Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spring Purge

Before Quilt Market in Minnesota, seems like things in the sewing studio were happening at a frenzied pace. No time to straighten, tidy, or organize. Every time I went to cut a piece of fabric, it seemed I had to clear a small spot on the cutting mat to make the cut. And, while cutting, I had to be careful that I didn't cut through a pile of completed blocks or cut fabric ready for piecing.

Messy sewing studio

Problem: I have TWO cutting tables in this room. One (below) has been long buried beneath a progressively massive stack of projects on hold. I suppose I should call them UFOs (unfinished objects). But don't projects have to be started to be unfinished? Stacks of untouched fabric ready for the next idea. Crumbs from the last completed project waiting to be replaced in the stash or cut into the scrap bins. The other cutting space had stacks of 'stuff' on every corner and side, leaving just enough space in the center for a small ruler and cut. Not so much fun when you need to trim something bigger!

Messy cutting mat

Ugh, and the cubbies. That third shelf down on the far left. Nightmare. Precarious stacks of lumpy wads of set-aside somethings. Kits, blocks, cut fabrics. . .you name it. Touch one thing and the whole shelf collapses onto the floor.

Messy quilt project shelves

Attack plan: With the long holiday weekend, I rolled up my sleeves and I set my sights on finding the counters again. Armed with a small investment of stackable storage bins newly acquired from a Saturday morning shopping spree at the big box store. Mission One: Find the cutting counter. Several rounds of sort, store, purge, and organize, and behold! A cutting mat is revealed!

Cleared quilting cutting table

Mission Two: Find the second cutting mat. More sorting, storing, purging (what is WITH the MAJOR collection of dried up pens??), stacking, tidying. And ta-da! Another roomy place to cut, plan, and strategize all things quilty.

cleared quilting cutting counter

Mission Three: THAT shelf. Not so much purging, but more sorting, storing, stacking, tidying, and discovery. I found things I had forgotten I had! Almost like a quilty Christmas in May!

Quilt project shelves. improved

Okay. There's still a bit of a nightmare on the sewing table in the foreground, but that's not a space I use a lot, so I can live with that for now. It almost feels like I have a brand new sewing studio with space to cut and stage and sew without feeling cramped! And look at that empty space on the opposite wall! A perfect spot for a quilt, don't you think? How come I didn't notice that before?

After quilting studio clean out

How is your sewing room? Neat as a pin? or time for a re-boot? Either way. . .

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Minnesota Market

Last time I wrote, I was working at a feverish pitch getting ready for the big quilt industry trade show, Quilt Market. Well, I'm back now and just wanted to offer a very quick recap of the trip.

My booth had two main focus areas: the new book When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters and the 9-patch block in three sizes to match the three ScrapTherapy 9-patch interfacing products - the Mini Scrap Grid, and the new Middle Scrap Grid and Little Scrap Grid.

It's a leap of faith and a couple of days (many hours) that turn a plain space into something fun. I was thrilled when I saw the lime green carpet. I was told that there would be only a limited quantity of the lime color for the booths at the show, so I got lucky!

Thanks to a little help from my friends Gail and Barb, the booth really put a focus on the 9-patch. I had a contest to see who could guess how many 9-patch blocks were on display on the walls of the booth--including the 99 Bottles quilt. I'm still weeding through the results. . . What's your guess?

And a hand quilted sign kept the interfacing names straight!

After the show floor closes, it's time to relax a bit. On the walk over to the pub to meet some friends for dinner, Traveling Tap was parked briefly across the street. I snapped a pic and texted my husband--I think he was ready to jump on a plane to experience a bar on the move. The bar-on-wheels is powered by bicycle peddles at each bar-stool.

At The Local, an Irish Pub, there's no traffic light with green on top, like you would find on Tip Hill in Syracuse, but some pretty darn yummy pub pie!

The Pin Keep I mentioned in my last note was very popular as were the Hummingbird Highway pins! By the end of Market, I had accumulated quite a collection of pins!

Back home, the lilacs (my favorite) were reaching full bloom. Made it home just in time to gather up a bunch to make the house smell like heaven!

In the sewing studio, next up is testing the Ribbon Star Swap pattern so it's ready to roll soon! Maybe by the time next week's newsletter is published.

Oooh! And look what arrived in the mail while I was gone. I created a custom die for my Go! Cutter with--you guessed it--a hummingbird shape. I'm not sure where I'm going to go with this, but it's a fun way to combine scraps and hummingbirds, don't you think?

Until next time. . .

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Place for Pins

Things are starting to come together for my display at Quilt Market  - the big quilting industry trade show next week in Minneapolis.

Several designers and shops will be trading little button-style pins at the show. I have quite a few prepared, so if you see me at one of the other shows I'm going to attend this summer, you might just have to look me up to get one!

Anyway, with all this pin collecting going on, and all these scrap fabrics I have, I thought it'd be a good idea to put the two together to make a fast, fun Pin Keep for my sewing studio. You can download the free pattern here. In the meantime, here's a little run-through of the steps. And oh, the Pin Keep features the new ScrapTherapy Little Scrap Grid Interfacing! How cool is that!?

First I selected some light and medium 3-1/2" squares. Truth be known, since I wanted my background fabrics to match I cut these from a couple of fabric strips, but it would have been just as easy to pull the squares out of my scrap bin. I also selected a bunch of 2" scrap squares, fun prints in contrasting colors.

I sewed the 3-1/2" squares into 2-patches, then sewed the 2-patches into a vertical row. And set that aside for the moment.

Next, I trimmed two 9-patches-worth of interfacing from one of the sections of the Scrap Therapy Little Scrap Grid. The Little Scrap Grid comes by the panel, and each panel has two 'clusters' of six 9-patches. I just needed one-third of one of the 'clusters.' For this project, I'm not using the interfacing as I would to make a traditional 9-patch, as outlined in this tutorial.

I cut a diagonal slit in the center of each grid section.

With the interfacing fusible side down, and the 2" scrap squares right side up, I positioned each 2" square underneath the grid, and pinned it from the top, so I can still see the lines on the grid.

Then I sewed on all the solid lines.

Next I cut the interfacing on the dotted and dashed lines, trimmed the corners to reduce bulk . . .

 . . . And turned each of the 18 squares inside out through the cut in the interfacing. I used a Purple Thang to shape the corners, but I had to be careful not to poke straight through the interfacing!

I made a short stack of colorful square-shaped 'cookies.' The fusible side of the interfacing is now on the back side of the scrap square, facing out.

Next I placed the square 'cookies' on the checkerboard panel playfully as shown in the picture. And fused them in place.

Layered batting (9x30"), backing (8x29"), right side up, checkerboard quilt top right side down. I pinned everywhere, then sewed a 1/4" seam around the edge of the top, leaving a 6" opening for turning. Trim batting and backing, then turn the quilt inside out, close the opening by hand or machine and quilt.

Add a hanging sleeve on the back and pin your favorite pin collectibles to the front. There you have it - a scrappy conversation piece for your sewing room. Hey, or how about this idea--make two, sew them end-to-end and you'll have a scarf for your walking pin display!

Too much fun!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Crazy Countdown

I'm headed to Minneapolis in a couple of weeks where I'll be exhibiting at Quilt Market  - the quilting industry trade show where your local quilt shop does their shopping! Oh man! I'm sooo not ready! I have quite a few details yet to complete, so please pardon me if this week's message is short and sweet.

Here's a little preview of my booth - number 100! Right up front in the very first aisle! The pressure is on to make a great first impression!

I'm starting with these booth number Mini Mug Mats! Of course, the show provides signage for each booth, but how boring is that? I don't have a pattern for the numbers, so I just winged it with some scrap fabrics and -- you guessed it, some of that new Little Scrap Grid Interfacing I keep talking about.

With any luck, you'll see it (the new interfacing) showing up at your local quilt shop shortly after Quilt Market. AND both sizes will be available to purchase from the website shopping cart as well--coming soon! AND projects! Woot-woot!

In addition, I've been working on a tutorial for the two new grid sizes that will be on the website right along with the Mini Scrap Grid How-To. So stay tuned, and please be patient with me as all the nitty-gritty deets come together.

You see, I've been crazy busy! But still having fun in the process.

In the meantime, you can find me at the Wings Falls Quilters Guild Show this coming weekend in Queensbury, NY.

See you there?

Happy Stitching!


Friday, April 24, 2015

You Gotta be in it . . .

 . . . to WIN it!!

Last week Pat Sloan and I had a nice chat about my new book When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters. This week you have a chance to WIN a copy of that very same book! 

All you have to do is jump over to Pat's blog entry and make a comment. But you gotta do that before May 1, 6pm East Coast Time. From Pat's blog entry you can click over and listen to the April 13th conversation right on your computer. How cool is that?

After you listen (or even before that!), if you just can't wait and gotta have the book now, you can buy it here. AND if you still can't wait to start using the concepts from the book, you can download a FREE pattern extra right now, right here

Now, go! (and good luck!)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

If Quilts had Arms. . .

. . . then they'd all need sleeves!

But my quilts don't have arms, so only a few of them have sleeves for hanging. When the Vermont Quilt Festival invited me to display several of my quilts in their annual show, I couldn't resist! However, to be hung, about 20 quilts need sleeves.

Since it's quilt show season, and you (and your quilts) might find yourself in a similar predicament, here's how I add a temporary sleeve to my quilts.

First, a quick assessment of the quilt size and backing fabric. This lap-sized quilt has a pretty blue on cream print.

adding a quilt sleeve

I always like to check the (messy) stack of leftover backing fabric chunks on the shelf. Just in case I have any of that same backing material left. Or maybe something close. No luck this time.

adding a quilt sleeve

Since I like to come close to matching the color of the temporary sleeve to the backing material, I chose a cream-on-cream print. Not an exact match, but since it's only a temporary sleeve, I'm not going to stress over an exact match.

I need a strip that is about 10" wide. So I can either cut a length-of-grain piece of fabric from my stash or cut a couple of width-of-fabric (selvage to selvage) strips and piece them end to end. My quilt is about 60" wide, so I need a sleeve that is about that long, or just a little less than that. I use the quilt to estimate the right sleeve length. The beauty of sleeves is they really don't have to be too precise on any of the measurements.

adding a quilt sleeve

Since I have a lot of this particular cream fabric, I'm using a length of grain strip. I fold each short end over to create a hem and sew.

adding a quilt sleeve

At the work table, I fold the 10" sleeve in half lengthwise, raw edges at the top . . .

adding a quilt sleeve

 . . . and fold under the last 1/2" or so. Both layers together.

adding a quilt sleeve

Then pin in place, start and end 1-2" away from the sides of the quilt, and that folded-under edge is aligned with the edge of the quilt binding. The pining and folding are all part of one movement. I pin like a crazy person, with the pins sticking out the top edge.

adding a quilt sleeve

Back at the sewing machine, I set my stitch length as large as possible, 5.0 on this machine. Since this is a temporary sleeve, I'm really using a basting stitch, assuming that after the quilt is back home from the show, the temporary sleeve will be easy to remove. Then stitch in the ditch along the binding seam. Pull out the pins as you sew happily along! This goes really fast because the Paul Bunyon stitches move you right along.

adding a quilt sleeve

My stitching goes just a bit past the sleeve. Looks good! Now I'm ready for some hand-stitching.

adding a quilt sleeve

With the quilt and sleeve lying fairly flat, I pin the sleeve fold to the quilt. I like to pin this part to keep the sleeve from getting wonky, distorting the way the quilt will hang in the show.

adding a quilt sleeve

If you do this next bit, your quilt show staff will love you forever. . . . start sewing the sleeve at the binding edge along the lower layer of the sleeve side, then sew the fold to the quilt backing.

adding a quilt sleeve

Travel through the batting like you would when sewing the binding down, but take big-gulp stitches. Again makes for easy removal later if the stitches aren't your usual itty-bitty dainty stitches.

adding a quilt sleeve

Done! By having the bottom side layer sewn to the quilt, the person hanging the quilt will have no question about where the hanging pole will go. And you have less risk that the quilt will be damaged as the pole is set in place.

adding a quilt sleeve

As tempting as it might seem to save time, never EVER use safety pins to secure a temporary sleeve. It's so very easy for the pin to snag and pull, risking major damages to the quilt. Your beautiful quilt is worth the extra effort.

Once the show is over, remove the sleeve with a few snips of thread.

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Mug Full!

Last week I received a special treat in the mail. A copy of Mug Meals by Dina Cheney. Look at that cover photo! Anything that drools over the edge of the crock is bound to be a winner! The cookbook full of fast and easy single-serving meals is published by my friends over at The Taunton Press.

Mug meals book

The book is loaded with yummy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and (most importantly) dessert! All in single-serving, mug-sized portions. Earlier this week, I had just taken a morning walk, I was in the mood for a fast but satisfying breakfast to get my day going. I chose this "Kitchen Sink Eggs with Vegetables."

Mug meals book

The recipe called for eggs, cheese, some simple spices, and whatever veggies turned up in the refrigerator vegetable bin--in my case that was some frozen peas, sweet onion, carrots, and (I cheated on the all-vegetable part here) some cubed ham.

Mug meals book

Mix up everything in a small bowl . . . and toss it in a super-sized mug.

Mug meals book, breakfast

Cook it in the microwave, add some fruit or toast, and I had a fast, yummy breakfast.

Mug meals book

And tasty too!

Mug meals book

Needless to say, the book is a winner, and I can't wait to try some of the other muggy-treats! Hey, a quilter's gotta eat!

Happy Stitching!