Monday, January 30, 2012

Calling All Charity Quilters: Quilts for Cancer Needs You!

Hello, lovely people!  I just got back from a weekend up with my sister so I'm getting back in the swing of things at home.

I mentioned briefly in my last post about a new flickr group/bee that I just became involved in: Quilts for Cancer.  If you've ever wanted to quilt for charity, here's your chance!  We have two more slots and we'd love for you to join us.  It's set up like a traditional stash bee...but after you complete your quilt you donate it to someone with cancer or to a cancer-related organization - the choice is yours!  The quickie info is that everyone picks a month (December and January 2013 are left).  When it's your month you choose a block and color scheme.  Then, everyone in the bee makes a block (or 2) and sends it to you.  Then you assemble your blocks, make the quilt, and donate it.  Fabulous, right?  I've really been passionate about charity sewing/quilting so this really fit in with my goals this year.  Hop on's the information for our February block...go check...I'll wait.  Great, right?

I hope you consider joining.  I know everyone commits to a whole lot at the beginning of the year, but if you think you have the time and think it's a worthwhile cause, come on over!!  Thanks!

In other quilting news...I finished 5 1/2 of my 7 Geese In A Ring so I'm trying to knock those out today or tomorrow.  Then it's on to binding my quilt for my friend, Jennifer.  I'll post pics as soon as I can!  And, remind me to post pics of the awesome stuff my friend Whitney sent me, m'kay?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Doin' A Little Happy Dance Over Here!

Ages and ages ago I signed up for the Geese In A Ring Swap.  I absolutely love these blocks and really wanted to jump on the bandwagon and try them...and what better way than to combine it with a swap?  I'll get 7 super-duper blocks from my swap pals and I get lots of practice making these cutie blocks.  Ok, so I'm signed up and have until 2/14/2012 to get them done.  Great.  No problem.  Plenty of time.

Fast forward three months and I realize I'm now PANICKING about getting these blocks done on time.  I think I put them off because I was scared...nervous about paper-piecing (I managed a few paper pieced blocks with the Summer Sampler Series, but that's it), intimidated by how complicated they seem, freaking out about how long each block will take.  Yikes!  Procrastinate some more?  Yes!

Then I got off my tush, pulled on my big-girl pants and gave one a try.  It was FAB!  I'm not going to lie and say I didn't need my seam ripper (several times) or claim that I placed all of my pieces just so and facing the right way on the first sir-ee-Bob.  But, BUT, every time one of those pretty little perfect geese showed up it was so worth it.  I love it.

One down, 6 to go.  Better get moving!

Also, I wanted to let everyone know about a new bee that's starting up on Flickr.  As you know, charity quilting is one of my passions - this new bee is called Quilts For Cancer.  It's set up like a traditional stash bee (when it's your month you choose the block/colors and everyone makes blocks from their stash) - but after you get your blocks and make your quilt, you donate it to someone with cancer or to a cancer-related organization.  Fab, right?  I thought so!  So run over as fast as you can and sign up.  I know we've all signed up for a lot and have lots of things on our plates other than sewing.  But, if you're up for quilting for a great cause, come and join us!

That's it from my corner of the sewing world today.  I didn't sew a stitch yesterday because I took my adorable three year old to the children's museum while the big boys were at school. 

We had a blast and it was so cool to do something fun with just him.  Third kids, you know, sometimes get the short end of the stick!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Studio Catch Up

I always laugh a little when I call my sewing space a studio.  I love how it sounds...all fancy and big and organized and like someone uber-talented works in there.  My studio is actually a little corner of my laundry room.  For some reason when some previous owners finished off part of the basement, they made one part into a fairly large laundry room...not sure why, but I'm glad because it gives me some space to keep all my schtuff.  I feel pretty lucky that I can leave my junk out all the time, especially because I usually make a gigantic mess when I'm sewing and often have to just leave it on short notice because of they mayhem that ensues in the next room (our playroom).  I've taken over most every inch that is not being used by the laundry stuff or storage stuff.  So, is it a studio?  Perhaps not, but it's my very own spot in the house that's not inundated with boy stuff!!

Anyway, I digress...  I've been up to a whole bunch lately so I thought I'd show you a few of the highlights over the last month or so.

49 string blocks for the Mini Scrap Basket Block Swap.  These were really fun and quick blocks to make - and they use a ton of scraps to boot!  My only regret is that I didn't save some of my own blocks...I swapped them all!  But, I can always make some more, right?

Next up are my December blocks for the Love Circle of do. Good StitchesRachel put together an awesome tutorial for these fab herringbone blocks.  I love how they turned out and can't wait to see the whole quilt!  Our circle took the month of January off, so be sure to check back for the awesome block lined up for our February quilt!

This is a little mini that I made for my new super-duper buddy, Whitney.  I missed the deadline for signing up for the ALFALC swap in December so she suggested we swap anyway.  The swap is for fabric and chocolate, but we decided to add in a handmade item as well.  I'd just finished up the blocks above but wasn't ready to be done with the I modified it a little bit and came up with this fun mini quilt.  I personally love it and luckily Whitney does, too!  I'll post what she sent me in the next day or two...she spoiled me!

I joined a flickr group called Quilting for Kids, which is a group that donates quilts to children in foster care.  I made these four blocks for a quilt going to a little boy and I can't wait to make more blocks for this cause!

I made these blocks for my hive of the [3x6] Sampler Quilt Mini Bee.  I happen to love how they turned out...isn't it amazing how many different ways you can use HSTs?  One of these days I'll find time to make a block in my colors.  I have too much on my plate right now!

I knocked out these babies for my hive of the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee.  I'm so excited that these turned out OK - I was a bit nervous to send them along since my hive consisted of ElizabethLee, Lindsay,  Lyanna, and Wendy.  Talk about hanging with the cool kids!  And, again, I didn't have a chance to do one in my colors...but it's surely on my to do list because I love how these worked out!

And these cuties are for Michelle, for the Design Camp [think outside the block] Swap.  She sent us these A-MAZING Echino fabrics (the first time I've seen any in person!) an asked us to try an awesome technique dubbed "confetti".  The one on the right is my block using that was so fun!  Then she (Michelle) said to just have fun with the rest...the left block is what happened.  I love them both and I can't tell you how much I love the fabric.  I do think I'll be splurging on some Echino in the future.

I also managed to make 2 inifinity for me and one for my fantastic sister.  I'll have to grab a picture of one - I made it from Anna Maria Horner's Folksy Flannel and Little Folks voile.

I have lots more in the works...I may have gotten a little sign-up-happy and joined a whole mess of swaps!  Oops!  I'm excited, but I'm getting a bit nervous to make things that my partners will think are super-awesome.  I'm sure it'll work out - and I will keep y'all posted on my progress!

Oh, and I have an actual "real size" quilt in the works, just needs binding and then I'll post about that.  See?  My studio (ha ha ha!) has been a busy little corner of my universe lately!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Say What??

Remember this post? Blogger's Choice Bundle Contest.  Well, the most amazing thing happened...I was one of the three winners!  How unbelievable is that?  And I mean that literally...UN-believable!  There was a lot of excellent competition and I honestly didn't think I had a snowball's chance in h-e-double-hockey-sticks.  Not that I didn't want to win, of course, but I really entered for fun and to challenge myself to pick a bundle made up of fabrics from several collections.  I tend to feel like I don't know what goes together and find myself hesitating when mixing fabrics.  Maybe I should have a little more confidence in myself, eh?

Check out the post on Laura's blog:

Now, should I let this go to my head?  Maybe I should head over to my LQS and start offering free fabric selection advice?  When the ladies start looking at me all kooky I'll just explain that I won this contest where I pulled together a bundle of 15 fabrics and the judges liked it so much that they picked mine.  Surely you should take my advice, quilty lady.  Of course I know what I'm talking about!  Ha ha!  That would be so hilarious, especially since the gals at my LQS are mostly older lady types with extremely different tastes.

OK, so I'll just graciously accept my bundle and then roll around in it for a bit when it comes...then pet it obligingly because I don't know about you, but I just adore fresh-from-the-store fabric!

I didn't realize when I made the bundle that it's a perfect match for my Mom.  Yellows and blues and greens are just so her.  So that's what this bundle will become...a quilt for my awesome Mom!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Two-fer!

So I'm trying to get organized and plow through some of my "must do" items...and then I get sucked into browsing flickr, perusing blogs and the like.  Ya know what the only problem with that is (besides the exhorbitant amount of time wasted, that I could otherwise be sewing...or cleaning...or folding laundry - I hope you can relate a bit)?  It's that every swap, quilt-a-long, and bee seems so very fabulous that it's so hard NOT to sign up for  I probably haven't been as choosy as I should be since I'm trying to spend more time on making things for me/my household, but all of the pretties make it so very hard to stop!  I'm just such a joiner!

I'm looking forward to all of my upcoming swaps and projects, but one (or two?) that I'm super-excited about is my combination Scrap Attack AND A Quilt for a Smile project.  How's that for multi-tasking?  I get to pass one quilt off as two things.  It almost feels like Buy One Get One's almost like cheating, but not.  Awesome!

First, Rachel over at Stitched in Color is hosting the fabulous Scrap Attack challenge.  It's basically an ingenious way to get everyone excited about using their scraps and have a big, old party while doing it.  Fun, right?  The only rules are that you have to make your scraptacular quilt using mostly scraps and it has to be finished by the end of March.  Easy peasy...I can do that.

Scrap Attack Quilt-Along

Second, the lovely Pat Bravo of Art Gallery Fabrics put a call out on her blog & Facebook page a little while back asking for help.  See, she had a ton of studio scraps and wanted to know what she do with them.  After some suggestions she decided she would SEND THEM TO US to make quilts for Project Linus.  Yes, you read that correctly.  She sent ME a whole pound of scraps to make a quilt.  Beautiful, gorgeous, super-pretty Art Gallery scraps.  As you know, quilting for charity is right up my alley so I could hardly turn it down (well, she didn't exactly ask me...I asked her if little old me could join in the fun - luckily she said YES!).  The project has been dubbed Quilt for a Smile and I can hardly wait to start my contribution.  I was literally drooling when this squishy bag of fabric delights showed up on doorstep:

Now I'm just waiting to finish up a couple of things before I dig in to my two-for-the-price-of-one project.  I'm thinking scrappy log cabins...or maybe tumblers.  I'm not sure.  I feel bad that I haven't had a chance to start on it so I don't want to do anything too tricky or intricate, but I do want it to be scraptacular and beautiful.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.  I'm not sure if Pat is sending out any more fabric, but if you're interested, you might want to drop her an email - she is uber-nice!

I'll have to update y'all on some other things I've been working on.  I made some pretty cool blocks for the 3x6 bee and I'm working on my 4x5 blocks (they're due the 15th!...must get off this thing and sew).  Plans are also brewing for lots more fun stuff.  Stay tuned!

Friday, January 6, 2012


No, no. Not me. I would hardly consider myself a genius. Idea stealer? Maybe. Tutorial user? You bet!  Shameless I'm-going-to-take-this-idea-and-try-to-figure-out-how-you-did-it girl?  Uh-huh!

Have you ever had moments where you think "for heaven's sake, WHY haven't I been doing this all along?"  Or "I never knew how this tiny little thing could"

I've had THREE of those moments lately - yes three.  It's funny how little tips or ideas can change the way you quilt.  What's even better than me realizing these things? I'm going to share these ideas with you!  You don't have to thank me...I'm just a giver ;)

Ok, after typing out the post I realized I got quite, feel free to skip the dribble and just pay attention to the three Lessons Learned in the post.  It'll save you time (but you may not laugh as much).  You've been warned.

First - A conversation in one of my Flickr groups gave me the idea to clear off the clutter-filled side of my sewing table and put my 18x24" cutting mat there.  I can't believe it took me so long to figure out that the spot was even big enough for my cutting mat!  It was (and at times still is) the problem area that is a fabric magnet, notions dumping ground, pile o' schtuff spot.  I cleaned it up and voila - instant, magical cutting space.  You would be sad to know that before this I was hauling everything I needed to cut upstairs to my dining room table or living room floor b/c I didn't think I had a big enough surface on which to cut fabric.  Little did I know that I DID have the was just buried under the heap of fabric that I try to promise myself I'm going to fold and put away as soon as I cut it but never do.  I still schlep my stuff upstairs if I'm doing a lot of cutting at once or if I'm cutting large pieces of fabric (my 24x36" cutting mat tucks right behind my piano in the dining room!).  I may not be getting as much exercise bounding up and down the stairs every time I need to cut something, but I sure am a happy little camper down in my laundry room "studio" cutting away, all pleased with myself.

Lesson learned:  have a dedicated spot for even a small cutting mat near your sewing machine if at all possible.  Saves so much time!

Second - Just like the miles of staircases I've climbed to cut my fabric, so too was I getting a workout to iron everything.  My laundry room is technically big enough to set up the ironing board, but it's kind of awkward and I still had to get up every time I wanted to press open a seam. Gosh that makes me sound lazy!  Most of the time I would set it all up in the living room (more space) and trek back and forth to press stuff.  Imagine how many times I'd be up and down just to complete one block!  My thighs may have thanked me, but I sure was wasting a lot of precious sewing time.  I don't get a lot of sewing time with the circus that is having three energetic boys going on around me, so maximizing my "machine time" is critical.  How did I remedy this, you ask?  Simple.  A pressing table made from a TV tray!  I cannot take credit for this idea (remember, I'm an idea stealer borrower, NOT idea maker) - Elizabeth over at Oh, Fransson! is the girl-genius that devised this fabulous number.  It was kismet that this project came to be in my home.  My mom had gifted us her set of tv trays a few years back, which we thought would come in so handy.  Um, they ended up being excellent dust collectors in our storage room.  We were cleaning out  a few months ago and decided to donate the tv trays.  I'd just stumbled upon Elizabeth's tutorial about the pressing table and figured it was meant to be.  I snagged one of those puppies and turned it into a fab table the very next day and I haven't looked back!  It sits right next to me when I sew.  I just have to swivel my chair to press all of those pretty little seams.  I can finish a whole block without getting up (again with the LAZY)!  How awesome is that and why can't I be that clever??

Lesson learned: Oh Fransson's! TV Tray Pressing Table is pure genius and everyone needs to make one ASAP!

Third - I kind of stumbled on this myself, but it was pure coincidence.  I'd wanted a 12.5" square ruler for quite a while so that I could easily square up swap blocks.  I had a 50% off coupon for JoAnn a couple of weeks ago and decided to get one.  As I was deciding which one to get (who knew there'd be like 3 or 4 different 12.5" square rulers to choose can they possibly be different from one another?), I happened upon a 4 pack of square rulers.  Surely 4 is better than one, right?  Of course it is, especially if I can save 50%!  To be honest, I didn't even really look at what sizes the other rulers were.  Onto a shelf in my studio the package went.  Then, the other day I was cutting 80-something HSTs for the 3x6 bee and not really looking forward to trimming them all.  For the record, I love-ity love HSTs, but the trimming is so tedious!  I was poking around for the 12.5" ruler for when I managed to get all of those buggers sewn into blocks when I found the little 4.5" square ruler.  Hello, sunshine!  I'm not going to lie and tell you that this baby trims the HSTs for you, but that little ruler sure makes it a helluva lot easier!  I'd been using the 45 degree angle line on my cutting mat and my big 6x24" ruler to trim them in the past.  I had no idea how hard I was making it!  I might just start carrying the little square ruler around with me in case anything else needs a quick trim...LOVE that thing.  All of my HSTs are trimmed and ready to be sewn...I just love how those 2 pretty little triangles make a perfect square.  Sometimes it's just the little things.

Lesson Learned: Use a little square ruler to trim HSTs!  Or, on a more general note, use the best tool for the job.  You'll thank yourself (and that cute ruler!).

Have I blabbered on long enough?  Me thinks.  I just have one little request if you've made it this far...share one (or more!) thing you do/use that makes your sewing life easier.  I'd love to hear everyone's suggestions!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Feel Like A Celebrity Blogger!

So y'all have probably seen all of the fancy schmancy Blogger's Choice Fat Quarter Bundles over at the Fat Quarter Shop.  If you haven't...check them out NOW...I'll wait.  Fab, right?  I think it's so cool to see what fabrics the "popular bloggers" I right?  Picks by Allison of Cluck Cluck Sew, Vanessa of V and Co., and Heather of {House} of a La Mode (and others) - yes, please...I'll take 'em all!

What's even better than that?  Picking your very own Blogger's Choice bundle...and getting the chance to win it!  Pop on over to Quokka Quilts to get the down-low on this fantastic contest/giveaway.

I spent about a gazillion hours last night trying to pick just the right bundle (3 solids and 12 prints) was so much harder than I thought!  I had so many ideas for color cominations that I just didn't know which direction to go.  I finally settled on this:

I wanted to focus on a color combo I love (aqua and green) but spice it up with additional pops of color and prints.  I also wanted to challenge myself to choose several different designers and manufacturers.  It's easy to go with a line and that's what I usually do...I wanted to see if I could combine lots of styles and looks to create a cohesive bundle.  The more I look at it the more I love it!  I really could have come up with about 50 different bundles - there is so much gorgeous fabric out there.  I'm crossing my fingers that the judges love my bundle.  If you decide to enter, good luck to you, too.  Entries close on the 15th!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Forward...Looking Back

Is it 2012 already?  I swear 2011 just started a minute ago!  Where does the time go?  The RA (resident assistant) of my dorm my freshman year of college (back in 1992...yikes!  Was it that long ago?) said that the years just keep getting faster the older you get.  I kind of didn't believe her - she was probably a junior...what did she know?  But, she was wise beyond her years because she was exactly right.  Every year seems to go by faster than the last.  I wish I could figure out a way to slow things down!

I'd tinkered around my sewing space for a couple of years, but 2011 was the year I fell in love...with quilting!  I love everything about it and my head always seems to be full of ideas for the next 100 projects.  I feel like I learned A LOT this year.  I finished my first quilt, which seemed like such a huge undertaking.  And, don't get me wrong, it was...but now it doesn't seem so daunting now that I have one under my belt.  In fact, I have 2 more in progress right now.  And I'm not just talking about all of the random blocks I have in my UFO bin.  I'm talking about 2 real-life, bonafide quilts.  I'll share more of those in the coming days.

I'm going to copy a lot of my bloggy comrades and post a "year in review" mosaic...mine isn't super-impressive compared to some, but I'm uber-proud of all of the things I accomplished.  I won't bore you with every single block I made, so here are some of the highlights:

And, what would a New Year's Day post be without resolutions?  Well, let's call them goals.  Resolutions seems so official and if you don't keep them you've FAILED.  I feel like if I call them "goals" it's something to strive for, with room for tweaking if necessary.  I'm going to keep this fairly short and broad, so that I can hopefully acheive most of this by the end of the year.  So, without further ado, my sewing/quilting goals for 2012:

1. Make 4 (or more!) quilts for charity.  This has become my passion of late and I want to continue to do this in the new year.  I will still keep making blocks for various charity opportinuties this year, but I want to commit to complete 4 quilts on my own for charity organizations.

2.  Learn to FMQ.  I love straight-line quilting.  I love the way it looks.  But, I think I need to broaden my horizons and get some new techniques under my belt.  I'm a disaster when it comes to FMQ so I want to dedicate some time to figuring it out.

3.  Make more "stuff".  I made a lot of blocks last year.  A LOT.  I did several swaps (which I LOVE) so I have a lot of blocks that are sitting in a drawer with no real plan.  I also did a lot of practice blocks for fun when I was just starting to quilt.  Not only do I want to make all of those into something (or several things), I want to complete more projects for my family and home.  At the top of the list are pillows for our living room, a tree skirt for next Xmas, a purse (for me) and a half apron (for me).

4.  Go to the Sewing Summit.  I have no idea if this will/can happen.  But, I have 9 months to figure it out, right?  It looked like so much fun and I really, really want to go.  Anyone want to be roomies?

5.  Just be more grateful, thankful, and helpful in my life.  In my "sewing life" I want to share posts about people and companies that I adore, showcase projects and tutorials that I love, and maybe even post a tutorial or two of my own.

I think that's it.  That's enough, don't you think?  I could go on all day, but I'll pipe down so that I don't bite off more than I can chew.  Here's to a wonderful, happy, and productive 2012!  Happy New Year!!