Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcome, Lark Cottons!

Today's my chance to give a formal welcome to Lark Cottons and make sure you're all acquainted with this inviting modern shop.  I say "inviting" because that's how I really feel when I pop over to Lark Cottons. Their website is so clean and white with simple navigation and everything I want right at hand, without being overwhelming. 

Okay, here's an example....

This is the top slice of the homepage.   Newest collections are displayed as a circle graphic which gives me that little bit of visual info that I usually need. You can use the black arrow at far right to page through to lots more collections, or visit Collections to see them all.  Don't know about you, but I'm always wanting to see What's New.  And then there's  Coming Soon.  That's fun too.  All those buttons are right up top in the main navigation bar.  Nice!

my picks at Lark Cottons

Well, it goes without saying that Lark has great fabrics.  Pretty much everything recent and exciting, they've got it - Chicopee, Field Study, Madrona Road, Oh Deer and The Birds and The Bees.  But Heather also stocks excellent basics like the running stitch print from Lush....

I'm often on the look out for a particular color.  For some reason, many sites don't sort fabrics by color. I expect it's time-consuming! But, I love it when browsing by color is an option.  Thanks, Lark!

Well, you know I could go on and on (like about how the Sale section still has those Pastry Voiles), but as we covered yesterday, it's clear that good fabric is fast and flying. If you've been meaning to treat yourself, now would be a good time....  Lark Cottons is offering my readers a 15% off savings on your entire order now through Friday, September 7th.  To save, enter code colorful in the coupon field at the Shopping Cart.   You have to enter it at the Cart, not during checkout, so watch for it and enjoy!


Heather's a nice one, so she wasn't going to let this opportunity run by without making someone's day via a giveaway.  And, wouldn't you know, she's giving away...

Lark Chicopee giveaway!

Chicopee!  15 fat quarters at that.  How nice!  To enter we'd love to know what you're sewing lately.  One comment per person and international entries are welcome.  I'll draw the winner on Monday, September 3rd. 

Thanks, Lark Cottons, for joining us at Stitched in Color!

*********Comments Closed**********
And the winner is  "cpup40" and comment #423 whom I've contacted by email with the good news! You lucky, lucky lady!  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

dear Chicopee

You all know that there are a LOT of great collections coming out right now.  Too many, some would even say.  But, I think when they say that they're mostly feeling that all the options make it incredibly hard to choose what to actually buy, with a limited budget and all.  (I think we all have those?   The limited budgets?  Yes.)  But still, I'm sure we'd rather have this problem than the lack of temptation.  We're so brave!  Soooooo brave.

dear Chicopee

Well, after wading through the fabric onslaught I came out with a personal favorite, and it's Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt from Freespirit.  I think after working with Flea Market Fancy so much this year, I just plain "believe" in her for one thing.  You see, I had missed the original Flea Market Fancy release and never actually tried Hope Valley (shhhh... don't tell anyone).  And then we don't have Jo-Ann's near bye, so I've also never had a chance with those Schmidt fabrics.  Flea Market Fancy was my first. And I'm sold.

warm and spicey Chicopee

It seems to me that Chicopee has many of the classic Denyse Schmidt characteristics that make her fabrics so nice for patchwork:  small scale, lots of basics shapes (dots and stripes), limited color schemes for easy mixing, and a full range of values (from dark to light colors).

my favorites from Chicopee

I ended up getting the whole collection.  The day it arrived I took a million pictures (mostly in bad lighting - I was desperate) and whittled the collection down to these, my favorites.  Or, at least I think they'll be my favorites.  They're what I would have definitely bought if I'd had to choose just a few, at least.

Denyse Schmidt's Churn Dash

That very night I lay awake mulling over quilt ideas.  I know this has happened to you.  I've been told it's completely normal.

Anyways, I'm thinking in multiples here.  Definitely 2 quilts will come to be before I let this collection settle its way into my fabric stash.  The first is a simple quilt from Denyse Schmidt: Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration - the Churn Dash, so named for its resemblance to a manual butter churn one learns in the historical intro from Denyse' book.

Chicopee in Churn Dash

Quickly, eagerly I made up a few blocks in nice, dark values. I'll be reversing Denyse' use of value in her Churn Dash quilt by making mostly dark value blocks and sprinkling in a few light values.  The two prints on the left are among my "favorites", but I actually adore the print on the right, called Duet Dot,  now that I see it sewn up.  It doesn't look overly sweet anymore, cut like this.  And it is such a nice contrast to the Kona Bone I'm using for my solid.

so far...

I'll be adding to this quilt here and there throughout September in between the things I really "ought" to be doing.  I've spent so much time working on the craft show that I have some catch up work to do in September.   It's rather out of character for me to start something else "for fun" in such a situation, but sewing is fun.  So there, left brain.  I'm going to enjoy this!

Chicopee is available at these great online shops:

Intrepid Thread
Pink Chalk Fabrics
Fat Quarter Shop
Sew Love Fabrics
Lark Cottons
Stash Modern Fabrics
Mad About Patchwork
Sew Modern
Marmalade Fabrics

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

a Penny Patch for Meg

Good morning! Today I'm blogging bright and early to announce the winner of our Nursery Versery contest.  It was a hard choice and a close call, for reals, but we do have a winner...

Miss Meg of Lilybird Stitches!  Congrats to Meg.  I'm so glad that you'll now get to tackle a Nursery Vesery quilt for baby Lily's crib.  How perfect is that?  May Lily's dreams be full of sweet mice families and pretty penny patches.  Enjoy!

A big thanks to Sew Modern for sponsoring our fun with a lovely gift set of fabrics.  Sew Modern is a hip fabric and sewing haven in Los Angeles featuring the latest designer fabricsclasses for kids & adults, and a long arm quilting machine available for rent!  They've just received Sarah Jane's new Out to Sea collection, as well as new Echino, Momo, and Chicopee.

In a perfect world, everyone would win a prize.  Alas.  But I do thank you all most sincerely for joining in on our contest and being such good sports.  I know when it gets down to it, we're not really here for the prizes, but instead to nurture that creative spark and share its pleasure with others.  So whether you made a Nursery Versery project or joined in by voting, thanks for being part of this community!

And speaking of that creative spark, here's an image currently moving me.  Let's see what happens next...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Linen and Squares

Do you know what's good about doing a swap?

Linen + Squares drawstring pouch

It get's you trying new things.  I'd always wanted to try Jeni's drawstring bag tutorial, so there you go.  No wonder it's so popular - the thing goes together lickety split.  Totally one I'll be using again.  Anyhoo, my partner likes linen, color and many of my favorite fabrics so I figured a work made in scraps would be just the thing.

for Love circle swap

I had some trouble getting a mix of prints that I liked for the squares on this drawstring tote, so I just kept cutting and cutting and cutting 2" squares.  And then with all the leftovers...

Linen + Squares journal covers

Yeah, that.  Dividing the squares into color groupings made me much happier with the scrappy combos.  I paired the squares with my favorite real natural linen from, which has a seriously earthy texture and tone that I really can't get enough of.  This is the good stuff, people.  I hope there are some linen-lovers at Indie Craft Parade!

more Linen + Squares

Although the fronts are minimalistic, I got playful on the back and inside covers.  Improv-piecing scraps just makes my day.  You never know what will happen... 

Strawberry Fields journal cover

Oh, and here's the ugliest covered journal I've ever made.  No offense if you like it. I had the 2 hourglass blocks in my abandoned "pieced scraps" collection.  Every time I sort through them these 2 blocks always stick out like a soar thumb.  This particular green and pink combo is just not me, so it never seems to work with anything else I make.   So... I stubbornly forced myself to make them into a covered journal when I really, really should have just let them go instead.  Lesson learned.

inside Strawberry Fields

The inside is better.  And, who knows, maybe this'll be the first one to sell.  Wow, that would be a hooot!

These 4 covered journals join a tall stack of projects destined for Indie Craft Parade in Greenville, South Carolina, September 7-9.  I've heard from some of you who are going to be there. That's the coolest!  For those that can't some... yes, I will be posting leftover stock in my Etsy store after the fact and you'll be the first to know.  Totally warms my heart that you've been asking!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

VOTE on Nursery Versery

I knew I'd get myself into a pickle when it came time to choose finalists for our Nursery Versery Contest.  Several were so close that it felt like a toss up.  At least I only had to narrow it down to 3 and you all will take it from here!  Here are the 3 finalists who I feel used Nursery Versery to it's utmost potential presented in no particular order...

Wholecloth Quilt by Bijou Lovely

nursery versery quilt.

Simple and perfectly delightful.  Holly's wholecloth quilt makes use of the Penny Patch print in Purple to create a postage stamp beauty without all the piecing.

nursery versery quilt.

She quilted with a variety of decorative stitches, which really show off from the back.

nursery versery quilt.

I'm loving the happy, playful vibe!  See more at Bijou Lovely.

Activity Mini Quilt by Plum and June

It's the 3 Little Pigs and a big, bad wolf, plus sweet houses of straw, sticks and bricks.  What a wonderful way to use Heather Ross' Piggies in green

The house collage is a pocket, home to three little pigs on fabric ribbons.  Let's hope each one stays safe from that wolf while baby plays with this activity stroller quilt!  The little taggies extending off to the sides are a nice touch...

As is the purple Countrymice flap on the back, that lifts to say "Hi".  Perhaps soon to be baby's first word?  See more at Plum and June.

Nursery Hoops by Lilybird Stitches

Nursery Versery's light pink colorway ended up being a perfect match for Meg's nursery.  She started with the clock, which features the Penny Patch print in green set against some pretty hand stitching.

Next up an "L" for baby Lily and a heart hoop for my favorite mice family.

Then, three more hoops to round out her collection.  I particularly love that pennant hoop with a spider just dangling into view.  See more at Lilybird Stitches.

Vote Now!

Please choose your favorite project and the winner of our Nursery Versery 1/2 yard bundle!  If you're having trouble choosing, try visiting the bloggers to see bigger pictures and more details.  Thanks for playing along!

Voting extends through midnight EST tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th.  Winner to be announced on Wednesday!  Thanks to
Sew Modern for sponsoring our fun!

Friday, August 24, 2012

bits and pieces

Happy Friday, everyone!  I've got some nice bits and pieces to share with you today.

no. 1

Don't forget to add your finished Nursery Versery projects to the Contest post by Sunday night for a chance to win a 1/2 yard set of the whole collection!  Ok, that's my official last reminder =)

no. 2

Question:  How do you wash a very special quilt?  Answer:  with Soak.

I'm not the kind that sends things to a dry cleaner, but I wasn't even considering putting my Modern Medallion through the washing machine, with all that handwork (especially the satin stitch!).  Still, it needed to be washed after the hours and hours of intense handling it had endured.

A Handstitched Class student turned me onto Soak.  If you knit, you've probably heard of them!  They make a soap for hand-washing that requires no rinsing (ie. no squeezing, ringing or extra handling of your special handstitched quilts!).


Of course, I wanted to try it!  Soak was kind enough to send me a small sample of Scentless.  I emptied the whole 3 oz bottle in a half-full tub (following the ratio directions here) and then bravely submerged my quilt.  The water turned dirty, so I say it worked (for details on how this can be, see here).  It was sudsier than I expected, but I didn't rinse.  I held firm!  You don't want to see pictures of my bath tub, so the best I can give you is my quilt still languishing on my umbrella laundry line.  I hung it up yesterday, on the sunniest day of our week, but the rain got it while I was driving home from an outing.  Darn.

drip, drip

So I guess it did get rinsed, but that wasn't my fault!  Hoping for more sunshine today.

no. 3 

I don't like making coasters.

"Cool" coasters

Nope, I don't.

from scrap

Even when I improv-piece them, which is the most relaxing sewing experience I can imagine.

"Warm" coasters

Oh well, back to the journal covers.

no. 4

Did you  know that Whipstitch is liquidating their fabrics?  Seriously!  They've so enjoyed offering classes and community sewing events that they're shifting their focus entirely in that direction.

All, yes ALL, of their fabrics are 30% off marked prices with code "LIQUID".  That works even on the sale fabrics, so you can get some real deals.  Have fun bargain hunting at Whipstitch!


Nothing much... I just wanted to show you what's on my table today.  Something about the in betweens can be so perfectly delightful.

on my table

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

{Tutorial} Journal Covers

Journal cover tutorial

Journal covers make great gifts and are a super-fun way to use fabric scraps.  My tutorial is based off of this one by Jennifer Paganelli with a few modifications.  Appearing here by popular demand! It's designed to cover a composition book, which measures 9 3/4" x 7 1/2" and has a nice firm outer.  These are widely available at back to school time in the States or anytime at an office supply store. I buy the "grid rule" kind online via Staples, since graph paper is great for sketching quilts.  I know you're itching to make one, so let's dive right in!

Step 1:  Prepare Fabric

I've made journal covers in a myriad of piecing styles.  Just go for it!  This is a great way to test color combos and techniques.  When all is said and done, trim your work to 12" tall by 29.5" long.


As I'm designing a cover, I keep a composition book on hand for visual reference.  I like to drape my work-in-progress on the cover to see how the piecing will look on the finished dimensions.  I often place favorite parts of my fabric design on the front of the cover.  The left edge of the front cover will fall at 14 3/4". Here I've placed the composition book at the 14 3/4" mark.  I'll lift or roll the composition book to focus on the fabric just underneath as I visualize the finished effect.


If your fabrics are very light in color, you may want to add a second layer of lightweight muslin or the like to prevent your cover from being see-through.  This is very rarely a problem, so lay your fabric over your composition book to check before opting to add a lining.  Cut the lining fabric to 12" x 29.5", just like the exterior.  Layer the lining under your exterior fabric and baste with a line of stitches along both 29.5" sides at 1/2" from the raw edge.

Step 2:  Side Edges

Turn under the 12" sides of the cover by 3/4".  The Dritz EZY-Hem makes fast, accurate work of this step!  Press neatly.



Finish the turned under edge with a 1/8" topstitch.  Be sure to use coordinating thread for this part, as it will show!  I also attach my Stitched in Color tags (made by gutenTAGS) at the same time.


Lastly you may wish to finish the raw, turned under edge of the 12" sides with an overcast or zigzag stitch to prevent fraying should the item be machine washed.  If your entire cover is patchwork, there are actually lots of seams inside that could fray.  Ideally, the cover would be hand washed or washed in a delicate bag to minimize fraying.  I'm not sure that it's important to overcast the two 12" side edges, but it can't hurt. And, they are the ones closest to the outer part of the cover.  (By the way, I do this step after the top stitching because I feel it helps me press under/top stitch more accurately to delay it.)


The top and bottom of the journal cover has a full 1" seam allowance that is mostly encased when the cover is complete.  The long 29.5" edges do not need any special treatment.

Step 3:  Sew it Up!

Back at your cutting mat, lay the work right side up.  Fold one side in about 6 1/2" and then fold the other side in about the same amount.



As you fold, you are exposing the wrong side of the work and creating the inside flaps of the journal cover.  Fiddle with it until your folded work is 15" long, with both flaps about the same size (about 6 1/2" each).  Check the total length (15") against the cutting mat lines.  A bit of the right side portion should still be revealed at center.  

If you added a lining, used heavy fabric or did lots of applique that made your work thicker than regular quilting cotton, make your work 15 1/4" long to account for the extra bulk of your fabric.

Now, use a clear quilting ruler to mark sewing guidelines at 1" from the top and bottom long edges.  Mark these guidelines over the wrong side portion only, skipping the right side exposed at center.  I'm using my favorite Clover water soluble pencil, worn down to a nub!



Pin along the line over the folded portions.


Sew along these lines, backtacking at the start and finish of each line.


Clip corners and turn right side out.

Step 4:  Finishing

Before inserting the composition book press thoroughly.  Once the cover is on the book, you won't be able to iron it.  Of course, you can take it back off to iron or wash, but now's the time to press to perfection!  A little spray starch is a good idea to give it a nice, crisp look.


To put it on your composition book, first slide the book's cover into the front flap.


Then, bend the back cover really far open so that it can reach the inside back flap.


I practically open the back cover until it is almost touching the front cover to make this work!


Once inside, close the book and admire!



Ok, if your cover is too small (pulling too tight once you get it on) or too large (kind of baggy on the composition book), it's not too much work to fix that.  Take the cover off, turn it wrong side out and remove those last stitch lines across the top and bottom of the cover.  Then, make your adjustments in the amount the flaps are folded and sew those stitch lines again.  I still make adjustments from time to time for a perfect fit!

stacks of scraps

I can't wait to see your journal covers!  Please share your projects at the Stitched in Color flickr group.  Happy sewing!

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