Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Swoon" + Moda's Daydream = Dwoon!

What comes first when you start a new project: the pattern or the fabric?

I've fallen deeply and hopelessly in love with Swoon by Thimble Blossoms, a quilt with a modern take on the classic Carpenter's Star/Dutch Rose quilt block. (UPDATE: It's now available here!) Though I often fall in love with quilts that are a little above my skill level, Swoon is deceptively easy—the hardest parts are half-square triangles and flying geese which I'll be making with Creative Grid's two-in-one half-square/quarter-square triangle ruler to save fabric and take away any sewing "guesswork". (Learn how to make more accurate HSTs and QSTs here!)
"Swoon" by Thimble Blossoms -  The Quilt Patch
Coincidentally, around the same time I started following the Swoon-along's hashtag on Instagram, #swoonalong, one of our new arrivals at The Quilt PatchModa's fantastical Daydream by Kate Spain—caught my eye.
Daydream by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics - The Quilt Patch
Spain's trademark palette of rich and vibrant colors brings her fantasy-filled doodles and drawings to life on fabric; playing perfectly with one another in any combination.

So, in a moment of temporary insanity, I offered to make my first-ever shop sample! (You can follow my progress on Instagram.) Since Swoon is fat-quarter friendly, 18-piece FQ bundles of Daydream are available in-shop and will be online soon. As for the pattern, it's on backorder, but will be available by next week.

Now, I'm going to be better at posting more frequently, but blogging seems to be the thing on my ever-growing to-do list that's always pushed back. (._.) However, in between blog posts, you'll find me on Instagram, posting in-progress shots of my projects, photos of new fabric arrivals, and pictures of E. Follow me on Instagram!
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After I finish my Daydream-filled Swoon (nicknamed Dwoon since I can't say it aloud without giggling), I'll be starting something called the The Sibling Project. What's that, you ask? For the time being, I'm gonna be mysterious and fill you in on that a little bit later. ;)


Friday, January 31, 2014

Busy, Busier, Busiest

Things got a little hairy at the end of 2013, and I couldn't spare one iota of time for my blog or, really, much else. With E's first birthday came a year's worth of cleaning crammed into three days and the stress of planning our first child's first birthday party. (Tip: Don't give birth to children in late December.) On top of all of that we attended a bunch of holiday gatherings while juggling E's sensitive (read: terrible) and unpredictable (read: super terrible) sleeping schedule.

Alas, we made it through the hurried madness of December and are getting back on track, taking deep breaths of the polar vortex-y air of a new year. I've spent the better part of 2014 busy, adding new inventory to the website, but it's hard to keep up because new Moda collections are (seemingly) delivered every other day! Which is your favorite?

Moda Giggles - Me and My Sister Designs -  The Quilt Patch
Moda Sweet Serenade - BasicGrey -  The Quilt Patch

Moda Wishes - Sweetwater -  The Quilt Patch

Moda Weave - Moda Fabrics - The Quilt Patch

Moda SoHo Chic - Sandy Gervais -  The Quilt Patch

Moda Daydream - Kate Spain -  The Quilt Patch

Moda Kansas Troubles Favorites II - Kansas Troubles Quilters -  The Quilt Patch

I'm planning to finish up adding more yardage and two more pre-cuts—Charms and Mini Charms—of SoHo Chic today, and beef up our stock of BasicGrey fabric with our favorite picks from their newest line, Little Black Dress 2 (UPDATE: AVAILABLE NOW!), a really lovely collection of neutrals that reminds me of wallpaper (in a good way). (: If I'm really on it, I'll have layer cakes, jelly rolls, charms, and mini charms of Sweet Pea by Kansas Troubles Quilters added this weekend, too. 

Oh, and I PROMISE photos of Busy Blocks and my Doctor Who quilt are forthcoming. You might even get to see it first if you follow me on Instagram. ;) Speaking of my DW quilt, it needs a really good name since it's an original and will be available as a pattern (in some sense) within the next couple months. I've referred to it as 'TARDIS in Flight' to a few people, but the moniker lacks the nerdy oomph I crave. Suggestions?

Also coming soon to a computer or mobile device near you is an extensive bias binding tutorial to accompany our popular YouTube video on the same subject

- Teri

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Busy Blocks: The quilt top is DONE!

Aside from lots (and lots and lots) of ironing, the quilt top for Busy Blocks is done!

E kept walking in front of the camera so I readjusted it to include him in the photograph. This won't be the last photo of E and his quilts! Perhaps I should start taking suggestions for my next pattern/project?

You didn't think I was going to leave you with a just one little blurry photo of E, did you? He's been nonstop ever since he took his first steps on Halloween at about ten months old.

No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you—E is wearing a different outfit.
I didn't get around to taking a full shot of the quilt top until this morning.
I finished the quilt top yesterday afternoon and after a close inspection by E, we drove straight to The Quilt Patch to choose backing fabric.

Since I came it right at closing and didn't want to occupy a creepily-silent fabric shop in the dark all by me onesies, I went straight to the flannels, in search of a bright bolt that match the colors and "personality" of my quilt.

After little to no internal debate—which is weird for me—I cut off three yards of the cherry-red flannel chevrons from Ann Kelle's Remix Flannel fabric collection by Robert Kaufman. (If you love this fabric as much as I do, there's still ten yards or more left in-shop and online.)
Robert Kaufman Remix Flannel: Cherry Chevrons (AAKF-10394-99)
It's very youthful and matches the red and white Dear Stella confetti dot on the quilt top like a dream. (It doesn't really look like it two photos ago, but the reds are nearly the exact same shade.)

All that's left to do is decide whether to quilt it myself or let the long-armers work their magic. I really do want to quilt it myself, but I don't think I can have it done by Xmas or E's birthday (which are only two days apart). Either way, I have to make a choice very soon.

What would you do if you were in my shoes? That shouldn't be too hard since I'm sure every quilter has felt the time crunch around the holidays and been torn between projects! I really, really want to work on my TARDIS quilt and have it done by Xmas too. Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sshhh---don't tell!

I've been working on a quilt project so secretive I'm not technically supposed to be writing this very post until after December 25, but I have to share just one blurry iPhone photo!

My sewing room does triple duty as my home office and Eddie's play room. You'll also notice it's a fine space to pass out on nearly-completed quilts after eight hours of on-and-off sewing, stitch ripping, and pinning.

Can you guess what it is? (Hint: It's an extremely geeky.)

For you non-Whovians, it's a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) in flight! The time machine piloted by the Doctor in Doctor Who is instantly recognizable among geeks (myself included).

So this whole thing started coming together about a month ago when my younger sister, Kylie, was going on about how she couldn't think of anything really cool to get her boyfriend of two-ish years for Christmas. After two hours of Etsy shops and nerdy Tumblrs, she was starting to seriously consider making a quilt (which she's never done before) from a pattern she insisted Kathy and I could draw (which I had never done before). After a little hemming and hawing, Kylie and I were on our way to The QP to ask Kathy for her input. She was game on for a quilting challenge—as always—and we drew up the pattern just hours later.

Unsurprisingly, I started pulling fabric for my own TARDIS quilt not long after seconds after Kylie started filling one of the cutting tables with the bluest blue bolts for further inspection. As sisters do, we quibbled over the perfect shade of TARDIS blue (she won) and purple backgrounds (I won) until we had two stacks of fabric, a roughly-sketched pattern, and a cutting list. Did I mention that I'm just learning how to quilt and my sister last touched a sewing machine in high school? Talk about the blind leading the blind!

I'll share more details about our quilting adventure and show you some shots on my quilt when it gets a little closer to Xmas (so there'll be lesser chance of spoiling Kye's fantastic gift).


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Saturday Sampler 2014

By the end of the year, I will have finished two quilts (though neither are entirely pieced yet), so I'm already looking on the lookout for new projects and patterns. Since I'm so busy taking care of E (who's now almost eleven months old!) and working, having two big projects dominate my design wall, sewing table, desk, and all other surfaces in our study is making me a bit crazed. Plus, it seems like I'm rescuing cut fabric from E's drool-drenched hands every time I hop off my treadmill desk!

To solve the fabric-clutter issue, I'm thinking about making one of our Saturday Sampler 2014 quilts. Since I only receive the fabric for one block every month, small, colorful piles of neatly folded fabric (read: baby magnet) will be kept to a minimum or at least have a spot somewhere out of reach. Now I just have to decide which one to make! Which one is your favorite?

If you haven't participated before, here's how it works: our Saturday Sampler (SS) is a unique twist on a Block of the Month program. First, you choose one of four quilts (each in a different colorway or theme), purchase the pattern, and pay $5 for your first block. If you bring both your SS punch card and the previous month's finished block to us on one of three designated days (the second Saturday of the month and the following Monday and Tuesday), you get your next block for FREE. On the occasion that life gets in the way and your block isn't finished in time or you can't drop in on one of the SS days, that month's block is $5. More often than not, QPers make an entire quilt for just $5 or $10 plus the optional finishing kits!

Only one block per quilter can be free each month, so those who choose to do two, three, or all four quilts pay $5 per month for those quilts' blocks (regardless if their sewn or not). It's an extremely economical way to make a quilt and it's tough to resist the four very different colorways and patterns Kathy and Mary handpicked. Learn more about each design in the Facebook album I'll be adding each month's blocks to all year or scroll down for a preview.

Ella Mae's Sampler  (78''-x-78'')  Style: Brights | First Block: $5 | Pattern: $7.99
Ella Mae's Sampler  (78''-x-78'') 
Style: Brights First Block: $5 Pattern: $7.99

Abigail's Sampler (50''-x-60'') Style: Country | First Block: $5 | Pattern: $11.99
Abigail's Sampler  (50''-x-60'')
Style: Country First Block: $5 Pattern: $11.99

Autumn Jewels (84''-x-84'') Style: Christmas | First Block: $5 | Pattern: $19.99
Autumn Jewels  (84''-x-84'')
Style: Christmas | First Block: $5 Pattern: $19.99 

Paris in the Fall  (66''-x-86'') Style: Black, White & Red | First Block: $5 | Pattern: $22.99
Paris in the Fall  (66''-x-86'')
Style: Black, White & Red | First Block: $5 | Pattern: $22.99

Sign up starts today, Wednesday, November 20th, but not all of the patterns will be in-stock until tomorrow, Thursday, November 21st. Call the shop at (517) 423-0053 or drop in to sign up. 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Busy Blocks: Fabric Regret

After throwing most of my Busy Blocks quilt onto my oh-so-handy design wall and photographing it for this very post, I decided I hated the red-and-white stripe. ):

Okay, I don't hate it, but it doesn't work with the other small-scale and tone-on-tone prints. I still really like the print, but it's not at all jiving with its Busy Blocks companions.

Luckily, it just so happens I know exactly where to get a replacement red!

After much hemming and hawing, I found my perfect print in a basket of remnants. It's still a stripe, but it's much "skinnier" and the tone is a better match.

Do you think I made a good swap? The only issue I have now is how much the orange hexagon's middle stands out now that the chunky stripe is gone. *Sigh* Does the second guessing go away when I have ten or a hundred quilts under my belt?


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Half-Square Triangles: Ruler Method vs. Traditional Method

My current project, Busy Blocks, uses half-square triangle blocks to turn would-be squares into octagons. If I were doing this on my own, I probably wouldn't venture too far from the pattern's instructions, but since I have Kathy showing me the ropes, she did a little calculating and put Creative Grid's Multi-Size 45-Degree/90-Degree Triangle Ruler in my hand. The name's a bit of a mouthful, but, to put it simply, it's a two-in-one ruler that makes cutting (and sewing) half-square and quarter-square triangles easier and more accurate than the traditional draw-stitch-twice-cut method.

To fully appreciate the ruler method, I had a quick lesson on the traditional way of making half-square triangles. In the past, quilters cut squares instead of triangles, placed two of 'em right sides together, drew a line from corner to corner, and stitched a 1/4" to both the right and left of the drawn line.

Popular but prone to a variety of issues, the traditional way of making half-square triangles almost made Kathy herself, a quilting veteran, throw in the towel early in her quilting career. "I almost gave up on this shape. I couldn't EVER get them to consistently come out square and the correct size," says Kathy. "Then I found this tool and my whole life changed—cue the dramatic music and the footage of a sky clearing after a storm— because I could EASILY make an accurate half-square triangle!"

: : : : :

If you'd rather watch than read, Kathy explains the pros and cons of both methods of making half-square triangles in this oh-so-handy YouTube video. I've referenced it a couple times since my latest lesson and it's a FANTASTIC resource:

To summarize, there are A LOT of ways to go wrong with the traditional method:
  1. First off, what's with the 1/8-inch measurements??! As a newbie, cutting is stressful enough without worrying about increments that are the width of my mouse pointer. 
  2. Even though I'm totally a pen person, Kathy has a point about dull pencils messing with measurements. As it dulls, your 1/4-inch stitching becomes more and more off as your pencil line gets fatter and fatter. However, it seems like mechanical pencils could fix this problem—in theory—if you're diligent about breaking off the tip of lead when it shows any signs of widening or dulling. (I didn't run that by Kathy, but I'll add it to my things-to-try list of quilt to-dos.)
  3. Unfortunately, the beloved Identi-pen marker isn't here to save the day this time. Thin markers easily catch on the fabric, making  it difficult to draw accurate line.
  4. To quote Kathy, it's "mind-numbingly boring to draw accurate lines over and over and over and over again!".  Sure, it's less of a problem if you're making four half-square triangles; but it becomes a HUGE issue when you're making a queen-sized quilt with an unearthly 200 half-square triangles or whatever. 
: : : : :

With the half-square triangle tool, it's simple "quilt math"—add a 1/2-inch seam allowance (1/4-inch for both sides) to the finished size of the block. Expecting a catch? There's not one!

With one roll of the rotary cutter, half of the block is cut and ready to be paired up.

Continue down the strip, flipping the ruler and lining it up to the fabric before making quick and easy cuts.

In no time at all, I had four neat piles of half-square triangles, ready to be paired up and sewn!

Since Kathy changed up the directions, I had a little calculating to do to figure out just how many pairs I needed. It was ten minutes of work wasted, because I quickly abandoned my list and opted to just do it by sight, sewing together pairs to complete my design wall from the top down

Sewing just three pairs together made the quilt start to "appear"! I'm not gonna lie—it was pretty damn exciting to go from fabric squares clinging to batting to an "actual" quilt-in-progress on a design wall. 

I feel a sewing binge coming on!