Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Still Stackin' & a WIP

When I was pregnant with my oldest son I found that I would crave very specific things at very specific times. At one point I had such a craving for sushi that I thought I would loose it, come completely unglued, and have a serious emotional meltdown if I did not get my hands on a little sampling of these delectable delicacies. The challenge was, of course, to find a way to satisfy my craving without eating the highly forbidden raw fish.... and somehow ordering the cooked versions of my favorites did it! While I realize that having a few favorite Heather Ross designs printed from Spoonflower perhaps is not exactly like having the original, I knew that it would definitely satisfy my craving.

There are two fabric designers that have been at the top of my favorites list for years now: Heather Ross and Lizzy House. I know that there might be a lot of bandwagon people out there, jumping on the latest trend that drives by, but I assure you, I am not one of them. I have been googling and drooling over Heather Ross fabrics for years, but somehow, there was never really the chance for me to score some yardage of her highly coveted fabrics. 

With prints that are this sweet, how could I not add a few snippits to my Scrappy Windmill quilt...

So, who is that one designer whose fabrics always make you drool?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday & Let's Bee Social

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scrappy Windmill WIP

First there was one... and one became two. Two became four, and then things slowly started to come together...

Color experts, where are you?... I really need your help!

I've been debating back and forth whether I should continue my Scrappy Windmill quilt with some of my dark brown snippits or not. Somehow when I look at the individual blocks, it feels like it is too dominant and takes away from the fresh and juicy feeling that I am going for since I am using lots of greens, pinks (of course), oranges, and yellows.

For the second photo I took the dark blocks out to compare. Does the quilt need the dark contrast to make the other colors pop, or does it look brighter and fresher without them? Any thoughts?

I really am using several of my all time favorite scraps that I had so much fun rediscovering when I did my major scrap sorting earlier this month. 

As silly as it may sound, pulling some of them out again was like running into old friends that I hadn't seen in a long time... and I thought, oh, I remember you... it's so nice to see you again... where have you been hiding all this time?!?

Are there any seasoned paper-piecers out there too?... I'm a little unsure as to whether you really have to leave the paper in the blocks until the rows are sewn together? I had a big "oops" moment when I realized after reading through the pattern directions that you are actually supposed to leave the paper in...  I didn't do this with my Facing East blocks, but so far so good.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Stack 'em Up!

I'm quilting now, so the way I think about fabrics is a little bit different than I did a year ago. Over the years I've collected a lot of fabrics that I would consider to be "main" or "focal" prints, but since I am now regularly quilting, I realized that my fabric stash was seriously lacking in the supporting prints section... not everyone can take center stage, right?

If you live on the US side of the pond, then you might look at my newly acquired stash and think "cha'ching"... dollar signs showing up in your head, knowing very well how much a stack like this might cost. If you live on the German side of the pond, then you know a different story. So to bring the first group up to speed with the second, I'll calculate it for you this way: Take that price that you just calculated, and then double it, yes, I said DOUBLE IT! - that's the price you would pay for the same high quality quilting fabrics in Germany! So while States side, I just had to take advantage of prices that essentially feel like half-priced (I'd be crazy not to, right?) - but I think it's safe to say, that this will be my stash for the year!

The quilting scene in Germany runs at a totally different pace as it does in the US. Quilting in Germany is not as big, even though there are some really fantastic quilters on this side of the pond, and as you could very well guess, tastes, interests, and skills are quite different. Often I can't find fabrics for quilting projects in one place like you can at some of the one-stop-shop, we-carry-EVERYTHING online shops in the US. There are a lot of main fabric prints available here, but often the supporting fabrics are missing, or maybe just one or two other fabrics from a collection are sold together.

Supporting Prints by: Lizzy House Jewels & Constellations, Alison Glass various Sun prints, Marin Sutton Good Natured, Bee in My Bonnet Gracie Girl, Eric and Julie Comstock S'more Love, Carolyn Gavin Spring Street, Gypsy Girl Woodland Key, Carolyn Friedlander Botanics, Jane Dixon.

Text Prints by: Patty Young's Just My Type, Kumiko Fujita First of Infinity, Carrie Bloomston Paint, Eric and Julie Comstock Baby Jane, Sweetwater Elementary Penmanship.

What are you stacking today? 

Linking up for the first time for Sunday Stash from Molli Sparkles.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Scrappy Windmill Quilt

Since properly sorting my scraps by color, I have had it in my head to start a scrappy quilt to make some kind of dent in my piles. I am pleased how well I have managed to stay on track with both of my current WIP's. I even have all my pretty little stacks of pre-cut fabrics for my two quilts in progress waiting to travel with me... just sit down and start sewing, right?

... and then I walk into my sewing room. 

Well, now what?!? If I pull out all of my prepared snippits, then what will I work on during vacation? I'm the kinda girl that would actually take her sewing machine to the beach if I thought there was an outlet somewhere... and the thought of a solar powered sewing machine - pure genius! If you've ever done any take-along-sewing, then you know that is not exactly easy... one must be EXTREMELY planned, and if you forget just one thread, bobbin, seam ripper, sewing foot, or small, but important, scrap of fabric, then you are shut down faster than a dirty ol' restaurant.

What IS a girl to do?...

I've had my eye on the Scrappy Windmills quilt from Judith Dahmen featured in Issue 10 of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, released last June. (does that at least indicate the control I've shown over the last year NOT to start yet another WIP?)

When sewing, I get a big kick out of pretty little stacks... whether it's stacks of cut squares, stacks of sorted colors, stack of hexies, or stacks of paper pieced blocks. And with the paper still in, it really looks like a nice significant stack and real progress.

What are you stacking today?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and for the first time to Let's Be Social!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Do You Time Save?

In the most recent issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, regular columnist and contributor, Jeni Baker, gives a few tips for saving time in the sewing room and maximizing the actual time that you can spend sewing. Her tips were insightful and gave me something to think about in regards to my own projects:

*Plan and prep your projects ahead of time - Jeni said that she saves time when she sets aside time to plan a project, i.e. look for material sources, fabric prep, washing, etc. She suggests to do this at all once because it saves time. There is no need to decide what project to work on because it's already prepped, and you can simply sit down and start sewing.

*Repeat steps. When you are cutting, cut everything. When you are pinning, pin everything. When you are ironing, iron everything... well, you get the point. Flipping back and forth from station to station can cause you to lose valuable time.

"Planned creativity" is somewhat of a new concept for me... it almost sounds like a contradiction. I often find myself working according to inspiration, and may not want to work on an already prepared project at that particular time. On the other hand, it is definitely something for me to seriously consider to be more disciplined with my projects. Without question, following such a suggestion results in far less WIP's. 

When I start a new project, I can hardly wait to just sit down and start sewing, so I usually cut what is necessary to do so. Sometimes in the middle of one project however, I actually feel like I need to mix things up, take a mental break, and work on some other step. For instance I might get bored with cutting and need to move onto another process, or even project, or I find that I lose interest. Does this statement give any hint as to why I avoided quilting for the longest time? 

One thing that "time saving sewing" does not allow for is when issues or difficult design decisions arrise. If I run into a problem, or I am simply not feeling inspired to work a certain WIP, then it often works best for me to set it aside. When I force myself to work on what I'm not inspired to do, then I end up making major mistakes... and I mean sit-down-on-the-couch-with-your-seam-ripper-for-the-evening mistakes. 

We are planning a little trip where I will also have a little time to sew and I am excited to make progress on my two major WIP's. Cutting is finished, then it's just sit down and sew time. I will be interested to see if I actually have as much time to sew as I would like, or if other distractions will keep me busy. Either way, it feels nice to have everything prepared.

How about you, do you plan your creativity or do you just let it happen? Do you do assembly line sewing, or flip back and forth between steps?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Scrappy Organizer Boxes & Tutorial

I've decided to take a quick breath before I gear up to push through and enlarge both of my quilts in progess. After much debate, back and forth, and some wonderful encouragement to see it through, I've decided to do it! I can't help it that in my head I've already jumped onto the next quilt, but surprisingly I've found some way to pull in the reigns and hold myself back. I have my eye on a really scrappy quilt as the next big project, but I needed to do some serious scrap sorting and editing, and found it to be the perfect in between distraction project. 

Of course I knew before I started that my scraps would be heavy on the pinks and greens, but what I did not expect was how many turquoise scraps and how few purples were in my stash. (mind you, my mother-in-law has believed for the last nine years that purple IS my favortie color... it's actually green) So, in an effort to find a way to keep my scraps organized, I decided it would be fun to give my boring storage boxes a little pop of color.

... and of course, share with you this quick little how-to:

Measure front side of your box. (I used the Skubb boxes from Ikea) Sew random fabric scraps together. Finished pieces should be at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) larger on each side to allow for trimming later. For final cutting size calculation add 5/8" (ca. 1.5 cm) to your box measurements. (That's ca. 1/4 inch to each side) Once your piece is cut to size, apply interfacing to back side and trim. I used Vlieseline G700 (Pellon Shape Flex101)

Fold side edges under (towards the back) approximately 1/4 inch (ca. 6.5 mm) for the side pieces and iron in place. On the front side, edge stitch in place.

Once the side edges have been turned and stitched, turn the bottom and top edges under 1/4 inch (ca. 6.5 mm) and iron in place. Make sure that your corners are lined up and tucked under the first stitched seam.

Once fabric piece is finished, line it up on the box and used a hot glue gun to glue in place. Press and secure the piece in place.

Now you're ready to fill up your boxes with your favorite color scraps! And this pretty little stitching lady just had to have her own box... quite fitting, don't you think?

How do you organize your scraps? By color, by cut size, or some other fun way? Which color has your scrap bins full?

P.S. Just so you know, my fabrics don't always look this orderly - only about once a year when I do a whole office redo... in general I fall under the "messy, creative" category.

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday & Stoffreste Linkparty.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Not Quite My "Tah-Dah" Moment

I read a post this past week with tips for bloggers suggesting a few do's and don't's for what readers are looking for (or not looking for) when they visit sewing/quilting blogs. The tip that will always provide the biggest challenge for me is to keep text/content short. For a long-winded gal like me, who actually considers this my personal online journal that others just happen to be able to peek in and read, I don't seem to know any other way to do it. 

Another suggestion is that readers like to see progress.... not only pretty stacks of fabrics or one WIP after the other... but results. According to her feedback, most people like to see the process rather than just the tah-dah moment. So, with that being said and the middle of the year drawing close, I thought it would be appropriate to give a status update on my two quilts in progress:

Camille Roskelley quilt pattern, "Swell" from Simply Retro (shown only in part until final reveal)

Started: February 2014
Fabrics: Various Amy Butler collections and Kona Cotton white
Current Status: Pieced top completed except for border
Issues: Completed listed size and decided to make larger. Indecisive about whether to put border as shown in original quilt or continue design and make larger?

Carolyn Freidlander quilt pattern, "Facing East" from Savor Each Stitch (finished blocks for a lap quilt size)

Started: January 2015
Fabrics: Various low volume backgrounds, Basic Grey grunges, and Anna Maria Horner, Amy Butler, and various additional prints.
Issues: Completed lap size, but indecisive about making it biggger. Quilting concerns about how to quilt as a new quilter - quilt as you go or have it professionally quilted?

I guess I kind of view quilting as a race for a long distance runner. So far I have been a short distance sprinter, and am having to train for a whole new kind of race... one where I will need to increase my stamina and focus. I've wanted to just stop the race now and finish my two quilts as they are, but my husband (who is 6' 5", 195 cm and actually needs a long quilt) and my quilting friend have been rooting me on from the sidelines to push myself further and go the extra mile. 

Does quilting ever seem like a long distance race to you? Do you get discouraged when you have such set backs? (i.e. thinking you are almost done with a quilt and then realizing you need to make it bigger)

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Alle Vögel sind schon da!

Through my children attending kindergarden, I have naturally picked up on a few "standard" songs that everyone knows here in Germany... big and small alike. Even though "Vogelhochzeit" is perhaps my all time favorite German children's music, one particularly cute song that crosses the lips of just about every child almost as soon as they can form words is "Alle Vögel sind schon da" (translated, all the birds are already there... spring wants to march in!)

...  and these sweet winged creatures were the inspiration for my latest projects as featured in the June issue of Anna Magazin. (Oz Verlag, Germany)

For me, there is nothing more delightful than to sit with my morning tea and marvel at my little feathered friends busily hopping, fluttering, and flying from place to place.

Occasionally a bushy-tailed, four-legged squirrel scampering around at the same busy, yet happy pace....

I was actually able to "borrow" a couple design elements from the fabric itself as the inspiration for my embellishments... simply free motion outlining on felt.

Patterns & Sewing Instructions: Allison Richter as featured in Anna Magazin (Germany)
Fabrics: Cori Dantini, Good Company for Blend Fabrics, "Alle Vögel sind schon da" fabric kits available in Germany here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mother's Pickledish

Which crafter or quilter doesn't have at least one Pinterest board filled with inspiration and projects that keep calling, "make me, make me"? I found a mini quilt project recently, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it... here is my inspiration pin. Since I didn't have the book that was mentioned, I decided to use the free Pickledish pattern from Aneela Hoey. I did, however, make one minor change to her pattern. My fabric placement was way off when sewing the arches according to the directions, and I found I needed to add drawn lines to the arch template. Isn't that the beauty of a paper pieced pattern... just sew on the lines?

As part of my revised goals, it's been important to me is to try a variety of quilting techniques. Essentially the core of what I want to accomplish this year is to simply experiment.This mini project had me working on some curved piecing, which I've never really done in a quilting application before. I have to say that even though the technique has quite a bad reputation, I was pleased with the end result.

I really wanted to go with a dark background like in my inspiration piece, but in the end I felt like it was a nicer contrast with the low volume fabrics. Since I am using the piece on my table, I wanted to stick with some simple quilting.

I thought my Mother's Day bouquet of flowers looked custom made for my little table topper. When I'm not a pink and green girl, I'm totally an orange girl.

... and even my "big guy" gave me his own special bouquet. (he even did the flower arranging all by himself)

Much like Marianne Dashwood, I'm somewhat partial to freshly picked wildflowers to those grown in the hot house... how about you?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I've been doing a lot of experimenting these days.... things that I've had on my to-do/to-try list for quite some time. When I had visited the Edyta Sitar workshop at the beginning of  the year, as part of the workshop we received a kit for her Little Butterflies mini quilt. I had decided that this small project would be perfect for experimenting with free motion quilting. The whole time I was working on this, I have to admit that I was thinking.... how in the world would I be able to manage a whole quilt. Ok, ok, this is the part where I have to remind myself... little bites.

After working with these sweet butterflies, I knew I wanted to repeat this project, but with a modern twist... then it hit me that the handcrafted prints and sun prints from Alison Glass were just the thing - modern versions of batiks, if you like. So, my basket project, that I thought would be on the backburner for quite a while, actually moved to the front burner a lot faster than I expected. I still have a couple of bodies to finish, but it's amazing to me how the same project takes on a completely different look with just a little fabric change!

I also really like how the project looks totally different by framing out the butterflies. I do, however, have to give credit where credit is due... it was my husband's idea to offset the butterflies alternately. (how great is that that the hubster gives me input?!?) Now for my usual dilemma... say it with me everyone - SIZE?!? Either I add some offset borders to make this a small baby size quilt or I go all out and make it big enough for a bed, but then that in itself creates the next dilemma of how to quilt it. Any thoughts?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

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