Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello Thirteen

On this last Monday of 2012, I find myself wondering where the year went! Admittedly, it was a busy year full of lots of exciting things, many of which I still can't share, but I have to say, as awesome as 2012 was, I think 2013 is shaping up to be even more exciting.

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I'm awfully proud of the quilts I've made this year. If you asked me to pick a favorite, I don't think I could! I was lucky enough to see my work in print again this year, which was wonderful, and I loved seeing photos of my quilts hanging at Fall Quilt Market.

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I'm sad to see that all three of the bees I participated in this year will not be continuing into 2012. But perhaps the pile of bee blocks in a bucket in my sewing room will have time to become the quilts they've always wanted to be :)

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I'm also really proud of the patterns and tutorials I've written this year, and the Lucky Stars Block of the Month Club I'm starting for 2013. I cannot get over how many people are participating in the Lucky Stars BOM, and it seems to continue growing every day! This BOM is definitely going to make my 2013 very starry and bright.

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Teaching was another really bright spot of my year. I'm finding that I really enjoy getting to work hands on with my students, and am looking forward to a lot more teaching in 2013. I loved teaching at Sewing Summit, and teaching in my local quilt shop back home has also been a great experience. The girls there are so welcoming and nice, and my students have been such a joy to work with.

Happy New Year to you and your family. Thank you for all of the kind and wonderful comments you leave here on my blog, I really appreciate each and every one. And because I appreciate you, my wonderful followers, so much, I'm giving away a Happy New Year gift - a fat quarter bundle of Bonnie & Camille's Vintage Modern collection. 42 glorious, beautiful fat quarters, just for you! As this giveaway is a thank you to my followers, you must be a follower to enter. Simply leave me a comment here telling me about your brightest memory of 2012, and I'll pick a winner on Thursday, January 3rd. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Happy New Year Giveaway on my blog today
Sunday, December 30, 2012

A superhero quilt for a super boy

I love giving handmade gifts. Sometimes, I drive myself crazy trying to make too many of them, and this year was no exception. I had several handmade gifts planned and in the works, when lo and behold, when we went to visit Santa, my four year old munchkin asked Santa to help Mommy make him a new superhero quilt. I couldn't resist - I'd had the fabric for his quilt, not to mention the design and the math, for months, but had constantly pushed it aside to meet deadline after deadline. So, I decided then and there, I was going to give him a quilt for Christmas, somehow, some way.

The munchkin had a lot to say to this guy this weekend... #latergram

The fabrics in this quilt are an eclectic mix in traditional superhero shades of royal blue, red, gold, and gray. The center of each block is a fussy cut superhero of some kind, and the surrounding fabrics are various prints from my stash that worked nicely. These blocks are super jumbo sized, finishing at 18", thanks to the super jumbo sized faces most of the superheroes.

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The quilt is backed in flannel, and bound in Michael Miller's Cotton Couture, which makes it deliciously soft to snuggle with, and perfect for the chilly nights we've been having as of late.

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I may write a simple pattern for this quilt at some point in the new year- it's a great way to show off large scale prints, without cutting them down tremendously.

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So far, the munchkin is absolutely loving the quilt, and even in spite of all the amazing Lego kits Santa brought, he took several moments to admire and try out his new quilt Christmas morning, which put a huge smile on my face.

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While there is still a day and a half left in 2012, I feel pretty sure that this was my last quilt finish of 2012! Stay tuned tomorrow for a year-end wrap-up that may or may not feature a giveaway for all of you wonderful followers of my blog as a humongous thank you for making my day with all of your comments!

Quilt Stats
name: The Superhero Quilt
size: 72" square
pattern: Fussy Snow Cabins, by me
fabrics: various superhero prints, Lizzy House Castle Peeps, Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow navy herringbone, MoMo It's a Hoot gray dots, Allison Glass's Lucky Penny Bike Path in Red, Timeless Treasures Sketch in Yellow, Sweetwater Reunion gray dots
quilting: overall stipple in white 50 wt Aurifil thread
binding: Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Malibu
Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy holidays to you!

It's really true what they say - it's the most wonderful time of the year! We've had a little cold snap move in here in Florida, and it's making feel even more like the holiday season today :) Here is a sneak peek of the practice block for the Lucky Stars Block of the Month club, going out to all club members on December 26th.

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Happy holidays to you and your family :) I hope you're having lots of fun this holiday weekend!
Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lucky Stars BOM Club FAQ

First of all, thank you so much to those of you who have already joined the Lucky Stars BOM Club! I am so excited to be sewing with all of you throughout 2013 :) If you haven't already joined, you can do so right here or via Craftsy.

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Over the last few days, I've gotten several email questions about the Lucky Stars BOM Club that I wanted to address here, in case you might have the very same question! Here goes...

Q: I'm a subscriber, but I didn't get my Lucky Stars email this month. Did you forget me?
A: No, of course not! But, email can be a tricky thing. First, check in your Spam or Junk folder, as the email may have wound up there. All Lucky Stars emails are sent on the 1st of every month. If it's not in your Spam or Junk folder, make sure to add elizabeth(at)dontcallmebetsy(dot)com to your email's Address Book or Contacts List and then send me an email to tell me about your missing email. Make sure to tell me what email address you subscribed with so I can get your email resent to you quickly.

Q: Can I buy a membership for my friend/sister/neighbor/etc?
A: Absolutely! That's so sweet :) Simply email me after your purchase with the gift recipient's name and email address. Their first email from the club will come on the 26th, so it won't spoil any holiday surprise!

Q: What if I sign up after the 26th? Will I still receive the bonus practice pattern and Paper Piecing Survival Guide?
A: Absolutely, you'll receive the bonus pattern and guide 24-48 hours after joining the club, if you join after the 26th. Keep in mind, though, that the special $10 pricing will only be in effect through January 5th. Starting January 6th, club membership goes up to $15.

Q: Do I pay monthly for the club?
A: Nope, you just pay once! After you purchase your subscription, you're all done paying for the Lucky Stars BOM for the year.

Q: I live overseas/internationally/far, far away - can I still join?
A: As long as you have an email address that works and a computer you can check your email on that also has Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can absolutely join, it doesn't matter where you live!

Q: What if I can't keep up?
A: No worries! Just work at your own pace. The emails you receive from the club will contain your patterns and templates, but there's no obligation to finish each block by the end of the month.


Q: Any tips on picking out my fabrics for the club?
A: The first thing to do in picking out your fabric is to decide how you want to pick your fabrics - do you want to work from a specific color scheme? Do you want to work with a specific fabric collection and pick some coordinating fabrics to go along with them? Once you've figured that out, just be sure to have lots of variety in color value, i.e. a light green and a dark green. We'll be talking a lot about using light and dark fabrics throughout the year, so be sure to have value variety in your fabrics.


Q: Can beginners join the club, or is foundation paper piecing too difficult for a beginner?
A: That's a personal choice, really, but here's my thoughts: if you're interested in learning paper piecing, then go for it! I'll be sending out a practice block to all club members on the 26th that will give you an opportunity to get started with paper piecing, along with my Paper Piecing Survival Guide. Admittedly, my first paper piecing experience involved a lot of swearing, and me throwing my foundation across the room a few times in frustration, but I am not always the best at following directions, and I seem to recall working more from a template than specific step-by-step instructions. Truly, it's up to you - if you are a beginning quilter or quilter with no paper piecing experience, you can definitely do this. It may be a challenge for you, so it's up to you to decide whether or not you're in the mood for that.

I hope you're all having a wonderful week so far! I just finished my Christmas shopping this morning, so I see lots of wrapping paper in my future this weekend, along with some fun family cookie decorating. I hope you have a great day :)
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Introducing the Lucky Stars block of the month club

Good morning! I'm super excited to tell you that after all the encouragement I got last week from you guys, I decided to jump right in and host a paper pieced stars block of the month club for 2013, called Lucky Stars :)


Club members will get a PDF pattern for the block of the month on the 1st of every month, beginning on January 1st. The PDF patterns will include detailed piecing instructions, with photographs and diagrams, as well as the block template(s). You will receive two sets of block templates each month, one for a 12" finished block and one for a 6" finished block, giving you lots of flexibility for using these blocks not only in your BOM quilt but in other patchwork projects as well. To give you an idea of other ways to use these blocks, I used several 6" blocks to create zipper pouches for holiday gifts this year.

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On December 26th, club members will receive a bonus practice block pattern, with basic paper piecing instructions to help you get started or brush up on paper piecing. I will be right there with each of you throughout the year to help you master this fantastic, fun quilting skill. And that's not all! I will be hosting Google Hangout chats throughout the year for members to chat and have a chance to share their successes, as well as any troubles that they're running into, with me and other club members.


From today until January 5th, I am going to run a special on membership for the BOM club - for only $10, you'll receive a total of 25 paper pieced star PDF templates, as well as support from yours truly. After January 5th, club registration will go up to $15 for the year.

What will you need for the club? Well, for starters, you'll need a computer and printer to print your patterns on. Unlike most PDF patterns that you can simply read from your computer or chosen e-reader, you will need to print the paper templates to sew on in order to work on each month's block. You'll also need some fabric that you love. How much? Good question. :) Foundation paper piecing is notorious for using up a lot of fabric, but I will be providing cutting instructions for each block to minimize waste.

Here is rough estimate of the fabric you'll need for the club:
* 35-40 various fat quarters, or 9-10 half-yard cuts of your choice
* 4 yds background fabric for blocks
* 1 1/4 yds for sashing and borders

I'll be raiding my stash for this quilt, for an eclectic, scrappy look, with various low volume prints and light colors for my background fabrics.

What do you say, are you ready to paper piece along with me? Click here to sign up for the club, and make sure to join the Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy Flickr group to share your progress and chat with other BOM'ers. Make sure to grab a button, too! I'm really excited about giving this BOM a try, I sure hope that you're excited too :)

Lucky Stars BOM Button


Friday, December 14, 2012

Sea of Stars QAL: It's a flying geese chase!

Welcome to the latest post in the Sea of Stars quilt along! Haven't started yet? No worries, this is a no-stress, join-in-when-you're-free quilt-along, so feel free to jump right in or bookmark the quilt-along for later :)



Just as there are several different ways to make half-square triangles, there's several ways to do flying geese. I'll show you the two methods I use most often, and you can decide how you'd like to make yours for your Sea of Stars quilt, or you can pin or bookmark this page for future reference!

Anatomy of a Flying Geese unit
A flying geese unit is made up of two integral parts, the geese/goose and the sky, creating a rectangular unit used very frequently in quilts and blocks.

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geese/goose: the focal part of a flying geese unit, shown here in a beautiful print from Denyse Schmidt's upcoming Shelburne Falls line fabrics
sky: background pieces, shown here in white

Construction Two Ways

Method A: Shown in the Sea of Stars pattern, and the method I use most often, though it is slower than Method B

Creates one flying geese unit at a time

To make a 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" flying geese unit, you'll need:
(1) 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle of printed fabric
(2) 2 1/2" squares of white fabric

1. Using a ruler, draw a line across the diagonal of all of your white squares. I like to use either a Frixion pen, which disappears when an iron is applied to it, or a Hera pen, which creates a crease rather than an ink or pencil line. Then, place one at a time on the 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles, as shown below right sides together, with the diagonal line going from the bottom right corner of your rectangle fabric and continuing up to the center of the rectangle fabric.

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2. Stitch just a few threads to the right of your line, just slightly closer to the corner.  

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3. Fold back your white fabric to line up with the corner of your printed fabric.  Press well, using a hot, dry iron.  Trim excess seam allowance down to 1/4".

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A word on waste: To avoid making waste in this step, you can add an additional seam approximately 1/2" closer to the corner from your first seam. Then, when you trim to a 1/4" seam allowance, you create a bonus half-square triangle, to use in a future project. You can do this on both sides of the flying geese units, using this method.

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4. Using the remaining white square, line up raw edges and ensure that your diagonal line makes a triangle when it intersects with the existing neutral square/triangle. Stitch just a few threads closer to the corner again, fold back, press, and trim excess seam allowance.

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Method B: A little more bang for your buck

Creates four flying geese units at once

Honestly, as much as I enjoy the lack of waste in this method, I must be just set in my ways, because I rarely actually use this method, though it is a solid flying geese method. 

To make four 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" flying geese units, you'll need:
(1) 5 3/4" rectangle of printed fabric
(4) 3 3/8" squares of white fabric

A math note: to calculate your own flying geese using this method, simply start with the width of the finished flying geese unit you plan to make, for example here, it's 4 1/2". Add 1 1/4" to that, which in this example equals 5 3/4". That is the size to cut your geese fabric, shown here in a printed fabric. One geese square will yield 4 finished flying geese units. To determine the size to cut your sky fabric, use the height of your finished flying geese unit and add 7/8." For this example, the finished height is 2 1/2", so when you add 7/8" to that, you get  3 3/8". Then, cut four sky squares using that calculation, to create the four flying geese units this method yields.

1. Just as we did in Method A, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of all four of the white squares, using the marking tool of your choice. Place two of the white squares, on the geese square, right sides together, aligning the raw edges of one square with the bottom left corner, and the other square with the top right corner of the geese square. Make sure that the lines you drew align in the center, where the two squares will overlap slightly.

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2. Sew a scant 1/4" seam parallel to the lines you drew on the white squares, on both sides of the line, for a total of two seams.

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3. Cut along the marked line, and ta da you'll have two units! But they're not flying geese just yet. :) Press the seam open for both units.

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4. Take one of the two units and align one of the remaining white squares with the printed corner of the unit in progress, right sides together. Make sure that the marked line is pointing from the corner of the printed fabric through the two white triangles sticking off the printed fabric. This square will hang off the edge slightly, between the two white triangles. Sew a scant 1/4" on both sides of the line, then cut on the line.

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5. Ta da!!! Two flying geese units! Press the seams open, and then repeat with the remaining white square and remaining unit in progress, and you'll have four flying geese units, with no waste.

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Before you sew your flying geese into your blocks, you may want to trim the dog-ears (the pointy bits sticking out over your flying geese). Admittedly, I very rarely do this, because I like to take shortcuts, and I know my machine doesn't have any trouble sewing right over those dogears. I think one of the reasons dogears aren't an issue for me is because I press my seams open. Do what works best for you and your machine here.

Now, we've covered the basic units that you're making for your Sea of Stars blocks, I can't wait to see them coming together in the Flickr group! The next Sea of Stars quilt-along post will be January 5th, to give you time to get through the holidays, and on the 5th, I'll be sharing some basting and quilting tips. Remember, please don't feel like you have to keep up - this is a leisurely quilt-along, meant for you to follow at your own pace! Haven't joined us yet? No problem, jump right in! Everyone is welcome :)

Have a wonderful Friday and a great holiday season weekend!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WiP Wednesday: The one with all the zippers

Zippers, zippers, and more zippers. I have literally used thirteen zippers in the last three days, sewing up holiday gifts and such, but it's been really kind of fun (except for one of them). Are you doing any holiday sewing this year? Here's what I've got going on at the moment...

Finished up:
FPP star zip pouches - you can read more about these here

The collection

Pillows - you can read more about these here

EPP Starflower pillow - done!Spools pillow - detail

Still going:
Kawaii Winter Sampler - I'm falling behind on this one, but I'm still having fun. I have a sneaking suspicion this won't get finished before Christmas, but I really hope to finish it by the end of the year at least.

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Zip pouches for school auction - Just about done, just need to finish up the zipper ends!

New this week:
Zakka Style Zip Organizer - Krista's post during the Zakka Sew Along has been immensely helpful, and I'm now near the finish line on this, just need to finish wrangling the binding.

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A new superhero quilt - The munchkin has been asking for a while, but now that he's mentioned it to Santa, I really want to make this happen. One block down, nineteen more to go!

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Paper pieced star BOM Club - The FPP star zip pouches came from this crazy dream I had where I did a paper pieced star BOM club on my blog for next year. I've sketched out nearly 12 of them so far, and I'm curious - would you be interested in a paper pieced star or just paper pieced BOM club next year? I'm still working out the details of how it would all work and how much it would cost, but would you be interested?

I hope you're having a great week so far, have a wonderful day! Don't forget to catch up on other quilters' and sewists' To Sew lists at Freshly Pieced.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Santa's Sweatshop: The Zip Pouches

I love zip pouches, just love them, can't get enough of them, and I'm hoping some of my friends feel the same way this year. I had a dream a few weeks ago about some doing a foundation paper pieced star block-of-the-month club on my blog next year, and the next morning, I sketched out five stars to get started with. I drafted them in Illustrator, and liked them so much that I wanted to make them right away...so I decided to make some them into 6" blocks and put them on the front of some zip pouches for holiday gifts.

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Pouch #1
Fabrics from: Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures, various gold and aqua prints, RK Quilter's Linen in Straw

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Pouch #2
Fabrics from: Cosmo Cricket's Tailor Made, Alexander Henry's Heath, Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks, Free Spirit Designer Houndstooth, Jenean Morrison Silent Cinema, RK Quilter's Linen in Gray

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Pouch #3
Fabrics: Alison Glass's Lucky Penny, various fuschia, purple, green, and blue prints, mystery black print from stash, Essex Linen in Lime

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Pouch #4
Fabrics: Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures, Alison Glass's Lucky Penny, various aqua, teal, and gold prints, Essex Yarn Dyed in Black

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Pouch #5
Fabrics: Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures, Joel Dewberry's Heirloom, various aqua and orange prints, RK Quilter's Linen in Azure

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For the actual pouches themselves, I used Elizabeth Hartman's super detailed Perfect Zip Pouches pattern, and I highly recommend it - especially if you've had zipper troubles in the past or if you're frightened of trying zippers out. Elizabeth truly makes it easy, and I was able to learn another way to install zippers than the way I typically do for a zip pouch, so the pattern was well worth the purchase. I made pouch style C, in the large size for all of these pouches.

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I hope the recipients enjoy these pouches as much as I enjoyed making them. It still surprises me how much I enjoy paper piecing these days, when it used to infuriate me so much when I first started it! Speaking of paper piecing, you be interested in a paper pieced BOM? Or am I just crazy (as usual)? I hope your holiday sewing is going well, and that you're having a great day!

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Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy six year old boy and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?

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