Monday, December 30, 2013

rainbow days

Last week I set aside my only sewing day to test out a potential pattern.  My goal was to come up with something fun to add to my new class, Color Intensive.  This class is not really about sewing patterns.  It's about color composition and fabric choice, but including a few happy patterns is a must, right?  Right.

Well, it started out promising enough.
 
rainbow scrap crumbs

mini improv

cplor scrap bands

Rainbows.  Tiniest scraps ever.  Improv piecing.  Yay.

ooh.  ah.

a Wheel Quilt spoke

Then I cut my rainbow band with a spoke from my Wheel Quilt pattern, elongated to avoid curved piecing at the tips.   They were mighty cute, but too few.

Sooooo, I made another rainbow band, this time out of bigger scraps, like so.

or use big scraps

And ended here that night.

makes 2!

Oh, yes, it makes TWO. That was what had tickled my imagination.  Opposite rainbow goodness?  Yes, please.

The next day...

rainbow mini burst

scraptacularity?

yin and yang

Scraptacularity?  Not quite.  I do like how these turned out, but the reality is different than what I had in my head.  They are very pretty, BUT

1.  The mini scrap piecing is all but lost because the spokes are so small.  Might as well have made this all from big scraps as in the second round.

2.  It bugs me that I didn't sew the teeny tiny tips together into sharp points.  I could see as I was going where I got off track, but lacked the oomph to unpick and try again.  I think precision at this tiny scale is only going to happen for me via paper piecing.

two mini quilts

I've decided to set these aside to finish after my class launch, when I am in a place to enjoy them, not see them as what they failed to become.  I actually know exactly what I'll do with them too!

Happily, that very night I sat down in a cloudy mood and began to sketch and very good things came to be.  Will share that vision and details on my new class in January.

eee, Coming Soon!

Friday, December 27, 2013

a quilty Calendar

My wall calendar hangs above my desk in "the green room" (aka my sewing room), where I tippity type almost-daily blog posts and hatch grand plans.  It's a cozy place with bright moss-green walls that somehow manage to simultaneously soothe and energize me.  The calendar is tres important.

on my wall!

In 2013 I've been meandering through a Stitched in Color calendar I created last year via RedBubble (get it for 2014 here).  I've loved seeing my artwork on the wall in print, and will certainly make one again some year.  But not this year.

a 2014 calendar

This year a friend turned me on to a calendar offered by the Etsy shop one Canoe two.  The talented owners draw and hand-paint each page of patchwork-inspired artwork from their barn in Missouri.  It was love at first sight with the Pieces & Patterns 2014 wall calendar.

Pieces & Patterns on Etsy

Each page is so inspiring I was hard-pressed to choose just a few to share.  Visit the listing to see more previews. 

Pieces & Patterns on Etsy

This one happens to work nicely with what's on my table!

Pieces & Patterns on Etsy

So come January first, I'll be hanging this beauty to welcome the new year.  Thanks to one Canoe two for sending a calendar my way.  And thanks to Annabelle for sharing the link.

Welcome new year.  I'm ready!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

a solid, Basic Sewing Machine {review + giveaway}

Can you recommend a sewing machine?  It's a question I hear often and one for which I've wished I had a good answer.  I currently sew on the Juki TL2010Q.  I adore this machine, but it's a pretty high price point for a beginner.  If you're getting started with sewing or quilting, you should be looking for something simple and reliable.  You don't need a million stitches or a fancy touch screen readout.  In fact, more complex computerized features are actually a liability - if you don't need them, they're just something else that can break and get in the way of real sewing.

So what do you need and what won't you use?  I think those shopping for their first machine are asking for help precisely because they don't know.  Of course!  Now I don't really know what you personally will need, but I can make some general informed guesses.

 review and giveaway

I told my sponsor Sew Vac Direct what I'd be looking for in a solid, basic sewing machine and they sent me some ideas.  I picked out the Janome HD3000 to test drive for you.  Today I'm sharing a review of that machine and giving my test model away!

My first rule of thumb is to avoid buying a computerized machine.  Just as computers need replacing fairly option and are prone to silly malfunctions, a computerized machine will need more repairs and maintenance than a non-computerized machine.

review and giveaway

The Janome HD3000 has just 18 stitches (plenty!), including the 2 that you really need = straight stitch and zigzag stitch.  Unlike a computerized machine, you'll control stitch selections, stitch length and stitch width with manual nobs.  No biggie.  They work and they don't break!

To sew in reverse, which is vital for locking stitches, you use that big lever below the HD-3000 label.  I much prefer a physical lever to a computerized button that must be touched to activate and to deactivate.  You see I used to sew on a highly computerized Pfaff.  I feel like the lever increases precision.

 review and giveaway

Up here the thread rests in an internal cavity.  At right is a spot to store sewing feet, so that they're quite handy, and farther right is the bobbin winder.  I had no trouble at all winding bobbins.

 Janome HD3000 from SewVacDirect

After threading the HD3000, you can close the door at the top so that the thread cavity is contained.  Seems like a neat way to keep out the dust!

I received this machine to test in November and made several projects with it.  I made kids pajamas to test sewing with flannel and making buttonholes.  I pieced most of my sawtooth stars on this machine.  It chain-pieced without "eating" fabric.  I did notice two inconveniences.

1.  the needle stops in all sorts of positions (not always up or down).  Sometimes you'll have to turn the hand wheel before taking out your project.  This machine does not have a needle up/down setting.  Such a setting is definitely helpful for sewing curves, but one can get on without it.

2.  the machine will unthread itself at the needle if you do not leave a generous thread tail.  I am used to my Juki, which almost never unthreads itself, even with a very short tail.  Pulling the thread a little longer is just a habit I'd have to acquire with this machine.  

I also straight-stitch quilted on the Janome HD3000, with the stitch length set at maximum.  The stitch quality was nice.  My husband asked me if I like this one as well as my Juki... and I laughed!  No, of course not!  Seriously, the Juki is like a super-machine.  But this one is a third of the price.  And one needs a machine like this to accompany the Juki anyways, for the zigzag and buttonhole functions.  Yes, I did use the Janome to sew some zigzag binding.  Went beautifully!

review and giveaway

Another features this machine does not have is speed control, which is great for allowing children to sew.  So the two features it "lacks" are needle up/down and speed control.  Those are truly helpful, but not essential.  If faced with the choice of buying a computerized machine or skipping these features, I truly think you are better off skipping them.

review and giveaway

Oh, one more thing - the cover!  I usually throw away the vinyl covers that come with machines, but this one comes with a hard plastic cover.  The foot peddle/power cord can be wrapped up and placed into the harp space, then you put on the cover.  The carry handle pops up through the cover, making this machine SO convenient for traveling.  Everything is contained and safe!

If you're interested in buyin your first machine or moving on from a high-maintenance, frustrating experience, I do recommend the Janome HD3000.  Right now it comes with an extended 5 Year Warranty from Sew Vac Direct.  They have great customer service for handling your repairs.  You pay the shipping to them for warrantied service and they pay the shipping back to you.  It doesn't take long either, in my experience!

review and giveaway

The folks at Sew Vac Direct are giving away the machine I tested and signed.  Since we'll be shipping this machine to your door, only U.S. addresses please.  I'm hoping someone will find themselves sewing a lot more in the new year thanks to a new, reliable machine!   Add your comment to enter, now through January 1st.  I draw a winner on January 2nd.

Good luck!

******Comments Closed******

And our very lucky winner is #22 - Carla Lowe.  I'm trying to reach you, Carla, via Google Hangouts.  Enjoy your new Janome!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Have a merry

quilty Christmas

May your day be filled with peace, joy and love.

Merry Christmas!

the Hauser family

Monday, December 23, 2013

Red, Red Stars quilt

 Red Red Stars quilt

I usually feel pretty good when I finish any quilt, but this one... this one feels GLORIOUS!  I'm so, so glad that I went "all in" with Anna Maria Horner fabrics for the stars and that magnetic Kona Rich Red for the background.  I can't get over how much I love this combo.  FYI, I did pre-wash the Kona, and I'm happy to report that there was not a bit of bleeding when I washed the finished quilt this weekend!

ready to baste!

One of the best things about this project was making it with my friends.  It was perfectly delightful to share some of my favorite fabrics with them, and since we sewed together in real life, to get to hear their ooohs and aaaaahs as they worked with the fabulousness that is Anna Maria Horner.

continuous eight quilting

I quilted on my Juki Tl2010Q (HEART!), whose generous harp space makes this 6" wide continuous eight free motion quilting pattern possible.  There's no way I could have done this on a small machine!   I couldn't believe how fast this one quilted up.  This is my second go with the continuous eight (my first time I did about 4" wide).  I like it big like this, and I love that it's such a durable quilting pattern (all those crossing lines and good coverage).  Expect to see more of this in my future.  Funny, once I thought I was a mostly straight-line girl!

red, red Stars

So here she is.  Ta Da!

red, red Stars quilt

You all, I had So Much fun making this one that I could be convinced to start another one like right now if I didn't have my sewing list already cut out for me.  But, I think maybe another Sawtooth Star quilt on a colored background in 2014.  Yes, I think so.

Flourish by Anna Maria Horner

For the backing I used Dowry in Flourish by Anna Maria Horner.  It has red to compliment the Kona Rich Red, but blue and sage and toast colors too, which hint at the colorful stars.

Dowry Flourish = great backing!

Flourish is a nice print for a backing, because it's a meandering large scale that hides the joining seam pretty well.  The joining seam in my backing is visible here in the flat section of the quilt back.  Can you spot it?

Anna Maria Horner stars on Kona Rich Red

Binding

And now we have to part, dear quilt.  I am grateful though that you are destined for a home where you'll doubtless be used and not just stored in a cabinet.  Be well.  Make them smile.  Keep them warm.

We send you with our love!

Fabric Notes:  You can find Anna Maria Horner fabrics at most of the fabric shops in my side bar, especially at Fabricworm, Intrepid Thread and Sew Love Fabrics in the U.S and at Mad About Patchwork and Fabric Spot in Canada.

Thanks to Freespirit for some recent Anna Maria Horner fabrics and to Robert Kaufman for supplying the Kona Rich Red.   My gratitude to the Warm Company for supplying me with Warm & Natural batting.  You make quilts like this - created to be given away - possible!

Friday, December 20, 2013

our Penny Patch Finishes!

my finished Penny Patch This post is part of a series {Penny Patch} a Beginner’s Quilt-Along.  You can join in anytime, even if you’re not a beginner!  Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

I wouldn't have made this quilt if it wasn't for you all - for your love of my first Penny Patch, Vintage Tangerine, which prompted me to create a quilt-along.  Thank-you.  It's been perfectly delightful!











 Penny Patch quilt along

Penny Patch baby quilt

with Dogwood quilting

Nanny Bee by Heather Ross backing

Kona plum binding

As always, I have plenty of projects on my "must do" list.  Having this wee baby Penny Patch to play with as well, and at such a leisurely pace, was a nice winter treat.  In the quilting I remembered - Again! - that I do so enjoy the action of dogwood quilting, not just the results.  I bound her in Kona Plum with a flourish of red thread zigzag finish.

Unfortunately, the yet-to-be-born baby for whom I imagined this color scheme turned out to be a boy!  So, this morning I've listed it on Etsy.  She hopes to find a little person who appreciates violet, plum, coral, strawberries, fairies, flowers and cursive text prints.  Crossing fingers!

Fabrics used include:  various Briar Rose prints, Meyer Lemon Pearl Bracelet, Shelburne Falls Deco Fans, Chicopee Paisley, Chicopee Heatwave Stripe, Chalk Comma Periods, Kona Plum and Waterfront Domino Dot.

thanks for joining me!

I'll be leaving this link party open for awhile so you can add your quilts as they finish!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Welcome, Cuts of Cotton!

Today's my chance to formally welcome Cuts of Cotton to Stitched in Color.  And happy I am to make sure you're all acquainted with this new and inviting modern shop!  Pop on over for a look-see. Their website is so clean and white with simple navigation and everything right at hand. 

You'll see what I mean right from the homepage....



I almost always need to shop by Color, so I'm glad to see that's a priority at Cuts of Cotton.   Emily stocks a lot of "helpful fabrics"- simple monochromatic prints that are so versatile for quilting.  She has Pearl Bracelets galore, Oval Elements for dots and great textures via Architextures Crosshatch and Quilter's Linen.  These are the makings of an excellent stash!


Don't know about you, but I'm always curious to see New Arrivals.  And then there's On Sale, which can be handy too.  Find these big, bold links at the bottom of the home page.


At Cuts of Cotton you can also shop by Designer or by Collection.  You'll find a rainbow of pretty fabrics by Alison Glass, including her Feathers, Party Streamers and Text.


Well, you know I could go on and on (like about how I need this yellow bundle because elves must make away with my yellows at night), but as we all know fabric is endlessly delightful.  If you've been meaning to treat yourself to a little holiday cheer, now would be a good time....  Cuts of Cotton is offering my readers a 20% off savings on your entire order now through Monday the 23rd.  To save, enter code color in the coupon field and enjoy!

{Giveaway}

Emily'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...


Her January Blues custom bundle!  This is the good stuff: 
  • Modern Solids II in Blue
  • Crosshatch in Blue
  • Pearl Bracelet in Isolated Shower
  • Crosshatch in Lake
  • Oval Elements in Powder Blue
  • Modern Solids II in Grey
How nice!  To enter we'd love to know what (if any) new fabric collection has caught your eye lately.  One comment per person and international entries are welcome.  I'll draw the winner on Monday, December 23rd. 

******Comments Closed******

Our lucky winner is #215, who is ✾Jamie Lee Cooley✾.  So glad to see you win, Jamie, as you are always sharing a sweet comment in this space!  Enjoy your beautiful bundle.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

rich, rich Red

The morning after sewing night was gloriously sunny....

morning after Sewing Night

All that light and loveliness echoed the feeling in my heart, such gratitude for the rich life I lead!  Filled with color and friends and the opportunity to make pretty things.  Sure there are cloudy days and foot-stomping tantrums (my own) but its moments like these when everything comes together.... oh, so sweet!

One friend asked how I knew that this dark red would make a nice background for so many colors.  Her question reminded me of this photograph, which I never did share with you all.

Background color selection 

I often test my ideas by manipulating the actual fabrics, if possible.  This time I had a good sized cut of Kona Rich Red, so I spread it out on the floor and peppered it with Ann Maria Horner fabrics.  I don't consider myself good at merging images in my head, so I do this kind of thing whenever possible.  I was pretty thrilled with this test in real time and still jazzed when I looked at the image the next day, so that's how I "knew".

Aria's test star block, before trimming

Next I tried to puzzle out how to build in room for error in the Sawtooth Star block design.  Aria tested out my ideas while making this pretty block.  Naturally she chose my very favorite Dowry print - Flourish in cherry!  This is her block before trimming.  Awesome job, girlie!

You can see how the over-sized corner squares make for plenty of background fabric at the 4 corners of the block.  The only touchy part is creating enough seam allowance at the star tips.  That's why I decided that dull star points should be expected for first-time quilters.  (I'm thinking now that I could have figured out how to manipulate our sewing plan further to account for those tips, but my brain didn't get that far at the time.)  Sawtooth Star tutorial here.

cutting is perfectly delightful

I so enjoyed cutting prep for our sewing night.  How could I not with all these lovely fabrics to keep me company?  Even the sliver trimming scraps were decadent!

 our Sawtooth Stars!

The ladies did wonderfully, wonderfully!  We made quite a few stars that night with minimal frustration and seam-ripping.  I almost don't want to finish making this quilt because I don't want to take the stars off my wall.   Almost... but, I will.

leftovers

These are some of the leftover ingredients after our sewing night.  I've been working on them this week and have just 3 left to sew today.  Time to assemble this quilt top and get to the finish, hopefully by this weekend.  Wish me luck!

p.s.  Today is the last day to purchase eBooks for Penny Sampler, Handstitched or Curves Class.  You can find those right here in my pattern shop.  Thanks + Enjoy!
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