll just stand by as you make the project.
To test the kid-friendliness of these projects and because I'm not one to make wildly audacious claims without rigorous field testing and because I live next door to three of the cutest kids on the planet, I invited Isabella, Francesca, and John over to my house the other day for a bit of crafting.
And, when they weren't looking, I took pictures of them. Like this one:
OK, maybe not that one.
Anyway, we made two projects from Jennifer's book, Marbled Paper and Salvaged Scribblers.
I decided to start with the Marbled paper project because I'd done something similar in the past with my own kids back when they were young and pliable, so I felt like I had a bit of experience.
I expected the kids to enjoy the tactile qualities of this craft, drizzling the paint, swirling the water, impressing their paper on the surface to create the marbled effect. What surprised and delighted me were all the questions they asked about why the process worked. A real teachable moment there, folks.
We also made the Salvaged Scribblers which are shaped crayons made out of stubs of old crayons.

Full disclosure: I may have purchased the silicone tray that day to make this specific project, but, in my defense, it's Daffodil Savings Week at Joann's. Also, these crayons turned out so beautifully that I can totally see making this as a gift for a little friend. Jennifer is a step ahead of me and includes a sidebar for this project that teams these crayons with the Itty Bitty Book-in-a-Box project and recommends the pair as party favors. What a fabulous idea!
Just check out how amazing our scribblers turned out.
Raise your hand if you want to ditch the kids and make these projects yourself. Well, no need to do that. We can all work together. And to facilitate that the generous folks at Wiley Publishing are giving away a signed copy of Teach Yourself Visually: Crafting with Kids to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me about a favorite craft you remember doing as a child or one you've shared with your kids or neighbor's kids. I'll leave the comments open until Friday morning and announce a winner then.
Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for more info about the book and more opportunities to win a copy.

Wednesday, April 13
A Stitch in Dye  -
Friday, April 15
Smile and Wave  -
Monday, April 18
Elsie Marley  -
Wednesday, April 20
Friday, April 22
Stitches in Play  -
Tuesday, April 26
Aesthetic Outburst  -
Thursday, April 28
Artsy Crafty Babe  -

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What would I do for a Klondike bar?

How about post the name of the giveaway winner.
It's Susan in Seattle. She wrote:

I don't generally eat desserty type things, but the Klondike does sound sorta good. I think I'll try one on my next trip to the market. Thanks for the tutorial! I think I'll make 4 of these and put em together in a larger piece!
Congratulations, Susan!
Send me an email at and Tammy will get your fabric to you faster than you can wipe that tiny smear of chocolate off the tip of your nose. Klondike bars are pretty good eating, aren't they?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kaleidoscope Table Topper Tutorial and Giveaway Extravaganza

Is it just me or do you feel like you've got a virtual pair of pom poms in your hands and you're ready to clap them together as you cheer, "Ready! Let's go!"?
Just me...oh well.
I however am so psyched to walk you through making this:
I had wanted to talk about the inspiration for this design because it came from an amazing book called Quilts of Illusion which I bought years ago at the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C., but there are 19 images to this tutorial, so I'll save that for another post.
Let's start with the ingredients, shall we.
You'll need:
Fat eighths of 4 solids and 5 prints (in sample that's all the solids except the Amber)
Fat quarters of 1 solid(Amber Kona) and 1 print (for binding)
3/4 yard of solid cotton for backing fabric
Cotton batting measuring about 30" x 30"
Coordinating machine sewing and quilting thread
Coordinating hand sewing thread
Hand sewing needle
Rotary cutter
Self healing mat
Quilter's clear, acrylic ruler
8 1/2" x 11" paper
Paper scissors
Quilt basting materials

and these:
 These are your templates for cutting the triangles needed to make the patchwork. One is store bought and the other you will make. The purchased template is the Simpli-EZ 45 degree triangle by Darlene Zimmerman. I bought mine at Joann's. It can be found online here and probably a bunch of other places if you google it. 
To make the right triangle, measure 4 1/4 '' from one corner of your paper.

Mark this point with your pencil. Then measure a span 4 1/4" from that same corner that runs along the perpendicular edge. Mark that point. using a ruler, draw a line that connects the two marked points. Bonus points if you remember that that's called the hypotenuse of our right triangle. Using paper scissors, cut out paper triangle template.
Now that we have our templates, we can cut out fabric for the top. The top consists of 4 similar blocks, so I'm going to detail the process of making one block. To make the table topper you'll need to repeat this procedure 4 times and then sew the blocks together.
Each block includes 4 large print triangles and 4 large solid triangles. These triangles are cut using the purchased template. 
For those using the Marmalade bundle: In an attempt to limit fabric waste, all the top fabrics except for the Kona Amber Solid are in fat eighths amounts. That means that the solid that's most oft repeated is the Amber. Plan out your blocks to accommodate the fabric amounts. If you choose to follow my fabric choices and placement, you should have enough fabric.

Cutting and Assembling the Block:
Note: All seam allowances are 1/4".
From 4 different solids and four different prints, cut 8 large triangles using purchased template.
Lay cut triangles on a flat surface so that prints alternate with solids.
We are going to assemble the triangles to create 2, half-circle-like units.
Pin a solid and print triangle right sides together. Sew along one common long edge.
Press seam to one side.
Repeat the previous 2 steps with a second pair of triangles.
Pin pairs, right sides together, so that print edge of one pair will be stitched to solid edge of second pair. Sew together. Press seam to one side.
Repeat the previous steps to craft a second half-circle unit.
Pin half-circle units, right sides together, along common straight edge, matching center seam. Sew together. Press seam open.
Using homemade template and solids corresponding to colors present in block, cut 4 right triangles.
Working with one solid right triangle at a time, fold triangle along long edge and finger crease midpoint. Open triangle to reveal creased midpoint. Fold matching solid large triangle along base and finger crease midpoint. Open to reveal midpoint crease.
With right sides together, pin right triangle to corresponding large triangle edge, matching creases.
Sew together. Press seam to one side.
Repeat the previous 3 steps to attach remaining right triangles to block.
Make 3 more blocks, varying your print and sold choices as desired. Sew the blocks together, first into pairs, then sew the pairs together, along one long edge to make a foursome.
Layer backing, wrong side facing up, batting, and top, right side facing up, on a flat surface. Baste layers together using your preferred method.
Machine or hand quilt layers. Trim edges of quilt so that layers are flush.
I use a single fold binding, so cut the binding fabric into 1 1/2" strips and then sew them together using diagonal seams. Machine sew binding to quilt, mitering corners as you reach them. Turn binding to back side and hand stitch in place, turning under 1/4" seam allowance as you work.

There you have it. Pretty quick and easy and fabulous looking with the fabrics from Marmalade. This won't come as a shocker considering the title of my post, but sweet Tammy at Marmalade is giving away a Kaleidoscope Table Topper bundle to one of you lovely folks. All you have to do is answer the question, "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?" or just leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I have been lax... letting you all know about several upcoming events.
First and foremost, though I mentioned last Friday about Bloggers Pillow Party, I failed to detail(with pictures) the amazing prizes. Oh yeah, I vaguely referred to fabric, but did you imagine that fabric meant this:
Yup, 24 Kona Cotton fat quarters, courtesy of Sew Fresh Fabrics. Also, I'll be giving away a stitch in dye bundle of hand dyed and patterned fabric, sort of like this one:
As for upcoming fun, I've created a little icon in the right hand column that links to a listing of all the workshops and talks I'll be giving over the next few months. Add to that my classes at Stitch Lab(also accessible via a handy icon/link) and there's loads of opportunities for you and me to meet and learn together.
For more immediate gratification, check back here tomorrow for my Kaleidoscope Table Topper tutorial and giveaway.

Friday, April 1, 2011

In which I am humbled by your kindness and start blabbing about other things

Wow! I have been blown away by the amazing show of support. You all have truly left me speechless.
Except, I want to tell a little parable that illustrates how appreciative I am of all your kind, generous, thoughtful...even Mr. Webster doesn't list enough adjectives to describe how terrific your response has been.  The parable which I think comes from the Talmud, but maybe not, is that every person should carry two pieces of paper in their pockets at all times. On one piece of paper you should write something like, " I am nothing but dust and ashes." And the other piece of paper should read something similar to," The world was created just for me." The parable goes on to instruct that when you're feeling arrogant and a little too self-obsessed you should pull out the first piece of paper and humble yourself a little. Conversely, when you're feeling low, you should pull out the second and remind yourself that you are special and unique and valuable.
For most of us that create, being humbled is just part of everyday life. Wondering if your newest project will work out or worrying that an idea is silly or trite or cliche keeps you humble. So, that first piece of paper is pretty well taken care of. What's hard to come by is the second piece of paper. Well, I want to thank you all for giving me that second piece of paper. 

As for the other things I'm planning on blabbing about, they are numerous and probably shouldn't go in one post, so I'll focus on the ones that are in the most immediate future.
Rachel, over at Stitched in Color, has asked me to be the judge for April's edition of Bloggers Pillow Party. Click on the links to learn all about the contest rules and prizes. What prizes? Fabric, people. What else would we want? Also, while you're there take a moment to browse around Rachel's space. You won't be sorry.

Also, I just finished this custom order:
It's a hand dyed whole cloth king-sized quilt, two whole cloth pillows and a wide striped pillow. Other than the sense of relief ans accomplishment that comes with finishing a large project like that, I have leftovers.
These leftovers are all quarter yards except for one quarter pound scrap bundle that contains a lot of the striped fabrics. They're all going in my shop this afternoon.

And last, but not least because I've got more to tell you about, but this is the last thing I'm going to mention in today's post, I'm going to be hosting a tutorial/giveaway next Wednesday, April 6.
Would you like to learn how to make this?
I'm calling it the Kaleidoscope Table Topper and it's crafted out of some amazing cottons available over at Marmalade fabrics. In fact, the lovely Tammy has even created a bundle which includes all the fabrics you'd need to make this very topper. Next Wednesday, I'll walk you through the process of making the table topper and Tammy will give away a bundle to one lucky winner. If, however, an eager beaver or two would like to get a jump start on purchasing their bundle then click here.

Totally unrelated postscript: I saw a stage production of West Side Story last Wednesday and am still humming the Live in America song. I like the island Manhattan...