Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrate Color {How to Enter}

So, you've made something special in your favorite fall colors and you'd like a shot at some fabulous prizes? That's perfect because we really, really want to see!!!

Modern Meadow Colorbrick Quilt
for tutorial see Colorbrick Quilt Along

{How to Enter}

1.  Blog Post or Flickr Photo:  Create a NEW blog post for your finished item, including as many pictures and details as you like.  Remember, we'll all be visiting one another, so tell us about it - what inspired you and any special techniques or materials you'd like to share.  Also, be sure to include a link to Celebrate Color in your post.  We want to spread the news!  Including the button might be a fun touch.

As of November 1st, you can also enter by adding a NEW Flickr photo of your item to your photostream, so long as you include a link to Celebrate Color in your photo description. 

2.  Photo Linky:  Now you've done your part, but we need to find you.  To complete your entry into the contest, add a favorite photo of your item to the appropriate category photo pool with a link to your blog post.  To do so, copy your post's url address, then paste it in the linky.  The linky system will show you your pictures in that post, so that you can choose one to add.  You must add your photo by the 26th of each month to be considered for that month's prizes.  Access the contest photo pools via the main Celebrate Color page.

{What are those Categories again?}

1.  Fabric {Home Decor}: quilts, pillows, runners, etc.  Think anything at all for a home.
2.  Fabric {Wearables}:  clothing, bags, accessories (like jewelry).  If it goes on the body and it's made of fabric, it totally counts.
3.  Yarn:  anything knit or crocheted.  Really, anything.
4.  Needlepoint:  with elements of hand embroidery, crewel, cross stitch, etc.  The finished item is probably sewn, but needlepoint is an important design element.  This category spans a hoop for the wall, a bag embellished with embroidery, and even a quilted item that is decoratively hand quilted.

{Nitty Gritty Rules}

1.  There is a limit of 2 entries per person per category per month.
2.  Items must be handmade by YOU.  For simplicity, no refashioned items please.
3.  Design may be original or not.  We trust you'll give it your special touch.
4.  Items must be new, completed after September 1, 2011.
5.  Updating an old blog post or old Flickr photo with a link to Celebrate Color does not count.  Make a NEW post/photo please.
6.  International entries welcome!


After the 26th of each month, Emma, Shannon, Mollie and I will narrow our respective category to 3-5 finalists (the number will depend upon how many entries are submitted).  On the 28th, finalists in all categories will be posted at Stitched in Color for open voting.  1st and 2nd place winners will be selected by popular vote.  Voting closed and winners announced on the 30th of each month!

Ready, Set, Create!

Pumpkin Coasters
coasters and photo by Patchwork Pottery

Fabric {Home Decor}

made with a Kona Hot Spicey bundle by Pickle Dish
Looking for the Fabric {Home Decor} contest photo pool for our Celebrate Color event?  You found it.  Enter your creations here!  When you're done, we hope you'll blog hop among the other artists to discover new blogs and inspiration!

Fabric {Wearables}

made by RAE, purchase pattern here
Looking for the Fabric {Wearables} contest photo pool for our Celebrate Color event?  You found it.  Enter your creations here!  When you're done, we hope you'll blog hop among the other artists to discover new blogs and inspiration!


made by Hello Yarn
Looking for the Yarn contest photo pool for our Celebrate Color event?  You found it.  Enter your creations here!  When you're done, we hope you'll blog hop among the other artists to discover new blogs and inspiration!


pattern & project by Anna Maria Horner
Looking for the Needlepoint contest photo pool for our Celebrate Color event?  You found it.  Enter your creations here!  When you're done, we hope you'll blog hop among the other artists to discover new blogs and inspiration!

Monday, August 29, 2011

weekends are for...

::Writing on the Walls::

Did you have a lovely weekend?  I hope so!  This weekend I made two finishes! (and of course I started a new project, but let's talk about the finishes, shall we?)  One was quilt #3, which shall make its appearance in January, and another was a project from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings. It's "Writing on the Walls" for a friend's nursery:

Writing on the Walls for a friend

So, so much fun!  This project is embroidery and applique secured with staples and other such serious tools to assorted-sized canvases.  Only, we couldn't find a round canvas, so my clever friend supplied cardboard cake plates (like you'd use to make a tiered wedding cake) and a floral arrangement ring.  It worked perfectly.  Genius!


She chose the word "Baby" spelled out in gender-neutral colors for first and future babies.  As I finish this gift just before Celebrate Color, I can't help but notice it's a color scheme that quite suits the event.  Serendipity!

How about a closer look at those letters?

"b" simple, good

"B" was simple, but good. Probably the most fun to make. Embroidery on Kona earth.

"a" loving the texture on print!

"a" is a Hugs & Kisses print from Loulouthi appliqued with Steam a Seam Lite II onto a favorite graphic print by Jennifer Paganelli. Running stitches along the background give this letter a yummy texture.

"b" so enjoyed the flowers

"b" was quite the time-consuming little project, embroidered on muslin and appliqued to a Tutor stripe. I so enjoyed the satin-stitched flowers (which I managed to hand draw despite my fear!), but the zillions of French knots... not so much.

French knots ad infinitum

Hopefully in the end it's a good effect. I did take out all the one's I showed you before, when I opted to switch to simple yellow knots. This letter was already a busy bee "b".

"Y" with running stitches

Lastly the "Y", which has a nice sunny hue that pulls together with the bright lemon yellow stitching on the first "B". The background fabric is Timeless Treasures "Crosshatch Sketch" and the applique print is from Valori Wells' Nest collection.  Also secured with Steam a Seam Lite II.

The baby shower's coming up.  I can't wait to see her reaction!!!

::Painting the Trees::

We don't just write on walls around here, we also paint the trees.


This was one of those moments where you squeeze out a "yes", because why not?

weekends are for...

Didn't quite expect things to go this far, but... all's well that ends with a bath.  (Note:  no trees were harmed in the making of this post.)

::Getting Kittens::

Yessiree, last weekend we got ourselves some kittens!

Spot & Susan

2 Kids = 2 Kittens. Trust me, this is an important ratio.

The kiddos have been in kitten-heaven!  There is so much lovin and petting and playing going around that these two kitties don't get to really let loose until after bedtime.  That's when I caught a few shots of their adorable play.  Please excuse the quality.  The lighting was poor, as are my skills at capturing action.  Good thing my sewing usually holds still!

so fun to watch

new kittens!

Good use of pillows here...

good use of cushions...

Oh, and look closely now to find crazy Susan!

look closely for crazy Susan!

Good times!

Now on to a new week, with new projects, new contests, new fun!

Friday, August 26, 2011

more Scrappy Journals

Yesterday I ate, breathed and slept Celebrate Color. So much planning! In order to wind down a bit, I made another scrappy journal before bed with simple, no-brainer piecing.  I tell ya, improv piecing is like therapy.  That said, I never really know how it'll come out.  I kind of put myself at the mercy of my scraps...

Fanfare journal

Last night's journal started with that piece of Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party Fanfare print in red/pink and teal/blue. I love, love, love this print, but somehow hardly ever work with it. I have a good sized cut, but it never seems to "go" with my projects.  Anyways, I had a few Fanfare scraps and that other geometric Garden Party scrap up top.  Add to that scraps in Woodcut, Central Park, Kona Everglade, Kona Bahama Blue, unknown pumpkin solid and some random corduroy cuttings and you have.... a mostly defined color scheme?


The back is really, really simple.  I was worried that it was my tired brain talking, but even today I really love the back.  Actually more than the front.  It fits with the mature, not-crazy vibe I was going for and the texture + print stands on its own. 

Here's another journal cover made earlier this week

Strip-pieced journal

for someone who likes strings and bright colors.  I piece the whole darn thing in strings, inside and out:


hello little birdie

And that was enough strings for me for awhile!

So far I've made 7 random, scrappy journal covers.  Wanna see them all?

so far...

When I get #11 finished, I can give them to the lovely people I have in mind to thank.  But, to be honest, I'm going to be bummed when they are done.  It's such a treat to work on a mini-project like this, exploring different styles, techniques and color schemes all the while giving life to my scraps.  The journal cover itself is really simple to make (see this tutorial), so finishing is a breeze.   Before I finish, I hope to make another with triangle scraps in that pinwheel-ish design.  That one is still one of my favorites!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Get your button!

Would you like to help us spread the news?  You can add your favorite Celebrate Color button to your blog.  Just copy and paste these HTML codes into the "edit html" portion of your post or into your sidebar.  To add buttons to your sidebar in Blogger, add a "html/javascript gadget" and paste this code into the "content" field (you can leave the title field blank). 

These buttons link up to the main Celebrate Color page, which is the hub for tracking posts, browsing the photo pools and checking in on contests and prizes!

Celebrate Color

Celebrate Color

Announcing... Celebrate Color!

Please join us as we celebrate the colors of fall with inspiration, tutorials, contests and prizes during the months of September, October and November.  Because color inspires us all, Celebrate Color is for fiber artists of all kinds:  embroidery, crochet, knitting, quilting, home decor, clothing and any kind of wearable.

Start thinking of what fall means to you, and celebrate with projects in full color!

Presented in glad partnership with Emma Lamb, Mollie of Wild Olive and 
Shannon of LuvintheMommyhood.  

 What is Celebrate Color?

Enjoy weekly doses of inspiration in projects, fiber round ups, pin boards and tutorials brought to you by Stitched in Color, our partners and special guest posters!  Browse the photo pools to immerse yourself in the colors of fall as seen through the eyes of fellow fiber artists. 

Submit your fall colored projects for a chance to win monthly prizes.  1st and 2nd place "Color me happy" winners will be chosen by popular vote each month from each category.  The 4 photo pool and contest categories are:

     Fabric {Home Decor}: quilts, pillows, runners, etc.
     Fabric {Wearables}:  clothing, bags, accessories.
     Yarn:  anything knit or crocheted
     Needlepoint:  with elements of embroidery, crewel, cross stitch, etc.

You may submit up to 2 projects each month into any given category.  And, of course, you may be active in several categories!  Projects must be newly created/finished during our event.  More entry details to come!

And what's a good party without prizes?  This contest is divided by category exactly so that you can win prizes fitting to your favorite fiber art.  We're making our lists and contacting folks now, so let us know if there's something you think would make the perfect prize.  Of course, I already have some great ones lined up!  Prizes for each category will be announced at the beginning of each month.

Celebrate Color officially launches on September 1st when some of the partners and I will be sharing what "fall colors" means for each of us.  Remember, this is an interpretive event, so we want to know and see what inspires you as "fall".  Would you join us in posting on September 1st an inspiration board, fiber round up or just your musings on fall colors?  My post will include a linky so that you can add your post and we can enjoy a community full of inspiration. 

More posts with buttons, contest details and such to come.  We're so excited to get started and are so hoping that YOU will join in!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alphabet Soup

Hey you!  Please stop in for a minute to visit...

Liam's room

That's Smokey the Bear waving "hello".  He was my bedtime bear at grandma's house.  I do so love him.  Oh, and the lamp beside him?  It inspired the colors of Liam's quilt!

Alphabet Soup quilt

I had my fears during the making that an alphabet quilt would be way too young for a boy of Liam's age.  But, at 4 1/2 he's actually really into writing letters and creating silly strings of them for me to "read".  At first he liked the idea of this quilt, but by the time I mailed it to Stitch he was saying "no", "no", "no". 

Sniff.  I wasn't going to make him keep it.  I had "really" made it for the magazine after all

hmm... I'm feeling a makeover coming

I don't know if it was the pink hand-me-down comforter he used in the interim (or the times his bed was covered only by a sheet in the hot weather), but when the box arrived from Stitch, Liam eagerly claimed it as his own.  I do love how it looks on his bed!  But, I'm thinking those curtains (which have since been damaged) and the pictures might be due for a change.  How did we ever get by without a mama who sews?

flannel backing

Or maybe it was the cozy flannel backing that won him over...

Well, let me show you a few more details.


"L" is for Liam.

Pinked Letters

With some letters pinked and straight stitched,

Satin Stitched letters

and others satin stitched. All fabric letters also secured by Steam a Seam Lite II. Love that stuff!!!  And there are a few hand-stitched felt letters in the mix as well.

Peanut butter cookies?

The quilting is minimal (I was getting close to that deadline!), but I do love the little patterns it creates at the intersections. Do they make you want peanut butter cookies? Or, maybe that's just me.

lucky stripes

The border ups the "manliness" factor with that dark brown.  And those meeting stripes?  Total luck.


Border is an Eliza stripe by Jennifer Paganelli. Binding is Kona Paprika.

on his bed

Focal letter prints are Anne Kelle's Remix by Robert Kaufman. Kona Cottons used for solid blocks: Bone, Bahama Blue, Paprika, Earth, Amber and Olive.

Well, thanks for visiting!  We're going to get ready for afternoon schoolgroup now.  You enjoy the rest of your day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Stitch Magazine

Have you seen the Fall issue of Stitch Magazine?  If you have... maybe, just maybe you noticed a quilt made by moi?

Stitch Magazine, Fall 2011

It was my first time published!  This week I am finishing up another magazine quilt (insert annoying "hush, hush").  So, I figure this is the perfect time to dish on Alphabet Soup.  Today I'll share about the process of working with the magazine.  Tomorrow, the actual quilt!

Step 1:  Submissions

To be considered for any magazine, you generally find the "submissions" page on the magazine's website.  There you can find out what type of material they're searching for and even who to talk to about your ideas.  The Stitch Magazine submissions page is updated several times a year with specific info on the themes for the next issue.  Once you've worked with Stitch, they also email submissions info to you automatically about 1 month before submissions are due.

I try to put off looking at the Stitch "call for submissions" PDF until I'm really ready to brainstorm ideas.  Once I read about the 4 categories they're focusing on and see the color swatches for each category, my brain won't stop dreaming up possibilities.  And since I don't know if I'll actually make any of the ideas I'm brewing, it can be kind of distracting from actual projects on hand.  The week that submissions are due, I start putting my ideas on paper.

My Alphabet Soup quilt was designed for the category "What's Your Type?" about using type as a central design element.  One night over family dinner I sketched out my ideas and where I was getting stuck.  Aria suggested suddenly, "Why don't you make an alphabet quilt for Liam!" And, so I did.  Here's the description I gave in my submission to Stitch:

The Modern Alphabet Quilt – A twin bed quilt, easily customized for girl or boy. The first letter of the child's name features prominently, on a large striped patch. 

Each small rectangle block holds one letter of the alphabet (26 small blocks total, each 11 x 13”). Letters are appliqued via three different techniques: pinked edges machine applied, straight cut edges (backed with fusible interfacing) satin machine stitch applied and wool felt letters hand stitched with pearl cotton. Letters vary uppercase/lowercase and in positions on blocks as well. 

Use of color – blocks are solids (or almost solids) with print letters. The white patch around the central stripe patch features the owl print (see picture below). A simple striped 5” border frame. Twin quilt measures 65 x 88”.

proposed fabrics

Then followed info on proposed fabrics and this digital mock-up:

Alphabet Soup digital mockup

I submitted 2 other projects for the Fall 2011 issue, both of which I liked better than the alphabet quilt.  But, lo and behold they liked this one.  When I heard the news, I was thrilled!  And, then I was worried... because I actually had to make it.

Step 2:  The Making

Two concerns immediately emerged:  1.  Can I finish this quilt in time (a little less than a month and I need to order supplies) and 2.  Will my work be up to par?  Complicating the first question was another unknown - how long would it take me to write project directions to Stitch Magazine's standards?  As you can imagine, I lost no time sourcing supplies!  And, you know what, the supplies alone cost over $90.  Since projects go for between $200 - $500 with Stitch Magazine, depending on project size, that $90 is a considerable chunk of the pay!

fused applique letters

Fortunately, Alphabet Soup is a fairly simple quilt to make.  Most of the work comes with creating and attaching the applique letters.  Since I used different techniques to give the quilt more character (felt letters, pinked edges, satin stitch edges) there were several sets of directions to write.  So as to keep on top of this long project, I typed up directions as I went.

felt letters

The first time around I forgot to prewash the felt, so all the felt letter blocks had to be redone!

Alphabet Soup preview

When I got to this point, I sent photos to my contact at Stitch to make sure that things were progressing as expected.  And she liked it - yeah!!!  This finally quelled that small, but constant worry that they weren't going to like it afterall... 

personalized for Liam

Alphabet Soup preview

Everything went together pretty smoothly, until finally it. was. done.  If you were reading Stitched in Color in February, you may remember my complaining about a very large quilt that was taking up all my time?  This would be it.  No matter how simple, twin quilts are twin quilts.

Step 3:  Waiting

Once I mailed in my quilt, templates and digital directions, what lay before me was a whole lot of waiting.  Waiting to see if they would find fault with my work.  Waiting to find out if my directions made any sense.  Waiting to discover how they would photograph my baby.  Waiting to see myself actually in print.  Waiting to get paid.

Because, you don't get paid until the magazine is published!  In this case, 5 months after I sent in the quilt my project was returned, along with a check and several copies of the Fall issue.  In the meantime I had accepted that my quilt must be "good enough" because I was never contacted with any concerns about it or any points of clarification about my directions.  This time contributor copies of the magazine were "late", so I got my package almost a month after my friends started getting the magazine.  That last month of waiting was definitely the hardest part!

And so that's my story - my "behind the scenes" with Stitch Magazine.  In no way should any of it be seen as a criticism.  I am very happy with my experience and do hope to contribute to Stitch Magazine again.  I included nitty gritty details to give you a fuller picture of what it's like.  By far, the biggest drawback was not getting to share the process with you in real time!  But, in the end, I did get a check which went right into the savings account for when "no other job" reality hits next year.  I hope I'll be ready!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

on Binding

Binding.  It's the way most quilts are finished.  It's a little edging detail that can make a big impact.  Honestly, it's something I need to work on.

Often, my choice of binding is uninspired.  It may be that I put all of my thought and focus into the quilt top patchwork and just feel like finishing by the time binding comes around.  But, whatever the reason, I always seem to play it safe.

FO: Mom's Mini Geese Quilt

But "safe" has it's drawbacks.  I mean, what if Jacey had played it safe here?  That vibrant lime binding adds so much, don't you think?  It's actually that little something extra that makes it "look" like Jaceycraft.  I love it!

I'm not saying that binding has to JUMP out at you to be a great choice.  Sometimes you do really want a subtle frame.  I guess my point is that I want to start taking risks, start feeling my way into the possibilities.

What about you, how do you feel about binding?  Is it an afterthought?  Do you love to hand sew it?  Or, do you rush through it (like me)? 

One traditional way of binding a quilt is to sew down the back to the underside of the quilt.  Done well, this will leave a flawless, virtually invisible finish front and back.  But it's s.l.o.w.  As much as I love handwork, I've only hand stitched one binding.  Unfortunately, I didn't much enjoy it.

And so my friends, I machine apply binding.  Because it's FAST!  For starters, I learned this way, as taught by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts.  About this time last year, I made my own step-by-step tutorial on how to make and machine stitch binding as part of the Colorbrick Quilt Along.  But over time I realized that I like a wider binding than Rita, so I now cut my binding strips 2.5" wide and apply them to the quilt top at 3/8" from the edge.  Like Rita, I've typically secured the back of the binding by stitching in the ditch from the quilt top and hoping to catch the binding (which is folded over to the back) as I go.

"Hoping" being the key word.

stitched In The Ditch

stitched In The Ditch 2

These are a two examples of recent quilts finished with binding secured in the ditch of the quilt top/binding seam through to the back.  I've really had a lot of practice with this method, and I try to be super-careful about pinning the back of the binding evenly.  But it seems that no matter what, I have plenty of binding sections that get missed entirely, so that I have to go back and fix things after I'm "done" stitching in the ditch.  Plus, the parts that are secured don't look so hot from the back if you take a close look.

Mostly, I've not let this get to me.  My quilts won't be perfect, and I'm ok with that.  On the other hand, I do want to work towards improving my skills.  And, I also wonder if I "figured out" my binding technique a bit more if I'd enjoy the process and put more thought into my binding choices.

To that end, I tried a different way of machine finishing when I bound Bottled Rainbows.  I was inspired by Jeni's binding tutorial to stitch from the folded-over side so that my finishing seam would be tidy. 

stitched from Back

I did not actually follow Jeni's method, since I began my sewing my binding to the front and then folding it over to the back; whereas, Jeni sews her binding to the back and folds over to the front. But, other than that, it's the same basic concept.  If you look at the back (green stripe fabric), you can see that I followed the binding neatly about 1/8" from the gray binding edge.

Due to user error (or human-ness?) my stitch lines on the quilt front fell on the binding itself sometimes and on the quilt top (the Heath grey grid).  Fortunately, with the Heath fabric, they don't show.  With other quilt tops or backings, I think this would bug me.

So, here's what I really want to show you!

Stitched zigzag!

I tried zigzags!  To bind the Summer Sampler quilt, I stitched along the quilt top/binding ditch with a zigzag stitch using multi-tone thread.  I know you can only see a small stretch of the underside of the quilt in this picture, but it all looks that good!  The zigzag is so forgiving because it makes your stitch wider.  This hides discrepancies between the quilt front and back that result in a wavy finishing stitch line in other methods.  It also means that there are fewer binding gaps in the back that don't get stitched at all.  When I finished this decent-sized quilt, I think there was just one gap I had to close!  Also, since I'm not stitching IN the ditch, I can go a lot faster and not feel so paranoid about making mistakes. 

Suffice it to say, I'm excited!  I also finished last week's baby quilt this way with speed and happy results.  I know that zigzags aren't for everyone.  They're far from subtle.  But, I think it adds a good kind of character for many of the types of quilts I make. 

Hello, zigzag bindings!
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