Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Clashy Bright baby quilt

You know what's really fun?

merry go rounds are so much fun!

a merry go round at the lake.

Seriously, that's awesome.  Also fun...

Clashy Bright baby quilt (in its element)

photographing a Clashy Bright quilt on a merry go round at the lake.

Hmm.... what about photographing a Clashy Bright quilt on a merry go round at the lake while spinning?

Nah, I didn't try that.

finished!  Clashy Bright baby quilt

I wonder what you see when you look at this quilt?  I guess it's kind of like a snowball block, but in my imagination those white diamonds are tiny flashing jewels.  I used my smallest white or almost-white triangle scraps (mostly from making mitered binding) to create wonky diamonds.  I'm really pleased with how the diamonds look placed just in the center of the quilt, not at the edges.  Details, details.

Clashy Bright baby quilt

Mmm... I like this one so much with its clashy, happy colors and flash of black and brave new world quilting.  This one's going to have to find a special home.  Turns out there are babies on the way with lots of my friends.  Girl anyone?

Dimple Dot backing

Hey, guess what, I finally tried minky again!  Many moons ago I made a minky rag quilt and swore off the minky for good.  It was such a snowy mess to work with!  But still I kept the fabric leftovers in my cabinet all this time.... You know how that goes.  So this time I wanted a quilt back that would contrast with all that color and the white dimple dot was just wide enough.  Taking my own "trying" advice, I gave it another go.

And I love it. Love it.  LOVE IT.  Must-Buy-More-for-Baby-Quilt-Backing kind of love it.  If you haven't touched this stuff it is so, so, soooo soft.  Everyone has to pet it.  And it comes in colors.  Swoon.   I think I had blocked all that out because it was such a mess to work with, but that was because I was fringing it for a rag quilt.  Yeah, don't do that.  As a backing - no mess and heavenly!

bound in Lizzy House jewels

Ahem, to move on.  I bound the clashy bright goodness in light pink Lizzy House jewels, which make a darn good binding if I do say so myself, and called it a day.

A Happy Day.  Same to you!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Homeschool Chronicles {the new year}

Homeschool  Chronicles Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed, Aria was demanding, Liam whiny... it definitely wasn't an ideal first day of school.  But, oh well.  Life happens.  The kids hadn't had enough sleep that night, which apparently, definitely matters.  Good thing we get to try again.  And So Soon, haha.

Here we are at the beginning of a fresh new year, and truly, we're all excited.  The chalkboard is back out with the week's work all laid out in color-coded rows for my little planner's convenience.   Someday I'm sure she'll be doing all the planning herself, with my input, rather than the other way around.  But, for now I still get to sketch the master plan.

How do I plan?  Well, since we do a block system, I begin by mapping out the year's blocks for each of my kids.  Liam (first grade) will alternate months of math with months of language arts.  Aria (third grade) alternates math and history, with language arts and science going all the time.  Some subjects we do as a family and some things are individualized for each kid.  Oh, and December is "project month" where each child gets to choose his or her own focus of study, though it looks like they both want to do a unit study on China.  Sounds good to me!

first day - Homeschool Chronicles

After looking at the big picture - what I want to accomplish each month - I map out our weekly school rhythm.  We do different things on different days (ex.  Liam does handwriting on Monday and phonics on Thursday/Friday).  That probably sound crazy-complicated to some, but I find all the diversity in our schedule, both on a weekly and monthly basis, to be highly energizing.  The kids seem to as well!   Having the schedule posted on the chalk board helps me keep track too, as we get used to our rhythm.

Since inquiring minds want to know, here are the resources we'll be using this year. Remember, we don't use these all at the same time.  No way!  For this family, variety is the spice of life.

as a Family

for Aria (third grade)
for Liam (first grade)

Liam caught is first fishy
Believing it best, we wait until first grade to formally teach reading.  Now Liam and I have started spending time in the afternoon slowly sounding our way through part of a Dr. Seuss book.  It's hard work for the little guy to juggle all those sounds, but his delight when he gets it right is so rewarding for both of us.  I love getting to be a part of those moments!  Aria and I are both super-eager for the day when Liam can enjoy reading to himself, because we know how much he's going to love it.   Yay books!

p.s.  Look who caught his first fish. Not a keeper, but darn cute anyways.

Monday, July 29, 2013

a matter of Trying

I've been thinking a lot lately about taking risks, about how important it has been in my life to think I can do what it is I want to achieve and to have the gumption to try.


I had some nice long conversations recently with other moms of young kids about what we imagine for our kids' futures.  Our plans to prepare them for life are so colored by our own experiences.  I realized that what I am teaching my children about education and lifestyle are quite linked to the expectation that they will be risk-takers, problem-solvers, even entrepreneurs.  So since then I've been kind of holding that idea and turning it this way and that to see if it's really practical, and if it fits with their personalities.  Something to keep pondering, surely.

celebrating progress

I guess that's why when I think about this bit of quilting I did yesterday, I mostly marvel that I've come to a place where I can create a free motion quilting design all my own, implement it and actually enjoy the process.  How can that be when just 7 months ago my only free motion quilting option was stressed-out loops?  When I showed this work to Brandon, even he remembered how tentative and intimidated I was by that dogwood quilting on the Vintage Tangerine quilt earlier this year. 

minky soft on the back

Today I'm celebrating my progress.  There is still plenty of room for growth in my free motion quilting - plenty!  But, I kind of know now that it's just a matter of trying.  Not a matter of time... a matter of trying

How many more things could we accomplish, could we enjoy, if only we tried?  How many areas of life do we spent pent up in a box created by avoidance of risk?  And what do I want to try next?  What do you?  I love that question!

So many possibilities for me and for you.

Friday, July 26, 2013

want to Design Fabric?

want to Design Fabric?

Yesterday, as I was cutting and folding and generally delighting in all the pretty colors, I reflected on how I lack any inclination to design fabric.  It's odd to me that someone who adores using fabric and enjoys petting it and kind of lives/breathes in fabric could be so disinterested in creating her own.  I'm not even into fabric dying.  It's kind of embarassing to admit.

But what about you?  I bet lots of you have considered trying your hand at fabric design.  Well, there's no time like the present!  Connecting Threads has just opened submissions this week for a fabric design contest.  It's a pretty sweet deal if you win, to the tune of $2000, seeing your designs in print, the chance to earn royalties and lots of free fabric (yours!!!).  Contestants must submit their designs digitally now through August 10th.  Sure, that's not a lot of time, but you can buckle down and get it done.  Maybe a tight deadline is just what you need to get your creativity in gear?

Go Here for all the rules and some tips to get you started.

Go Here to submit your entry.

If a contest is not your speed, I've heard that Kimberly Knight's book, A Field Guide to Fabric Design, is a helpful read.  You can also test the waters by having your designs printed at Spoonflower anytime. 

Ok, if you make a submission to Connecting Thread's contest, let us know!  Everyone gets a vote, and I'd love to give your collection a close look. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Serene Scandinavian - limited bundles!

Phew, that was a long day!  Cutting, pressing and arranging bundles is no quick task.  I have a good, healthy respect for fabric shops now.  You make it look so easy!  But, my, I do love the results!  All that tidy folded fabric is just irresistible.

So, here's the scoop.  At least a month ago a friend asked me to put together some bundles of my fabric choices for my Penny Sampler.  Sounded like a fun challenge, so off I went scouring my favorite webstores to buy up more of my picks.  Naturally, they weren't available all at one place, but eventually I had amassed a nice collection.

I've prepared 6 bundles (it was all I could manage!) of 21 fabrics each - my Serene Scandinavian bundles (now sold out!).  There are larger cuts of some of the more important prints like the cursive alphabet - that one's my favorite!  I also made sure to have enough in most cases to match what I actually used in the quilt.  For example, there's enough of the Bloomsbury Summerville Spring print to make blue flower diamonds across the top of the quilt as I did!

After some 1/2 yards, fat quarters and one fat eighth, most of the bundle is made of compact fat sixteenths (9" x 11").  It sounds small, but that's why there's 21 fabrics and I'm serious that I really used less than that of most prints.  I like to use many different fabrics, and thus don't need much of each.

My Penny Sampler bundles each contain 3 yards of fabric.  This is definitely not enough fabric to make the entire quilt, but you'd primarily need to add solids, not prints. Suggested solids: Kona Iron, Marine, Ash, Plum, Rose, Snow, White, Aqua and Glacier, as well as Essex in Natural.  You can find all these solids at Canton Village Quilt Works or at many of my sponsors (top right sidebar).

If you're out to do your own shopping, many of my prints are now hard-to-find.  But, you can definitely find the Shelburne Falls prints at Fat Quarter Shop and Glimma at Intrepid Thread.

Oh!  I also made Scrap Packs (sold out!).  At first I was saving cutting scraps from my Sampler for my own someday project, but then I decided it would be more fun to pass them onto someone who hadn't yet had the chance to play with these colors.  I have 3 one-of-a-kind scrap packs available now in my shop!

I can tell you that I won't be putting together bundles again anytime soon (did I mention my aching feet?), but I'm hoping that these will make several people very happy!!!



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I fell for...

Obviously, I fell for Anna Maria.  All it took was the 5" charm square of Field Study linen that Ruth sent along with one of my orders.  Anna's enticing linen.  It seems both more sturdy (less shifty) and more supple than other unwashed linen, though it hardly seems those two could go together.

I fell for Anna Maria

I couldn't get these Pressed Field prints out of my mind.  And the Social Climber in gold... really I should have ordered more than a measly half yard.

Citrus inspired?

I fell for Clashy Bright.  For about a week I've been weighing the calm prettiness of a citrus-inspired fabric mix against the vibrancy of a wider palette.

Clashy bright?

But I challenge most anyone to surf through umpteen Clashy Bright mosaics and not come away feeling a little footloose and fancy free.  And also, after carefully cultivating a serene Scandinavian vibe in my Penny Sampler, I am primed to delight in the fabric equivalent of a beach vacation.

foolin around with triangle scraps

I fell for scrappy triangles.  Turns out I have enough white, cream or low-volume miniscule scrap triangles to fool around with.  I'm set to churn out a baby quilt without any fabric waste.  Those demanding little suckers and their pointy little ways will come to a most fitting end... I hope.  It will certainly be wonky (hmm... I fell for that too).

Yes, I fell for it all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Clashy Bright Winners!

Guess who are our winners for the Clashy Bright Mosaic contestThe people have spoken.  Here they are....

Sara of Knottygnome

Clashy Brights
Celebrate Color #1
Congratulations!  I'll be emailing you both so that we can send a set of your clashy bright favorites right over through the mail.

I think it's funny that those two mosaics have 3 of the exact same prints!  One of the repeats was Carnaby Street in fuschia.  I love the movement in that Carnaby Street print and all the great colors in comes in.  Definitely a useful fabric.

Also, ironically, neither of our winners included Carnaby Street in Go-Go London, which was a print I saw showing up over and over again in all your mosaics.  It's such a great choice for Clashy Bright!  The colors certainly collide, clamor and crash.  So, props to all who snagged this great print!

Tammy has set up our winning bundles at Marmalade Fabrics for easy pickings in fat quarters.  If your stash needs a pick-me-up, hop to it!

Thanks to all, and to Marmalade Fabrics especially, for another fun contest!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Registration Opens Today!

Hooray!!!  Today registration opens at my shop for the Penny Sampler at Stitched in Color!  Class begins in earnest August 19th, but we'll get a jump start next week with lessons on choosing your fabrics!

Penny Sampler Welcome

The Penny Sampler is a skill-building course with Scandinavian style.  It began with Scandinavian inspiration, its folk notes and modern melodies combined.  That first vision became a framework of ideas - miniature pictures, small geometric piecing, intricate sashing, a pointy border. 

the Penny Sampler

But I wanted it to be lively, unexpected, definitely different than your everyday sampler quilt.  So, I threw out regular gridwork and traditionally placed sashing.  Instead blocks are a smorgesboard of sizes, sashing falls here and there for movement, layers of interest.  The border is broken up and resized in a decidedly unpredictable way.  All this aiming to be true to the quirky charm of modern Scandinavian style.

the Penny Sampler

I'm pleased to invite you on our journey, spanning August 19th through November 15th.   It's 14 weeks of instruction at a manageable pace.  All instruction is delivered via a separate password protected blog that allows you to access the lessons at your leisure, with posts delivered day to day during instruction weeks.

This online class centers around the making of an epic quilt - the Penny Sampler - while developing three themes:  machine applique, precise piecing and machine paper piecing.  These skill sets go beyond basic quilting to equip a quilter to face with confidence tricky traditional geometric piecework and picture-motifs made by applique or machine paper piecing.  All lessons include full, detailed photo tutorials and many downloadable templates.

the Penny Sampler

Plus, for each theme, I've created 2 practice projects.  These stand-alone projects are optional creative outlets and/or opportunities to practice the skills before sewing your sampler.  Of the two projects, one is relatively quick and one is an actual quilt.  The practice quilts included in our course are Dogwood Blossoms, Pixie Churns and Pantry Shelf. The other 3 (quicker!) practice projects will be revealed as class unfolds.

Wondering if this class is the right fit for your level or how much time you'll need to keep up?  See the Penny Sampler FAQ for more details!

Here's a bit more detail on what we'll cover with some examples...

the Penny Sampler

Weeks 2-5:  Machine Applique - Think of applique as a simple way to achieve any shape you desire, especially curves - see the hearts, mitten and bird blocks!  Applique also allows for unbroken backgrounds and unbroken prints with no distracting seams.  I love that!  Projects will cover 2 different user-friendly methods for turned-under edges with options for attaching by machine or by hand.  For more project examples see "why Applique?"

the Penny Sampler

Weeks 6-9:  Precise Piecing -  At some point most quilters yearn to refine their piecing skills, to chase down that perfect seam and be able to create small-scale traditional patchwork in triumph.  We'll discuss the merits of both the scant and true 1/4" seam and when to use which, plus other little details that can effect the accuracy of your sewing.  Each fancy block is another gem for your quilt!  To see lots of these projects visit "the key to Precise Piecing."

the Penny Sampler

Week 10-14:  Machine Paper Piecing - Patchwork addicts, like myself, are often charmed by the perfect points and unusual made possibly by machine paper piecing.  This method of patchwork tends to be intimidating, but it's actually not hard at all once you get the hang of it!  Starting from some really easy diamonds to wrap your mind around the process, projects will gradually build up to include my favorite block of all- the Dala horse! See more at "the Joy of paper piecing."

the Penny Sampler

Choose your class!  Class runs on 3 distinct private blogs where I can answer questions in the comments.

  • The super affordable Penny Sampler includes everything you're used to seeing from me in the way of detailed, step-by-step picture-packed tutorials and access to all projects at $35/$45.  
  • Penny Sampler {Premium} adds extra helpful (and time-intensive) features like numerous video tutorials and an eBook of the class for your reference at $55/$65.  
  • Then there is a smaller, more exclusive Penny Sampler Camp for folks who want it all, plus lots of interaction, with the give and take encouragement you'd experience in a real in-person class.  Penny Sampler Camp ($85) is limited to 20 campers.  We'll enjoy (6) live community chats, each an hour in length, plus a private Flickr group to help us keep up with our works-in-progress.  And, campers who complete their Penny Sampler by December 15th will receive a little something handmade by me as a souvenir of Penny Sampler Camp.  I hope I get to make one for each of you!

There is an early registration discount of $10 for Penny Sampler and Penny Sampler Premium, only applicable during the week of July 22 - July 26th.  Prices are live and accurate at my shop.

Class runs through November 15th.  Your access to the class blog will remain open through December 15th, during which time I will continue answering questions.  After December 15th the blog will be closed and you will no longer be able to login.  This provides much-need motivation for us to get everything we can out of the class in real time, rather than leaving it open ended for "someday."

the Penny SamplerI hope that every single one of you who are interested in taking this journey will find a place that meets your needs and your budget. 

So, Ta Da!  Please join in.  We're going to have a blast!

Friday, July 19, 2013

::Voting:: Clashy Bright

Good afternoon!  Thanks to all who made fabric-magic with Clashy Bright mosaics.   I just finished surfing through loads of fun, beachy color.  Do you know I had like 20 windows of "favorites" open by the time I was finished?    Amazingly, I've narrowed it down to just 10 finalists, choosing mosaics that put a decided spring in my step.  Now you'll have to tell us which is your tippy top favorite!

Enjoy perusing these fabric mosaics from Marmalade Fabrics!  I've presented them first at large size, with the name of the artist under each mosaic.  Voting is below with smaller images for reference.  Vote now through midnight (eastern U.S. time) on Monday, July 22nd.   The two winning mosaics with the most votes will be announced on Tuesday.

Good Luck Everyone!  

Stephanie of Quarter Incher

Mosiac for Clashy Brights Contest
Adrianne of On the Windy Side
Annabelle Gardner

Sara of Knottygnome

Bollywood Bundle
Jenelle of Echinops & Aster

Clashy Brights
Celebrate Color #1


Needle & Nest

Clashy Brights 2
Celebrate Color #2

Three Snippy Sisters

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jade Princess

Want to know something crazy?  I'm going away this weekend!  Yup, it's the weekend before registration and I'm running off with some girlfriends for some much-need R&R.  I knew it'd be a stretch, but I hope I can pull it off. 

Dogwood quilt project

Ok, so looking at my (still lengthy) To Do list as the sun goes down today, this is the last thing I needed to sew before leaving.  Ta da!

love those Comma periods! 

Jade Princess is a twin sized quilt graced with 20 dogwood blossom machine appliqued blocks.  Each shapely flower is sketch stitched appliqued, which creates a very serious bond that's certainly machine-washable.  To finish, I quilted around each dogwood free-motion

Aurifil 12 wt stitches - Love!

and then straight-lined quilted rows of chunky Aurifil 12 wt thread along the sashing.  A large stitch length and that thick thread are such a beautiful combination! 

peaches n'cream

I adore the Kona Peach with Comma Chalk Periods, so I settled on using the two for the sashing and block backgrounds to really play up that mood.  It's a bit of a peaches and cream classic, gone modern with mustard yellow and the bold jade.

 Jade Princess twin quilt

This color scheme was an energizing challenge for me.  I fooled around with having two jade blocks, one darker and one lighter, but found that I preferred just the one stand-out block.  That decision made, I used the positioning of the bright yellow dogwoods to balance the bright jade Swiss Chard Pearl Bracelet.  For me the placement of each block is just so.  Love that feeling!

room and photo by Fjeldborg

Here's another look at my inspiration image so you can see where I was coming from.  The image is white-heavy, whereas my quilt is more peach-heavy.  But overall I feel like I captured what I set out to find.  Quilting from images is very grounding, creating helpful boundaries and ongoing inspiration.  I'm sure I'll do it again!  If you're digging this color scheme, Fresh Modern Fabric still has a few Jade Princess bundles up for grabs.

Kona Ash, Iron and Med. Gray

I hadn't made advance plans for my backing (as usual), but I did something a little more intentional than my usual throw-whatever-together.  I used large cuts of Kona Ash, Kona Iron and Kona Medium Grey and then filled the last quadrant with leftover quilt top scraps.


And - bonus! - the solid backing allows the dogwood free motion quilting to show nicely.

Dogwood blossom blocks

The Dogwood Blossoms quilt pattern is included with the Penny Sampler class as a stand-alone practice project for our machine applique theme.  So, this is actually one of the first projects served up!  For each theme, I've created 2 practice projects.  These stand-alone projects are optional creative outlets and/or opportunities to practice the skills before sewing your sampler.  Of the two projects, one is relatively quick and one is an actual quilt (so, um, not that quick!).   If you choose to make the practice quilt, expect to work on it throughout the month as you also work on your Penny Sampler blocks.  Or, you could choose to set aside the practice quilt after you've had enough practice with the skill set, to pick up again after class is over or when your schedule frees up!

I haven't revealed the quick practice projects publicly, as I like to save some surprises for my students.  But, you have seen the Precise Piecing practice quilt:

Pixie Churns for the Penny Sampler class

And the Machine Paper Piecing practice quilt:

Pantry Shelf project

And that concludes my Penny Sampler previews!  On Monday I'll be back at it with the 9 am registration post, including the reveal of the Penny Sampler quilt itself.  (finally... I know!)

Jade Princess finished!

But first, we have a little voting to do tomorrow.  Last call on Clashy Bright mosaics!!
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