A love affair with strings

I had a lot of fun getting ready for Sewing Summit, and sewing up some fun samples to show the things that can be done with foundation paper piecing and string piecing. String piecing is one of the most laid-back ways to foundation paper piece a block and it can be so fun to pull a bunch of random strings together and find that they work together beautifully. String piecing can be so much fun! When I'm piecing, I always hang on to my strings and try to put them to use in string projects. It's like a fun challenge, to try to use up my strings. At the moment, they're awfully overflowing, even with these string projects that I've made for Sewing Summit.

My overflowing strings bin

The first sample I started on began as a stack of string blocks, in shades of coral, lime, and teal. I didn't really have a plan in mind, until I decided that I wanted to make a string-pieced zig-zag quilt, so I added some Kona Coal to the string blocks and went to town. I love how this quilt turned out! I love the ways the colors pop off the coal background and the gorgeous 40wt Aurifil variegated gray thread I used for FMQ'ing.

String Zig Zag - a Sewing Summit sample

quilt stats
name: String Zig
size: 32" x 48"
pattern: simple string-pieced zig-zag, by yours truly
fabrics: so many, in shades of lime, coral, and teal
quilting: all-over stipple in variegated gray 40 wt Aurifil thread, by yours truly

Next, I worked on a spiderweb mini, using some fun Quilter's Linen in Buttercup, and various green, gray and navy blue strings. I love making spiderwebs, and this one was especially fun because I really love this color combo. Spiderwebs can be a really fun way to put a twist on string piecing.

Spiderweb quilt - a Sewing Summit sample

quilt stats
name: Spiderweb Mini
size: 22"
pattern: simple string-pieced zig-zag, by yours truly
fabrics: Simon + Kabuki's Juicy Blossoms, Anna Maria Horner's Innovent Crush, Moda's Half Moon Modern, Jenean Morrison's Silent Cinema, Vanessa Christensen's Simply Color, Cosmo Cricket's Tailor Made, Lotta Jansdotter's Echo, Jessica Leavitt's Kingdom, Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market Fancy, Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope, Denyse Schmidt's Greenfield Hill, Dear Stella's Lanikai, Lizzy House's 1001 Peeps, Ann Kelle's Remix, Lizzy House's Castle Peeps, Monaluna's Mingle, RK Quilter's Linen in Buttercup
quilting: micro-stipple in yellow 50wt Aurifil thread, as well as wiggle stitches in coordinating 50 wt Aurifil threads

The last sample I sewed up was this String X mini, using some of my last scraps of MoMo's It's a Hoot, paired with some Azure Quilter's Linen. I first sewed a String X block in the String Me Along bee last year, and simply improvised the dimensions on this one as I went, based on what scraps I had left. I adore this fabric line, and I'm down to my very last scraps of it, so this particular sample is extra special to me :)

String X mini - a Sewing Summit sample

quilt stats
name: String X mini
size: 18"
pattern: simple string-pieced zig-zag, by yours truly
fabrics: RK Quilter's Linen in Azure and MoMo It's a Hoot
quilting: micro-stipple in azure 50wt Aurifil thread, as well as wonky triangle continuous line quilting in 50wt white Aurifil thread and infinity continuous line quilting in 50wt white Aurifil thread

Don't forget, you can enter to win a copy of this year's edition of International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene right here, up until Sunday! Have a fabulous weekend :)

Sewing Summit 2012

These past several days have been a complete whirlwind, but the best kind of whirlwind! It is so good to be home, though :)

Salt Lake City and Sewing Summit were so wonderful and fun and amazing! I seriously cannot even think of enough superlatives to describe how great this trip was. From the fantastic people to great classes to delicious food, it was definitely a trip I'll remember for a long time to come.

I'm so happy to tell you that the classes Lee and I taught went really well! It was great to get to work one-on-one with so many students and share tips and tricks, and to see them plugging along at their blocks. I definitely enjoyed teaching, and hope to have more opportunities to do that soon.

L-R: Lee sharing samples; our samples on display; me and Lee after our first class; students hard at work; more students hard at work

I really enjoyed so many classes, especially Kelly's metal frame pouch class, in part because Kelly is so darned fun in real life, and because I managed to make an entire pouch. I ran into Kelly at the Dallas airport, connecting to Salt Lake on the same flight, and she is just so full of personality. It was also super fun getting to hang with the fantastic girls of the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild. What an amazing group! They threw a super fun mixer on Friday night, replete with string after string of bunting, weaved through the ceiling grid at the bar we partied in. Definitely a sight to behold!

L-R: Joel Dewberry speaking at lunch; hard at work in the sewing room; me with the SLMQG girls Kara, Amy, Marci, and Sarah; Amber sharing her creative journey; bunting explosion!

No surprise, but the swag and swaps and shopping were sensational! I can't believe I managed to fit everything in my suitcase, with two pounds to spare before the 50 pound limit :) I was able to visit a few quilt shops with the Salt Lake locals, and found several wonderful new fabrics, including some great purples for me to put to use in my 4x5 hive. It's going to take me a while to find new homes for all of my goodies!

L-R: nametags; new reading material; Great Granny Says Boo block for Cindy; charm packs and a mini from the SLMQG mixer; new Moo cards; my metal frame pouch made in Kelly's class; stacks of fabric from shopping and swapping

This year, I managed to spend some time in the sewing room, which was a lot of fun. I worked on a bee block for Cindy, a great granny Halloween block, as well as some more EPP star flowers, but I didn't spend as much time as I'd like to down there.

L-R: Teaching the TSA what Travel Handmade means; the view from over Salt Lake City, getting my caffeine on at the airport

It's great to be home, and to get back in the swing of things, and to be with my family. The first thing my son wanted to do when I got home from the airport was play with some pieces on my design wall, while dressed up in his Robin costume, of course. It put a big smile on my face, for sure. I can't wait to get started on a new quilt for this little guy. Happy Tuesday to you all!

My new favorite quilt

I was going to try to hold off on sharing the samples that I made for Sewing Summit until after the fact, but I just can't hold this one in any longer! I am so deliriously happy with how this mini-quilt turned out :)


I'm calling this mini A Light in the Dark, after the feeling of the vibrant colors against the dark background. I've always wanted to tackle Mariner's Compass blocks, and I'm so happy that I did! I love everything about this mini-quilt, from the fabrics I used - that handwriting print from Violet Craft's Madrona Road collection is quite possibly my favorite fabric ever! - to the quilting stitches, which I'm really proud of.


These blocks were made with free tutorials I stumbled upon at Quilting on the Square, in working to set up a fun Pinterest board with Lee to inspire our foundation paper piecing students. The top row, left to right, are Which Way North and Wheel of Fortune. The bottom row, left to right, are Kaleidoscope and Spinning Points.


When it came to quilting this mini, I really wanted it to be something special, so I tackled each block individually. I pulled a zillion different threads to coordinate with the fabrics, a la Angela Walters, and had a lot of fun trying out different FMQ designs. One gripe about quilting something like this with matching thread: burying all the thread tails!!


I absolutely love this mini quilt, and I'm planning to submit it for QuiltCon, thanks to some Instagram encouragement from Heather. I've never entered a quilt in any kind of competition before, so I'm sure it's going to be an interesting experience!


And I may not be done with Mariner's Compasses - my husband has asked me to make a quilt for him filled with Mariner's Compass blocks! I told him it'll take me forever, but I will try :)


Quilt Stats:
name: A Light in the Dark
size: 24" square
pattern: Various Mariner's Compass blocks from Quilting on the Square
fabrics: Memoir in Black from Violet Craft's Madrona Road, ombres from V & Co's Simply Color, coming out very soon!
quilting: many different continuous line FMQ designs, by me, in various shades of Aurifil 50 wt and Madeira threads
binding: Memoir in Black from Violet Craft's Madrona Road

Stay tuned for more Sewing Summit sample reveals tomorrow :)

P.S. - If you love this quilt, it's entered in Bloggers Quilt Festival Fall 2012 and you can nominate it for a prize right here. I'm #398, and can be entered under Favorite Home Machine Quilted Quilt or Favorite Mini Quilt.

Time to make samples!

I cannot believe that it's already September. Where has the year gone?! It's going to October any minute now, and I've got some big plans for October :) I am so excited to be teaching at Sewing Summit, with a great friend to boot! Lee and I will be teaching Foundation Paper Piecing, a hands-on sewing class where we'll be doing actual foundation paper piecing.

It's no secret that I love foundation paper piecing, especially string piecing, and I've started digging through my strings drawer to pull together fabrics to use in some class samples. I've got a couple of palette piles started on my cutting table, and some really fun plans for them. Stay tuned for sneaky peeks!!

If you're going to be coming to our class, I'd love to hear about it! Class registration opens this afternoon, in just a few short hours. So many options on the schedule! I'm so looking forward to making another trip to Sewing Summit, and so happy to get a chance to place more faces with names :)

Psst...I'm teaching!

So, the cat's officially out of the bag...

I'm teaching at Sewing Summit!!!  Yippee!  I'll be team teaching an advanced piecing class focusing on paper and foundation piecing with the wonderfully talented Lee from Freshly Pieced.  I'm so looking forward to making paper piecing and foundation piecing less scary, because it really can be fun and create gorgeous precise blocks!

It's funny, this teaching gig makes me think of my old working days, as I spent a lot of time teaching physicians and researchers how to use PowerPoint and other audiovisual tools for presentations and lectures, so it's kind of wild to think of myself teaching about something I'm so passionate about.  I am so looking forward to getting to meet all of you who are attending Sewing Summit this year and to have another fun weekend with my wonderful gal pals.  I know the tickets for Sewing Summit are currently sold out, but you can learn more about the wait list at the Sewing Summit site, if you're interested. I so hope to see some of you there!

My Sewing Summit recap: Best Weekend Ever!

I have to warn you: this post is going to be scatter-brained.  I spent a good bit of time going through my photos and my suitcase, trying to figure out how to blog about the super amazing Sewing Summit, but I don't know that it helped much.  I feel all over the place, so exhausted but happy all at the same time.  It's been hard to get back in the swing of real life, I'm definitely missing all of my Sewing Summit peeps.  I'm still working on unpacking and finding homes for all of my new goodies, trying to remember all of the fun we had, and catch up on everything that I missed while I was gone.

When I got to my gate in Phoenix and saw "Salt Lake City" on the board, I almost squealed!
Despite being ridiculously overtired from hardly sleeping the night before and getting up super early, I couldn't help but grin while trudging through the airport on the way to my gate.  Even while rushing across the Phoenix airport to catch my connecting flight, I felt super excited.  As Salt Lake City came into view while I was on my plane en route to the Sewing Summit, my iPod was blaring my current favorite song, Coldplay's "Paradise." That was kind of the theme of the whole weekend.  I couldn't imagine a better way to spend a weekend :)

First view of SLC from the plane
Mountains in SLC
I roomed with Lee and AnneMarie, and it was so fabulous to finally meet them in real life.  They are just as sweet and wonderful as they seem on their blogs!  These two girls have been my support system in the blog world for pretty much the entire life of my blog, and it was so great to get to hang out in real life.  We did a little three-way roommate swap (hence the lovely pouches you saw yesterday) and AnneMarie made me a lovely pillow, using one of my favorite collections right now, Happy Mochi Mochi Yum Yum!  Isn't it adorable?

Fab pillow from AnneMarie
Gorgeous pillow from AnneMarie!
Lee's working on finishing up a super fab mini for me, she totally deserves extra time after rocking out her first fabric collection (did you see it???), so stay tuned for that. She did make me an awesome voile scarf, which I adore (and am wearing in this pic), so thank you, Lee!!  Miss you roomies already!!!

Amazing roommates - Lee on my left and AnneMarie on my right
Amy was fabulous, too, showed us some great fabric shops, and was an awesome friend all the way around. Amy carted me (and my ridiculously heavy bags) to and from the airport and kept us all cracking up throughout the weekend.  After our mini shop-hop, we headed to the Little America...but we had a minor problem along the way.  There was quite a thunking sound coming from the front of the car, and we all started to get a bit spooked.  We all dutifully hopped out of the car when we got off the freeway and kicked the tires, trying to track down the mystery noise...but none of us thought the front passenger tire was about to come off the car.  It later pretty much did, on her way home that night, but I'm happy to report that her car now has a clean bill of health, and she's none the worse for the stress of it.  

Amy is even funnier in person!

My fabric loot
Um...maybe I went a little overboard with the fabric??
We had an amazing dinner with the bee girls from the {Sew} Beautiful bee - all but two of us were there at the Summit, and it was wonderful to get to meet everyone.  Here's hoping that next time around, we can all get there and get a pic of all of us together!

{Sew} Beautiful Bee - Best Bee Ever!!!

Saturday Night Dinner, photos by Faith
I also had the awesome pleasure of getting to give a swap item in person - Darci was my partner in the Pretty Little Pouch swap, and I got to hand-deliver her pouch, which was a ton of fun.  And let me just tell you, Darci is the sweetest!  She kept swinging by to tell me how much people loved her pouch throughout the weekend.  So glad she liked it!!!

Swap partners!
Me and Darci, photo by Amylouwho/Amy Webb

The fat quarter swap that Kaelin hosted on Saturday night was a boatload of fun.  I had visions in my head of chaos (think Sample Sale chaos), but we were all really civilized and grown-up about it. I got some super fab new fat quarters for my stash.  Speaking of my stash, I have often joked that SLC is quilting mecca, and their fabric shops did not disappoint in the least.  I found tons of goodies!  My suitcase was positively filled to the brim on the way home, between all of the fabulous new fabric finds and the goodies from friends.

FQ swap results

I loved all of the awesome classes at the Summit, especially Amanda's awesome Marvelous Minis class.  She has so much personality and is so passionate about fabric and sewing, you can't help but feel inspired after listening to her talk.  Jeni did an awesome talk on fabric and color as well, and I loved getting to spend some time in the Sewing Room, practicing some new FMQ stitches and trying some new improv techniques.

Amanda is so inspiring!  Her love for mini quilts is contagious.

Rocking out with the Babylocks
Rocking out some FMQ with Lee and AnneMarie

Colleen, Amy, and Jennifer improv-ing
All in all, it was a super fab weekend, and I'm so sorry that it's over already!!!  So happy to have met all of these wonderful people in person.  I am having so much fun watching on Flickr and Twitter and seeing all of the fabulous photos from the Summit, so much fun that I've barely unpacked!

My improv block from improv class
My work from the improv class
It's a miracle I was able to cram everything into my suitcase, not to mention for it to wind up being under 50 pounds (just barely).  My Weekender, on the other hand, was a solid 30 pounds or so.  It was so super heavy!!!  I absolutely wish I had added more padding to the straps.  Mental note, if I ever make another one, I suppose.  :)

My haul from the Sewing Summit

Leaving...on a jet plane...for The Sewing Summit!!!

By the time you're reading this, I'm sitting at the airport, waiting for my plane to start boarding, and I have to tell you...I'm nervous!!!!  Fully in disbelief!  And excited!  And nervous :)  I cannot believe that after this last year of getting so many wonderful quilty bloggers that I am actually going to be face-to-face with so many of them, all at once.  It's kind of mind-boggling.  I don't think I'll really believe it until I get home and rehash it all.  I'm sure it's going to a be a whirlwind weekend, but if you follow me on Twitter, I will try to post a few updates here and there.

I haven't flown on an airplane by myself since I became a mom - in my pre-mom days, I traveled a lot for my work, but I never had such lovely luggage to carry my things in!  I have always loved to travel, so I've been looking forward to this weekend in SLC for a while now.  So much to be excited about!  Bloggy friends, kid-free fun, fabric shopping galore, my adrenaline is seriously pumping.


I've got 20 assorted fat quarters for the big fat quarter swap on Saturday night - I'm hoping to find some reds and oranges to make up for my serious lack of warm colors in my stash!!  I've also got some extra fat quarters to pay for rides from the fabulous SLC locals.

My bags are chock full of stuff - from fat quarters to trade to pouches for dear friends to business cards for swapping to my embroidery pouch and my homemade nametag.

I went back and forth about whether or not I would bring my laptop, because its ability to run on battery alone is, in a word, disappointing, and ultimately, I decided to leave it at home.  It will be seriously weird to be away from it for the weekend, but I suspect I'll be so busy, I won't even think about it.  I will definitely blog about all of the Sewing Summit fun next week, don't worry!

Thank you again to my dear husband, who's going to be Mr. Mom for the weekend.  The munchkin was shockingly unfazed by the news of my travelling at first, though there were tears when we said our goodbyes.  I think he's going to have a great time with his dad all weekend.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and if you're headed to the Sewing Summit, I can't wait to meet you!

Me vs. The Weekender Bag: The Final Round

My finished Weekender travel bag!!

The final score? Me: 1, Weekender: 0

Victory is mine!!!   I finished off my Weekender bag yesterday afternoon/evening, and I couldn't be happier about it.  I love how it turned out, although there were definitely plenty of bumps along the way.  I will probably never ever make another Weekender, but I'm really proud to have finished this bag.

Ready for some travel

Adding the zipper wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Once I sat down and truly read the directions, without a three-year-old tugging on me or asking me his thousandth question of the day, it made perfect sense.

During evil step #11, I seriously considered giving up a few times, but Megan saved the day when she texted me a handy dandy tip - use clothespins instead of pins or binder clips. That worked infinitely better while trying to sew through multiple layers of Peltex, and I was able to keep going through to the finish line.

Evil step 11

Rather than slipstiching the lining by hand, I chose to basically topstitch the lining top panel to the exterior top panel, which worked beautifully for me.  I feel like this will be much sturdier in the long run, given that I feel my hand-stitching skills are pretty weak.

Ready to be stuffed full!

This bag is all ready and set to go to the Sewing Summit now!  Only problem is, now I'm thinking about making a handy-dandy laptop case to go with it!  I'm linking up with Sew Modern Monday today, hop on over to find more modern finishes!

Off to the airport we go!

Holy cow, I will be getting on a plane in just two short weeks!

I cannot believe how quickly the Sewing Summit is creeping up.  It's kind of unbelievable to think that in just two short weeks - scratch that, THREE weeks! - I'll be getting on an airplane, by myself, and flying across the country to meet tons of people who have become dear friends of mine over this last year of my blogging.

The Sewing Summit

I've got a ton of things I'm hoping to finish up before I get on that airplane.  I'm making a few things for some of the special friends I'm planning to meet, and like some of the other super cool kids heading to the Sewing Summit, I really wanted to make a nametag inspired by the awesome blog header Lee designed for me.

Nametag front done!

I'm almost done now, thanks to some quiet stitching time on the couch yesterday, and I'm just debating how to make it a nametag.  Hot glue a safety pin to the backing?  Add some kind of cord to make it a hanging nametag?  I'm totally taking suggestions here.

What are you stitching up today?

I'm definitely traveling handmade

I really, really love pouches.  I get so many compliments on this gorgeous one that I use every day - Michelle made it for me in the first round of the Pretty Little Pouch swap earlier this summer.

Thank you, Michelle, you rock!!!

I've been kicking myself over not joining the second round of the Pretty Little Pouch swap, which is in the midst of wrapping up, so I decided to make myself a pouch for my hand-sewing tools.  I totally intend to use this pouch to tote my embroidery things around the house and to the Sewing Summit in less than two months (eek!).  Have you seen the awesome Travel Handmade series that they're hosting?  Jeni reviewed a great Simplicity duffel bag pattern and Megan reviewed a great tote bag pattern.  Megan and I are toying with the idea of an AB Weekender Bag sew-along for the two of us, because we both really want to make one for our big trip, and figure we can use all of the moral support we can get!

So, after drooling over all of the gorgeous pouches in this round of the Pretty Little Pouch swap, I decided to make one for myself, to tote all of my hand-sewing and embroidery do-dads around.  I picked out a fabulous stack of aquas (Riley Blake Wishing Flowers, Joel Dewberry Herringbone, It's a Hoot Aqua Check and Michael Miller Aqua Ta Dot, respectively), grays (both Ty Pennington), and a fun orange Katie Jump Rope print and got to work.

My huge embroidery pouch!

I made my current favorite quilt block for the front side, and then for the back side, I stitched up a simple 9-patch and bordered it with some Kona Coal and Kona Medium Grey.  I am loving this not-so-little pouch!  It finished up at 12" square, so it will be plenty big for my embroidery hoop and various other hand-sewing goodies.


I also stitched up a pouch for my For the Love of Solids swap partner, using the same color scheme that I used for the miniquilt I'm also finishing, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  I've stuffed it chock full of solids scraps, and I'm hoping this lovely package I'm putting together is going to really make my partner's day, when shipping opens up next month.

A little pouch for my partner

For the weekend, I'm working on laying out the rest of my warm/cool quilt, which I've been working on in fits and starts all summer.  I'm hoping that perhaps over the next week, I might actually finish this quilt top up once and for all.  Fingers crossed!  What are you working on this weekend?