Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Circle 7: Lindsey


I am so late in posting my Circle 7 Bee updates, but I am really excited to share these quilts with you.  Each quilt in this bee has been an absolute delight to work on and I feel so giddy as I make each one - like I'm working on a surprise for that particular person each month!  That's not to say I don't stress about these quilts - trying to narrow down ideas and utilize designs that complement what the others in the group have contributed has been a fun challenge for me.

My sweet friend Lindsey of LR Stitched requested vintage kitchen as her theme.  FUN!!!  Let me at it! She was open about colors, adding that she loves bright happy fabrics and polka dots.  Very doable!  I have always wanted to make one of those beautiful stand mixer paper pieced patterns, and this seemed the perfect opportunity to try it out.  But all the paper pieced patterns I found weren't as big as I wanted for Lindsey's block.  So, I think to myself - I can improvise a paper pieced pattern! Why not?!

Well, guess what??  Turns out, it's not that easy.  Especially when you don't have any software and you're going all old school with pencil and paper and such.  Ha!  I turned to the awesome tutorial here, but again, I wanted something significantly bigger.  And maybe y'all would know not to simply add inches around the pattern pieces because the proportions don't translate well.  Of course you would know that.  But I didn't.  I best learn lessons like this the hard way!  Long story short, I ended up paper piecing some sections, and free piecing others, and even using the freezer paper technique in spots too.  And lots of starting over.  And then starting over again.  But look - It turned out!

Please don't ask me how - I couldn't begin to tell you!  But it is done - it is a thing I made!  And I love it. And I love that Lindsey will have it.  I hope she enjoys it - I'm sure she will, as all of us quilters know what labors of love each stitch is.  I added the colorful patchwork along the sides to brighten it up and frame it out a bit, as well as the red-check to make the table it sits on since that reminded me of a tablecloth.  

I'll be back soon with some more progress on these Circle 7 quilts.  Hard to believe the bee is almost over as the year draws to a close.

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2013

                                              Blogger's Quilt Festival -

Y'll know I'm a big fan of Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival, where twice a year she hosts a giant linky party for quilters to enter their quilts in a variety of categories.  What a treat this online quilt show is!

I'm entering Claudia's quilt in to the Group/Bee Quilts category.  I know I've recently shared this, so if you'd like to hear the whole story, click here.  The quick version is that my sweet friends in That Stash Bee and I made this quilt for my friend Claudia and her family who lost their 6 year old son Michael earlier this year after a tough battle with Neuroblastoma cancer.  There are no words for this kind of heartbreak, but I knew I wanted to make them a quilt in the hopes of offering some kind of comfort.  I asked my bee mates for a variety of stars and the words Faith, Hope and Love in a rainbow of colors.  I was in awe as the blocks started coming in!  What a joy it was to put this together, although many tears were shed while making it in memory of that sweet boy.

Here's the back:

I did that giant LOVE banner and liked how it came together with the scrappy stars.  This quilt was full of significant coincidences such as Michael's birth year in one of the fabrics and birds on several of the fabrics, which is a favorite of Michael's and his family.  

I know this quilt is loved by my sweet friends, and I feel so grateful to my friends in That Stash Bee for their help in making this quilt for them:

It was so great to work together with friends across the miles to make this quilt.  Enjoy the rest of the Festival!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I've been wanting to write this post for a while.  Years really!  Today is the day I share with you a vision I have had to spread some love and kindness in a particular part of the world that could use some good quilty cheer.  La Limonada is a community in Guatemala City where tens of thousands of people live in extreme poverty.  All the things that are associated with extreme poverty exist here:  Addiction.  Violence.  Poor housing conditions.  Lack of decent paying jobs.  For some, having safe water or electricity is a luxury. Things that I take for granted a thousand times a day before lunch.

But there is also hope.  Always hope.  Lemonade International has been working for the past five years in the people of La Limonada to partner in community development.  A school was started.  Then another school was started.  Scholarship programs started.  Sponsorship programs begun.  Micro-enterprise and vocational training programs are now available.  A fair trade coffee partnership with a coffee house here in Raleigh was recently launched (check out Jubala - the best cup of coffee in town.  Worth traveling for if you aren't in the area!).  I am always inspired with the creative and effective ways this organization utilizes to support and nurture this often overlooked population.  Perfect example - Establishing a shoe maker in the community as the official shoe provider for the children in the schools.  Lives are being changed here!

Perhaps the project most near and dear to my heart is the safe house that was started for children who were in dangerous situations.  The most needy of the needy.  Currently, there are 18 children living in the Mi Casita Safe House.  As a quilter and a mother, I want to wrap each of these kids up in a warm embrace, to whisper in their ears and hearts that they are loved.  That they are valuable.  That they matter.  That they are remembered!

I so want each of these kids to have their very own quilt - a spot of brightness that is made specifically for them and belongs soley to them.  I stepped out on a limb and told Cherie (of the husband/wife team Bill and Cherie who started the non-profit Lemonade International) that I would make a quilt for every child in the safe house, even if it took me 10 years.  I have already sent this quilt down for a special resident of the safe house, and have seen pictures of her enjoying this treasure made just for her.  Oh, my friends.  This feeling of being able to share a bit of comfort and cheer is one of the joys of being a quilter!

I would love your help in making some quilts for these kids.  I don't want any of the kids to have to wait for their turn to get a quilt.  I want to rain down some love on them!  And secretly, I would love to see quilts popping up throughout the community, beyond the safe house, spreading some tangible cheer in a place that so desperately needs it.  If you are interested in helping out, please leave me a comment or send me an email.  Thank you!

And so, Project Quilt Lemonade begins.

Over at Amy's today!

                                             Blogger's Quilt Festival -

Come hang out with me later today over at Amy's Creative Side.  She's been featuring quilters from all over the blogosphere in preparation for the Fall Blogger's Quilt Festival and is including me in today's line up of artists.  Somebody pinch me!  I have had the privilege of meeting Amy briefly at both Sewing Summit and Quilt Con and she is just as nice and genuine as you imagine she would be.  I so enjoy and look forward to her Blogger's Quilt Festival, which is an online quilt show with entries in all kinds of categories from people all around the globe every Spring and Fall.  It all starts up again tomorrow - I so hope you will join me in sharing some of your work!

Circle 7: Jennifer

I couldn't wait to get my hands on Jennifer's Circle 7 quilt.  She requested low volume background with a range of solid colors.  I had a hard time narrowing down what to make because there were so many fun directions to explore with this quilt.  I have found that to be the best challenge in this bee - my mind will spin with ideas for each person's quilt and the narrowing down to just one or two designs is the hard part.

I first made this Racing Stripes panel since I've been wanting to explore this theme again.  I felt it was perfect to add this to her quilt since I debuted the original Racing Stripes on her blog during a feature she did on me here.

And because I'm a lover of improv piecing, and I know Jenn is as well, I made this sort of pixelated improv block to also add to her quilt.  This type of piecing always takes time, but the end result is worth it in my mind.  Can you imagine a whole quilt done this way?!  It would be fantastic!  

 I added my contributions to her starter pieces, which includes the wonky star block you see below, as well as the herringbone strip.  Lindsey added the triangle strips and wonky churn dash blocks and split off part of the herringbone strip to expand Jenn's original panel.  So this is how it looked when it left my house!

I love seeing how these quilts evolve over time!  I'll be trying to post updates on the other quilts in this bee over these next couple of weeks.  I can hardly believe these quilts will be done soon!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tutorial: Tablet Carrying Case

This is a re-post of the tutorial I shared for Ellison Lane's Back to School Series.  This makes a great Carrying Case for your tablet devices!   I have a basic commercial case for each of these devices but  found that when I traveled, I always felt like my iPad and e-reader were bumping around in my tote bag.  So, I came up with this Carrying Case - which is really a glorified pouch with a couple of modifications.  So if you have made any kind of zippered pouch, this construction will already be familiar to you and you can crank one of these out pretty quickly.  Here we go!

iPad & e-Reader Carrying Case
Finished Size:  11.5" x 9.5"
Supply List:  
(2) Exterior Fabric Pieces 10.5" x 12.5"
(2) Lining Fabric Pieces 10.5" x 12.5"
(1) Divider Panel Fabric 10.5" x 20"
(2) Batting 10.5" x 12.5" (or fusible fleece)
(1) Decor Bond Interfacing 10" x 10"
(2) Fabric for Finished Zipper Ends 3"x 3"
(1) Zipper (at least 10" long)

Prepare Exterior/Interior Fabric:

Prepare your exterior panel pieces by quilting fabric and batting together.  I chose to piece my exterior panels and quilt them, but you could also use a solid piece of fabric with fusible fleece.  Both will make it nice and cushy.

(You might notice in some of the pictures that I also used light interfacing on the lining pieces, but I have made these cases without doing that step, and haven't really noticed any difference in the end product.  I just happened to have some and thought I'd try it and see if it made any difference.  Up to you, but totally not necessary). 

Divider Panel: 

I added a divider panel in the middle of the case so that I could keep my devices separate.  I have found it handy to have two large "pockets" in the case, but if you want to skip this step, that's fine too!

Fold your Divider Panel Fabric piece in half, WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and press.  Open it back up and lay it down wrong side facing up.  Lay your Decor Bond interfacing piece centered on one half and fuse to the wrong side of the fabric.  The top edge of the interfacing should fit right into the crease you just pressed.  This is going to be the top of our divider panel.  

Now fold your divider panel piece back wrong sides together.  Place folded divider panel on top of one of the lining pieces.  I placed the bottom of the panel 1/4" above the bottom of the lining piece to help reduce bulk in the seam of the final product.  Stitch the divider panel onto the top of the lining piece around the sides and bottom with a 1/4" seam.

Zipper Preparation:  

Now lay your zipper on top of one of the exterior pieces and mark the end.  Sew a few stitches back and forth a little before your end marks, then cut off the extra length of the zipper at the mark.

Let's add our fabric pieces to the ends of our zippers to give it a nice finish.  Fold your 3 x 3 square of fabric in half WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and press.  Fold that folded piece in half again and place over the zipper end and pin.  True confessions - I always fudge this step a little and cut my fabric squares generously so that I can get it just how I want it and trim to what I need.  You may want the length of your zipper a little longer, in which case, just slide the folded fabric piece down a bit before pinning.  Just make sure they are even on both ends of the zipper.  So, we are not going to worry about that overhang of fabric - we'll trim it later!   

Sew 1/8" across top of the folded fabric over the zipper.  Be careful when your needle goes over the zipper and go slooowly!!  If you feel any resistance against the needle, stop, raise your presser foot, slide the zipper/fabric forward a bit, then return presser foot and continue on slowly.  Your machine will thank you. Your needle will thank you.  Your eyes and any other exposed body parts will thank you.  I will now end this zipper installation public service announcement.

Do the same on the other side, making sure to move the zipper pull back so that the presser foot has clearance to go over it.  When you do this, be sure to clip the zipper sides back together at the end (as you can see here with the Clover binding clip - love these things!).  You want to make sure the zipper teeth are touching when you sew your 1/8" topstitch over the fabric so that the zipper can close all the way.  Again, be cautious as you sew over that zipper! 

Fold back the ends of the fabric and clip the ends of the zipper (so this won't be in the seam when you sew the pieces together).

Trim any fabric overhang to be even with the edges of the zipper.

Attach the Zipper:

Lay one of the lining pieces Right Side up and lay your zipper on top.   


Next put an exterior piece Wrong Side up on top.  So the right sides of the lining and exterior pieces are touching, with the zipper in between.  

Clip/pin and with your zipper foot, sew through the layers close to the zipper (remember, you may need to move the zipper pull out of the way, sew some, then move it back to accommodate it going under the presser foot.  Open up this piece so that the wrong sides of the lining and exterior fabrics are touching.  

Now sew the remaining lining and exterior pieces to the other side of the zipper, laying down your lining piece first right side up, next the zipper with the pieces we just sewed on (the "free" side of the zipper lined up with the top of the lining piece), and lastly the exterior fabric wrong side up on the top.  Clip/pin and sew closely along the zipper. 

Next, open up the pieces so that you have a lining and exterior piece on each side of the zipper.  Press, and topstitch 1/8" from the edge of the fabric along the length of both sides of the zipper, using a 2.8 stitch length.  This gives a nice polished finish and prevents the lining from getting caught up in the zipper feet.  

Now it looks like this.  We are getting close!

Sew Together:

Open up your pieces and line up the exterior pieces right sides together and your lining pieces right sides together.   Open up the zipper at least half way or you will be getting real intimate with your seam ripper after this step!

 As you are lining up the sides, scootchie the zipper teeth towards the lining and pin/clip all around, making sure to leave an opening about 5" in the bottom of the lining piece.

Sew all around using 1/2" seam allowance.  

Clip all 4 corners to reduce bulk.

Turn inside out  by pulling the exterior through the opening you left in the lining.  I love this part - It's like watching a pouch be born!  Use a blunt tool to push out the corners.  Press your seams.

Close the hole in the lining by folding the raw edges in and top-stitching across the bottom.  Tuck your lining inside the outer case.  

It's done!

 Enjoy toting your mobile devices around in style.  And if any of my family members happen to be reading this, you may or may not be getting one of these for Christmas.  Just sayin'.  Act surprised.

Circle 7 : My Starter Panel


So one of my favorite quitly things going on right now is being part of the Circle 7 bee.  Essentially, each person in the bee created a starter panel and set a theme for her quilt, which would then be passed along to each other person, everyone adding their part to her quilt.  Since the first traveling quilts bee began, the idea of creating a quilt with a group of friends in this way - where there is tons of room for improv and creativity - was super appealing to me. So when Jenn asked me to join a group of women I hugely respect and admire to make quilts in this way, I didn't even have to think about it.  Of course I wanted to be a part of that!  The hardest part was finalizing a theme for a quilt.  I ultimately chose to make a quilt with pieced words and favorite patchwork.

Here is the starter panel I made for my quilt.

 I free pieced the word "Smile" - this is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do!   It takes me forever, but I'm always happy with how it turns out, and I love that I can write whatever I want.

Next I made this Carpenter Wheel block.

This is the colorway I chose for the quilt.  Without a doubt, one of my favorite parts about quilting is pulling fabric combinations.  The possibilities are endless!

I sent out my starter panel at the end of May, and I've been giddy watching my friends add to it over the past few months.  I am so excited to see how it makes it's way back home to me!  Watching the quilts evolve and change with each step along the way is so exciting.  A huge thank you to Jenn for gathering us together.  I am so thankful to create with this wonderful group of women!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quick Flying Geese Tutorial

Here is a quick tutorial for Flying Geese really written as instructions for my fellow Stitch Teasers since its my month to be Queen Bee.  It's pretty basic, and there are tons of tutorials out there for these - but I'm going old school back to the basics for these this month which allows for lots of variety for this quilt.

So, Stitch Tease Bee Mates:

This is what we're going to make this month.  Let's just pretend all these flying geese are all joined together nice and pretty for one giant block that will finish at 15" x 20".  It's made of 24 individual flying geese that measure 3" x 5 1/2".

This is our color palette inspiration:
milk tones

You will need to cut:
24 assorted prints 3 inches  x  5 1/2 inches
   Magentas and Golds (I would love to stick to only the colors in this palette)
   Maybe a couple (no more than 3 please!) Medium gray prints randomly in the mix too!

48 assorted low volume 3 inch squares
   White/Off-white with gray - very soft


Draw a line corner to corner on the wrong side of the 3 inch square.  (I just mark it with a Hera Marker).

Line up a square on top of the rectangle of fabric that will be your "goose", Right Sides Together.  Sew directly on this line and trim 1/4 inch away from line for seam allowance.  Press.  (Don't throw away those trimmed triangle scraps - they will make a lovely half square triangle for another project!  I usually go ahead and sew them up right away so they're already done.)

Repeat on the other side - Sew on the marked line, trim 1/4 inch away and press.

Done!  Pay attention to the top of the block - there should be 1/4 inch on top of the triangle's point.  This is important so that when the blocks are sewn together, the goose's beak doesn't get chopped off!

Then just arrange the geese in a random layout (geese pointing up in one direction please!).

These come together really quickly and hopefully won't be too much trouble for my bee mates - Thanks y'all!
I can't wait to see this quilt come together!  I'm so enjoying being in this group :)