Jus a lil lovins…

There are few things more productive and powerful than a crew of creators with a passionate mission. So many of us have seen it, on either side of the line. 

Recently a friend of ours, Nisha Bouri, had an unusual, and quite honestly scary, illness. Thankfully she is doing better now, and is on the mend.  

When word began to spread amongst a dozen or so of us in the quilting community, it didn’t take long for several to step forward to organize an effort to show her we love her in the best way we know how.  

Image creds- Kim Martucci, weatherkim


Full disclosure here, I have very strong, very negative feelings about group sewing projects in general, so I was quick to offer Juan’s quilting services rather than making an actual block. And in the end, I’m so grateful that the rest of the makers trusted us with their offering of kindness and love. 


The quilt top was just stunning, and Juan and I both brooded over it for days before jumping in. We debated about an all-over pattern to kind of unify the message of the quilt, but in the end knew that Nisha would love it best if each block, and in turn each quilter, was given their day in the sun.




Seen enough?  I don’t think so. 

Photo creds- Karie Jewel, twokwikquilters

Photo creds- Karie Jewel, twokwikquilters

Photo creds- Karie Jewel, twokwikquilters


One more… The best one of all…

Photo creds- Amy Webb, amylouwhosews

“We’ll eat you up, we love you so!”*


I recently did a book review on Happy Quilts! by Antonie Alexander, which you can read by clicking here. At the same time that this title came across my desk, I also needed to make a baby quilt for a gift. And of course, being the efficient over achiever that I am, I also saw an opportunity to try a little something that Juan and I have been thinking about for a while. Three birds with one stone. Although I don’t really like killing birds, but you get the idea.

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From the book Happy Quilts!

I love children’s literature, and I love to give books as baby gifts. When I saw Alex’s pattern, “Wild Thing,” I was inspired, and wondered if I could do a small quilt inspired by both her pattern and the book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.


I had wanted to try quilting a background and adding raw edge applique after the fact, and the phrase “his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around” kept sticking in my head, so I thought I’d start there. I loaded the background on sideways into Juan’s arms and began searching for vine patterns. I found a few, and used a verigated thread that had green and brown in it (King Tut Bulrushes #910 by Superior Threads).


I took the quilt out of Juan’s hands and using fusible web, attached the applique pieces to the top. I used a Sizzix Big Shot Pro to cut out the moon, and hand copied three of the monsters from Alex’s “Wild Thing” pattern. I used colors that reminded me of the child’s book, and a very busy backing to hide any flaws in my little experiment.


Then I loaded the quilt back onto Juan so that I could use his programmed circles to stitch over the circle appliqués. Then I took the quilt away from Juan, again, and used a domestic machine (Ruthie) to blanket stitch around all of the raw edges.


I had some fine corduroy left from another project that was just perfect for the binding, although not the easiest stuff to stitch down by hand!  I use a thimble on my middle finger and a set of needle pullers on my index and thumb to help with the thickness.


I also made a stuffie from Alex’s book to go with the quilt, and he traveled around with me for a few days. Truthfully, he was difficult to let go of.


But in the end, I did let go, and I hope this sweet baby and his parents enjoy it!  Still, I might have to make my own stuffie.  Wild thing, you know.

*Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Sputnik!


A couple of months ago I acquired a few new toys from Sizzix and have been having a good time getting to know them. Last month we used the eclips2 to cut contact paper for glass etching as part of the Stuff Your Stocking event.

This month we have two quilt workshops coming up in the studio that use the Big Shot Pro die cut machine.  One of them is Sputnik, a raw edge applique quilt featuring circles cut using the Big Shot Pro.  Click here to see the free pattern from Sizzix, but note that we will only be using the circle die. Bring your fabrics ready to roll, but uncut.  We will fuse, cut and stitch during the workshop.

Juan and I have been talking about some things we want to experiment with, and I thought this quilt provided an opportunity. I wanted to see how Juan would do if I quilted the applique without stitching it down first. So, I put everything in place, then loaded it into Juan’s arms.


I wasn’t really sure how it would work because we have had some trouble with quilting through applique with fusible web. After talking to a few friends and getting a tip or two, we got rolling.


Not too bad. And this quilt was fun because almost all of the fabric, including the backing, was scrap.  The only new piece was the background, which is Kona Silver, and one of my favorites. It came together quickly, and I’m thinking of doing another one to have on hand as a baby gift. Or maybe several for charitable purposes. We shall see.

The other quilt we’ll be using the Big Shot Pro for is the Wave quilt by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. I’m planning on making mine this week, but here’s a preview from the free Sizzix pattern-


And how about this American flag version using the same die?  I’m thinking they both are pretty much fantastic.

Happy Quilts!  10 Fun, Kid-Themed Quilts and Coordinating Soft Toys

What better way to start a road trip than a book review?  Unless you get car sick when reading or sewing, in which case it’s a terrible way to start a long weekend. But I’m not car sick, and I digress. As usual.

Meet Antonie Alexander of theredbootquiltcompany.com. Isn’t she adorable?!?  Of course she is. How do I know she’s adorable?  Have I visited her in Brisbane?  Had a stirring quilt convo over vegemite sandwich?

Nope. But, I have met her through her creations in her book “Happy Quilts,” and I can promise you, she really is adorable.


Ignore my thumb and the car door. Instead, let’s talk about the Bedtime Superheroes quilt. Hello. Sixteen super heroes.  Boys. Girls. Perfection. And that softie.  Our college-bound daughter is obsessed.


Admittedly, I’m a bit of a softie newbie, so the superhero made me a bit nervous, but as you can see Toni included patterns for multiple levels of experience. This bear is super cute, and I can see doing several of these for gifts.

Oh, and I’m still on the way to Florida.


Toni’s book includes all of the templates on a disk, which is so much easier to deal with than a large printout or trying to photocopy from the book itself. I found the templates and directions to be well written and designed, so they were easy to follow.


Wild Things is my favorite quilt in this book, and I had to try my hand at the stuffie. Juliette conceded that it was pretty dang cute, and while she isn’t giving up on a collection of stuffed superheroes, she was delighted over a monster to take to college.


And so, let me introduce Sawyer. Ummm, yeah, not sure I wanna let either one of them go to college. Just sayin.


But that’s still a couple of weeks away. For now we’ll just enjoy a family cookout and gathering in Orlando, and maybe plot another project from “Happy Quilts.”

An editorial based on an editorial…

A very interesting and controversial editorial about the Modern Quilt Guild just came to my attention, and I started to share it on The Green Apricot Facebook page, but it occurred to me that it might be post-worthy. The blog article I’m referring to is “You can’t break up if there wasn’t a relationship in the first place” by Mandy Leins, and you should click this link to read it before continuing to read my post. 

 I currently belong to three guilds, including WAMQG, but I have no misgivings about the foibles and failings of quilt guilds at large, both traditional and modern. Leadership is often more of a dictatorship, and the membership is often lazy and demanding. Politics run rampant, feelings get hurt, bylaws are completely ignored or conveniently and quietly rewritten, and money is spent and decisions are made without bringing a motion to the floor for voting. 

But… Friendships are formed. Newbies and experienced ones are supported. Programs help with progress. Challenges bring both laughter and tears. And few things are as powerful as a group of quilters armed with sewing supplies and a charitable mission. 

So, join a guild. Or don’t. Quit your guild. Or don’t. But how about make a decision with your eyes open, and confident that you are being true to yourself by spending time doing things that matter to you with people, good or bad, that you can care for?  

I am not an MQG insider, and I did not know some of the details mentioned in this post. While in a lot of ways I think this is sad, I have to say I felt a bit relieved to read it because it put a voice to a number of concerns that have been crawling under my skin, but haven’t made themselves manifest. I’m a bit cautious these days when it comes to guilds, and frankly, any organized groups of people who try to define or pigeon-hole its members to the point of elitism, but I still find value in them. I also think that in the grand scheme of things, MQG is still very young, and it will be interesting to see how it forms and changes over time. And how exactly people who lie outside of its boundaries respond. 

It’s kind of exciting to witness it all. 

Well. That was fun. Albeit a bit stinky.

You know how this goes already.  Great idea.  Takes a lot of time.  Get it 75% done.  Move on to the next urgent project, but you’re gonna finish the first one as soon as you’re done.

Almost a year later, after you’ve moved the first project around twenty times, and threatened to finish it, you finally see a window of opportunity, and BAM!

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Letters in “Dont Thread On Me” from Jen Kingwell’s Carnival pattern

(Try to ignore the fact that the word thread is crooked.  I can’t, but maybe you can.)

Last fall we had a few days in The Green Apricot studio making these floor cloths.  We had a great time, and it was much easier to do in the studio space than it would have been to do it at home.  I didn’t finish the three that I began last fall, and when we had Stuff Your Stocking days at the studio last week, it hit me that I wanted to combine one of the projects with one of my unfinished floorcloths.

The whole process is a bit complicated because there are so many steps and a lot of dry time in between each, so I think we’ll do it a little differently next time.  And there will be a next time.

The first time I do a project like this, I follow the directions.  I know, shocking.  I do it with recipes too.  In the process I figure out what I think really works, and what shortcuts I can take.  We used the books Floorquilts! by Ellen Highsmith Silver and Beginner’s Guide to Floorquilts by Carolyn French.  Both are very similar as far as directions and products used.

I won’t go into detail about how exactly to make the floorcloths because I believe in obeying copyright laws, but I will say that after finally finishing the three I started last fall, there are a couple of things I would do differently.

All in all, I would advise following the directions in order to get the longest lasting floorcloth, but the main thing I would change is using a bit of fusible web to make the process easier.  For instance, in “Dont Thread On Me,” it would have been a bit easier to have fused the pieces of the letters together rather than trying to decoupage each part of the letters.  Also, in “United We Sew” I used fusible web (Steam A Seam II) to adhere the states and the outer border to the background.  It was much easier because I could arrange things, stand back and make sure I was pleased, then actually fuse them down.  I feel like I could have prevented the word thread on “Dont Thread On Me” from being crooked if I had been able to do that.

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The map used to make “United We Sew” came from the Flamingo Toes blogspot.

Steam A Seam II is a repositionable fusible web that doesn’t use an iron until you are ready to fuse everything in place.  I did a blog post about fusible webs recently, and you can click here to read The fuss about fusibles.  One of the bad/good things about this product is that the release papers have a tendency to want to release a bit too much, and can come apart easily.  This was perfect for building the border around my floorcloth.  I just peeled back one of the papers, temporarily stuck random fabrics to the exposed fusible, lined it up on my floorcloth, then fused down half of it lengthwise to the top, turned it over, and fused down the other half to the back.

Be sure to use two protective sheets when fusing, whether they be teflon sheets or just regular freezer paper.  Otherwise it is easy to get fusible on the iron or ironing surface.

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There are a number of processes, and stinky chemicals, involved in finishing out the floorcloths in order to make them both durable and safe.  I didn’t take pictures of each step of this, but you get the idea.  Above is one of the last steps- adding a nonslip product to the back to prevent it from sliding on slick floors.  It truly is a messy and smelly process, which actually makes it perfect for the studio.  Nothing to clean up at home because it’s all at The Green Apricot!

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This floorcloth is the perfect accent in an otherwise bland public restroom.

Jim Shore’s Angel Coloring Book: 55+ Glorious Folk Art Angel Designs for Inspirational Coloring

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When I saw this title come across my desk, I was immediately reminded of when I first saw Jim Shore’s artwork coming into the quilting scene.  I was thinking that it was the late 1990s, but looking at his bio it was more likely the early 2000s.  My quilting peeps and I were all pretty excited to see the brightly colored sculptures, all clearly indicating a heavy influence from quilting.  Currently some of my favorites are from his Peanuts and Disney lines (I really want Pete’s Dragon), but I remember that when they first came widely available, I was crazy for so many of Jim’s Santa designs.  His Angel designs have also been hugely popular over the years, and this new coloring book gives Jim Shore fans the opportunity to be a part of his design process.

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Jim’s work is known to have multiple themes and intricate designs, so there is plenty and enough on each page to scratch a creative itch.  And in keeping with his style, there are additional elements to color, cut out and add to each angel for a 3D creation.  At 8 1/2″ x 10″, this one is perfect for sliding into your carry-on bag for the plane, or your weekend bag to the cabin.  Grab your favorite pack of colored pencils and a cuppa something yummy to drink, and get ready to relax for a few.

Click any of the links above for more info on Jim Shore, and get your copy of his coloring book at the Interweave Store.