Wednesday, February 22, 2017

One Lump, Or Two?

Any American girl, who grew up watching Jane Austin type classics, can identify with the feeling of awe when watching the exchange of niceties between two well-breed, fine ladies at tea time. The romantic mental image that comes to mind is that of the host asking her perfectly perched guest if she would like a spot of tea? As any proper lady, who is the epitome of utmost decorum would do, follows the previous question with... "would you like one lump or two"?

I remember the very first time that I came to visit Germany. My future mother-in-law had produced the most delightful spread of afternoon treats for the occasion. While it was not the traditional ritual of perfect-picture refinement and etiquette, I felt the inner girl in me beam with delight, when I noticed, sitting there before me was a bowl full of lumps... sugar cubes to be exact, which is something that is not so commonly found on the other side of the pond. 

Perhaps it goes without saying that these two paper pieced tea cups remind me of that deeply engraved memory, and why their addition in my Penny Quilt, is just another way that this quilt is continues to tell my own personal story.

If you are familiar with American culture, then you know that tea is not such a deep seeded tradition. Our culture seems to be more about take-it-on-the-go Starbucks coffee, rather than high tea in the afternoon. Perhaps it could stem from, as I learned in one of my history classes long ago, that ever since the British Tea Party, that Americans gradually moved away from tea, and moved towards it's alternative caffeine source of coffee. Since living in Germany, tea has actually become very much a part of my everyday.

Speaking of tea... I had mentioned last week that I was considering tea staining some of my fabrics... don't you think it's quite fitting to talk about it now? Since several of my favorite, go-to low volumes tend towards white, they just don't work for the vintage look that I am going for in this quilt top. So, here's what I've found from my experiments:

You can see the original fabric on the left. I first started with leaving the fabrics in the tea for an hour. Once I pulled them out, they were simply too dark and too reddish for what I wanted. I then changed the type of tea, and tried for only 10 minutes, since I didn't want the fabrics as dark as the first batch. The color was more brownish, which is what I was going for, but still too dark even after 10 minutes. So, I threw the same fabrics back in only for 1 minute, and got the color that I was looking for. I used a Darjeeling tea on the 1 hour batch, which is a very light colored black tea, even in the cup. Even though Ceylon or Assam teas are darker, they gave the the right shade that I was looking for in the 1 minute/10 minute batch. I did notice on the Carolyn Friedlander Ledger fabric (bottom row) that the tea stained the fabric in a mottled look, which can be quite fitting for this use, but may not be desirable for other projects.

What category do you fall into... an on-the-go coffee drinker or do you prefer slowing down for an afternoon tea? Any hot beverage stories?

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social and Stitched In Color.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Purple Heart

The purple heart is a medal of honor that is awarded to those who have been wounded or killed in service. For me, it is a symbol of bravery and courage at a level that is often so beyond oneself. When I started making the "Heart Quartet" block for my Penny Sampler quilt, somehow I kept coming back to that one heart just "needed" to be purple. My original direction was about the color, but then it became about this block telling my own personal story.

Only those who have picked up and left what was once called home, the people that they love and care for, and even the way of life, to live somewhere else, can truly comprehend the depth of what it means to do so. Many have told me that I am brave to have made such a step. From the inside, it doesn't always feel like that. It's true that my daily struggles and emotions of living and operating in a foreign country have often felt like a daily battle.

Before I knew it, I was making a block that represents me with my "boys". I am the one who is different from the rest, the purple heart, shining with courage... the courage that it took to follow my heart and leave everything behind. The map background fabric represents the long journey that I took to be with the man who completes me in every way.

There are several other blocks that I feel are very personal to me too, and tell more of my story. Perhaps it's quite fitting for such a quilt to find it's home in the room that I share with my family, and one of the most used rooms in the house. 

Do you have any personal stories of bravery and courage?
Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Penny Sampler

Did you ever have a quilt that sat on your to-do list for a really long time?... I'm talking about more than just the flavor-of-the-month long time, but over a year or two long time? If you were to look at the quilts on my bucket list, I would have to say that I am a total sucker for a sampler quilt. While I love modern, bright, and bold fabrics in super saturated colors, there is a certain appeal to me to give those traditional quilts that inspired today's quilting movement a big nod.

It turns out that the Penny Sampler quilt from Rachel at Stitched in Color has been that on-my-brain quilt for quite a while now. I had actually almost purchased it last year, but because I had other things on my plate, I filed it away in the back of my mind. Well, it just wouldn't go away, and when Rachel posted that she would be doing another class... seriously, what was a girl to do? The pattern is set up as a six month, twelve month, or an on your own plan. I started out with the on your own version, but might switch to the six month group so I can join in on the fun.

This quilt will make it in my living room, and adorn a spot beside my highly honored and daily used quilt that my aunt made me. As I have been working on this quilt, there are several blocks that I feel like relate to my own personal story. Somehow this block makes me think of a neighboring German village:

My vision for this quilt is to actually stay with toned down and less saturated colors... I would really like this quilt to have the look of an heirloom that has been in the family for years. You really have no idea how hard it is to stay away from those strong popping color contrasts. I have used several Alison Glass batiks that I've been saving for just the right project. Instead of bright yellow, a muted gold takes its place. I have even thought about tea staining a few of the background fabrics to give it a worn look, but we'll just have to see if that actually happens.

My Penny Sampler is just one of my yearly goals projects, and I think a nice finish at your own pace project for the year.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Mein Hase

Even though there are million things swirling around on my to-do list with my second pattern launch about a month away, I decided to squeeze in a quick baby present. My oldest son's teacher just had a sweet baby girl, and I just couldn't get this adorable bunny out of my head as the perfect welcoming gift. I adore paper piecing, and this bunny from the mini woodland bundle was the first thing that came to mind, not to mention that Juliette's patterns are so well done.

I enlarged the pattern so that it was a better fit for a14" pillow, and used soft blush shades to leave know doubt that this is for a sweet princess. When I make a paper piecing block, I actually give a lot of thought to fabric placement. I thought that it would be fitting, and wanted to highlight the "life together" text print, since that's what adding a bundle of joy to the family actually means.

I finished it off with a envelope closure using Carolyn Friedlander's Grid Diamond print in Ice Peach Metallic from her Carkai collection.

As part of my yearly goal, I quilted this with FMQ swirls again... practice makes perfect, right? Free motion quilting on small projects like this are not the challenge for me, but quilting a larger quilt. Perhaps practicing on smaller projects like this will help me with the big ones (fingers crossed)

In Germany those enduring pet names that you might call your loved ones are quite different than what you would hear in the States. Instead of names like sweetheart, honey, sugar, etc. the names are usually animals like bunny (Hase), mouse (Maus), or sparrow (Spatz). So, it's fun for me to think that this pillow could possibly be "für einen kleinen Hasen". (for a little bunny)

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tiptoe Through The Tulips Pattern Introduction

What's the last thing to do before a big finish? You have to remember to cross those T's and dot those I's... and let's just say that I've literally been dotting those last I's this week to share with you a preview of my upcoming pattern, "Tiptoe Through The Tulips", to be released in March 2017.

"Tiptoe Through The Tulips" is for the intermediate to advanced quilter with a variety of piecing techniques, including curved piecing, applique, as well as traditional piecing... let's just say there's no chance of getting bored! The individual blocks measure 24", and even though I finished this to fit our king size bed, it can obviously be made into a smaller version for a throw or twin size finish.

There are two color groupings that I used throughout the quilt, firstly a pink and blue colorway...

And then an orange and purple colorway, with the same green arrow/leaves and yellow applique accents to tie it all together. I used raw edge applique for the small circle, and the foil applique method for the center circles.

Like my first quilt pattern, I will be sending this off to Iva again to work her magic. If you've not seen Iva's work, then be sure to check out her Instagram feed... can't you just imagine this quilt once it has been quilted and has a little crinkle to it?

Right now I am looking for intermediate to advanced quilters for pattern testing to work on this quilt block. Are you interested and have time in February?  If so, then send me an e-mail at and let me know if you've pattern tested before.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Always Following Me

It would seem that even though blue has never been a color that I naturally gravitate towards, it is the one color that follows me despite my efforts to avoid, or at least be indifferent to it. I suppose such tendencies might stem from my grandmother's LOVE of blue... but not what you might think - it was that extreme fondness of blue that perhaps turned my mom off to the color, thus producing the home that I grew up in with not one stitch of blue in it. I have unknowingly done the same.

... but yet, it still follows me...

It would seem that every apartment and every house (trust me, there have been MANY moves in my life) has had some room where there has been some touch of blue in it. There have been two blue bathrooms, blue carpet, and other accents here and there along the way, but really it's forced me to figure out ways to make it work in spite of it's obvious shade.

When my husband and I recently moved our family back to his home town we "inherited" a couch that belonged to my husbands grandmother, which had been given to her when she married in 1947. Every cousin that has come in our house has recognized it, and usually shares some memory of sitting/playing on it as a child. I would think that from here it would be easy to guess the color, right?

Sometimes when I start a project, I don't always know where it might end up later, but it didn't take long to decide that these two pillows would be perfect for the vintage blue sofa in the guest room that has just been waiting to be adorned.

Of course I've considered having it reupholstered, and just might one day. The verdict is still out if she needs a complete makeover, or if she feels more comfortable... just being blue.

Pillow Pattern I: Jeweled Kaleidoscope, Campbell Soup Diary
Fabrics: Alison Glass Sun Prints 2017, Sun Prints 2016, Essex Linen Steel
Thread: Auriful 2600

Pillow Pattern II: Flower applique shapes from Alison Glass book, Applique. Animal shapes, adapted from Alison Glass fabric using this tutorial.
Fabrics: Alison Glass Sun Prints 2017, Alison Glass Sun Prints 2016, Stitched from Seventy-Six collection (background fabric) Lotta Jansdotter (backing)
Thread: Auriful 2600

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Creating Applique Shapes from Fabric - Tutorial

Sometimes when I work on a project, it feels natural to me that some of the same design elements within the fabric should also be incorporated into the project itself. I love applique, and I especially love to mix mediums. I actually started this project two years ago when I was inspired by Alison Glass' Applique book, and only recently pulled it back out to finish it. 

I thought that adding the the bird and the bee outlines from Alison's Seventy Six fabric collection was the perfect way to complete this. Since I had a good response on Instagram concerning a tutorial, I thought I would pass on to you how I did it:

1. Start with the fabric you would like to use and make a copy of it.  For the actual project I enlarged it by 115%, but here it is enlarged to 140% for better visibility. (Alison Glass Flourish, color Pomegranate for Andover fabrics)

2. With a black Sharpie, I simply outlined the shape. You can see how I started on the right side, and extended the lines that were open so as to have a closed shape. I also added an inner freehand outline on the wing, and in the body, where the fabric can peek through later.

3. Now for the best part... did someone say Freezer Paper? Trace the outline from the copy, and cut out the finished shape.

4. The beauty of Freezer Paper is that it irons onto the fabric medium that you are working with, and stays in place without slipping and sliding when cutting. Iron on and cut out entire shape as well as the inner cut out areas.

5. Select the peek-a-boo fabric that you would like behind the felt and cut it large enough so that it is hidden behind the shape. Stitch the felt shape as close to the edge as possible, starting with the outer edges, and then the inner cut out edges.

It's always fun to play around with fussy cut snippits peeking out from behind the felt, don't you think?

Sun Print 2017 fabrics from Alison Glass, to be released this January.

Linking up this week with Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello 2017!

To know how to move forward for this year, I thought that it would be helpful for me to look back through my previous posts to see where I stood with what I had set out to accomplish for the year, and then for each quarter. For starters, I ended up finishing ALL of my quarterly goals! My yearly goals, however, shifted and transitioned a lot, which is not to say that I didn't leave 2016 without a good number of finishes. I was able to finish six quilts, one of which was my own pattern! I had several finishes that never made it on my Finish-A-Long list, mostly because I thought that I would be working on other projects instead.

General Goals:

1. For the first time, I am trying to work with a yearly planner for my sewing projects. I know some of you organization experts out there might have just let out a gasp at that one, but I suppose I've not felt the need for it since sewing has been my hobby and not my work...

2. Right now my main goal for the year is that I would like to transition from a hobby quilter to a professional quilt pattern designer. I suppose that I'm on the way, but releasing my next two patterns this year would make it feel like I'm there.

3. One of my quarterly goals from 2016 that I'm carrying over, and that I am quite happy with, is that I've made a good amount of headway with learning EQ7. Now don't get me wrong... I have definitely not arrived, but I'm pleased with how far I've come, especially considering the number of throw-your-computer-out-the-window moments I've had.

4. Working outside our comfort zone is just that... uncomfortable, which is why I want to push myself to take on more free motion quilting projects.

Project/ yearly goals (aka what's on my plate):

1. I'm so excited to be at the finish line for my second quilt! I'm planning on sending out the top to be quilted this month, and will share very soon. Oh, I will be looking for intermediate to advanced quilters to test it... did I mention curves, applique, and traditional piecing?

2. My second pattern is, at least style wise, quite different than my first pattern. I have finished the top of a small project from that pattern, and this is where I get to stretch myself with some free motion quilting practice.

3/4. If you're going to have an Alison Glass project in the works... then why not two? I shared on Instagram another Jeweled Kaleidoscope in the works with Alison's upcoming Sun Print 2017 collection (everyone say it together now... yum!)... and then sometimes when you're on the right path, inspiration taps you on the shoulder and says "hey, should we go the other way?" (aka 2nd project)

5. My Anna Maria Horner quilt is not exactly a "new" quilt, but my first quilt WIP that was re-birthed because of an IG link up party. I was fully ready to let this one sit and collect dust, but pulling is back out is more satisfying than expected.

6. The backing for my Bee Quilt is almost done, and then I just have to baste and quilt it. This was an extra project that I may not have started had it not been for the bee, but it will be a fun one to work on and finish.

7. My Half Square Triangle quilt started as an effort to use up some of those pretty left over snippits from various projects. This just grew, and grew, and now I realize that this too will have to have a backburner status. This is the latest layout that I've been playing around... hmmm, still up in the air.

8. My thrid quilt pattern is low priority, at least on the first half of the year. The whole project is cut and ready to go, and perfect for those take it with you projects that I need for our HH Patchwork Meetings. I have my projects sorted and ready to grab and go.

9. Now that our new bed is here, I pulled the Green Smoothie quilt back out to work on only to find out that my husband and I are not in agreement about the design layout. I really value his opinion, and since he is sleeping under it too, then I'll at least let him his say. Status: backburner

10. I have been drooling over Stitched In Color's Penny Sampler quilt for a REALLY long time now... I'm a sucker for samplers. This is my distraction along the way quilt when I am feeling the need to mix things up and take a breather. Since it is a 12 month QAL, it feels totally doable.

Gulp, when I see all those ten projects in black and white, then I realize that I've pretty much got my whole year planned out... and that doens't include distractions!?! Even as much as I like to juggle multiple projects, this might even push my limit. I suppose there's not time like the present, right?

... did you happen to notice what's so special about today?
 Linking up to Let's Bee Social and 2017 Finish-A-Long.
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