Monday, June 18, 2012

Giveaway Winners

I just paid a visit to Mr. Random Number Generator and he picked a winner for the "A Year of Making Life Beautiful" Book giveaway. Congratulations to lucky number...

Beth, you're a No Reply Commenter so email me asap so I can get you your copy of the book. I know you're going to love it! And for those of you who didn't win, you can still get your very own copy. Just check out Melissa's Etsy shop or QuiltWoman to snatch one up!

Friday, June 15, 2012

"A Year of Making Life Beautiful" Blog Tour


Do you know Melissa of Lilac Lane? If you don't, you really should get to know her. I "met" Melissa a could of years ago, both through her wonderful blog and also as a member of the charity bee "A Dozen Quilters". I saw that they were losing a couple members and asked Melissa if I could join, especially since they were turning their focus to charity projects. She gladly said yes. It was a pleasure to work with her through a year of projects to help those less fortunate than us, but an equal pleasure getting to know her better as well.

I am sure some of you remember me mentioning a couple of secret projects I was working on this Spring. Well, they were for Melissa. The first you saw a while back - her super cute "Picnic In the Park" quilt pattern, which she released this Spring and was also recently featured at her booth at the International Quilt Market. And then came the second secret project... Imagine my surprise when she asked me if I would also be willing to make a quilt for her new book, "A Year of Making Life Beautiful: 45 projects to bake, grow, craft and sew throughout the year". I was honored. Seriously? I'm not worthy!
Melissa sent me her elegant, yet easy, "Make Life Quilt" Pattern along with a beautiful array of Hello Luscious fabrics by Basic Gray for Moda. This gorgeous quilt can be made from pre-cuts. I don't usually work with a lot of pre-cuts but, let me tell you, it made life so much easier not to have to worry about cutting all that fabric. It makes for a quilt top that comes together quickly, yet all your friends and family will think you labored for weeks! She also entrusted me to quilt it too. Whoa! Talk about pressure. It was actually the first quilt I quilted on my new machine, and despite it's size it quilted like a charm! But I'm proud to say it's being featured in the month of April in her book, and also was at her booth at Market. My picture can't even do it justice. The sun was at the wrong angle when I had to take the picture!

Make Life Quilt

That's not even the best part. I got an advance copy of the book, and let me tell you, the whole thing is simply delicious! Melissa has such an amazing sense of style and grace. And her warm and gentle personality shines in each and every one of the projects featured in "A Year of Making Life Beautiful". And each project really does help beautify your life even more.

(Make Life Quilt)

Melissa taken her gift for making life beautiful and translated it to the page with all sorts of fun and yummy projects to create. Each month she cleverly features a variety of sewing, cooking, gardening and craft projects that you can make in your own home. No matter your walk of life or where you live, there's something in this book bound to call out, "Make Me!"

(Stars & Stripes Quilt)

I, personally, can't wait to try making the Memory Bag. I mean, how genius is that? I wish I had seen that before I left Chicago and threw away all of my bulky sweaters!

(Memory Bag)

Just flipping through the pages gives me a sense of calm and peace, so rarely found in my hectic life.
Be sure to get your own copy today! They're available directly from Melissa or on Quiltwoman in either spiral bound or hardcover editions. BUT one of my lucky followers and win their very own copy! Melissa is generously donating a copy of her book "A Year of Making Life Beautiful" to one of my lucky readers. So I'm hosting a giveaway! All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment. You can tell me anything but if you're at a loss, tell me what you would like to do to make your life more beautiful. That's it. I'll keep the giveaway open until Monday, June 18, 2012. One comment per person. International Entries welcome. But please, if you're a "No Reply" commenter make sure I have a way to contact you. Good luck!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Little Stitches Week 14 - Pattern R - Cuddle Kitty Toy

Little Stitches Week 14 - Pattern R - Cuddle Kitty Toy


Slowly, but surely, I am making my way through the book. I know I way being way ambitious trying to do one project a week, especially with my busy work schedule. But the good news is: I'm over halfway through completing all the projects and I still have friends making babies. They just don't seem to stop reproducing! Work has been hectic again, and has put a damper on my sewing time, last weekend I helped throw a baby shower for a very close friend of mine and even though I was on the planning committee, I could't come empty handed. So I decided to make something simple for her.

Pattern R - Cuddle Kitty Toy - Difficulty Level: 2


I met Nancy (and her husband Steven) at a Halloween party six years ago. I had just started dating my husband and we were in the phase where we started introducing each other to our friends. Nancy and I met and we clicked immediately. It was one of those moments where you know you're going to be friends. And here we are, six years later. I married that boy and Nancy and Steven are having a girl. Life keeps moving on. Nancy is an extremely talented wardrobe stylist for commercials, who hates to sew. Funny, right? I've actually been teaching her how to make her first quilt so I opted to make something small for her little girl instead. And the Kitty Toy seemed perfect. Since I've been helping her with the quilt I wanted to pick out complementary colors for the Kitty Toy and red and aqua were the perfect choices. They still feel feminine without being over-the-top girly.


I'll openly admit my first mistake. I got all excited and wanted to save time so I laid my main panel and backing fabric out together to cut them at the same time. Only, I laid them directly on top of each other with both fronts facing up and started cutting. I was about a 1/4 of the way through cutting when I realized my mistake. Um, yeah. You need to reverse the backing fabric so when cutting both fabrics together (which does save time) you need to lay one facing up and the other facing down so the wrong sides of your two fabrics are together. Um hum. Just call me the queen of stupid mistakes.


Realizing my mistake I flipped the bottom fabric over and cut them again. This pattern is easy BUT you're working with a lot of curves. Cutting curves can be challenging, so I recommend making sure your rotary blade is extra sharp. Put a new one in if you can. The sharper the blade, the easier it will move around the curves. Also, have a sharp pair of scissors on hand. These will come in super handy for snipping into those corners and you may find yourself using them to help snip trickier portions of the curved pattern. But just remember that you want the fabric for the front side of your cat facing up and the back side of your cat facing down, otherwise you'll end up with a reverse cat, like mine. Oops, again!


I did reach another little stumbling block with the stripes on the tail. The pattern says to cut more than needed, so I am assuming that the spare stripes go on the back of the cat but I didn't read that step in the instructions and you can't really ever see the back of the cat in the pictures so I couldn't tell if she wanted me to put stripes on the back of the tail as well. So I only put them on the front and ended up with extra stripes that went into my scrap bin.


But I do have a little TIP for any of you as anal as I am. It does add an extra step, but not much time. If you're diligent about making the 1/4" folds on your stripe pieces but are having trouble eyeballing them, I suggest doing a 1/4" basting stitch (using your 1/4" foot if you have one) and then ironing along that as a guideline. Then you can easily pull the basting stitches out after you've ironed.


Since you are working with a lot of curves, clipping into your seam allowances (but not into your seams) is the key to making your kitty look curvy when you turn her outside out. The use a turning tool to help get those small curves precise and also the stuffing up in there good.


This is one of those projects that comes together quickly and easily. I think from start to finish it took me an hour, two tops. And it makes a cute little baby gift.


So what are you working on? Link up your latest projects here and show everyone what you're making. You can share your projects in any start from start to finish and join in the sew-along at any time. I'll keep the linky party open all week. Remember, you can also share your "Little Stitches" projects anytime in the Undercover Crafter Sew-Along Group on Flickr. See you next week - if work hasn't killed me. Just kidding!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Tour

My friend, Melissa has an amazing book called "A Year of Making Life Beautiful" that was just published and I am thrilled to be a part of her virtual book tour. I'll be telling you all about it and hosting a giveaway later in the week, but until then, make sure you check out Melissa's beautiful website "Lilac Lane" and join in the blog hop starting today! Then come back over here on Friday for a chance to win your very own copy!

Monday June 11
Crafty Gemini- Vanessa Wilson
Lilac Lane- Melissa Stramel
Tuesday June 12
Sis Boom - Jennifer Paganelli
ReannaLily Designs- Jen Eskridge
Freda's Hive- Nanette Merrill

Wednesday June 13
Quilting Gallery - Michele Foster
Sew Many Ways - Karen
Sew Pretty Dresses - Jenny Fish

Thursday June 14
Pat Sloan
That Crazy Quilty Girl- Lisa Sipes

Friday June 15

Friday, June 8, 2012

Shattered Glass Block Tutorial

Hi everyone! I'm the next stop on Jane's Desperate Housewife's Quilt. If this is your first time here, welcome! Glad to have you. Have you heard about this amazing project? Jane of Quilt Jane is posting one 8" block tutorial a week for 50 weeks and she's invited other bloggers to contribute tutorials, too so that's 100 blocks. How cool is that?! I am super excited to be sharing my very first block tutorial with you for week 49. I'm calling this one Shattered Glass. It's really easy, quick and gives you a little opportunity to improvise and make it your own. I hope you like it!


Shattered Glass Block
Finished: 8"
*1/4" Seams used throughout*

8.5" square of background fabric
Several fabric strips measuring between 9 - 12" long and 1 - 2.5" wide
Cutting Mat
Rotary Cutter

Step One:
Place the 8.5" square of background fabric on your cutting mat. Place your ruler at an angle across the entire block, and slice it in half.

Choose one of your fabric strips and line it up with one of the edges you just cut, making sure the strip hangs over at least 1/4" at each end. Sew these together then press. (I prefer to press my seams open.)

Then trim any overhang from the strip so it is now flush with the edges of the background fabric.

Step Two:
Match up the remaining piece of background fabric with the strip you just sewed. Make sure you are placing the cut edge (from step one) to the edge of the strip. Since we're working with angles here you need to shift your background fabric up 1/4". It's going to look and feel off, but trust me, it will square up after you sew and press.

I use my cutting mat to help measure the 1/4" adjustment like so:


Sew together then open and press. (*Tip: If your unfamiliar or uncomfortable with sewing at odd angles you can "cheat" until you gain some confidence. Try sewing your first seam using a basting stitch to check if your angles are lining up. Then you can always re-sew using your regular stitch length if all looks good. Basting stitches are mush easier to rip out if you need to.)

Step Three:
Place your ruler across your block at another odd angle of your choice, crossing the block the other way and cut with your rotary cutter.

Chose another strip and repeat steps One and Two.

Your strips will be a little off but that's the beauty of this block. Think about shattered glass, it doesn't line up perfectly.


Repeat the process as many times as you like to create the shattered effect. When you're satisfied square up your block to 8.5" and you're done. It's that easy!


If you would like to create a larger or smaller block, just adjust the size of your background fabric. For a 12" finished block start with a 12.5" background square. For a 6" finishes block start with a 6.5" background square and so on. Also adjust the length (not width) of your strips. You will need longer strips for a bigger block: 12.5 - 15" long for a 12" block.


I hope you enjoyed this block. Make sure you hop on over to Quilt Jane and check out her awesome blog and all the other amazing blocks in the Desperate Housewife's Quilt. And if you end up making and Shattered Glass blocks I'd love to see them! Be sure to share them in my Flickr group so everyone can see your beautiful work!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Triple 'T' Tuesdays: Grommets

Welcome to Triple "T" Tuesdays! Whoever said that putting in grommets was difficult is lying. They're way darn easy. I just added just added a new tool to my sewing kit, that I might not use often, but I promise I will find reasons to use.


Honestly, when Caroline and Mayah approached me about the vests I knew I needed this tool. The other alternative would be to make buttonholes where the grommets should be but that's no fun or "authentic" now is it? And secretly, I've always wanted some grommet pliers. I will admit that I am a sucker for tools. Tools are just so darn fun! My obsession with tools actually goes well beyond sewing. I love all kinds of gadgets. I got really excited once over a sander. Yep, I'm a dork. But you should see our fence!


Grommet Pliers really need little explanation. To use them, basically you make a small hole through the fabric in the desired spot. Then you work the front piece of the grommet through the hole. Once through you place the back piece on and then pinch with the pliers. It couldn't be any easier.



I do have a couple pointers. First, I would recommend using an awl to help make the initial hole in the fabric. When putting grommets into fabrics that are delicate or have a tendency to snag I recommend using a sharp pair of small scissors to snip your hole, rather than using an awl. This will help maintain the integrity of the fabric. Additionally, take care when using the pliers to pinch the grommet together to fasten. Sometimes you can get a dud, or your pressure can be slightly off and the grommet won't come together correctly so always double check.


I know that grommet pliers won't be a tool I use daily. And probably won't be used very often at all but I'm glad I finally had an excuse to add it to my kit because tools are fun! Hope this helps! Do you have a great Tip, Tool or Technique that you'd like to share? Email me and I'll set you up to do a guest post on an upcoming edition of Triple "T" Tuesdays.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quilt Marathon: Month One


I've been getting back into the swing of things at work and it's caused a major dent in my sewing time. I hate when that happens. But I've actually been doing a lot of hand sewing lately (and probably will be for the next couple years!) because it's so easy to take with me on the go. On my birthday, some of you might remember, I started on an epic endeavor, my City Weekend Double Wedding Ring Quilt. I really need to find a better name for it. I am aware that this project will probably span a couple years. My goal is to have it finished before my 40th birthday.


Today marks the end of the first month on this project. And I have made some headway. There are so many little pieces and they all came jumbled together in one big bas so it took me a bit of time to sort through them all. But I thought it was important to have them separated because the intersection pieces are very similar to the outer ring pieces that join the rings to the intersections. I don't know what else to call them, so I hope I'm using the right terminology.

DWR Sketching

So, I mentioned that idea I had about changing up the centers and making it more scrappy. A couple days after that post, I was at my friend Ramona's house and she pulled me into her bedroom to show me her double wedding ring quilt. She had done a "scrappy" version and it gave me a great visual of how it could look and assured me that I wasn't crazy. Still, I went home and sketched out my idea. I think I just need the small, oval slices to stay consistent to make it work. I really would like to do a Kona Ash because gray is my favorite go-to neutral, but I think Know Snow would probably be a better choice because of the true white accents in the City Weekend line. I think it might get too muddy if I start introducing yet another color. I don't know. What do you think?


I started on the intersection pieces. My plan is to alternate the four patch intersection between the two square prints in the line. And I am happy to say that I got all of those pieces basted this month. It sounds like a bigger accomplishment than it is though. The paper piece kit I bought will make 36 blocks that measure 10" each, creating a 45" x 45" quilt. Honestly I think that's too small for what I want so I'm planning to possibly double the pattern. Go big or go home, right? (Talk to me in six months when I've decided that 45" is just fine.) But for now, that means I've got exactly half of the intersection pieces basted. I can't do the other half until I have the pattern pieces liberated.


After I finished those, which actually did feel good, I started on the mountain of teeny, tiny inner ring pieces. And it really looks like I've made a ton of headway with these, doesn't it?


Until you see how many are still left to go. But one month in and I'm making waves.


My husband thinks I'm completely insane. I keep the naked pieces and the completed intersections in a box in my studio so I don't lose anything. Then I keep the pieces I'm working on currently in my travel bag, along with needles, thread and scissors. This bag goes with me everywhere. And I mean everywhere. If I find myself with even a spare moment I quickly speed through basting a piece. My hands are always busy it seems. I even clocked myself when I was making the intersection pieces. I was basting one about every two minutes. The intersection pieces needed a little more precision at the corners. The smaller internal ring pieces move much faster, but there are much more of them. So there we are. One month in and many, many more to go. Let's just hope I'm not sick of the sight of it by the time I finish this marathon.