Friday, August 29, 2014

Sew Kind of Wonderful Blog Hop: No more curve fears!

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, then it might surprise you to see me taking part in the Sew Kind of Wonderful Quick Curve Ruler blog hop that's taking place at the moment. I'm a crisp lines, a harsh edges kind of quilter 99% of the time. I like straight lines in my piecing, and curves give me the heebie-jeebies. But that doesn't stop me from admiring and often drooling over the curved quilty works of others, like the uber-talented Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of Sew Kind of Wonderful. This dynamic duo recently released a new book of patterns using the Quick Curve ruler, which is titled Contemporary Curved Quilts.

So curves and I don't exactly have the best relationship - cutting curves always seems like such a pain to me, not to mention the actual lining up of the concave part of the curve to the convex and all that. In my years of quilting, I've tackled one curve-intensive project, and that was my king-sized Single Girl quilt, which has been a quilt top folded up in my sewing room closet for three years (ack!). I swore off curves after the Single Girl quilt, though I did buy a Quick Curve ruler when I first spotted them a few years ago, thinking it was a different kind of curve and maybe it would be more enjoyable. The ruler then also sat in my closet for a while, but in cleaning up my sewing room recently (trying to find another lost ruler), I came upon my Quick Curve ruler and decided it was time to face my curve fears and just try. And boy am I glad I did, because look at this simple little block I made in just about 30 minutes!!!! It's so cute! I can't wait to get back in front of my sewing machine to make some more of these - just as soon as I get through the next wave of deadlines!!

Urban Runner- my first block! photo IMG_1056rt_zps8ee833e1.jpg

One of the things I love about the Quick Curve is the amazing amount of resources available to you. There's a page full of video tutorials, showing you exactly how to use the ruler and piece the curves you create using the ruler on the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog right here. It was oh-so helpful to me in playing around with the ruler. If you're a visual learner and just need a bit more guidance than the words in a pattern, these videos will be so helpful to you! When Jenny says that this is an easy curve to sew, she's not kidding, and that's coming from someone who is very averse to sewing curves!

Contemporary Curved Quilts photo book_zps1d30d5b1.png

Fancy Stars photo starsprts3_zps0c924313.jpg
Fancy Stars from Contemporary Curved Quilts

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Midnight Mosaic from Contemporary Curved Quilts

 photo ruler-1_zpsc2ba942e.png

And Jenny and Helen were kind enough to offer up an awesome Quick Curve starter set here to one lucky commenter today - the winner will receive a Quick Curve ruler and a copy of Contemporary Curved Quilts to get you addicted to curves! To enter, simply leave a comment and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below and tell me what your gut says about piecing curves. Are you a curve-addict? Love the look, but afraid to try? I'd love to hear from you! This giveaway will be open until Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Have a wonderful weekend everyone :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, August 21, 2014

Parade of Homes - A sweet little house

Who doesn't love an adorable little patchwork house? When the kind folks at Quiltmaker asked if I wanted to make a little house block as part of their Parade of Homes, I said yes, because I love the sweetness of making a little pictorial block every now and again. I especially enjoy making house blocks. I've made a few for bee blocks over the years, and I always enjoy the process of creating a little house out of fabric.

This particular house block was created using a 100 Blocks block pattern by Lori Holt, using regular old precision piecing, no paper required! I used some assorted prints from my scrap bins to represent the different parts of the house. I especially love the stone-y gray print I used for the house itself, wish I had some more of that lying around!
My little house for the Parade of Homes photo QMMP-141000-HOUSE-10DH_zpsa33390d1.jpg

The windows are a fun sneak peek into the house, using a beautiful Japanese import fabric I got in a layer cake swap a long while ago. I fussy cut what I had left of the layer cake square and made it work, because I love seeing house blocks that have a little something going on in the house!

Quiltmaker Parade of Homes photo ParadeofHomes_slideoptimized_zpsbe8e9ebb.jpg

Do you love this block? Would you like to put it to good use in a quilt of your own? Then you're in luck because you can enter to win this block over on Quiltmaker's site this morning! You can also check out more at Quiltmaker's site to find out more about the Parade of Homes, including some fun free house block patterns and a chance to win my block today!

Are you a big fan of house blocks? Then you definitely will want to enter today's giveaway right here as well for a copy of the September/October 2014 issue of Quiltmaker, containing all of these adorable house blocks as well as three different house quilts. I'll draw a winner first thing Monday morning. To enter, tell me about your favorite pictorial block - is it a house? A flower? A sewing machine? Make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win :)

Quiltmaker - Sept/Oct 2014 issue photo QMMP-141000-cover_200_zps1e71b07d.jpg

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Celebrating a few checkmarks

It seems like it's feast or famine in my sewing room lately - either I'm swimming in deadlines and piles of fabric to cut and conquer, or my sewing table is buried in other non-sewing work that has to come before the sewing fun. And in the meantime, the deadlines are quickly approaching and the housework I'm actively ignoring is piling up. All that being said, there's been a lot going on in my sewing room, but not much I can actually show you for the time being. But that doesn't mean I can't show you a few sneaky peeks...

Trimmings photo IMG_1019rt_zpscf04fe3d.jpg

I've sewed up the last of the Lucky Stars blocks for 2014, which was both exciting and bittersweet. I don't know just yet if the club will continue in 2015, I'm waiting to see if some star-riffic inspiration strikes, but I'm excited to feel on top of the block making and pattern writing for once. It's entirely possible that I've saved the best for last, because these last blocks of the year are really and truly stunning. Can't wait to share more!

November Lucky Star block of the month sneak peek photo IMG_1016rt_zpsf8dd4851.jpg

October Lucky Star block of the month sneak peek photo IMG_1022rt_zps69345ecd.jpg

I'm also in the midst of preparing a boatload of class samples for some a super fun upcoming class I'll be teaching, and I'll hopefully get to share more about that in the coming months. I'm especially loving these adorable little Cotton + Steel tigers from Alexia Abegg's Hatbox collection, they are so cute when you fussy cut them!

A sweet little tiger peeking at me photo IMG_1020rt_zpsf38bde8c.jpg

A little Carolyn Friedlander love fest block photo IMG_1021rt_zpsa172ff5e.jpg

The good news is that I'm plowing through my deadline list, and there are definitely more checkmarks than empty boxes at this point, so yay for that! Can't forget to celebrate the small victories along the way :) Now if only there was a Laundry Fairy or a Floor Scrubbing Fairy who could help me get caught up on all the housework that's been piling up!

  More checkmarks, yay! photo IMG_1026rt_zps30543d64.jpg
Friday, August 15, 2014

Quilty Flashback Friday: The one with my first attempt at design

Welcome to another episode of Quilty Flashback Friday, where we're digging into the depths of our quilty archives to find some oldies but goodies that perhaps haven't been shared before. I loved seeing all of the posts last week from bloggers sharing their flashback quilts, and hope to see some more great ones this week as well!

Quilty Flashback Friday photo QFF_zps4df0cd76.gif

This week I'm sharing the first quilt that I ever attempted to design - a bento box style block, which I wanted to make strictly from a stack of Kate Spain holiday charm packs that I had panic-stashed. At the time, I was curious about the whole precut craze, and wanted to see what I could do with them, but I didn't see lots of blocks that really appealed to me at the time, so I decided to adapt an existing block design that I really liked and see if I could do it with what I had on hand.

 Christmas Bento Box Throw Quilt - the first whole block! photo IMG_2418_zps91990e2b.jpg

While I totally identified myself as a quilter when I was working on this quilt, I didn't have any faith in my quilt math. I hadn't really attempted any, and as far as I knew, I wasn't all that great at math. I remember high school geometry and I weren't exactly buddies. In fact, I barely passed geometry in high school. It absolutely did not click for me, not one bit, so quilt math was a bit daunting. I enlisted my husband's help with the math on this, and I was pleasantly surprised when it all worked out! Gosh, I was so thrilled to feel like I was really "getting" quilting.

Christmas Bento Box Throw Quilt - blocks on the line photo IMG_2708_zpse5f11042.jpg

After making just five blocks, I discovered that I was quickly running out of fabric. If I remember correctly, I was working from two or three charm packs, so I went to my notebook to try to figure out how I could make these blocks work in a finished quilt top. Negative space was totally the way to go, so I worked on a couple of ideas and wound up moving forward with this one...

Christmas Bento Box Throw Quilt - hello quilt math! photo IMG_2723_zps0a72efb2.jpg

I started by adding some sashing in Kona Coal, my first Kona true love gray, around each of the blocks to make them a bit larger, but also to set them off from the white negative space I planned to use in the quilt top. I thought that the Coal would make the blocks stand out, but I think if I were to do it again now, I think I choose to sash the blocks in white and then use the Coal for the negative space.

Christmas Bento Box Throw Quilt - the flimsy finish photo IMG_2952_zps021f0a88.jpg

Looking back at these pictures of the quilt top, I remember crawling around on the floor basting this quilt, cursing basting pins. Basting nearly broke me as a newbie quilter! Back then, I was a pin baster, having not discovered the wonderfulness of spray basting at the time, and I'd crawl around on my dining room floor to do my basting. I remember griping about my knees being sore and of course about my pets wanting to lay on the quilt top in the middle of basting! Back then, we were a three pet household, our crazy beagle Sam and two elderly cats, Mu and Sebastian. Sam may have been crazy, but he knew better than to lay on a quilt. The cats were another story, they loved fabric and treated anything with a coating of fabric as something that was cuddle-worthy.

Christmas Bento Box Throw Quilt - proof that I really did pin baste back in the day! photo IMG_2974_zpsb73082d8.jpg

This quilt was also my first try at straight-line quilting - and I remember thinking, is it over yet??? repeatedly. I didn't realize how much more time-consuming straight-line quilting can be when compared to free-motion quilting. After finishing the first line or two, I seriously contemplated pulling them out so I could just free-motion the whole thing, but I stopped myself and convinced myself somehow to stay the course.

Christmas Bento Box Throw Quilt - the finished front photo IMG_2998_zpsa5a86241.jpg

Looking at this quilt now, I think my favorite part is the back. I love the simplicity of it and the quilting is super impactful because of all the solids on the back. I think it's the one part of this quilt I could see myself making again now, even after all the changes to my style over the years. It's still a family favorite that's constantly in rotation, regardless of the season, though, so it's well loved!

Christmas Bento Box Throw Quilt - the finished back - which I like a lot more than the front these days photo IMG_3019_zps015b17fc.jpg

Now it's your turn! Link up your recent blog post sharing a blast from your past and make sure to link back to my blog and visit some of the other Quilty Flashback Friday participants too!

Monday, August 11, 2014

T minus seven days of summer

The end of summer is feeling awfully bittersweet at my house this least on my part. The munchkin is super excited about heading back to school and making new friends in first grade, and hopefully seeing some old friends from kindergarten. We're stocked up with shiny new school supplies and school clothes adorned with all of his favorite characters. By all accounts, we're ready for the first day next week, but I'm having a tough time coming to terms with him being a first grader already.

 photo image2_zps3bbed043.jpg

The summer has flown by, as usual, and I'm thankful that we made some great memories this summer. We took a spur-of-the-moment mommy-and-kiddo trip to Disney last week that was just a blast. My first trip to Disney was when I was his age, and it's something I (mostly) still remember, so I'm hopeful he'll remember this one for a long time to come. Thanks to some nasty ear infections, we didn't spend as much time swimming this summer as in summers past, but I'm hoping we'll get the all-clear this week from the pediatrician and spend at least a day or two by the pool before school starts up next week.

Pool fun photo photo9_zps64c67548.jpg

I hope your summer is treating you well and that you're making loads of memories with friends and family. Have a great Monday!
Friday, August 8, 2014

Quilty Flashback Friday: The one with my Castle Peeps quilt

Welcome to the first Quilty Flashback Friday! Share your own post at the end of this post, I'd love to see part of your quilty history :)

Quilty Flashback Friday photo QFF_zps4df0cd76.gif

One of the first large quilts I ever made was for my niece, with one of my first fabric crushes - Castle Peeps by Lizzy House, back in the summer of 2010. When I made this quilt, I wasn't real comfortable with mixing prints, to say the least, so I stuck with the bundle I had and went to town with it, using Elizabeth Hartman's Mixtape Quilt pattern (which is no longer available, sadly).

Playing with Castle Peeps - Summer 2010 photo IMG_1433_zpsbe8c3d43.jpg

I remember when I first bought the fabric, I was intimidated. I had bought it specifically for this pattern, but I was a bit frozen at first, fearful that I'd make a mistake in the cutting and foul it all up. I was not a natural rotary cutter when I started quilting. I was afraid of the darned thing, and I was terrible at properly measuring fabric. It took a lot of practice to get more precise with my cutting and to get over my fear of this odd cousin of a pizza cutter, but when I did get over my fear, I no longer felt so paralyzed by cutting into prized fabrics.

Auditioning block placement - summer 2010 photo IMG_1462_zps1c989a75.jpg

This quilt was my first foray in trying to be organized in my quilting - trying to keep blocks in a certain order and such. I took lots of (super bad) pictures, I used index cards, I made piles, but in the end, the finished quilt top was definitely not the way I laid it out, and I recall being really bothered by that. Looking at it now, I think it looks great, and I no longer see the blocks that I meant to put in different places, the way I did when I first finished it.

My first bed-sized quilt finish - summer 2010 photo IMG_1555_zps05ea4d51.jpg

This was also the first real large quilt that I free-motioned. I had gotten a bit better with free-motioning, over the several baby quilts that I'd made previous to this one, but I still had a lot of room for growth. At the time, I just felt proud to be finishing the quilt on my own. I can remember that while I free-motioned this quilt, I managed to fold the excess backing and batting over onto the actual quilt backing and batting at one point, and quilted over it. I didn't notice I'd done it until I finished free-motioning and went to trim the excess to square it up. I was so frustrated, oh my goodness! I'm pretty sure there were some big fat tears. Boo :( The best part is how I fixed it...I kind of didn't! I trimmed off as much of the excess batting and backing as I could with some teeny tiny scissors, because I honestly didn't think to rip the stitches out, which is just hilarious to me now.

FMQ'ing away - Summer 2010 photo IMG_1474_zps92f3397e.jpg

All in all, I learned so much in making this quilt. More than that, I started to trust myself more as a quilter, and when I finished this quilt, being the first bed sized quilt I ever made, I felt like a real quilter. I had forgotten about that moment until I started reflecting on this quilt, as it's something that's a part of my daily life these days, so I'm really glad this is the quilt I looked back on today.

Now it's your turn!

Quilty Flashback Friday photo QFF_zps4df0cd76.gif
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Coming Soon: Quilty Flashback Friday

This week, I started to run out of hard drive space on my computer. Again. Thankfully, I've got a giant backup drive that I move things to every so often when this happens, and as I was moving files, I came across a bunch of my old sewing pictures, which made me all nostalgic. Then I had a lightbulb moment - wouldn't it be fun to have a little quilty Flashback Friday fun, and share an old quilt and the memories it conjures up?! Yes!!

Quilty Flashback Friday photo QFF_zps4df0cd76.gif
Grab a button!

I think it's good for us to reflect about our quilty journey - to see how far we've come, to appreciate new skills we've learned or things we've mastered that we never thought possible. We all came to this craft as beginners, and I can remember feeling intimidated sometimes by the beauty of others' quilts when I first started and thinking that I'd never be able to do this, that or the other. So if you want to join me in the fun this Friday, I would just love that. Share your blog post with me on Friday or feel free to share via social media and use the hashtag #quiltyflashbackfriday . I can't wait to see what you dig up from your archives :)

 photo IMG_2674_zpsf01e4a2b.jpg
my sewing space, sometime in 2010 - oh my goodness it was tidy back then!!
Friday, August 1, 2014

Lucky Stars Block of the Month: The Prismatic Star

Hello August! How is it August already, by the way? This summer has positively flown by, to the point where one of my many calendars at home still shows June, so I really need to flip the page! As it's the first, if you're a Lucky Stars Block of the Month subscriber, you have the August block in your inbox waiting for some paper piecing fun this weekend. If you aren't a subscriber yet and want to join in, visit my Pattern Shop to jump right in and receive this block, as well as all the past blocks today. Say good morning to the Prismatic Star!

August: The Prismatic Star photo IMG_0868rt_zps0baae61d.jpg

This month's block also has an alternative layout, shown below (although not sewn together). This is a block that's just screaming to be used over and over in its' own quilt, don't you think?

August: Alternate layout photo IMG_0861rt_zps994c3fea.jpg

I'm a bad, bad blogger. I just realized that I never shared July's Lucky Stars Block of the Month block, the Swell Star!! Here it is, in all its solid glory :)

July: The Swell Star photo IMG_0817rt_zpse979c2d9.jpg

I also owe you a winner from last week's Fun Size Quilts giveaway, and our winner is: Alicia Merlino! Congratulations! You'll receive an email from me shortly. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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