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!