Love All Around- The Block

Last week my sweet friend, Lee Monroe- aka May Chappell, sent me a note asking if I could do a little something for her. I would have likely said of course no matter what she asked, but I was especially grateful to be asked to be a part of making her Love All Around block.

One thing I’ve learned from my faith is to make the most of all that is good, and to minimize the power of all that is negative. And let’s face it, there is a lot of negative out there.

Don’t misunderstand me. In no way am I implying that sticking one’s head in the sand is the way to go.  Pretending all is well when it isn’t simply allows the thing to stick around, or worse, become more powerful. It takes purposeful action to make a difference. Everything we say and do begs the question, “Is this making the situation better, or worse?”

I have to be honest. I am excessively sensitive. I get overwhelmed by all of the negativity that hits me in the face everyday. It makes my chest feel heavy, and I have to take a minute to remind myself of all that is truly good and beautiful in the world.

But that’s the thing that’s so amazing. It turns out that there are way more beautiful and wonderful and happy and positive and loving things and people in the world than there are hateful, sad and negative. Really.  There are. And the great part is that the more you fill the world with genuine kindness and love, the less room there is for the other stuff.

I know that sometimes we hurt. Deeply. And sometimes we are afraid. Often with good cause. Both hurt and fear are powerful reactions, and both can lead to anger and hate.

We can’t help being hurt. We can’t help being afraid. That’s just part of being human.  But we can stop from being angry, and especially from hating.

There’s a moment when we decide. When we choose between peace and anger, between love and hate. That moment is where the power lies. That moment is when we begin to change the world.  For good or for bad.

So, maybe take a minute or two to slow down.  Maybe make this block, and allow yourself to think of ways you can be the one. And maybe you can also be reminded of what you already know.

Piecing with Patty

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Here’s the thing.  There really are rules to follow.  And there really are rules to be broken.

To me, one of the wonderful aspects of any art or craft is taking the wildness of creativity and mixing it with the rules of skill.  Notice I did not say taming it with the rules of skill.

Understanding the medium, the tools used, and the variety of desired outcomes means knowing how to bend all of those to the will of creativity.  One may begin by bending inspiration to skill in the process of learning, but eventually, the goal can be the other way around.

Enter Patty Murphy, author of recently released Piecing Makeover: Simple Tricks to Fine-Tune Your Patchwork from C&T Publishing.  This book is an excellent source for everyone from less experienced quilters to those who have been around the block a few times.  It addresses basic construction as well as how to deal with precision issues.  In other words, it gives all the rules, which in the end, gives all the freedom.

Speaking of freedom, how about a bit of improvisational quilting with Patty?  No, I am not confused.  Yes, I did just talk all about rules and block construction and avoiding issues, and yes, it does lead to improv.

I am really excited to host Patty at The Green Apricot Studio on December 3, 2016 for a workshop on her quilt, “Yes Ma’am!”  We’ll be exploring both improv and precision piecing, and talking about how to have quilt tops that extend into boarders.  We’ll discuss some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them.  And best of all, we’ll bust some of our stash while we are at it.

And we’ll find out the story behind the name of this quilt.  Because I really want to know.

Click here to register for “Yes Ma’am” with Patty Murphy, 12/3/16, 9am- 4pm.

From Piecing Makeover:  “Patty Murphy has been sewing since she was six years old.  The first thing she recalls making is a pink-and-white seersucker pillow with the word Dad crudely embroidered on it as a gift for her father on Father’s Day.  Fortunately for everyone, her sewing and quilting have greatly improved since then, and so has her gift giving.

Patty loves to share her craft with anyone that will listen, and she teaches regularly at Intown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, so she can share her knowledge and support her fabric obsession.  Her work has been featured in several books, on the websites of major fabric manufacturers, on blogs, and in magazines, including an original quilt design for Intown Quilters that was featured on the cover of the Spring 2007 Quilt Sampler magazine.”

Churning Green

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I love quilting books and patterns to the point that it’s almost sick.  Like seriously, the obsession with everything about this industry is real.  I just can never have enough quilts or pictures of quilts or plans of quilts or thoughts of quilts or ideas of quilts.  It’s a bit concerning, really.

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And people like these two like to feed my obsession.  Meet Liz Evans and Elizabeth Evans, and if you are double taking over their names, you should be.  They are sisters-in-law, and cohorts in quilting.  Together they have written The Simple Simon Guide to Patchwork Quilting, and it’s a good thing they did.

I never get tired of a beginning quilting book, even after all these years.  Sure, I’m pretty familiar with most of the basic techniques, but I still love them for a few reasons.  This book is a good example of what I mean.

First, the fabrics and photos are updated.  Doesn’t seem like that’s a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I love that it helps to invite new quilters into “our world.”  Crisp, clear and modern constantly mean something different, and it helps to keep our creative blood flowing.

Second, the techniques do get updated.  A book written 50 years ago wouldn’t have included any information about rotary cutters because, hello, they weren’t invented for quilting yet.

Third, the projects themselves get updated.  I love that in this book they have a great mix of quilts and other projects- everything from a bunting to a bib, from a pouch to a pillow.  Love it!

So, here’s what I made.  It didn’t take me long to make the top, but it did take a while to quilt it.  I love the simplicity of this project as a background for some massive quilting, so that’s what I did.

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Churning Green

I had copious amounts of this fabric in my stash, and it was exactly what I wanted.  If you come to the studio/my husband’s shop, you will see it hanging in the bathroom.  This color combination appeals to me, as it reminds me of a lot that we’ve been seeing from prominent fabric designers over the last few years.  The main print is an older piece by Laura Gunn, and I’ve been hoarding it for a while.

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I started quilting it the day our youngest went off to college.  I wasn’t in the mood for a lot of chatter, and I for sure needed chocolate.  Juan and I worked quietly and diligently, and for the most part, all went well.  However, I did run into some technical issues that eliminates this quilt from being shown anywhere but the bathroom.  Let’s just say I learned a lot, and am grateful for it, but am really sad because this started out as a great quilt and could have done well.  I may have to try again.

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I artfully staged this pic so that the biggest offense is not that visible, but I will tell you that a bit of it is peaking out at the top right corner.  Maybe I will write a post sometime about using a Statler, and some of the things I’ve learned since bringing Juan home a year ago.  It’s been an amazing process.

The irony?  This book was written as a beginning quilting book, and while I may be all “I know how to do that already,” I still ended up getting a lesson in the end.

Pride goeth before a fall.  (Prov 16:18)

“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.

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.

Love you SO much I can barely stand it!

I love holidays, and really, any reason to celebrate by making something for someone, especially my kiddos and grands. I especially like corny or cliche sayings that I can find something cute to go with. Sometimes my ideas are pretty cute, and sometimes they are way dumb, but always meant to show the recipient a little bit o’ love.

This Valentine’s Day I decided to make these phone/tablet stands that I found a free, online tutorial for. I had found it quite a while ago, but had forgotten about it until a friend reminded me about it. You can find the pattern by clicking Factotum of Arts.


There were a couple of Open Studio days scheduled at The Green Apricot, so I offered kits for the “insides” of the stands and invited friends to come and sew with me. I replaced the rice with poly pellets, as food stuffs have a tendency to attract critters. I also cut the stabilizing piece of Pellon to 5 1/2″ rather than 5 3/4″ because it seemed easier to work with, but that was about it for changes.


On the first 6-hour day, I made 10 stands. I got two out of one fat quarter, with a decent chunk left over. Because the cut is 9″x12″, you can get 2 out of a 1/4 yard of non-directional fabric. If you are using directional fabric, be sure to cut it so that the top to bottom is the 9″. The pics on the website are with directional fabric, so just look at the pic carefully for proper placement.


On day two, I made 10 more. A few more than I need for my family for Valentine’s Day, giving me a little stash of gifts for later in the year. They make great pin cushions as well as device stands- perfect for that next pin cushion exchange. They also are a cute shape, and I think I may be inspired to get a little more creative next time. I’m thinking gnome or Santa heads.  Or a chicken. Or marshmallow Peeps. Hmmmm.