Thursday, December 10, 2009

Free Pattern Section on my Website

Here's a photo of our Bitty Baby sitting so nice in her new cloth diaper. I just uploaded the free Bitty Baby cloth diaper pattern to my website and you can head right over there and get your copy today! I have received many emails asking for free patterns and I finally found the time to get them up there. This pattern fits the American Girl Bitty Baby and other 15 inch baby dolls. It is a great stash buster and can also be made from repurposed clothing. Let your imaginations run wild and have some fun!
I also uploaded a tote bag pattern to the free patterns section. It's a very simple sewing pattern, with fabulous illustrations, to help the beginning sewer. These totes make great grocery or all purpose totes as well as wonderful gifts. I like to embellish mine with machine embroidery, but they are just as nice without embellishments.
Enjoy the patterns and Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Bitty Baby Patterns are done!

The baby doll patterns are finally finished, printed, packed and ready for shipment! Whew! What a busy month it has been. As most who read my blog are aware, I have an etsy shop where I sell my patterns. Through this blog and the etsy shop I have recieved numerous requests to create pattens that match my toddler pattern series for the Bitty Baby and 15 inch baby dolls. It's been quite a journey because the proportions of these dolls are very different from that of a real child (to say the least!). My goodess, what a journey it has been! At any rate we have completed the patterns and they are ready to go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My First Brown Bag Challenge - DONE!

My quilt guild, The Procrastinating Quilters of Clearwater, has a yearly challenge called the "Brown Bag Challenge." This is my first full year in the guild so it is the first time I was able to participate. What fun it is. What you see above is what I created.
SIDE NOTE: The wall hanging really isn't wonky. It just looks it because it was blowing in the wind.

Here is how the guild describes the challenge to us:

"What is a Brown Bag Challenge?" It is a time for you step out of your comfort zone to do something fun and receive something wonderful in return. The following outlines what you need to know in order to participate:
2. Place the 3 COORDINATING FAT QUARTERS in a brown lunch bag with no markings (I will have extra bags if you don't have one); please no notes requesting a particular item to be made - that takes away from the challenge.
3. Bring your bag to the guild Summer Party
4. Hand it in
5. Near the end of the Summer Party, you will select a brown bag that is not yours for the challenge. From these three fat quarters we are instructed to do the following:

Use the 3 COORDINATING FAT QUARTERS on the front/outside of your project.
Please use at least 75% of the fabric provided on the project.
You made add as many other fabrics your heart desires - quilt store quality please.
The project MUST be QUILTED - machine or hand.
The project MUST be FINISHED.
The project should be no larger than a lap size.
Please put a label on your project.

We call the party that we have in November, "The Big Reveal" because that is where we reveal and give what we have made to the person who owns those three fat quarters. I didn't set this blog to post until after "The Big Reveal" because the surprise is such a big part of the fun.
There is my label and the three scraps that were left over from making the project - it's nice to include a piece of each color (if you can) because many of us forget what we put in the bags seven months ago! It's OK if we forget, thank goodness, because the person in charge of the challenge records each bag handed in.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Cautionary Tale...

This is my newest completed quilt. I'm going to call it "A Cautionary Tale." Really, I am.

The definition of a Cautionary Tale is as follows: A traditional narrative (e.g., a fable, proverb, urban legend, or quilt) with a moral message warning of the consequences of certain actions or character flaws.
Character flaw: Self confidence and arrogance so high as to encourage my NOT following the pattern designer’s directions
Consequence: Bias issues
The quilt you see here is made from the Jelly Patch pattern. It's one of the patterns from the "Straight to the Point" series, published by Make It Easy which is a Company. When I saw this quilt hanging in my local quilt shop, Country Quilts and Bears, I knew instantly I had to make it. A dear friend, Carol McPherson Hemmingsen was going to be teaching it. She did a marvelous job teaching and the class was one of the most enjoyable I have ever attended. Sadly, I was only able to attend day one of the two day class. That left me to finish the quilt myself. No problem, right?

I must state, before I go any further with this tale, that I have made many, many quilts through the years and I have never had any bias issues with a finished quilt. Honestly, not even one wonky quilt. Oh, the arrogance this omission of tragedy can breed.... The creation of this wonderful on-point quilt is amazingly simple. The blocks are constructed using Jelly Roll strips and then the completed blocks are sewn into rows. Once this is completed, the quilt top is cut into three sections and re-sewn, resulting in an on-point setting. The directions in the pattern offer two VERY SIMPLE options for stabilizing the bias edges before cutting. I opted for neither. "Why would you do that," you ask? In short, I trace the roots of that decision to an over inflated sense of confidence and arrogance. Me? Bias issues? Never happen. HA! When I received "The Call" from my quilter, I was instantly humbled. I could feel my face flush, and knew instantly what had happened.

Because I have a fabulous quilter, Marlene Hooten of Lucky Sew and Sew, my Cautionary Tale looks (nearly) perfect! Marlene worked the wonkiness smooth by steaming and stretching until it is nearly invisible. Needless to say I am eternally grateful to her and I will be turning this into a teaching moment when I teach the Jelly Patch class next weekend in Key West at the Seam Shoppe....

And here is a shot of Carol holding up one of her finished Jelly Patch quilts. They really are gorgeous quilts!

Quilt Ingredients: I used the Berry Bliss Hoffman Bali Pops to make mine and Carol used an assortment of 2.5 inch batik strips to make hers. Both are the "throw" size. The only thing we changed was the outer border. The pattern called for a 4" border and Carol made hers 6". I then copied hers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ann the Gran picked up my patterns!

I woke up this morning to find the most wonderful of emails! Ann the Gran confirmed that they have picked up, and listed for sale, my patterns on their website! This is a wonderful website that is very well established and offers a wide selection of machine embroidery designs, as well as sewing and quilting related products. They also have a tremendous amount of software, tips and techniques, thread charts, and free stuff. Prior to them carrying my patterns I had purchased many designs from them and love their website. It's needless to say that today I am one very happy quilter!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Treat Bags - FREE!

It's no secret that I have two beautiful granddaughters and naturally, as Halloween approaches, I start to think of projects I can create for them. Lucy is going to be a little Pumpkin, and Madelyn is going to be a Fairy Princess for the big day. I decided that I wanted to make them treat bags and then got to thinking about how silly it would be to spend a lot of money on that endeavor. After all, they drag them around while they are Trick or Treating and only use them the one night. Besides that, I am really trying to use up some stash. What you see above and below is what I came up with.

First I embroidered the designs - they were free downloads that I already had on my computer. I also used a font that came on my machine. I constructed them from felt using a plain tote bag pattern that I've had forever. I was so surprised, after a bit of digging around in the sewing room, to find that I already had everything I needed to fancy them up and make them worthy of my precious little peanuts!
So, the purpose of this post? I wanted to show how, with a little digging, you can create wonderful things without spending a dime! Don't have felt? Use fabric! Use up those scrap embellishments you've had laying around for years! Dig through those boxes and I bet you'll be surprised at what you find. Get creative and wait until you see how good you feel when you create something wonderful that didn't cost you a penny!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Magic Number is....

I can not remember the last time I was this excited about something in the quilting world. I think it was when I first read Quilter's Home Magazine and discovered Mark Lipinski. Let me tell ya, Cupcakes, that's saying a lot!

Last night I was working on a quilt project for my guild's Brown Bag Challenge and was doing a bit of designing. This project, which I can't show yet becuase it is always a surprise, required many different sized quarter square triangles. I was a trimming and guessing fool. A BIG light bulb went off after I had to rip one quarter square unit apart. It was laying on my cutting mat and I saw that the original square I had just used to make a three inch finished quarter square triangle was 4¼ inches square! I say to myself, "By George, I think I've got something here...." I quickly whipped up some samples to try this theory out and sure enough, it worked!

So this is what I learned:
The "magic number" for quarter-square triangles is 1¼ inch. All you have to do is add 1¼ inches to the required FINISHED SIZE of your quarter-square triangle unit.

So, for example, if you want a 3" (finished size) quarter-square triangle unit, you need to cut two squares that measure 4¼ inches each. It is perfect every time!

I am sure this is not new news to the majority of quilters, but it sure was news to me. I knew about adding 7/8 of an inch to the finished size to get perfect half square triangle units, but had never made quarter squares for an improvised pattern, and thus I just didn't know this. It's the simple things in life...........

Are there any other Magic Numbers out there I don't know?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quilted Media Case Is Done!

So this is the pattern that created the need for a new website. I've written how one thing leads to another in the past, and well, this is another perfect example. My red-headed step child came for a visit recently and we did a bit of sewing. She wanted a case for her iPhone. Here is the post I wrote about the one we made for her. Then I decided I needed a case for my beloved iPod Touch. I listen to audio books while I am sewing, cleaning or working in the garden and if I don't have a pocket, then I have no place to tuck the iPod while I am using it. I was constantly standing up to go to the ironing board, and PLOP! Down it would fall to the floor. Not good. Enter necessity, and on to invention.

This is what I came up with. It solved so many problems for me. I can wear it around my neck, or strap it to my arm using the Velcro straps. I have even hooked it through a belt loop.

Then I started making them to fit my moods. I really like flamingos...
When I made this one, I was feeling old, so I used 30's fabric. All kidding aside, it has just been so handy for me. Now when I sew or clean, even when I am in my jammie pants, I have my iPod in my ears so the job goes so much faster and I'm not fussing to hold the iPod while I do it. Even when I am not using my iPod, I keep it in the case without the straps so it stays safe and sound, protected in its very own quilt.
I'm curious: Do you listen to audio books? If so, what are you listening to now? What is your favorite audio book?
I'm listening to Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
Favorite is probably Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - best narration ever!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Website Published!

Holy moly, am I tired. Below is a photo of why I am so tired. I just finished building the new website. I can not believe how long it took me to build it. I used what is supposed to be the "Idiots Guild to Web Design" and let me tell you, the IQ necessary for success using that software far exceeds what I have to work with. I used "Website Tonight" from Go Daddy, and I am going to call them to find out exactly what planets "night" they are referring to in their title. I don't believe they are referring to a "night" on earth, because that is nowhere near long enough. It seems far more likely to me that they are referring to a night on Venus. It has a 224 day "night."
Either way, I haven't been sewing. I have been computing and I can tell you this; I like sewing a whole lot better. I had to get the website done so I could add a new pattern, The Quilted Media Case, to the site. The old design, which I had built as well, wouldn't let me add a new product. I tried every which way but Tuesday to no avail, so back to the drawing board I went. Now all I have to do is change that photo up there in the top left hand corner to that of a quilt block or quilt. Heck, that should only take me three weeks to accomplish...

I'm open for any and all website design software suggestions. This is getting ridiculous! What have you used that is understandable and successful?

FYI: (from Wikipedia) The phenomenon of day and night is due to the rotation of a celestial body about its axis, creating the illusion of the sun rising and setting. Different bodies spin at very different rates, however. Some may spin much faster than Earth, while others spin extremely slowly, leading to very long days and nights. The planet Venus rotates once every 224.7 days – by far the slowest rotation period of any of the major planets. In contrast, the gas giant Jupiter's sidereal day is only 9 hours and 56 minutes.[1]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quilting in Paradise

Occasionally there are times in our lives when we get to sit back, sigh and be truly grateful. I recently had a weekend where I got to do just that. I was invited to teach a Toddler Bib class in beautiful Key West, Florida at The Seam Shoppe on Truman. First, I get to actually work doing what I love to do most - quilt! Add to that that I got to do it in a setting like Key West? Are you kidding me? I hit the karmic jackpot on this one. Ahhhhhhh....

I had a great day and I got to meet more amazing, fun quilters. Aren't quilters just the best people to hang out with? First, let me introduce you to the wonderful lady above. That's Meg up there pinning her bias binding on the bib. She lives in Key West and came to The Seam Shoppe to take the class. She was a wiz at sewing and I loved her fabric choices. The watermelons were so cute, and she left with a darling bib ready to catch melon drips!
This lovely lady, Lynn, (above) has a grandson she is sewing for. He lives quite a distance from his Grammy so she is going to be shipping many packages overseas. After some rather frustrating sewing machine issues (we've all been there!) Lynn took right off and was stipple quilting like a pro. Lynn, I'm waiting for a photo of that finished bib......
Above is the firecracker, Betty. She has been sewing for awhile. Betty, however, tried to cut a corner or two and not stipple the entire rectangle, but I caught her. Slacker....wink wink. Either way, she did a wonderful job on her bib and if I'm not mistaken, she finished first. We won't mention that she jumped ahead by making the bias binding at home before class. Hey wait, I think Meg did that as well... there's usually only one over achiever per class. This class seemed to have two! That's not in keeping with the laid back Key West way of life, now is it?
And this photo shows the view from one of my favorite places in the Keys. A boat! This was taken while we cruised through a great section of the Channel Keys on Sunday before we headed back home.... Ahhhhh.... what a wonderful weekend it was.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Inspired by the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

It's no secret that I am absolutely enamored with the Outlander book series authored by Diana Gabaldon. I suggested to my sister-in-law that she might enjoy the series and that it would make magnificent summer reading. I explained to her that the seventh and final book in the series, An Echo in the Bone, is due out on September 22 and unlike most lovers of the series she could read through all seven books uninterrupted. She started reading the books, fell in love with them, as well as Jamie Fraser, and the rest is history.... and if you know the series, it really is history.

I saw this embroidery design and immediately thought of Jamie Fraser. The design is the Celtic Tree of Life. Roughly, and very abridged, the design symbolizes the concept of the interconnectedness of life on earth. As often is the case, one thought led to another, and I knew I had to embroider the Celtic symbol onto a piece of duck cloth and make a bag for Sara to commemorate her summer with Jamie Fraser. Ahhhhhh......
Interesting side note: The final book in the series, An Echo in the Bone, hasn't been released yet and as I type this post, the book is #18 in sales on Amazon. That gives you some indication of the following these books have.....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Embroidered iPhone Case

Whew! What a busy summer we have had. Much traveling and many visitors and a few projects here and there.... My 21 year old red-headed step-daughter (yes, I am truly blessed with a red-headed step child!) came down for a visit recently and this iPhone tote is one of the projects we made while she was here. She chose the design, we embroidered it onto a scrap of canvas, and the end result is the bag you see below. The bag is just big enough for her iPhone, can hang on her tote bag, protect her phone in the bottom of her nonexistent purse, or hang from a belt loop should she choose to do so. I made two different size ties so she can use whichever one fits the task. We didn't have a pattern and just made it up as we went along... For essentially no investment we ended up with a great, usable item. And I ended up with a really good idea....

Friday, July 31, 2009

Quilted Laptop Bag - Great Scrap Buster!

My Summer Scrap Busting has continued, and here is my latest project. I was getting ready to travel up to New York to see my grandtots and naturally I need to take my laptop with me. My laptop bag had broken on our last trip and I had yet to buy a new one because I just couldn't find one I liked. Every bag I looked at weighed a ton and was soooo much bigger than I needed. That landed me back in my sewing room, looking at my fabric. Basically I made two quilted rectangles and sewed some pockets in, made a strap, attached it to the larger rectangle, folded the whole thing in half, sewed and bound the side seams and this is what I got.
I can't tell you how many compliments I got in the airports. Honest. And this didn't take me more than a couple hours. More scraps gone, and another useful item that I actually like.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Scrappy Pineapple Beach Bag!

UPDATE 3/12/2010: I have uploaded the FREE 6 Inch Paper Piecing Pineapple Block Pattern to the previous post - it can be found here:  Free 6 inch Paper Piecing Pineapple Block Pattern

So here is what I made using my "Chip Basket" of scraps. A super huge beach bag that was made entirely out of scraps. First I made 19 six inch paper pieced pineapple quilt blocks using 100% scraps - and small scraps at that! The blocks made quite a dent in my Chip Basket and the lid is now neatly back on the container that was overflowing less than two weeks ago. For absolutely no new cost I have a very functional, very cute, large tote bag that is big enough to hold a beach blanket and at least three beach towels. In the photo below it has three large towels in it with room for much more!
I had exactly one yard of the lime green fabric, and that became the backing of each section of the stipple quilted beach bag. I pieced the batting from scraps by giving each piece a clean cut, butting them together and then zig-zagging them into larger pieces. This diminished the pile of batting scraps I had stacked up. I covered some ugly olive drab cotton webbing I had with some purple strips of fabric I had left over from a previous project, and that became the handles. Even the binding used up bias binding pieces I had leftover from Quilted Toddler Bibs I have made as gifts and for pattern cover photo shots.

I took this photo to give you some idea of how large the bag is. I really love how colorful, bright and happy it turned out! Oh, and I covered the inside seams with seam binding made from the lime green fabric - still from that same yard of fabric.

Here's the bottom of the bag.

And these pouches are made from four patch blocks I never used from a block swap. I put webbing straps on the back of each bag which will allow them to be snapped onto the pole that runs up the dash of our boat. The red one is for my husband and the purple one is for me. It will keep our wallets, phones, camera, ID's, etc., handy, safe and secure while we are out on the boat... yet more scraps used up! I just had to share this project and give everyone ideas regarding their scraps. The fun part of this project for me was that I literally didn't buy a single new item to complete this. I just kept digging until I found what I needed to complete it! Dig into your scrap buckets and start sewing! What can you come up with?
UPDATE 3/12/2010: I have uploaded the FREE 6 Inch Paper Piecing Pineapple Block Pattern to my previous post.. You will find it at the end of that post.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Scrappy Pineapple Quilt Blocks

UPDATE 3/12/2010: I have uploaded the FREE 6 Inch Paper Piecing Pineapple Block Pattern to end of this post.

What you see above is my "Chip Basket." That's what I call the little container that I throw all my scrap bits of fabric and odd half square triangles, wonky strips and any other little leftover fabric pieces that accumulate as I piece together quilts. I even save those first cuts of yardage you are left with after you square the fabric up prior to rotary cutting. Either way, we all have these little scraps. As you can see by the photo my Chips had grown too large for the container I was keeping them in and this past weekend I thought I should go purchase a larger bin. "HOGWASH," I said out loud, as I quickly came to my senses! I decided right then that I would start using them up!

The Scrappy Pineapple Block to the left is what I came up with. I vowed to myself, and now to all of my online quilting buddies, that I will make one of these blocks every single day, no matter what, until I can at least put the lid back on the Chip Basket without having to sit on it to get it latched. Believe me, the bin can't stand that level of abuse...

I was given the most marvelous gift from my Quilt Guild secret pal recently and that helped me decide what direction I wanted to go. She had bought for me the June Tailor Perfect Piecing Transparent, Blank Foundation Sheets for paper piecing. This is a marvelous product, let me tell you! I stuck it in my printer, and it printed up the block lickity split. It is so easy to use, you can see right through it without having to hold it up to the light, and it tears away like butter but only when you are ready to tear it off! The photo to the right shows a block before I sewed on the scraps.

Here is the back of two blocks. See how easy it is to see through and thus to work with? It is a gift from the quilting Gods, in my humble opinion.

And here are Saturday and Sundays blocks, even sewn together. I have put the free 6 inch Paper Piecing Pineapple Block on the end of this post for everyone to use. Dig into YOUR scrap bins and make something bright, happy and useful today!

(you can scroll to the bottom of the embedded pdf file and click on "download" to print...)
Pineapple block 6 inch

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Recycled Clothing and Stash Busting

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had gone searching for a few bibs I had made. While searching, I stumbled on a box of clothing that I had saved for future projects. Had no idea what I was going to use them for, but I knew the fabric was just too good not to use. What you see on the left is the back of a wonderful linen tank top that I got bleach on the front of. I loved the rust color and the weight of the fabric, so I decided to make a purse out of it.

I embroidered two simple designs on the fabric, cut out a big rectangle, cut the lining from another very old linen shirt, threw a zipper in, hung an old bead from the zipper, and I had the purse that you see at the top of this post. The purse was literally made from two old, useless, discarded shirts!

I was so pleased with the first one that I got to digging, and found some old purple velvet, embroidered two designs on it and ended up with the bag you see on the right.






Then I found some black velvet and yes, you guessed it. I made a black bag. I just couldn't stop - these are just too easy! So, the reason I am posting photos of these items is to remind everyone that from our stash and Goodwill bag, we can really make some useful, beautiful items for little to no investment!

Yes, I am a bit Obsessive Compulsive, so I made one more bag. This one is made from a small scrap of blue canvas I have had for years and years. It was so dusty I had to take it outside and shake it like mad before I could even iron it! Was it worth the bother? I sure think so!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Thing Led to Another...

You know how one thing just leads to another? Well today, for me, is a perfect example of how this happens and even the best laid plans can go astray. It all started last week when I stopped by my favorite fabric shop in Key West, The Seam Shoppe. It is located on Truman Ave and I have been going there for 15 years. That store always puts a skip in my step - they have the best batiks and island prints anywhere! As luck would have it they carry my Quilted Toddler Bib pattern and I needed to stop by and pick up some fabric to use to make a sample bib for them to display in their shop. The bib to the right is the sample I made for their store. Then, as is often the case when I begin to sew, one thing led to another, and another, and another, and that's why I didn't get any laundry done today.... isn't it?

While I was sewing the sample for The Seam Shoppe, I remembered the fabulous citrus fabric I had bought there a while back and I decided to make my darling Granddaughter, Lucy, a bib with the remains of that fabric. Isn't it grand?

Here is the back. I love it!

And then, as luck would have it, I had just enough left over to make Lucy TWO "drool bibs." Here is one of them.

And when I finished the drool bibs, I remembered the fabric I had left over from the aprons I made my daughter and her girls for Mother's Day, and, well, that led to this bib here on the right ------->

Then I remembered another sample I had made for a machine embroidery website, so I started digging through boxes until I found that bib so I could include it with the other bibs I had made today. I couldn't send the box without this one in it, right? You wouldn't believe the stuff I found while hunting for this bib.... but that's another post entirely...

So all of that is why I didn't get any laundry done today. Or dusting. Or bookwork. Or the newest pattern uploaded to the Library of Congress. One thing just led to another...

Hey! How did Lucy's photo get on here? Now that it's on here, I certainly can't delete it.... Isn't she darling? Just look at those eyelashes!