Monday, December 11, 2017

Gift Ideas for Quilters: 2017 Edition

With two weeks to go before Christmas, you might be wondering what to get the quilter in your life. Here are some ideas, either taken directly from my own list or based on products I've used and loved this year. Please note, I was not sent any of these products for free, these are simply my opinions!

I’ve been a subscriber to the Tagged label club from Sweetwater for several months. Each month I receive a beautiful, personalized label (sometimes two!), ready to be affixed to a quilt or other project. I keep meaning to make a zipper bag with one! These labels make a great gift because they are both practical (who doesn’t need a bit of a push labeling their quilts?) and this is a subscription-based product that won’t break the bank that the giver will enjoy for months to come.

I love enamel pins in general, and I especially love this little pin and the story behind the word “sewist.” I’m a lover of words, and I feel having the perfect word to use is important. “Sewist” combines the words “sewer” and “artist” and has the advantage of not being misread as the other type of sewer (you know, the type underground that smells rather unpleasant). The pin is available is aqua and pink.

Another great stocking stuffer is one of Moda’s Matchbox quilts. These small kits include nearly everything to make a six-inch quilt. You can get one or a few of these darling little projects. 

For a more functional gift, a seam roller is a practical gift that surprisingly is not in every quilter's toolbox. I like being able to press seams quickly, especially when paper piecing. I use this curved, wooden one made for pressing wallpaper seams (a flat roller can leave lines on the fabric). It is sturdy and works wonderfully. Clover also has a smaller, ergonomic version called the Roll & Press that is readily available in quilting stores. 

One of my favorite gifts last year was a box of Aurifil thread that my husband surprised me with. It's like candy for quilters! I'm still working my way through the box nearly a year later (those spools are large). You can't go wrong with a box of neutrals, or, for something more cheerful and bright, pick up one of their many boxes curated by various fabric designers.   

Finally, the big gift on my list this year is Electric Quilt 8. I'm a big fan of Electric Quilt, but have been chugging along with Electric Quilt 5 all these years. I think I'm due for an upgrade! The new version looks chock full of great new features and I'm excited to check it out if I find it under the tree this year!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and find lots of quilting goodies under the tree!

Monday, October 23, 2017

DIY Washi Tape

I make a lot of quilts using precuts and often have a lovely pile of coordinating scraps leftover at the end. I generally toss them in a baggie together and now have a pretty substantial collection of scraps from various projects.

Over the coming months, in an effort to make use of some of these scraps, I'm going to work on smaller projects that can showcase these pretty little bits that I don't want to just toss. It's going to be Scraptastic!

First up: DIY washi tape. I hesitate to even call this a tutorial since there's not much to it. But for the smallest leftover bits in your stash, consider making some homemade washi tape. The uses for washi tape are endlessyou can brighten up mail, use it in craft projects, or dress up items around your house, like boxes, picture frames, or clothespins.

Simply attached doubled sided fabric tape (I used Dritz Res-Q-Tape) to scraps of fabric and trim. You can cut the ends straight, or trim them at an angle for a bit more flair.

I keep an extra rotary cutter with an older blade reserved for cutting paper. I used it for this project since the backing material on the tape might dull my other blade. Be particularly careful when trimming as the backing material was pretty slippery.

Since washi tape can be skinny (mine was 3/4"), this is a particularly good use of those really small scraps that would otherwise go in the trash bin.

I put my washi tape right to work dressing up some mail!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Quilting with a Ruler Foot

I've been having so much fun checking out the entries for the Blogger's Quilt Festival, I can't resist adding another one! I love making all kinds of quilts, but baby quilts are my favorite to create and gift. They are the perfect size to make (big enough to be a satisfying project, yet small enough that they actually get finished!) and it is just plain fun to make something for a new little person.

This one is on its way to the new little girl of a wonderful friend from college. It's constructed entirely from half square triangles (I have a bit of a thing for HSTs...) in a herringbone pattern and made in Gooseberry fabric by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique.

This is the first time I quilted a quilt using my ruler foot. There is a learning curve on this technique, to be sure. I'm still learning to love it, but I think we'll be friends with time. I like the design possibilities that it opens up, as I am not one of those people who can free motion beautiful designs. For this design, I used the large curve on Piece 'N Quilt's 4-N-1 Machine Quilting Ruler. I'm still trying out different rulers and seeing what I like best, but I certainly like the flexibility of this one!

Some tips for ruler work:

Practice! Spend some time playing around with samples and getting a feel for the technique.

Though it never seems to make a difference for me with free motion quilting, dropping the feed dogs on my machine helped a lot with ruler work.

I needed to put more pressure on the ruler than I initially thought. Simply resting one hand on the ruler resulted in a lot of slippage. Really get a good grip on that ruler!

Happy sewing, everyone!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Improv Quilting and the Blogger's Quilt Festival

I recently took a class in improv quilting and, boy, did it get the creative juices flowing! I loved the thrill of trying something new, I loved the freedom the technique allowed, and I loved creating something with such modern flair. I lucked out in that I had an excellent teacher, the talented Mary Menzer, who has created some amazing modern quilts using this technique. She patiently shared her knowledge with the class and helped us to create our own improv pieces.

I was quite pleased with my class sample and quickly began another wall hanging. I stepped away from my usual palette of blues and greens and used bright warm tones for my second improv piece.  I call this one Sherbert. It's a small wall hanging, measuring at 15" by 14 1/2". I used mostly Kona solids, along with a couple low volume prints and one linen-like solid. It's quilted using matchstick quilting in a variegated Aurifil thread.

The Blogger's Quilt Festival, hosted by Amy Gibson of Amy's Creative Side, was the perfect opportunity to share this little project. Amy does so much to make the online quilting community the dynamic group that it is, and the Blogger's Quilt Festival is just one part of that. Enjoy all the amazing eye candy shared in the festival by clicking through the links. Thank you to Amy for all your work organizing this event and to the sponsors who make it extra fun!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Apples to Oranges

Who doesn't love finding a good use for scraps? My latest project on the Moda Bake Shop is an apple core quilt using The Good Life, Bonnie and Camille yummy new fabric line. It was a fun project, but one that resulted in some decidedly non-rectangular scraps.

I quickly realized these scraps left over from the fabric between each apple core shape would be perfect for orange peels, one of my favorite quilt blocks to make. I wrote up a mini quilt pattern that uses these yummy scraps, called Freshly Peeled. It's a fun, quick little project that can be made using scraps or any small bits of fabric you have in your stash. If you haven't tried machine applique, this project would be a great introduction to the technique!

You can download both the apple core pattern and the mini quilt pattern for free! Check out the Moda Bake Shop for the apple core quilt and Craftsy for the mini orange peel pattern.

Just because it makes me happy to share pretty things, I'm giving away this sweet little mini quilt. To enter, share some thoughts on mini quilts in the comments. Have you made one? Do you enjoy creating smaller projects? I'll pick a winner on the 7th of September.

Happy sewing, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Solid Love

I love working with solids. The range of colors available is awe-inspiring. It's almost unreal how many variations of a single color we have to choose from.

Both Moda and Kaufman have sample cards available with the full line of solids available. Kaufman even has a panel of fabric available! While one of these would be awesome, I prefer to put those funds towards other fabric purchases and came up with a quick and easy DIY swatch system.

Each time I use a solid, I staple a swatch to an index card and file it in a coupon holder. Nothing fancy, but it allows me to easily match up colors, see the different shades I've used in the past, and make choices for future quilts.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hashtag Awesome!

This might be the summer of Instagram for me. I've had an Instagram account for a few years, but didn't do much with it for a long time. I friended a few folks, looked at some nice pictures, and that was pretty much it. This year, however, I discovered the vibrant quilting community that exists on the social media site, and it is now a much bigger part of my social media life.

My big turning point was participating in Amy Ellis's Instagram Quiltfest (#IGquiltfest) earlier this year. The daily prompts were so much fun and encouraged me to post more and seek out other quilters. From there, I quickly found a plethora of quilt-alongs, fabric swaps, mini-quilt exchanges, and contests.

It wasn't long before I was deep in the world of swapping. There are ample opportunities to swap both fabric (charm squares are a popular size) and finished items, such as mini quilts. I just received three fun packages this week (#happymail, in Instagram parlance), each a different type of swap.

The first was text print charm squares (#textycharmswap), in which I sent a set number of identical charm squares of a given text print and received the same number back of different text printsso much fun! The variety was amazing!


One of my blocks for the Sweetwater Swap
I love the fun fabric the ladies of Sweetwater design and was excited to participate in a Sweetwater block swap (#swjulystarswap). For this one, each participant made blocks following the same pattern and using only Sweetwater fabric. We sent the blocks to our generous and patient hostess and received back different blocks. I loved seeing fabric from older, out of print lines I hadn't seen in person. I made a few different blocks, and made an extra of each style for myself, so I now have enough blocks for a pretty sweet quilt! Not only is it fun to work on my own project, but I love seeing the other quilts from the swap come together. There were so many different blocks, I think each swapper received a unique package!

The third package was a finished item, a mini-quilt, that was exchanged through a paper piecing themed swap (#fortheloveoffppswap). So much fun! I truly had as much fun making a quilt to swap as I did receiving a surprise package. Quilters are such a generous lot, and my swap buddy included some fun little extras. What a treat to get a fun package in the mail!

Instagram has a truly vibrant quilting community. It is such a joy to be a part of such warmth and creativity. If you are not already on the site, check it out!