Don’t Be a Chicken- Birds of a Feather will Flock Together

AKA- Go to the retreat even though you don’t know anyone- it will be amazing…

I’m not gonna lie.  I’m crazy addicted to social media.  Instagram is by far my favorite.  I discovered Instagram in the Fall of 2013, and not long after my obsession began, I found an open registration for a quilt retreat that actually was planned for a location in my own backyard.  It was the second annual Stash Bash, put on by Chris Warnick, also known as Frecklemama.

I was loving the other IG users that were signing up for the Stash Bash, and travel wasn’t going to be an issue, so I thought “Why not?”  Never mind that I did not know a soul that was going to be there, couldn’t figure out how on earth a Google group worked, and wasn’t quite sure what exactly to expect when I got there.  When April 2014 rolled around and it was time to pack up to go, I actually had the wrong dates in my calendar, had no idea who I was going to bunk with, and really didn’t understand what I was supposed to do for a secret sewing pal.  I was a nervous wreck by the time I got there and started setting up, and it seemed that maybe all I could hope and pray for was a productive sewing weekend.

Well, it was a productive sewing weekend, but it turned out to be way more than that.  I met some amazing people while I was there, and we talked, sewed, ate and laughed.  And I don’t just mean tee-hee-hee kind of laughing.  I mean tears, falling out of chairs, I-think-I-just-peed-a-little, makes-me-giggle-a-little-now-just-to-think-about-it kind of laughing.  And the friendships.  And the creative inspiration.  And the encouragement.  My stars, it was a great weekend.

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Click on the link for info about Stash Bash 2015

A few of these amazing creators live “locally”, which is a pretty generalized term in the quilting world.  One of them happens to be Kristi McDonough of Schnitzel & Boo who hosts the insanely popular IG mini quilt swap known as… you guessed it… #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap, or #makeaquiltmakeafriend. Kristi and I don’t live too far from one another, so when our schedules allow it, we get together from time to time to sew.

Of course, most of the time we aren’t that productive because we are too busy chatting, eating, or buzzing around town in her Mini Cooper or my Miata MX5.  We’re just cool like that.

But yesterday we actually got some stuff done.  I was impressed.

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Getting to know Kristi, Chris, Safieh, Nisha, Becky, Karie, Lee, Jenny, Elizabeth, and all the other amazing people that I only know by their IG names has been one of the highlights of this year for me.  And that’s saying a lot because it’s been a really good year.  I feel more confident in my own creative skin than I can ever remember, and so much of that happened when I started praying for help to plow through my fears.

So, the moral of the story is, if you have the chance to extend yourself just a little bit more, take it.  It will be worth every anxiety-ridden moment.

 

Charmed Jelly Placemats by Gnome Angel

IMG_6258I know, it isn’t a placemat- I will get to that in a minute…

In June of 2014 Gnome Angel (aka Angie Wilson from Canberra, Australia) posted on Instagram that she was looking for a few pattern testers.  I was fortunate to catch her post early, and totally wanted on that bandwagon!  So, in between our crazy summer travels, which by the way are always crazy, I whipped out this way cute table runner using her pattern for placemats.

IMG_5035Her pattern is called Charmed Jelly Placemats, and you can find out more about it by clicking here.  It’s really a cute pattern that works up quickly and is perfect for fussy cutting scraps.  They didn’t take much time at all, and I have plans for the future… gifts maybe?

For the pattern test I had a really great line of fabric that I wanted to showcase that worked perfectly for summer.  However, I really pictured this as a table runner rather than a set of placemats, so with Gnome Angel’s blessing I plowed on!

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I cut scrap batting to use to quilt each of the four blocks.

I wanted to make the table runner reversible, and wanted to try an idea that had been floating around in my brain for a bit.  So, instead of sewing all of the blocks together, layering and then quilting, I actually quilted each block individually, sans the backing.

This made it possible to do a different kind of quilting on each block, which was pretty fun.  I then chose a different backing for each block and cut the backing to fit.  The trick with this is to layer everything correctly to sew it together with each block and backing made from different fabrics and using different quilting.  After sewing the different blocks and backing together, I quilted it just a little bit more to secure the backing, and then bound it to finish.

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Now, I know full well that that was clear as mud.  I promise to do a tutorial on this method, which is a great way to use leftover batting, at a later date.  I even think it could be used for a larger project, but I have to play with the idea a little.

I hope that you will scoot on over to Gnome Angel’s site and check her out.  I especially love her Sew & Tell page, and what a fabulous blog layout!  Enjoy!

Not a WIP anymore-

IMG_6359I started this project quite a while ago.  I was totally engrossed by the colors in this line of fabric from the first time I saw it.  Backyard Baby was designed by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller, and I don’t think I can get enough of it.  I didn’t have a reason to buy it or anyone to make anything for, but I couldn’t resist finding a reason to work with it.

IMG_6373So, I started this baby quilt using the traditional Indian Hatchet block.  It sat on my design wall for a long time, just making me happy.  Then I got an invitation to a baby shower, and the deal was sealed.

IMG_6266I hadn’t been sure how to quilt it, but was thankfully struck by inspiration.  I decided I wanted the quilting to loosely follow the design of the hatched block, so I “freehanded” straight diagonal and vertical lines throughout the quilt.  I was pleased with the outcome, although I was also reminded of why I am looking forward to having a longarm machine one day!

IMG_6375Once it was complete, I sent one of our daughters out with quilt and camera in hand and told her to take a few good ones.  I really love her perspective.  One of these days we will get a decent camera.  As well as a longarm quilting machine.

Being a little Frank about things.

I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s work.  I don’t like to pick favorites because when I like something or someone, it is usually because of the unique aspects of that thing or person, and claiming favorites to me is like comparing apples to oranges.  Which do you like better?  Well, I don’t like one more than another because I like them for totally different reasons.

So, I don’t know that I would say he is my favorite, in part because I don’t have favorites, but also because I don’t know enough about art and architecture to make such a claim.  However, I would say that I love his work.  Everything I have ever seen by him I have loved.  Clean lines.  Simple design with bold impact.  Neat and tidy.  Exploding with beauty.  I just love it.

So, you could say his work inspires me.  I’ve wanted to do some quilting in his style for quite some time, but have never had a good excuse to try it.  Until I needed a birthday gift.  What better excuse than that?

It needed to be relatively small- 5″x7″ to be exact, so I knew this would present some challenges, but I was really excited about trying.

IMG_7115I thought the easiest way to do it would be foundation piecing, so I sketched out the idea I had on a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper using the 1/4″ and 1/8″ markings on my Creative Grids rulers.  It took some planning to include seam allowances, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work.  I’ve done improv foundation piecing before, but never one that I wanted to actually be precise.

IMG_7116Next I dug into my scrap bins.  I chose batiks for this project because I wanted the translucent look of stained glass.  Again, I had no idea how this was going to turn out but I just went for it.

I went about my work in the usual foundation piecing way- I cut my design into five sections that I would later sew together.  I started in the center of the larger piece, working my way to the outer edges and making sure I had at least 1/4″ hanging off of each side for piecing the two sections together and for putting into a frame.  Then on the four smaller pieces I started at one corner and worked to the other corner, alternating which directions my seams were going in for easier “nesting” when I sewed the sections together.

IMG_7125In the process of doing this, I learned something that I hadn’t known before regarding foundation piecing.  Because these lines were SO tiny, it was really important to try to get the seams as straight and correct as possible.  I didn’t accomplish this perfectly, but I think I will get better over time.  Anyway, I discovered that it was much easier to stay on the drawn lines of my pattern if I used an open toe foot instead of my usual quarter inch foot.  It allowed me to be able to see needle placement much better and I was able to stitch on the line much easier.  That open toe foot sure gets used a lot in my studio.  (Think of that last sentence as if you don’t know any sewing terms.  Oh boy.)

IMG_7120Overall I was pleased with the finished product, but I have to admit there were a few things I would do differently next time.  And there will be a next time.

IMG_7126Remember that neat little stack of batik scraps that I showed you earlier?  Yeah, if you are familiar with foundation piecing, you know how that pile looks after the fact…

IMG_7128Creative carnage.

 

I hate it when people call me crafty.

I can’t help it.  It just sounds like an insult.  Belittling.  Condescending.  A completely inept description of what goes on in my brain and in my life.  Crafty.  Bleh. But crafty, unfortunately, is what came to mind as I thought about writing this post.  I’m working on being more disciplined when it comes to blogging, so I know I need to write, but none of my current quilt projects are at a point where I want to write about them yet.  So, instead, here are a few of the goodies I’ve been working on lately.  I hope it doesn’t make me seem too crafty.

First up-

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Scarves-  I recently learned how to arm knit, which is a lot of fun.  The scarves shown above are listed on my Etsy site, which you can find on the right of this post, or by clicking here.  If you want to learn how to do it yourself, I found a great video that taught me how.  Just click the photo below and it will take you to it.

  IMG_6680Next-

IMG_6766This was a work in progress (WIP) that’s been hanging about for way too long.  Like years.  And the only reason it’s been around that long is that while I love making motifs, I do not love sewing them together.  So, it’s been complete, but in parts, for a long time.  I don’t know what my hangup is about this, but I don’t plan on any motif-style crochet for quite a while.  Also, this is the third time I’ve made this particular project, and it is now in the “never again” category in my brain.

Then there was this-

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Birthday preparations.  Because that’s what Grandmas do.

And why not this?-

IMG_6784Because if you are going to make one tutu, why not make another?  I can’t wait to see her pictures in this one!

Last one-

IMG_7008They look tiny in this picture, but these bags are actually about 14″ x 13″.  They are for the grands- for trick-or-treat, going to the library, or hauling around whatever their little hearts desire.  I was really excited about making these, and it should have been a pretty quick project- just some fusible applique and a little button hole stitching.  Well, there’s a reason I’m not posting a close up of these babies.  First, I forgot myself and I made the bags BEFORE I did the applique.  That made stitching it down loads of fun.  Second, I used Heat N Bond Ultra, because other than the stash of Steam A Seam 2 Lite that I am hording, that’s all I had.  I figured it was a small project, no biggie, I’ll just use the Heat N Bond Ultra.  Just this once.  Oy.  My needle gummed up every couple of inches, which made my machine start to skip stitches.  It took twice as long as it should have.  Then when I was filling in stitches by hand because I was fed up with the machine, I actually broke a hand-sewing needle.  Yes, broke it.

I’m so glad Steam A Seam 2 is back in production.

Well, that does it for me.  What about you?  Feeling crafty? Hahahahahahahaha!

Hijacked Hashtag

So, I really love a good hashtag.  #iknowtheyaredumb #ilikethemanyway #jimmyfallon #signofourtimes #youknowyouwannadoittoo

I am a member of the Stash Bee, and September 2014 was my turn to be the Queen.  Being the Queen just means that it is your turn to post a tutorial of a block, and assuming you wrote good directions, your hive mates all make your block and send it to you.  It’s pretty fun, and while I have been late sending my blocks in more than once, and even switched two of my hive mates packages, I think I am finally getting the hang of it.  Now that it is in the last quarter of the year.  #whatever #hopetheyletmecomeback #imovercommitted

So, I thought I might repost my Stash Bee post here, but of course, I can’t seem to figure out how exactly to do that.  #copyandpasteitis #technologyescapesmesometimes  If you are interested, there is a button on the sidebar of this blog that will take you to the Stash Bee so you can see what the Hives have been up to.  But until then, here’s my post-

What is your name? Angela Gubler, also known as The Green Apricot
Where do you live? Just south of Atlanta, Georgia
Tell us about your family. I’m very grateful to have been married to a wonderful man for the last 7 ½ years. We have very busy lives between work, church and children, so we like to travel at least a couple of times a year to get away a little bit. We have seven kids between us. Only one boy, who happens to be in the middle of serving a two-year mission in Brazil. When we got married the kids were between the ages of 8-18, and six of them lived with us. With a dog. Since then we have very sadly lost the dog, but gained two SILs, three incredible grandchildren, and three granddogs, although it is probably a little extreme to claim the dogs. It’s a great, albeit crazy and sometimes difficult, life.

CollageTell us about how you got interested in quilting. My first experiences with quilting were when I was a teenager. We tied quilts at church activities for people who were having babies, and once for a women’s shelter. That was it. I was hooked on my two favorite things. Quilting and service. I played around with the idea of quilting for a few years, and then took my first class when I was pregnant with my first child (the only boy). That class was almost 22 years ago.
How do you organize your fabric stash? “Organized” is such a loose term, don’t you think? Haha- I will put it this way- you may walk into my studio and think it isn’t organized, but believe me, it is, and if you move anything, I might have to hurt somebody. Seriously, I do keep most of my fabric in two large PAX wardrobe units from IKEA. I fitted each with pullout drawers and shelving so that I could see the stash fairly easily, although I do have to stand on a stool for the top ones. Other than that, I still have a couple of plastic bins I am trying to whittle down and get rid of, and I also have lingering piles here and there that are WIPs. As for what order the fabrics are in, they are mostly grouped by either intended projects or style. For instance, there is a whole drawer of 3 Sisters by Moda (very traditional, I know), a drawer of batiks, a drawer of novelties, a drawer of moderns, etc.

Collage Fabric StorageWho is/are your favorite fabric designers? I know this is dumb, but I really don’t have favorites. I love fabric. I love traditional. I love modern. I love it all. But, I do have an autographed poster of Kaffe in my studio.
What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting? That’s a hard question because it really has been such an evolution, but I think proper binding is probably it. While I don’t know that my binding is absolutely perfect now, but that’s what bothers me most about my old quilts. (I have one that the binding is about 1/4″ finished. I struggled with that one.)
What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it? Any ruler made by Creative Grids. I love rulers. I have a hoard of them. And every time I pick one up that wasn’t produced by Creative Grids, I think to myself “I wish Creative Grids made this ruler.” They are well made, and I love the nonslip pads on them. I also love that they are marked well. They also make so many specialty rulers, and I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t like.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Most of my life, until just a few months ago, I would answer this question with Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. You only have to know me a few minutes to know why this is true. Even though I don’t have red hair. But, I have to say that after years of badgering by my daughters to read the Twilight series, I finally did a few months ago. I didn’t love the movies, so I didn’t think I would like the books, but I was totally wrong. Loved them. Now I think that Bella Swan is my favorite. Not very deep, I know, but real life is crazy enough, I’m okay with a little candy when it comes to my fiction.

IMG_6554So, I’m pretty excited about this tutorial. I love goofy hashtags, even though I know people think it’s lame. I couldn’t care less. I love them. Hence this block- Hijacked Hashtag. There are probably real patterns out there, but I thought of this one a few months ago and thought it couldn’t be easier, so it would be perfect for Stash Bee. Look out, this block is addicting and easy- I made 4 in less than an hour.

My only rules-
1) Have fun and let go, but to be successful, read all of the directions first.
2) Use quality fabrics and 1/4″ seam allowance.
3) Stick with neutral fabrics (greys, tans, blacks, creams, etc.), and the background should be lighter than the hashtag.
4) Do not, I repeat, do not, trim down your block. I will trim when I have all of the blocks and can see how much they vary in size. I hope to be able to have 10″ unfinished blocks, so if you can keep that in mind, it would be great.
5) Use rotary cutting tools, but keep in mind that you aren’t really worried about measuring as much as you are about cutting straight. While the cuts themselves must be straight, they do not have to be parallel to the edge of the block. In fact, I would prefer if there is a little wonk to your cut. This will scare the crap out of some people, but I promise, it will be okay.

For one block, you will need:
(1) 10″ square of background fabric
(4) 3/4″-2″ x 15″ strips of hashtag fabric (careful not to cut them smaller or larger than the indicated sizes)

hashtag 1Block construction:
1) Using rotary cutting tools, make a vertical cut through the background fabric square about 2-2 1/2″ from one edge. You may want to use a pin to mark either side of the cut so that if your pieces get turned around, you will know which is which.

IMG_65452) Now that you have two pieces of background fabric, sew each one to either side of one strip of hashtag fabric by lining up top edges. (In making this block, always line up top edges.) Press seam allowances to the dark.

IMG_65463) Repeat step 1 from the opposite side of the first hashtag mark.
4) Repeat step 2 using another strip of hashtag fabric.

IMG_65475) Rotate block so that the hashtag marks are now horizontal.
6) Repeat steps 1 and 2.

hashtag 27) Repeat steps 3 and 4.

hashtag 38) You’re done!  At this point, I square my blocks up to 10″, but you could play with that number a bit if you’d like to make your blocks even more unique.  #fabulous

If my directions were clear, this should be a super easy block and not take much time at all. I hope you enjoy!

A Tale of Two Tools- Flying Geese

In my last post I talked about progress on my Modern Medallion project, which is constructed in what I would call a round robin formation. Essentially, instead of making blocks that are then arranged in a pleasing order and sewn together, a center is created first and borders added until the desired size is reached.  One of the borders of the Modern Medallion is made of a formation of wonky flying geese.

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Click on the pic above for more info about this project

I already talked about how I made these flying geese in the other post, so why am I revisiting this now?  Education.  The more you know, the better you do, and I know I am grateful for all I have been taught.  It makes me want to share what I know because knowledge is power, and I believe we are made to be powerful.

 Options . . .

In my collection of rulers I have three that are designed for flying geese.  All three of the rulers use a method that creates 4 geese at once.  Two of the three are by the same designer and work the same way, they just make different sized geese, so I actually only have two different tools.  To many of you, that may still seem a little extreme, because how many different ways do you need to make flying geese?  Actually, I find that having both is pretty handy, and I want to share with you why.

Both tools make 4 geese by beginning with one large square, which becomes the four “geese”, and four small squares, which becomes the background.  With this method, the four geese are always the same fabric, but the background can vary as desired.  (If you use four small squares of the same fabric, the backgrounds will all be the same, if you use different fabrics for the small squares, the backgrounds will be different.

FGX4_large2Above is the ruler that I used to make my flying geese for the Modern Medallion, “Flying Geese x 4″ by Lazy Girl Designs.  The geese I needed for the pattern were not a standard size, and I wanted mine to be a little crazy anyway, so I made the geese larger than needed by following the directions on the ruler and then trimmed them to the desired size.  You can see more about how I did this by clicking here.

What I like about this ruler is that you don’t have to really do much math.  The ruler has a sort of template printed on it as pictured below-

FGX4_large22Simply select one of the 12 desired finished sizes (the size the geese will be when sewn into a quilt top), then find the coordinating letter for the large and small squares on the ruler.  Using the ruler as a template, cut out 1 large square for every 4 small squares, then follow the instructions on the booklet that comes with the ruler for proper layout, sewing and cutting.  The advantage to this ruler is scraps.  You can easily cut squares from scraps using the ruler as a template, rather than strip cutting copious amounts of the same fabrics.  Technically, you don’t need the ruler to cut the right size squares, but it is VERY handy when dealing with scraps.

Here’s honesty in quilting and blogging.   I have always stunk at using this ruler.  Until I made wonky, crazy, ornery geese with it.  I finally figured out why I couldn’t get accuracy.  Are you familiar with the term “scant 1/4″?  Well, when you use this ruler, get unfamiliar with it.  Quick.  The cuts are precise, and the 1/4″ seam used to sew them together needs to be as well, or it just won’t come out to the correct size.  It’s just that simple.

So, what if you are okay with cutting strips for your geese and backgrounds (so you don’t need the template), and maybe you’re 1/4″ seam allowance isn’t quite 100% accurate?  What then?  How about these babies-

The “Wing Clipper” and “Wing Clipper II” are by Deb Tucker of Studio 180.  If you want more info about this designer and how to order products, click here.  The “Wing Clipper” and “Wing Clipper II” use the same technique as “Flying Geese x 4″ in that 4 flying geese are created at once using one large square and four small squares.  But that’s where the similarities end.  Between these rulers, there are 19 sizes of flying geese that can be made.  Rather than using the ruler as a template for cutting the squares needed to make the geese, the measurement requirements for the large and small geese are given in a chart in the booklet that accompanies the rulers.  While some of the finished sizes of geese created by these rulers are the same as the ones created by “Flying Geese x 4″, the size of the large and small squares is not the same.  The “Wing Clipper” rulers give directions for cutting larger than necessary squares so that when the 4 flying geese units are created, they can be trimmed to accurate sizes.  The rulers themselves have markings to line up the angles on the geese so that trimming is accurate, and you are left with perfect flying geese and a pile of goose droppings.  (I hope you giggled.  It made me giggle.)

So, if your 1/4″ seam has a tendency to be a little skinny or a little chubby, the “Wing Clipper” rulers can still help you to make accurate flying geese.

In Conclusion . . .

This feels like the longest blog post ever.  Probably because I’ve been trying to write it between driving missionaries around town, getting my girls ready for Youth Conference, going to a funeral, getting shopping done and preparing to teach a class tomorrow.  But alas, it was all worth it if you feel like you learned a little something.  So, please do leave a comment and let me know if this was helpful!  (Please be honest, but also be kind.  Thank you.)