Friday, May 31, 2013

VOTE Festival of Strings

I knew I'd get myself into a pickle when it came time to choose finalists for our Festival of Strings.  Several were sooooo close.  At least I only had to narrow it down to 5 and you all will take it from there!  Here are the 5 finalists whose stringy concoctions absolutely captured my heart, in no particular order...

Emerald Selvedge Spiderweb Quilt

I love that this beauty by Tina of Seaside Stitches uses a fresh green Kona Fern for the background.  The green creates such a rich look with all those low value selvedges!  This one is beautifully bordered with tiny selvedge stripes and artfuly quilted as well.  Visit Seaside Stitches for more pictures!

Roy G. Zig String Top

Laura at Little and Lots certainly got my attention with this rainbow-colored work of art! She used my Ziggy Strings tutorial, but placed her blocks in a totally creative way, creating a smattering of color with lots of movement.  I love how the quilt looks here from the side, but you'll also want to see it on the Rhino.  Yes, don't miss that!

Moving On Quilt

The story behind this lovely, low-volume quilt is touching, but the quilt itself is stunning too.  Jodi at Tickle and Hide freed herself to work in unplanned ways, merging blocks of many sizes and color moods.  The end composition feels so balanced.  Visit Tickle and Hide to get the full perspective. 

Scrappy Strips Quilt

Not at all low-volume, completely fun, fun, fun!  This is the type of scrappy strip quilt I hope to make someday.  The miss-mash colors and random bits of piecing are completely charming. Created by Needle and Nest using Jolene's tutorial

Solid Strings Top

Talk about unexpected... I didn't see this one coming!  This year we didn't require folks to use scraps, just long thin "strings" of fabric.  Astrid of Red, Red, Red Completely Red was inspired by a Dr. Seuss book to create this fantastic piece.  Can you guess which book?  Did you find the page?  We did!  Visit Astrid for more inspiring details.

Congratulations to each of our 5 finalists!  Thank-you for sharing your creativity with us all.  Now, readers, can you help us out by submitting your vote?  Voting is open through midnight Eastern time on Monday the 3rd.  I know it's going to be tough...

Festival of Strings - Winners!

Festival of Strings

Well, you're all winners, really, as I believe you know!  I count our festival a roaring success.  If you haven't already, do go take in the splendor!  How thrilling to see millions of scraps put to good use by your industrious and talented hands!  Gold stars all around!!!

But, yes, there are actual winners who get to take home actual prizes thanks to some generous folks who will also be herewith mentioned and appreciated.  Let's put Mr. Random to work to award our door prizes...

::1::  From Knotted Thread, the complete Happy Go Lucky fat quarter set with 40 pieces in all goes to....
Entry 3,  Kelly Young of My Quilt Infatuation

::2::  From Whipstitch, free access to Deborah's Essential Quilting eCourse is awarded to....
Entry 77,  Debbie at Stitchin Therapy

::3::  From Mad About Patchwork, the eight-piece fat quarter set of Stile in the blue colorway, goes to....
Entry 108, Cat in the Grass

::4::  From Fabricworm, 2 yards total, winner's choice, from the Yay Day Collection by Emily Isabella for Birch Fabrics Organic is awarded to....
Entry 48,  Susan at Paper Art Team

::5::  From Lark Cottons, Spring Lilac, a custom fat quarter bundle, with 16 pieces total goes to....

Entry 99,  Marci Girl Designs


::6::  From  Connecting Threads, the lucky winner of two thread sets - both the Salt & Pepper basics set AND the Rainbow set - is....

Entry 36,  Sheryl Kessler

::7::  From Sew Love Fabrics, a fat quarter set of the entire Field Study linen collection goes to....

Entry 15, Becky of It's Sew Immaterial

Congratulations to all our winners! I am emailing each of you now, so check your inbox.

Next it will be my pleasure to view and visit ALL of the entries.  Later today look out for another post from me - the voting post!  I'll be announcing our five finalists and open voting for the grand prize.  Be back soonish!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

the Pompom Garland {tutorial}

Do you know it's been over a month since I got it BAD?  Yep, it has.  I just pulled up that original list of home redecorating plans and turns out I've made more progress than I thought.   One of my favorite new looks is the Pompom Garland of Fabulousness.

Are you ready?

the Pompom Garland!

Ta da!

Yes, the strings are meant to hang down like that.  I was inspired by this one, strings and all.


Our mantle is a much more interesting and colorful place, I do declare!  And, amazingly, my cats have not bothered this one bit?  I know.  So lucky.

But I have to tell you, making this garland was not as cheap and easy as I expected.  I soon discovered that pompoms are hungry little buggers.  They eat lots and lots and uber lots of yarn, so best not to use the good stuff.  I used some random thrifted yarn in turquoise and yellow that was too nubby to do much with, but shiny-good.

used Lion Brand Hometown yarn

And, I also bought some yarn from....GASP..... Walmart (hangs head), because their cheap Lion Brand Hometown yarn has this chunky personality that makes big pompoms without lots of yarn.  It's a lightweight, acrylic yarn, which helps the pompoms come out fluffy.  (Cotton yarn is a poor choice, in my experience, since it's too heavy to puff much.)  Still, I probably made only 4-5 from each skein of Hometown yarn! The cream, pink and purple pompoms are made with Hometown.

So, want to make yours?  Here's my favorite method for making pompoms...

  • Chunky yarn or at least worsted weight yarn, in a lightweight fiber like acrylic or wool
  • Cardboard circles, cut out from cereal boxes or whatnot.  You need two equally sized circles to make one size pompom.  I made 2 different sizes.  You'll need to experiment to see what size circles makes the pompoms you like with your yarn. 
  • Sharp scissors.  Seriously, you want your good ones for this.

How To

#1 Place your equally sized circles together.  Cut a notch in the circles that allows you to slide yarn into the center of the circle easily.  This notch might be about a 1/4" wide for easy maneuvering.

Pompom tutorial

#2  Grab your yarn and start wrapping it around and around the circles.  The loose yarn end will get caught under the wraps.  Nothing fancy here - just wrap the yarn smoothly trying to spread it out relatively evenly around the circle.  This is a good kid-job too.

Keep wrapping until your circles can't hold any more yarn if you want a fluffy pompom.  Remember, they're hungry!  Fluff happens when you feed them extravagantly.

Pompom tutorial

#3   Starting at the notch, slide your scissors between the two cardboard circles and cut all the way around the circle back to the notch.  You're cutting through the yarn, creating a bunch of evenly short yarn pieces.  Yes, you'll worry that the yarn will fall right off.  Treat it with some care and it won't.  Really, the yarn clings more than you'd expect, especially if you loaded the circle with plenty of yarn.

Pompom tutorial

#4  See look, you can even set it down and it's ok!  Cut a piece of yarn from the skein about 12" long.

Pompom tutorial

#5  Guide that 12" piece between the cardboard circles so that it wraps all the way around the yarn pieces.  It should slide in easily.  See, aren't those cardboard circles handy!

Pompom tutorial

#6  Tie the yarn really, really, really tight.  Even tighter!  Doubtle knot it to secure.  Then, voila... a pompom!  Yes, there will be some uneven bits, so trim those to make a nice round, fluffy friend.  You can use the long tying tales to tie the pompom to a gift package or tie it up wherever.  Or, you can let them hang down from your garland for character.

fluffy pompom tutorial today

Hey, did you notice that some of mine have two colors?  See the white bits of yarn in the green one?   To mix in one or more extra color, just interrupt your wrapping (step #2) with a new bit of yarn. You can stop wrapping any time, cut the yarn, start with a new yarn, cut it, and proceed with a third yarn, etc.  The yarn ends keep getting buried as you wrap, so it's quite secure!

the Pompom Garland!

To create a garland, I used a long needle to run strong button thread through the center of each pompom.  I found I needed to nest them pretty close together so that they look full and fluffy all in a row.  Then I installed some screw hooks into the underside of my mantle to hang her up.

That's it!  Happy pompom making!

Next up for me... new sofa pillows, those dining room curtains and someday, someday fresh kitchen rugs. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Festival of Strings

Festival of Strings

Welcome!  Today is a lovely day for a festival!  If you could be here, I imagine we'd string a line over in the meadow to hang our quilts outside.  Then we could stroll around admiring all the colors and shapes with a happy chorus of oohs and ahhs.  We might want sunshades too - pretty little umbrellas, just like proper ladies (gents also welcome)!

Please join me in this virtual festival to celebrate the beauty and joy of scrap quilting.  The Festival of Strings welcomes all!  You may enter multiple quilt in the festival, so long as each one is:

*a finished quilt top or finished quilt of any size.  "Finished" means you are ready to quilt and bind it.  It does not need to be quilted/bound yet, but it could be.  Mini's can be quite small and are often hung on the wall.  Other patchwork projects, such as pillows or mug rugs, do not qualify. 

*made "mostly" from strings.  If the quilt originated as a concept to use long, then strips of fabric and you succeeded in making the quilt top mostly with strings, it's a sure thing.  You did not have to use scraps this year! 

*completed in 2013.  It doesn't matter when you started your quilt top, if you finished the quilt top this year, it can enter the festival!

The Festival of Strings is open for entries today, May 28th through May 30th (midnight, eastern time). On the 31st random winners for all door prizes will be announced, and we'll open voting on 5 finalists for our grand prize - the huge roll of Warm Company batting.  See details in prize announcement posts here, here, here and here.

A festival is most fun if you also enjoy the quilts others have made.  Please honor some quilts that catch your eye with a visit!

Enter your quilt(s) below by uploading an image from your computer OR copy/pasting an image URL from anywhere online.  The form will request the "URL of your blog post" but you may leave that section blank if you do not keep a blog.  (If you leave the URL field blank, the next page will let you upload an image right from your computer.  If you enter you enter a URL into the field, the next page will allow you to select an image from that online location.) Blogging about the festival is not at all required.  However, if you have blogged about the quilt you are entering, link up to it so we can read more!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ziggy Strings finished!

Sometimes a quilt doesn't feel quite right until it's finished.

Ziggy Strings finished!

My Ziggy Strings was that kind of quilt.  Today it feels just right!

a zig zag quilt with string scraps

The bright clear colors, the sharp zigs and zags, all those happy fabrics... it feels like summer at last.

 Ziggy Strings back

And the log cabin back... I've got to do more of those!

 with Aurifil 12 wt thread

But it's quilting that really did it for me on this one.  I pulled out some Aurifil 12 wt thread, a thicker yellow thread, which makes gorgeous noticeable stitches.  Setting my machine for a longer stitch length (# 4), I zigged and zagged straight lines following the path of my strings.  No marking! Then, I added some regular thin thread quilting in white, to give it some depth and not overwhelm things.

Ziggy quilting!

It really shows ziggy from the back.  What do you think?  It's a bit hard to see, in the pictures, I guess.  But in person, the yellow thread has a great texture.

I think, I'd like some more 12 wt thread...

Chicopee voltage binding

And the binding is Chicopee Voltage Dot (here and in Canada here), a great funky dot print I've been saving for just the right moment.  Bing!

summer love

So now I'm all ready for the Festival of Strings, which opens tomorrow.  Looks like we'll have some lovely weather!

Liam in the meadow

Thanks to all  - the sunshine, our meadow flowers, and family members big and small - who make photoshoots possible, especially on holidays.  Enjoy your day!

p.s.  My cupboards advise that I find miss Ziggy Strings a home away from home.  This one's for sale at my Etsy shop!

Friday, May 24, 2013

One more Prize!

Can you believe it?  I forgot a prize!  Tsk, tsk.  Here's one more up for grabs for those that bring a quilt to the Festival of Strings...

Do you recognize those fabrics?  It's a new collection called Happy Go Lucky by Bonnie and Camille.  It's definitely happy, kind of summery fabrics with a vintage vibe.  In fact, wouldn't it be fun as a picnic blanket?

Well, Knotted Thread is giving away the entire 40 piece Fat Quarter bundle to one very lucky (and undoubtedly happy) winner.   Wowee!  That's 10 yards of fabric, folks!!!  U.S. entries only for this big shipment.

Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing such a very generous prize! 

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend (the looong weekend, here in the states).  Seems like time to do some fabric shopping... Have fun!

Update:  Remember, this prize is part of the Festival of Strings, so we are not giving it away in this post.  Please see that link for how to enter.  Thanks!

String Fever: It's almost here!

Happy Friday, friends!  Guess what I'm going to do this weekend?  Quilt Ziggy Strings!  I've just finished piecing the quilt back...

feels like summer

These colors really feel like summer!  I love that royal blue with the zingy lemon yellow beside the dark black value Shelburne Falls.  And red!  That Alchemy butterfly print by Amy Butler is something I picked up at QuiltCon just randomly.  Fits so perfectly in the spirit of this quilt!

log cabin quilt back

To make this quilt back, I pulled large scraps and yardage in my quilt front colors (black, gray, royal blue, pink, red and yellow).  The patchwork is built in a log cabin style, starting with the black birdie Alexander Henry print as center, and spiraling round.  I love to piece quilt backs because it's a great way to utilize slow-moving fabrics from my stash.  Also good for those prints that just don't want to be cut to pieces!

all basted!

So we're basted (I love you, 505 spray!) and ready to quilt.  Looking forward to diving into the quilting in a few minutes!

Hey, our Festival of Strings is next week!  You'll want one (or more) finished quilt top made primarily with strings (long, thin fabric strips) and finished in 2013 to participate.  Each quilt you include in the festival is one entry to win prizes.  No need for it to be quilted and bound - a finished quilt top counts, of any size.  Here is the original quilt-along post with all the details and links to our earlier posts.

Today, I have more prizes to announce!  Yesiree, More Prizes!  
From Whipstitch, one winner located anywhere in the world, will gain free access to Deborah's Essential Quilting eCourse, a $99 value.   This is a great course for anyone getting started with quilting, as it covers all the basics, from choosing fabric all the way through finishing a quilt.  It also has lessons on intermediate techniques, for those of you who have been quilting for awhile and are ready to challenge yourself. 

You'll receive a suite of lessons, with lots of video and images, audio and downloads, plus an eBook to keep.   This is an ongoing course, so you can join anytime. 

And remember, anyone can win!  Thanks, Whipstitch!

Next, Mad About Patchwork is donating a pretty bundle of fabric by Liberty of London!  This prize is an eight-piece fat quarter set of Stile in the blue colorway.  And these Liberty Lifestyle fabrics are quilting cottons... yay!

Liberty's classic prints would make a beautiful statement as a monochromatic throw!  I'm thinking lots of white for a stunning, old-world feel.  This print, Cranston, is my favorite!

Happily, this bundle of fabric ships anywhere in the world.  Very much appreciated! 

Ok, so add these two door prizes to the fabric, thread, Field Study linens and batting already announced earlier this month.  Wow, thanks to each participating sponsor for making our festival extra fun!!!

Again, the festival will begin on Tuesday, May 28th and will be open for entries through Thursday the 30th.  On Friday I'll announce the random door prize winners and open voting for our grand prize winner... who wins a gigantic roll of batting! 

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

wrinkles in my Tea

Tea?  Anyone?  Anyone?

a Teapot for the Penny Sampler

I thought not.  It may be a tad too warm for tea today, at least here in the south.  But, I'm going to leave out the pot anyways, just in case...

Just finished my tea pot this morning!  It's another special block for The Penny Sampler.  I've been working on my Scandinavian-inspired project for a few months now, designing and photographing and stitching just a few days a week.  I'm taking the class prep slow this time, a welcome change.  Class will run mid-August through mid-November, focusing on three specific skill sets: machine applique, small precise piecing and machine paper piecing.

So, yep, I'm in the machine paper piecing phase!  Did you notice all the mysteries blocks I slipped into the HOMESCHOOL handmade post?   They're for The Penny Sampler too!

are Oakshott Cottons as wrinkly at Shot Cottons?

Hey, I have a question for you.  I love the look of solids woven with more than one color, but the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons (shown here as the blue background) just never press smooth for me.  Today I was armed with my very steamy Reliable iron and starch.  Still, sooo wrinkly.

Marmalade Fabrics just started stocking Oakshott cottons, whose deliciously subtle hues have been beckoning for some time.  I had the chance to see Oakshott in person at QuiltCon, where I noticed they have a light weight, much like Kaffe Fassett's shot cottons.  Soo.... for those of who have sewn with Oakshott Cottons, are they stubbornly wrinkly too?

If not, if they will behave, than this gorgeous pile of Sunrise fat 8ths from Marmalade is going to have to go on my wish list.  I'd love to make a quilt using only these solids and maybe a few stray prints...


P.S.  Find out how you can stitch up some Oklahoma Tornado Relief right here.  They're requesting completed quilts by June 30th! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

a Living Picture

Guess what?  My mom and I had a date for mother's day.... a succulent date.   Look what I made!

Succulent Frame!

I've long been drawn to succulent wreaths and vertical gardening.  Not that I have/do any, but I admire them.   From afar.   I like succulents, plain and simple, but bringing them inside, away from weeds and bugs and the hot, hot sun - genius!  Discovering these beautiful redwood frames, made by Succulent Gardens, absolutely pushed the idea over the edge.  For some reason, I'm just not a circle person.  The "square" version... I LOVE!

So this Sunday my mom (who is a total green thumb, btw) came over and together we gardened... inside.   In case you'd like to try your hand at it, here are some tips.

First, read this tutorial on Prudent Baby.  We mostly followed those directions, except that we got our succulents from Succulent Gardens.  A brown paper bag full of beautiful rosette succulents came with my frame shipment.  They were in excellent condition and already ready to root!  I kept them spread out on paper towels and misted them occasionally, until our date.

You could also try buying succulents at your local nursery.  If so, buy a few big gallon-sized plants and make cuttings from them, rather than buying many small plants, to keep costs down.

sweet succulent rosettes

We used: one 12" redwood frame, one wire wreath (same as tutorial), sphagnum moss by Miracle Grow (which was more like dirt than moss...), wire and fishnet stockings to hold the "moss" in place on my mom's wreath, rooting hormone and bobby pins to hold each succulent clipping in place.

supplies for Succulent Frame

These frames are made as one solid piece, so you must drop the moss in through the wire mesh.  It took some time to really work it in, which my mom said was important.  Didn't like this part.  My sink and I got pretty dirty.

and bobby pins!

Since the Miracle Grow sphagnum moss was soooo loose, my mom figured she'd need to net it to prevent it from falling away from the wreath. A trip to the store was avoided when I found an old pair of fish net knee highs.  Whaaaaat?  Yeah, don't think I need those.

mama's wreath

Then the fun part... the plants!  We dipped the stems into the root hormone or used a spoon to sprinkle the hormone directly on the dirt.  Once the plants were in place, we'd attach them by sliding a black bobby pin around some bottom petals and into the wire mesh frame or wreath.  At first I was going really slow because I hated to hurt the plants.  But, my mom says succulents are really resilient.  I hope so!

me and my Mama

Here's mom's wreath!  Because we used bobby pins, she could hang it right away rather than waiting for the plants to root.  Even so, I noticed she had it still sitting flat when I came by her house today for our walk.

her Succulent Wreath

Me too, mom.  I just love, love, love how it came out and want to give the plants every opportunity to relax and survive after being brutally bobby pinned.  I'm keeping this baby flat for a bit.  It's kind of like a center piece like this.  So pretty!

my frame!

This is how it really goes... vertical.  When it's upright the plants show off their texture.

it goes vertical

When I feel ready, we'll hang it on the wall among the picture frames and little shelves we've arranged on that (previously) Big Empty Wall.  See that spot kind of center and to the right? 

two Spots waiting

I'll have to take down my succulent frame to water it by misting with a spray bottle.  Succulents don't like much water, so it won't be about soaking the soil.  Fingers crossed it survives!

Well, that's another home decor project tackled and thoroughly appreciated.  Our dining room exudes so much more personality now.   But just wait 'til I get those curtains up!  Mmmmmm, it's going to be good!
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