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One + One = Three

Three you say?

That’s right, one + one does not always equal two. When I’ve presented with that question in the past I’ve always responded, “one what?”. That same philosophy, “One what” applies here too. Read on and I’ll explain!

If I’ve only learned one thing during my short tenure as a quilter, putting together squares, rectangles, triangles and circles has the potential to create an infinite number of designs. In this world of fabric and thread, of rotary cutters, rulers and cutting mats, 1 yard of fabric + 1 cone of thread can equal just about anything your mind can imagine.


New Math

What I am about to describe is probably very old news to those of you with years more quilting experience than I however, I’ve never come across this information anywhere, in any format. So, at the risk of reinventing the wheel for the ten millionth time, this discovery is a brand new wheel to me and one I feel worth sharing!


There’s A Song In My Head

While de-cluttering and organizing my sewing room and closet – my “beginning of a new year tradition / ritual / necessity” – one fabric jelly roll from Basicgrey’s Nova collection taunted me. It wouldn’t fit in a bin or basket with other similar jelly rolls. There was no where to stack it and no drawer to place it. Every attempt to put this round peg into a square hole ended in failure.

Well then. Fine. I suppose it had a message…something like, “unroll me”; or “watch me roll” – something clever I’m sure but I wasn’t in the frame of mind to listen – I already had a song, “Let’s Get Organized” playing in my mind.

Eventually, I had no choice but to give in. Laying out the strips and dividing by color and then by design motif and volume, I began to slowly evolve from mildly irritated (after all, this fabric roll was interrupting my de-clutter and organizing plan) to inspired!

From there, I found myself going through my pattern files – both paper and digital but of all those patterns, the one that provided the most inspiration was a hand drawn pattern given to me by my quilt group. In fact, my primary reason for cleaning and organizing was to create an uncluttered space so I can focus on piecing the quilt tops that needed to be returned to my Comfort Care quilt group.

My ‘Nova’ jelly roll by Basicgrey for Moda Fabrics, on the other hand, had other plans.

Not allowing myself to completely abandon the clearing out / organizing campaign, while reorganizing a stack of drawers dedicated to storing charm packs I found this sparkling, untouched little gem: Cookie Dough Essential 5 Karat Mini Gems charm pack

Removing the band from these little gems and placing them next to the strips brought a rush of excitement that only the fabric obsessed can appreciate.

As the first pattern emerged I began to get a vision of a second pattern and once the second pattern was up on my design board the third pattern practically jumped at me! Standing back to survey my new creations was the exact moment I discovered the magic contained within ONE jelly roll combined with ONE charm pack and the potential to create THREE, separately distinct patterns.


Number Crunching

Nova Fabric Jelly Roll and Cookie Dough Mini Gem Charm Pack

One + One = Pattern #1

Quilt Top Pieced Using Nova Jelly Roll and Cookie Dough 5' Charm Pack

Geometric fabric strips paired with solid squares and bound with solid strips.

= Pattern #2:

Quilt Top #2 using Nova Jelly Roll and Cookie Dough 5' Charm Pack

Print and floral strips and squares paired with solid squares.

= Pattern #3:

Quilt Top Using Nova Jelly Roll and Cookie Dough 5' Charm Pack

Left over red and blue strips cut into squares and paired with left over solid squares to create checkerboard pattern – a 9-patch block creating a 9-patch design. I would rather have a blue and white 9-patch block in the very center but there simply wasn’t enough. However, had I actually planned to create this design from the beginning, I would have been more careful when cutting the strips – it is possible, there would be enough blue for the fifth blue block.


Making this discovery has opened my eyes to the possibilities when using a fabric jelly roll – especially one like this containing a variety of florals, geometrics and solids. Now, when I see a fabric line in any precut format I won’t feel “locked” into using all the fabrics in just one pattern. Being able to visualize the potential of creating more than one design from one fabric roll also makes the price tag easier to live with!

*NOTE* Patterns #2 and #3 above are obviously unstitched fabric pieces basically thrown onto my design wall (an accessory I can no longer live without!) . Once I have all the pieces stitched together, I will re-post those images. I feel the finished quilt tops will more effectively highlight the degree of differentiation between each pattern as well as convey the illusion that each pieced quilt top came from an entirely different fabric line.


Same But Different

Below is another example showing how one pattern and the same two fabrics, when used in opposite placement can create what appears to be two entirely different quilt tops.

Comparison between two different fabric jelly roll patterns

Stay tuned…as quilt tops #2 and #3 are completed I will be posting as well as any other discoveries I make along the way.

Has anyone else made this 1+1 = 3 (or more) discovery? If so, I’d love to hear all about it!

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Christmas Wishes & Fabric Dreams!

I love Christmas as much as anyone but I have to admit I’m glad it’s here and tomorrow will be the beginning of things returning to “normal”.

However, before  things return to normal I felt this to be a good time to share and very short but sweet snippet of what’s been happening in the sewing room these past few weeks.

Christmas Wishes

Of all the Christmas projects I had hoped and wished would be finished by Christmas and the one I’m most proud of is my Christmas Tree quilt.

Christmas Tree Quilt

This image with the terrible lighting does not do the colors or the overall appearance of this quilt any justice but have no fear…a much better image is in the works!

I had a lot of fun stitching the strips and learned a LOT about free motion quilting.  My original intent was to have it professionally quilted on a long arm but I needed to get it in to the shop by early September.  This wasn’t ready to be quilted until December 23rd!

Finished is Better Than Perfect

Many mistakes were made…many lessons learned but it all will serve to improve my skills as a crafter and quilter and give me a better sense of how to manage my time with future projects. The downside to making the attempt to finish before Christmas left me at times too stressed to enjoy the journey.  Next time, the journey comes first!

On the subject of “finished is better than perfect”, I managed to applique and quilt another mug rug – (The perfect size for my husband’s favorite Christmas mug and what’s left of my last two batches of candy)

Christmas mug rug with Christmas mug and candy

And stitch a few felt ornaments:

Snowman and Chrismas felt ornaments

There are my Christmas wishes – projects I was determined to finish before December 25th!

Fabric Dreams

Now, on to the fabric dreams! It seems I’ve been really good this year as I received something (actually 2 things) I never expected:

Book Covers: Why We Quilt and Complete Guide to Quilting

Not one but TWO books on my favorite subject!

A quilter like myself would not be surprised to receive either of these books as a gift from a fellow quilter but finding these under the tree were even more special because they were given to me by my husband.

I have no doubt he supports me in my hobby but taking the time to choose such a thoughtful gift shows he not only supports me but wants me to have every available tool at my disposal to maintain my enthusiasm and facilitate my success as a quilter.  That has to be the best gift of all!

As I read through the pages of each book I will no doubt be inspired to create and to share those inspired creations here!

Stay tuned and watch this space – My Quilting Space.

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Need a Little Inspiration?

It’s 17 days before Christmas and if you’re like me you are a bit stressed, tired and almost to the point of just “wanting the holidays to be over with” so your life can return to normal – whatever that is!

To keep up that momentum until it is “all over with” you need inspiration – something to make you feel energized and to ignite a spark of creativity to carry you through the remainder of the holiday season.

If this speaks to you then you have arrived at the right place – My Quilting Space!

For me, this time of year not only finds me with so much do but so much I WANT to do…and, as always, so little time.

This week I’ve found inspiration in SO many places. From Christmas decor and frugal deals to delightful techniques and beautiful patterns.

If you aren’t yet feeling inspired or in the Christmas spirit yet, keep scrolling – I’m certain you will find something to spark your creativity and get those lights and tinsel shining bright!

The Sewing Room

Learning Lori Holt’s applique technique has opened wide a door to the world of applique that I don’t see closing anytime soon.

In my previous post you can scroll down to the section “I Have a Notion”, and take a look at the fabric pieces arranged in prep for applique with the intent to use this block as a pillow front.

Those pieces are still on my design board however, after rummaging through my fabric stash I was once again inspired and decided to create another of Lori’s patterns into a pillow front and quickly finished the whole thing last night.

PIllow using Lori Holt's Autumn Love Pattern and Templates.  French General fabric for the background.

This image was taken in a hurry and in poor lighting (and the pillow does not have a proper pillow form). My next images will be in better lighting – I promise!

Looking a Lot Like Christmas

Sherri at A Quilting Life shares her Saturday Seven Inspiration for Quilters each week. I’ve recently found myself looking forward to each post! This week did not disappoint – the top image alone provided enough inspiration to get a few projects finished! It evoked such a sense of nostalgia for me – a reminder of the days when I used to display Dept 56 village pieces. A lovely mix of old and new!

Something Old and Something New

Perusing the blogosphere I discovered a new interpretation of an old technique.

What is so old about it? It uses a technique as old as time itself – weaving. I’ve been in love with weaving since my college days when I was first introduced to a floor loom. Although at the time I never really thought I’ve ever retire, I would from time to time imagine my retirement days spent in a cabin by a lake with a big basket of fibers or thread weaving my time away. (Now that vision includes sewing and quilting those hand woven fabrics!)

The new ( at least to me) is Fabric Weaving! The Jolly Jabber at the Fat Quarter Shop has posted Mister Domestic’s video tutorials which instruct three different fabric weaving projects

I haven’t had the chance to try it yet but rest assured, I will be posting about it as soon as I do!

The prospect of starting a project like this makes me feel like I’ve already opened a Christmas present!

What’s Cookin’

Diagram of Jessica Dayton's quilt block - Reindeer Tracks. Courtesy: Moda Bake Shop

I don’t have a food recipe to share but Jessica Dayton at the Moda Bakeshop has baked a fun and colorful fabric recipe entitled, Reindeer Tracks. If you like triangles, this block is for you! It has it all – flying geese, HST’s, QST’s, corner triangles as well as a block on point within another block squared.

This would be stunning as a block incorporated into a larger quilt but I can envision the design holding it’s own as a wall hanging or pillow.

I’ll be trying and posting about this in the future as well!

What a Deal!

I’m probably playing favorites here but for those of us always on the lookout for a good deal, giving a look at these two sites are certainly worth your time. I do my best to visit these two sites each day.

Daily Deal – Missouri Star Quilt Company

24 hour Flash Sale – Fat Quarter Shop

But wait…that’s not all!  Going to the respective “deal” or “sale” page introduces you to other great finds…fabric, patterns, notions, BOM clubs, etc. If what you have read here wasn’t enough to inspire you, visit the “What’s New” pages at the Fat Quarter Shop and Missouri Star Quilt Co.

If I had a dime for every time I visited these sites only to find the very item or inspiration I needed to get a project started!

What will inspire you today?

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The Most Inspiring Ideas You’ll Find on the Internet Today

It’s been over a month since I last posted what I had hoped to be a weekly curation of all things creative to inspire you to make the most of your upcoming weekend.

All was going SO well and then…life happened. All I did was turn the calendar page from September to October and somehow, each day flew by like it was only one hour instead of 24.

My 3 day a week, 9-5 gig has turned into a 7-5 gig that is 4 days a week. Between now and the new year I don’t anticipate any big changes. I guess that’s what 2020 is for! My hope is to turn the calendar on January 1st to find each day to return to it’s “as-God-intended-it-to-be” 24 hours duration!

Now that I’ve explained my short absence, let’s get inspired!


The Sewing Room

1. Last September I talked about National Jelly Roll Saturday – more about that can also be found here.

It’s taken a couple of extra weekends (and a change in fabric) but here is the quilt top about 90% complete:

Chrismas Tree Pieced From a Fabric Jelly Roll

This next image was taken a few days later with the border added. The green around the perimeter is from the backing. Since it took a while to get it partially pinned I just left it on for the picture.

Fabric Jelly Roll Christmas Tree w/ Border

I’m thinking I’d like to use a few (if not all) the left over strips to create a nice design for the back – something to break up that sea of green! Stay tuned…

2. Once the Christmas Tree quilt is ready for quilting I’m going to give free motion quilting a try. It was never my intent to quilt this myself, but even with 24 hours in a day, thee just isn’t enough days between now and Thanksgiving to get this sent off, quilted, returned and bound so…my only option is to quilt it myself on my domestic machine.

Once again… stay tuned!


Road Tripping

A casual conversation with my husband about the Missouri Star Quilt Company (MSQC) turned into a spontaneous road trip to Hamilton, MO.

Missouri Star Quilt Company, Hamilton, MO

It was an unbelievably cold and windy day for the last week in October so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside. This was the only decent image I was able to capture with my phone but no worries – there are more road trips to Hamilton planned for the future!

What you see above is the main retail space and offices and just one of the many (7 or 8?) “stores” that actually make up the MSQC.

My husband – the total, complete non-quilter, was most impressed! He was asking questions about how to use a quilt ruler and even provided impromptu stand up comedy to entertain those of us waiting patiently to be served at the cutting tables!

My trip yielded the “Daily Deal”, yardage for the backing and border for the Christmas Tree quilt shown above and a package of Lori Holt’s Autumn Love Simple Shapes templates.

I’m late for Lori’s Sew Along this year, but I’m now fully prepared to sew this “along” at my own pace in time for next fall!


Hey Susan What’s Cookin’!

Cooking meal on stove top

I’m a huge fan of Sherri at My Quilting Life and had to chuckle when she mentioned this White Chicken Chili recipe she wants to try. I did try the exact same recipe and I have to say it is outstanding!

It warms my heart when someone I admire thinks like I do. It gives me hope.

After having such success with this recipe I decided to explore Rachel’s other recipes and gave her “Mamma’s Meatloaf” recipe a try. My husband thinks pretty much any meatloaf is a good meatloaf – I’m not so easily pleased but I have to say this is, hands down, the best darn meatloaf I’ve ever eaten!

I’m also a pie crust snob and can’t wait to try this recipe


I Have a Notion

 

Sunflower block in progress using Lori Holt's templates and applique techniques

Like kitchen gadgets, I have a weakness for sewing / quilting tools and notions.

This past couple of weeks I’ve been spending a lot of quality time at Lori Holt’s Bee in My Bonnet and have discovered a couple of new techniques – and notions – I can’t live without.

It all started with her Autumn Love Sew Along. Then I spied the Granny’s Garden Sew Along and knew I could not resist her adorable patterns or the beautiful Riley Blake fabrics any longer.

While I wait for shipment of The Granny Chic fabric and pattern (I’ve been put on a wait list) I went ahead and put the Autumn Love templates, the bias tape maker, point 2 point turner this super cute ruler and my version of Lori Holt’s mini 12″ design board to good use. And at the same time I learned that Lori’s technique for applique is the easiest and creates the most beautiful applique I’ve ever tried.

This is my first block – the Sunflower Block from Lori Holt’s Autumn Love quilt and my first time to use this ruler. I’m still in the process of figuring out the best way to use the ruler and design board to get all the pieces lined up perfectly but thing I do know for sure – glue is as important as the fabric!

Sunflower Applique Block in Progress

This next image, without the ruler, gives a little better picture of how the block should look once finished:

Sunflower Block on Mini Design Board

Rummaging through my scraps and fabric stash I located a few fall-like fabric scraps for the applique and a brown remnant of French General fabric for the backing. In the interest of time, rather than make a throw quilt or even a wall hanging, I may be using this block as a pillow front.

Back to the subject of design boards, I discussed the “Top Five Reasons You Need a Design Board” in a much earlier post and yes, a large (or medium) sized board will do however, this smaller version is great – actually a necessity – for this type of applique project. The first minute, or two, of “down” time I am able to gather I plan to make several of these. My plan to have the time to take my time and make these nice, neat and pretty and have them ready to go by the time I’m ready to start making my “Granny’s Garden” quilt.


Have a Great Day and …

I’d love for you to share what inspired you this week!

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Top 5 Things to Do This Weekend #8

Once again Thursday has arrived and has brought you to My Quilting Space – the place for all the creative ideas and inspiration you’ll need to make the most of your weekend ahead!

So let’s get started!

1. My Sewing Room

~~~ For those of you not in the thick of all things quilty, or may have missed an earlier post on this subject, this Saturday, Sept 21st is National Sew a Jelly Roll Day. Sew…you know where to find me – sewing these colorful strips using a pattern from my stash “basket weave” design.

.Jelly Roll Fabric Strips

My fingers are crossed that I can at least finish the top and post it here by Monday night (Sept 23rd).

~~~ I’ve also been busy using up the last of my “Farmer’s Daughter” fabric line and practicing and perfecting the stitch and flip applique technique.

Thanks to Lori Holt from Bee in My Bonnet and her excellent applique instructions I can finally (after at least 50 attempts) say I enjoy making simple shapes into applique pieces. The edges are clean, smooth and the tools and techniques she uses create such a professional appearance.

Lori Holt Granny's Garden Quilt Along

The link above takes you to the first project in her Sew Simple Shapes Series and image should take you to the first post in this Granny’s Garden Quilt Along. Aside from being completely smitten with everyone of these designs, I am sorry that I am late to this party but I am determined to somehow find the time to play catch-up and create this adorable quilt.

2. What’s Happening in Hamilton

Hamilton, MO

Let’s say you’d love to be a part of National Sew a Jelly Roll Day but…you don’t have a jelly roll to sew or, you have a jelly roll or two but want to save them for another occasion… you are in luck!

Missouri Star Quilt Co is having a fabulous sale on select jelly rolls. Between Wednesday the 18th and Saturday the 21st you can save up to 30%. Head on over and see what inspires you!

3. Sewing / Craft Pattern of the Week

Fabric Cherry Pie

When I came across these pin cushions my first thought was, “This is my kind of pie! No baking, no mess, no calories!” Within minutes the wheels in my brain were really turning and could easily visualize these adorable little “pies” as gifts. They would also look great on a shelf in my sewing room!

If I find myself twiddling my thumbs this weekend, I’ll make a return trip to the National Sewing Circle and try my hand making these Pin Cushion Pies.

4. Re purpose / Re-Use /DIY

Glass cases for use in DIY project

In my daily search for an item I need for whatever project I’m working on I keep coming across an old glasses case or two. And now that I’m doing more applique, the time has come to turn at least one of those glass cases into something useful. The most pressing need is to have a central location for the many long, thin shaped items I use and so easily misplace. Another idea is to create a mini sewing kit with thread, needles and embroidery scissors.

I really hope I find the time for at least one of these this weekend. Like the jelly roll quilt top, should I finish this project in time you find it in a special edition blog post on Monday.

5. Hey Susan! What’s Cookin’?

Jamielyn Nye's 4 Ingredient Toffee Caramel Dip with Apple Slices

A sweet co-worker of mine and her family are moving to Austin and as a farewell we are having a “Dip Day” during lunch at work. As sad as I am to see her go there is a bright side – a reason to make a #10 wash tub full of this super easy and delicious Toffee Caramel Dip! I’m also bringing apple slices and pretzels – it’s always nice to balance sweet with a little salt!.

Thank you for stopping by!

Leave a comment letting us know where you found inspiration this week and as always have a great weekend!!!

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Top 5 Things to Do This Weekend # 6

Seems like it was only yesterday…OK, yesterday two weeks ago, that I was sitting here eager to share with you a week’s worth of great finds, projects and inspiration to help you plan ahead and make the most of the weekend ahead.

Since my last post a holiday has passed and we are now full swing into the first week of September – aka National Sewing Month.

There is a lot to cover here so, here we go…

1. Fabric Releases and Reserves

We’ll start with a beautiful fabric collection by Sherri and Chelsi for Moda Fabrics – Summer Sweet. The link takes you to the Fat Quarter Shop which lists the option to reserve the Jolly Bar fabric cut. This, and the honey bun are the only two cuts from this fabric line to be released in January 2020. If you want another cut (yardage, fat quarter, etc.,) you’ll need to wait another month for the February 2020 ship date.

Summer Sweet Quilting Fabric

Also shipping in February 2020 is this fabulous collection, Modern Farmhouse by Simple Simon & Co for Riley Blake. A beautiful variation of the “Farmer’s Daughter” collection I fell in love with a couple of years ago.

Modern Farmhouse Quilting Fabric

Wanting something to be released a bit sooner – like maybe next month (September 2019)? This quilt kit includes the pattern, a Jolly Bar fabric cut (plus binding fabric) to make this Refractions quilt. Both the pattern and fabric line – Harper’s Garden were also created by Sherri & Chelsi.


2. Re purposed & Remarkable

The minute I came across this great find I knew I didn’t need to look any further. Gail from myrepurposedlife.com is so creative and her newest creation – from a cutting board – is now on my list of “things-I-must-do-before-I-die”.

Wooden Cutting Board

After viewing her creation, it becomes easy to see a cutting board as one of those items that also serves as a blank canvas filled with endless possibilities.


3. Good Eats

Nothing has better taste or scent than fajitas. I’ve made them a few times in a skillet (stainless steel fry pan or saute pan) and they were OK but not great. I no longer have my well seasoned iron skillet – although I could purchase a very nice one here – and I’m thinking the iron skillet makes a lot of difference with this type of dish. However, I came across this Sheet Pan Chicken Fajita recipe and I am inspired to give this a try.

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

If fajitas are not your thing but a quick, easy and good tasting recipe is, take a look at the multitude of Jamielyn’s other recipes and videos (DIY / holiday projects Too!) She also loves naps and chocolate and I love everything she posts!

UPDATE: Between writing about his recipe and publishing this post I have tried the Sheet Pan Fajitas – used chicken and I have to admit they are the best I’ve ever tasted!!!


4. Return to the Template

Clam Shell Template

My original intent was to revisit another of my UFO’s, the “Fruit Stand” quilt (an image of Trisch Price’s finished quilt can be found in this post). It uses a unique template called the “Clammy” but various web articles and Pinterest images depicting the upcoming fall / winter / Christmas season diverted my attention and the next thing I know I’m thinking of ways to use the same pattern and template but switching out the “fruit in a wooden box” motif for one depicting Christmas ornaments in a cardboard (or wooden?) box. I’m hoping this will inspire me to do something productive – and finally finish a project using this template.


5. National Sew Jelly Roll Day

Jelly Roll Quilt Fabric

This yearly event is still just over 2 weeks away but I want to give you a head’s up now – Saturday, September the 21st will be here before you know it!

At this time last year I was not aware such an event existed and it was only by a stroke of luck that I happened upon last year’s announcement – on that day which officially occurs on the third Saturday of every September.

Curious as to what all the fuss is about I did a little research and discovered a few interesting facts about Moda’s “Project Jelly Roll” and National Sew a Jelly Roll Day. The whole idea began with a problem frequently encountered by quilters (so glad to know I’m not alone here!) We purchase a significant number of these tempting fabric precuts and, do so without having a specific project in mind. A few months will pass by and all of a sudden we will take notice of these nice and neat round rolls of fabric strips sitting quietly on a shelf waiting patiently to come out and play!

The good people at Moda reached a threshold and decided to do something about all these stacks of unused jelly rolls and created National Sew a Jelly Roll Day as an incentive to take down a jelly roll, unwrap it and make something – anything!

Those rolls were made for sewing and that’s just we’ll do!


Thank you for stopping by! I hope you found something to inspire and help make the most of your upcoming weekend.

As always, feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you did this weekend!

Susan

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Christmas in July

How Did This All Get Started?

The phrase “Christmas in July” likely has its origins dating back to an 1872 French opera, “Werther”, where a group of children are overheard rehearsing a Christmas carol in July. The English translation of a character’s responds is as follows: “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season”.

My own personal response: July carries its own bitter-sweet perspective. To some, the word July produces a restless cry of impatience…” Christmas is still 6-long-months away!!!” However, for those of us who craft, sew and quilt, that 6 month mark can instill a frenzied sense of fear and panic. “What? Only 6 months to finish _____ and _____and_____and_____?!?”

X nay on the Arolcay

That’s right – we don’t need to sing Christmas carols to “rush the season”. We’re already doing our part by allowing the fear of not “getting it all done” before Christmas carry the same proportion of responsibility for hastening the season as those children rehearsing a carol in July.

Whether the calendar reads a short or long 6 month duration between now and Christmas, we can embrace this timeline with joy and enthusiasm. Save the fear and anguish for another day…a rainy day maybe?

So, how do we accomplish that?

By choosing a project that is: 1) quick and easy; 2) offers guaranteed success using no-fail techniques and, as a bonus, 3) looks complicated but is actually very easy to do. In this heat, the last thing you want is a project that causes even 1° of heat to slip under your collar!

Keeping Your Cool

Today it was 95° in the shade with a current heat index of 107° – it seems this is the new norm for a Mid-west day in July. So how does one begin to even think about Christmas…in July? This July? Below are a few ideas to help you get one foot moving in front of the other:

1) Pour a frosty glass of strawberry lemonade or if you really want to divert your attention from the weather try this!

2) Dig into your stash of cool Christmas projects, patterns and fabrics.

3) Adjust the thermostat so your sewing room is as cool as a meat locker and,

4) Get the air moving with a few Pinwheels!

There is no better way to cool things off than revisiting one of my favorite Christmas projects. These pinwheels are quick, easy and so much fun to make. If time isn’t on your side right now, check out this short video I created which allows you to quickly view, in less than 3 minutes, the entire process from beginning to end.

However, if you feel more inspired by the summer sunshine than Christmas cheer, raid your stash of bright, colorful charm squares and make something fun like these:

Pinwheels in Summer Fabric

Pairing a citrus solid with a petite print – these would look stunning appliqued on a solid quilted top and maybe used as a wall hanging to brighten up a neglected space on a wall. (Oops! I may have just added another item on my To-Do list!)

If pinwheels just aren’t your thing no worries! Below you will find another cool project perfect for a hot afternoon!

From Pinwheels to Paper Piecing

A new-to-me technique that has become my new favorite is paper piecing. I happened upon a paper piecing block pattern here . This star has a Nordic appearance that I felt would be a perfect match for the pretty Christmas themed fabric (Scandi 5 fabric collection by Andover) I had on hand.

The specifics of paper piecing are somewhat complicated so I will not attempt to go into great detail here but show you my condensed version. These first two images illustrate the basics of paper piecing: sew thee foundation paper onto the fabric then tear it away.

Paper Piecing a Star Block

These next images show what I really love about paper piecing – the ease in getting seams to match! This is the most frustrating part of sewing triangles.

Paper pieced star block unit

Another bonus – the neat appearance of each unit. Having a consistent seam and cut lines makes piecing each unit together a cinch!

Below are my first two finished blocks.

Paper pieced quilt block

Paper pieced star block

My next decision: make each into a hot pad or try to find more of the same fabric and complete 25 or 30 blocks and make into a throw or bed sized quilt.

Want more Christmas in July?

Quilter's Digest

The “hot” little gems pictured above are from Quilting Digest and just happen to be the perfect inspiration to start singing your own Christmas carol in July.

Stay tuned…more Christmas in July projects are in the works!

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How to Purchase a Sewing / Quilting Machine with NO REGRETS

Which one to choose

Choices…a coin with two sides. The Up Side where the opportunity to make a choice is a good thing. It allows us to be in control – allows us to pick what we want, not what another deems to be the best choice for us.

The other side of the coin or, the Downside, where often there are too many options to choose from which strips the joy of being able to make that choice.  When too many choices are available, it is fear that sets in.  The last thing we want to do is make the wrong choice – we want to avoid regret at all costs!

And, for some reason, this is what happens whenever a quilter/sewest is faced with the need to purchase new or upgrade to a new machine.  The fear of making the wrong choice stifles our pursuit of happiness.

Before a major purchase, in particular a new sewing machine is made, there seems to exist an undercurrent fear of regret collectively shared by those of us in the market for a new machine.

It’s something I have yet to explain. It took me only 30 minutes into a home showing to decide to make an offer to purchase an item easily 200X the purchase price of most any sewing machine I have seriously considered! Yet here I am, 2 years later and STILL in search of “THE” machine!

However, these past couple of years have allowed me time to develop a more focused sense of direction and more a specific answer to the question, “What do I want this new machine to do?”.

If you too are at this point in your search for the machine that is right for you and want to make that purchase with “No Regrets” then you have arrived at the right place!

“Must-Haves” vs “Considerations”

I previously published a post listing the Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Sewing Machine. True, that information remains valid however, it doesn’t really get into nitty gritty of what decisions need to be made before making such an important purchase. As the title implies, it is a list of things to “consider” and was based primarily on what I had read and not enough on experience.

Here, my goal is to do much more than just offer “considerations” – the goal is to give you a definitive list of “Must-Haves” if you want to purchase a machine with NO REGRETS.

For those of you who follow my blog, you may remember a review I posted a few months back on what I considered to be my “Dream Machine“. Initially, my research was in response to a concern regarding my current machine (a Janome DC 2014) and its growing list of annoying noises and quirky habits – tell-tale signs that retirement, or at the very least, an extended vacation on a warm, sunny beach with a cold beverage in one hand a book in the other was looming on the horizon.

And if retirement or an extended vacation was the case and I woke up one morning to find a note on the refrigerator that my Janome had indeed packed its bags and headed for the beach I would then be forced to answer a second question, “If I were to buy a new machine, which one would I buy?”

Taking a Test Drive

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival (KCRQF) in Overland Park, Kansas. In addition to “oohing” and “ahhhing” hundreds of quilts on display and visiting with vendors that allow me to spend oodles of money on must-have fabrics, patterns and anything else my mind deems necessary to joyfully pursue my quilting hobby, this festival also gave me an opportunity to try out a few high end sewing machines.

My first encounter with a much coveted machine was during a class where each of us were set up with a Janome Memory Craft 9450 QCP.

Janome Quilt Class

This is the exact machine I used:

Janome MC 9450 QCP

A Little Housekeeping

Before I go any further I want to clarify that this article is not an endorsement of this or any Janome product. In my limited experience I have had only positive experiences with Janome machines but there are many other makes and models with their own brand of greatness.

I’m choosing this particular Janome machine because it is from using this machine for several hours that I was able to determine exactly which “bells and whistles” I want/need and those that I don’t. I have spent more time using this machine than any other I’ve “test-driven” and feel I can give a more authentic description of each of my must-have items using just one machine.

Spending a good 6 hours with this machine on day one and another 3 hours on day 2 (in addition to the “test drives” on other brands on the vendor floor) I have to say I am so grateful that I did not give in to impulse and purchase a new machine before now.

Do’s and Don’ts of Researching a Sewing Machine

Read

Relying on written product reviews simply cannot compare to a hands-on test-drive. So many of the reviews I’ve read provide information is that is too general. Once you read three or four of these you begin to see a pattern of repetitious and generic content. While these “reviews” serve a purpose, the absence of specific experiential details is a clue the review was not submitted by an actual user. That’s not what I need to make this type of decision. Sure, I will continue to read reviews but only as spring board to propel me to my next level of research – the “test drive”.

Test Drive

DO visit a local deal/retail business and try out as many machines as you fell necessary. It is often through this process that you learn about options you never knew existed. And of those options you read about and thought, “yes, that’s what I want” you may also learn that option is more hype than function.

As much as I love learning a new technique and networking with others who share my interests, the main reason I attended the festival and enrolled in a couple of classes was to have the experience of trying out a new sewing machine.

While the Janome Memory Craft 9450 QCP may not be “the” machine for me however, using it for several hours has taught me what I do want and need in my next sewing machine. And, as my search continues, I will be asking about the following items listed below and the moment I encounter a “no”, that will be my signal to move on.

Good Stuff

So here we are – the “good stuff” – the top five items, I have so far, identified as items my next sewing machine must have:

1)  Box Design Feed Dog – this could easily be the ONLY item on my list. Other manufactures have a similar design, the Janome system is called the “Acu-Feed Flex”. Every other bell and whistle can go straight to the recycle bin but this Acu-Feed Flex system is a must! When it comes to piecing and quilting I cannot over – emphasize importance of an accurate fabric feed system.

Janome Acu-Feed Flex System

2) Automatic Thread Cutter – At the push of a button thread is cut at the end of a stitch which means less thread waste and no more long thread tails to trim later.

3) Auto Presser Foot Lift – Can be set to automatically raise when pressure is removed from the foot pedal or after cutting the thread. Doing this when the needle is down is perfect for sewing corners or curves.

Janome Thread Cutter & Foot Lift

4) Quarter Inch Presser Foot without Guide – FINALLY – a presser foot designed to accurately place a seam exactly 1/4″ from the edge. The eliminates the use of the inaccurate ‘1/4″ presser foot with seam guide’ that DOES NOT measure 1/4″.

Janome Quarter Inch Foot

5) 11″ Sewing Bed. A wonderful thing if you do your own quilting but do not have or use a long arm quilting machine. An 11″ sewing bed (or throat) is considered a mid-arm and in my opinion, the optimal size for quilting on a domestic machine. Many manufacturers boast about their “large” work space which is actually in the 8.5″ – 9″ range. This will do and if you fall in love with a machine that has a 9″ sewing bed that’s really not too much of a compromise. (I did a test drive on Juki with a 9″ sewing bed and I found it to be more than adequate). However, if you have the opportunity to choose a machine with an 11″ sewing bed by all means do!  I’ve yet to hear anyone complain of having too much sewing space!

Janome 11' Sewing Bed

Final Thoughts

While at the KCRQF I also had a chance to try out a Bernina, Husquavarna-Viking and Juki each an outstanding machine.  Interestingly, each of the five items listed above are things my current machine does not have so, in reality, most any other sewing machine would be a good choice!

I still have some additional test-driving to do but I feel so much more informed and more confident my decision will be based on function vs. name and appearance – a purchase made with no regrets!

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below. Tell us what sewing machine you use and how you made that choice. Were there ever any regrets?

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Countdown to the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival

Yes, the official count down has begun…

and the preparatory jitters – making lists, ordering fabric, getting organized and making sure when the day arrives I have everything I need.

In just over 3 weeks the convention Center in Overland Park, KS will open its doors to thousands of “quilters” as well as quilting/sewing vendors and instructors making their third bi-annual pilgrimage to the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival (KCQRF).

Last year, I feel I was probably too filled with wild eyed wonder and somewhat overwhelmed to fully appreciate all this festival had to offer. So many quilts to judge – so many fabrics – so many sponsors with their wares for sale and demonstration. Too much to take in on one day. You really need two – three if you plan to take a class or two.

However, this year I will approach it with an entirely new perspective and a mission – or two.

Mission #1 – Learn Something New

To accomplish my first mission, I’ve taken advantage of the class offerings from professional quilters and signed up for two classes.

Thursday Class

The first is a 6-hour class taught by Trisch Price where we will be making a variation of clam she’ll quilt entitled, “Fruit Stand”. A couple of the new techniques I hope to learn to include curved piecing and inserting a circle in a circle. This will also be a good opportunity for me to improve my paper piecing and applique skills.

Below is an example of Trisch’s quilt we will be making in the class:

Fruit Stand Quilt by Trisch Price

Friday Class

The second class is a 3-hour Machine Applique class taught by Mary Honas. I’m really looking forward to this. After discovering the versatility and design opportunities using applique to embellish a quilt I have wanted to learn and do more of it. Right now, the process is somewhat time-consuming for me but I feel that will change once I learn firsthand, from a professional, all the tips, tricks and techniques that make applique such an eye-catching embellishment to any fabric project.

Mission #2 – Research the Perfect Quilting Machine

One of the greatest aspects of a festival like this is the opportunity to “test drive” sewing and quilting machines. In a previous post I described my Dream Machine and this festival will be a perfect opportunity to help decide my next big sewing machine purchase.

Getting Prepared

So, here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

1) Choose and Purchase Fabric for the “Fruit Stand Quilt class.

Right now I’m going with the solids shown below from Bella Solids Collection by Moda fabrics. However, anyone who knows me knows how often I can change my mind and “when” I do, you will find my updated choice(s) here!

The prints will be pulled from the Robert Kauffman (Studio RK) collection “On the Lighter Side”. I feel these low volume prints will coordinate nicely with the solids. The citrus colors will be used to depict the orange, lemon and lime shapes as well as the appliqued fruit slices.

Fruit Stand Quilt Fabrics

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer’s arrival the following week than with fresh and fun citrus inspired quilt! Stay tuned for the finished product – Can’t wait to show it off!

2) Getting Organized

Being obsessed with bags and totes and anything “organization” can only mean one thing – I may need another bag to hold-and-organize-everything. Currently, I have my eye on this, the Maker Bag by Noodlehead. Sure, I could use the Beetle Bag I wrote about a few months back but I made unnecessary and unflattering changes to the pattern and want to do a do-over before presenting it to the public.

The problem with this idea, as always, is time. The festival is only a month away and since there a few other things on my plate (housework, yard work, “work” work, finishing another quilt, sleep, etc.) it will be a challenge to fit this in but I do intend to give it a solid try.

Should I by some miracle finish this before the festival I will definitely post it so stay tuned!

All other listed tools and notions for each class I already have. For photographic purposes I have these items neatly organized in a clear tray from my large and bulky sewing basket – and this could work in a pinch. However, I need these easy-to-loose items in a bag or organizer that makes each item easy to access and the blade, snips (and anything else sharp) needs a safer storage option.

Quilting Notions

All Aboard!

Anyone else ready to climb aboard the quilt festival train?

At this time of year there are many festivals and markets in a variety of locations to choose from. If you do attend one these great events do tell us about your experience and post a picture or two if you like!

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The Braid Template Goes Above the Treeline

Braid Fabric Block

Finally, I can say I’m on the home stretch of Kate Colleran and Tammy Silver’s (aka KatenTammy) Adventure Quilt Along – A Road Trip. I’m beginning to see familiar landmarks and hopefully within the week I will be pulling into my driveway (finish piecing to top).

No doubt many others also on this same trip have already made it home (pieced the top), have unpacked their luggage ( quilted the top to a fabulous backing fabric) and are stretched out in their favorite recliner with a cup of tea in one hand and the TV remote in the other (finished the quilt with an eye-catching binding).

This particular quilt along provides its subscribers with a new block each week to be downloaded which equals 12 blocks over a 12-week period and block 12 was introduced a couple of weeks ago on April 17th.

Looking Back

When I first began this “Adventure” I knew I would learn a thing or two. What I did not know – or anticipate, that I would learn way more than just a thing or two. I now have a much better understanding of why so many of us become thoroughly addicted to quilting. I’ve been introduced to many new techniques as well as new quilting notions and rulers and each with a common purpose – to make the whole quilting process as easy, efficient and as mistake -proof as possible.

Although I still have a couple of blocks to go and after changing my color choices, a block re-do or two, I can honestly say over the course of these past 12+ weeks my quilting skills and confidence has significantly improved.

On the Road

The following list is just three (of at least a 100 things) I’m loving about this quilt along.

1) I no longer fly away from flying geese block units and I now know how to use a “Wing Clipper” ruler.

2) Thanks to the “Perfect Seams Product Combo” I have finally achieved a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance.

3) Paper piecing has become my new go-to technique. The “Add-A-Quarter-Inch-Plus” ruler made this possible.

Above the Treeline

From the wide variety of tools, tips and techniques made available in this quilt along, the Braid Template and techniques used to create the trees in the “Treeline” block is my absolute favorite. This technique alone put the entire project “above the treeline”! It’s a block that comes together fairly quick and easy.

Using the braid template makes cutting the fabric strips quick, easy and accurate. Where you will spend a majority of your time is choosing which seven shades of green fabric to use and in what order.

Here are a couple of pics to illustrate that process:

Fabric Strips with Braid Template

This is how the block looks at the very beginning – a pile of green fabric strips, white squares and the braid template. Of course, you could use a ruler with 45° markings on the diagonal but the braid template is quicker, easier and there is no math involved! Just place the template to line up the dimensions needed (for example, 1/ 1/2″ width X 7″ length).

Complete instructions are included with the template.

After using the template to cut the ends diagonally, I began placing the pieces to determine the best mix of color and help stay organized while I added each strip to the set.

Fabric Strips Using a Braid Template

And another image giving a better idea of how the fabric pieces would look when arranged into a “tree” shape.

Fabric Strips for Tree Line Quilt Block

You will notice I did a little rearranging of the fabric strip – funny how a simple change in direction can change your perception. In fact, I actually rearranged the pieces during the sewing process as I deemed necessary to prevent placing too many common shades too close together.

Below is my first “Tree Line” block. I like the variety of green shades but I think the next time I do a block like this I will choose colors that are either all warm or all cool tones. I’m funny that way and maybe I’m making more of a deal about color coordinating that I should but generally speaking I feel it a bit tricky to successfully mix warm and cool tones.

Tree Line Quilt Block

Looking Ahead

It is with great hope that my next post about the Adventure Quilt Along – A Road Trip, I will at least have the top pieced and ready for quilting.

Once finished, should my quilt look anything like Kate’s (she used Bella Solids by Moda) – so fresh and playful!

Kate Colleran Adventure Quilt

Or Tammy’s quilt – isn’t her Island Batik fabric line fabulous?

Tamarinis Batik Adventure Quilt

I can say this quilt adventure was definitely a trip worth taking!