Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Just wanted to quickly let you know about my latest tutorial on the Birch Organic Fabrics blog.  It is for this quick and relatively easy tree skirt using two of their newest fabric collections - Flight in Canvas and their new Organic Cotton Fleece.  

The fleece is wonderful!  I think I'll be backing a quilt with it very soon.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

See you in 2014.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I am speechless!

As some of you probably know, I have organized a "little" blog hop the past two years.   A few months after I started this blog, I timidly emailed some of my new online friends who were also new bloggers to see if they might be interested in a blog hop for new quilt bloggers.  If I remember correctly, everyone I contacted responded with an enthusiastic "yes!"  What I had originally thought would be a short hop with 10 or so bloggers grew into a 6 month blog hop with almost 100 stops.  At some point, I realized that we had to cap the numbers and we had a final blog hop week for the Let's Get Acquainted New Blogger Blog Hop in October of 2012.

In May of 2013, after much deliberation, I decided to organize another blog hop for new bloggers.  Again, the response was overwhelming.  For 2013, I decided to make it a bit more manageable for everyone by limiting the hop to the first 75 bloggers to respond and scheduling more bloggers per week so that the hop would only last two months.  

So, what does all of this have to do with the photos?  Well, late last week, I received a package from my friend Em from Sewing by Moonlight.  I couldn't imagine what she was sending me - and here is where the speechless part comes in - it was this quilt made by the bloggers from the 2013 Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop for New Bloggers!!!  Wow!!!

This quilt is filled with blocks from all over the world, I mean, seriously, all over the world!  Every single block in this quilt is beautiful and special - while I don't think I can match every block to the blogger who made it, I think I would guess right for several of them!  The blocks were pieced together and quilted by Em (who will be posting more about the quilt soon.)  Again, wow!  For the back, she spelled out "Let's Get Acquainted 2013" in paper pieced blocks and then there are blocks with notes and signatures from everyone who contributed.  Okay, one more time - wow!!!  I really am speechless.  I had absolutely no idea that they (you) were planning this.  

So, to any of you 2013 blog hop people who are reading this post - Thank you for this beautiful quilt.  I will treasure it always!  What a fantastic and special way to remember the fun we had this year.  I am so happy to have "met" each and everyone of you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ipanema Blocks Quilt

Surprisingly (to me at least), I have several finished projects to write about.  I'll take them one at a time though and start with this quilt.  I know I already showed this photo on Monday but I wanted to dedicate an actual post to this quilt.

This was another project I did for the Birch Organic Fabrics blog.  You can see the tutorial by clicking here.  And you can see all of the fabrics in this collection by clicking here.

I really like this fabric collection.  As with their other collections, it is a truly wonderful mix of fun novelty prints and seriously awesome blenders.  I especially love the yellow geometric print  - it also comes in blue - I can see using that print again and again.  

The design I used is very beginner-friendly and is easily customizable.  I really like figuring out designs that allow you to vary your block sizes for personalized fussy cutting.  

That's it for today.  I'll be writing more posts soon including letting you know the outcome of the projects I talked about in last week's post as well as a post about something very special and totally unexpected that came in the mail yesterday that seriously left me speechless!!!

And if you haven't already, click here to enter the giveaway of some of this gorgeous Ipanema fabric from Fabricworm/Birch Organics Fabrics.   

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ipanema Giveaway

I was so excited when I saw the latest fabric collection from Birch Fabrics.  Ipanema is full of so many fun designs and the collection also includes several awesome blender fabrics.  My tutorial for this quilt will be on the Birch Fabrics blog today.  I'll write more about it later in the week but since today is the big giveaway day on Sew Mama Sew, this post will be about giving you the chance to win some of this fabric!

Today's giveaway is from Birch Fabrics and Fabricworm.  They are generously offering the opportunity for one lucky person to win this Fat Quarter Bundle of the soon to be released Ipanema fabric collection.

You have 3 chances to win!

1. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. Any comment will do but if you'd like a topic, how about recommending a good book - an exciting novel you just couldn't put down, a fun book for kids, a quilting book, or even a cookbook? (one entry)

Bonus Entries
2. Plum and June blog followers - old and new - get a second entry. Leave a comment indicating how you are following. (one entry)

3. Fabricworm/Birch Fabrics followers - old and new - get a third entry. Follow either the fabricworm blog (click here) or the Birch Fabrics blog (click here) or sign up for the Fabricworm newsletter (click here) - your choice - just leave a comment indicating which one you did. (one entry)

So you can enter up to 3 times! This giveaway will remain open until December 13, 2013 at 5pm PST and a winner will be picked at random and will be notified by email by December 15, 2013.  The Ipanema fabric line is expected to be available later this month and will be shipped to the winner upon arrival.

****And unless you are sure that you are NOT a no-reply comment, please leave your email address in your comment.****

And be sure to stop by Sew Mama Sew for links to the rest of the giveaways!

The giveaway is now closed.  The winner is #506:  Simply ECDecember 9, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Monday, December 2, 2013

last week

{started working on the woodland sampler again}
{knit another honey cowl - I think this is my 4th - I probably should find a new knit project to try}
{I let my 10 year old daughter use some of my AMH fabrics to make herself a large quilt.  More to come soon}
{finished a quilt but not sure how much I like it - I'm going to wash it to see if that changes my feelings and then I'll write a post with more photos}

Thursday, November 21, 2013

a simple doll blanket

If you look back at my early blogging days, you would see lots of doll quilts.  I used to make them all the time for my daughters, for gifts, for quick finishes in between larger projects, for trying out new techiques and designs . . . well, I guess I had lots of reasons for making them.  I don't make doll quilts very often these days but recently I had a reason to so I took out some of my favorite fabrics and put this together pretty quick.  

I wasn't even thinking about writing a tutorial so I didn't take any photos of my process but it was so simple, I just wanted to quickly tell you what I did.  Basically, you just need one fat quarter of flannel, one fat quarter of backing fabric, and some scrap fabric.  I used QAYG (quilt as you go) to make a log cabin block the size of the flannel.  I then put that right sides together with the backing - stitched around the perimeter leaving a small opening for turning and then topstitched the perimeter (I actually only top stitched the top which is where I left the opening but if I was to make another one I would probably top stitch around the whole perimeter because I think it would look nicer on the back.)

And then my little helper and I went into her sister's room to take some photos!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I had no real reason to make this quilt.  In fact, I had lots of other quilty and non-quilty things I should have been doing but when I was cleaning up my sewing space, I somehow put a few of these fabrics together and just started sewing.  Okay, maybe not "no real reason," I was organizing the room so that I could start a new quilt, I just didn't know it would be this one.

My first thought was to make a simple patchwork squares quilt but that just didn't quite seem right with these fabrics.  Right before I started cutting the first square, I thought - maybe I should finally try triangles.  When I tried piecing triangles last year, it didn't work out so well but I figured it was time to try again.  

I think only one triangle on the top row has a point but by the time I got to the bottom row, I was closer to figuring out the piecing triangles thing - well, kind of.  I still had several missing their points but at least more triangles had them than didn't!

I used a textured solid fabric for sashing between the triangle rows which I really like and will definitely be using again.  When I was looking at the photos, I was surprised to see that it looked like the sashing fabric was the same color as the fabric in some of the triangles.  But you can see in the photo below that they are actually at least a few shades away from each other.  

And quilted it with straight lines spaced at about 1/2".  It would probably be more accurate to call it organic straight line quilting as not all the lines are actually straight and not all are exactly 1/2" apart.

I wasn't sure what to do for the binding but ultimately decided to use sketch in mist.  And then I finished it by carrying the quilt around my house taking about a million photos!  I figured I'd only use 7 for this post though.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quilt Photography Workshop - Color

For October/November, the challenge for the Quilt Photography Workshop was to learn about and work with white balance to get accurate colors in your photos.  In the challenge post, I suggested starting by learning how to work with the white balance presets on your camera and then eventually learning how to use the custom white balance setting.

Right after posting, I was so happy to receive an email from Erica offering to write a post about how to do just that!  You should definitely click over and read Erica's post - her explanations and instructions are so clear.  After reading her post, I was immediately able to start using custom white balance settings on my Canon.  Thanks Erica!

I started my challenge by setting the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed and then varying nothing but the white balance -  using both the presets and custom setting - as in the photo above.

That worked fine for the first fabrics but then when I was taking photos of this quilt top (concentrating on the reds and pinks), I couldn't figure out how to get the color right in the bike path print - it is dark pink but it kept looking red.  These photos were taken inside during the day and there was a large window behind the quilt top and a large window to the right of it.  I then moved and stood between the quilt top and the window so there was a window in front of the fabric (behind me) and one to the left of it and the fabric finally looked like the dark pink it actually is.  Well, at least it finally looked that way on my computer screen but as someone wrote in a comment on the challenge post, what looks like dark pink on my screen might still look red on yours!  

So, for me, I really just look at white balance as part of the big puzzle - that you have to get the right combination of aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and white balance.  Not to mention composition!  I know that sounds like a lot of work per photo and I can see why it would be tempting to switch to manual but I really think it gets easier over time.  Once you know how it all works, it is easy to change the settings to get the shot you want.  

The next link up won't be until January but I hope everyone plans on taking lots of photos over the next couple of months.  I'll write more about it in a different post but the next challenge will be all about the details.  So, I encourage you to get lots of close-ups of your upcoming projects - we'll want to see the quilting details, the binding, the intricate piecing!  And either as part of that challenge or for a future challenge, I want to work on composition again so maybe think about that when you are taking photos - especially if you are making lots of holiday gifts and you have holiday decorations around to include in the photos.  

Okay, your turn - let's see what you did for this month's white balance challenge.

If you are sewing blogger who wants to participate in the Quilt Photography Workshop, please add your link here to your post about the this month's challenge. Please do not link to posts on other topics. Please visit as many of the other links as you can since that is how we'll all be learning, right?!?! At the very least, visit the three bloggers who linked up before you. When the link tool asks for your name, instead write what you time you usually go to sleep at night.

I'll leave the link up open until next Sunday so make sure to come back so you can see everyone who joins in.

And please link to this post either with a text link or using the button in my sidebar to let people know about it. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival 2

For my second entry into the Blogger's Quilt Festival, I am entering one of my most favorite quilts that I have made.

I made this quilt earlier this year - mostly to use up some scraps.   I don't even think I had much of a plan when I started.

This quilt lives on our couch and is used everyday!  I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons my daughters' love it is because it is backed in soft flannel.

This was one of the largest quilts I've made and I still remember my husband constantly having to take breaks to rest his arms while I was taking photos.

I'm going to put it in the home machine quilted category.  I quilted most of it with a figure 8 design but I also mixed in some clamshells and some wavy-ish lines.  If I am remembering correctly, this was the first time I tried the figure 8 design - but it was definitely not the last!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quilt Photography Workshop Fall 2013

Challenge #3:  Color and White Balance

If you are wondering, we will eventually be photographing actual quilts in the "quilt" photography workshop but for now, let's still work on the details.  For this challenge, let's focus on color.  As you know, I am definitely not a photography expert so I could be wrong but I think the best way to get the color you want is to learn about white balance.  If you don't have a DSLR, please don't stop reading - even if you can't control the white balance "in camera", you can still work on correcting color by using the right light and/or through editing - even the free editing programs let you fix white balance.

For this challenge, pick a color (or two) and figure out how to incorporate white balance, light, and editing to get the truest representation of that color on your computer screen.  You can use fabric, a WIP, or a finish - just pick something that has a large-ish area of the color you are working on.

My first suggestion would be to use the white balance presets on your camera and take the same exact photo several times changing nothing but the white balance.  I did this recently and wow, what a difference just this variation can make!  I would then suggest you repeat this process using the same subject but under different light conditions - if you took the first set of photos outside, then move inside or if you took the first set in daylight, wait until it is dark and use lamps.

The photos in this post were taken within a few minutes of each other using various white balance settings.  However, shifting my angle just slightly enabled me to use the backlighting from the sun to get that hazy quality that I really like!  For my challenge post, I think I am going to try to work on getting better colors at night with indoor lighting.

And if you are feeling up to it, learn how to set a custom white balance on your camera - I haven't done this yet so I can't give you any guidance.  But I am going to try to figure it out for this challenge so I'll let you know how it goes.

After you have a few sets of photos, upload them to your computer and use your photo editing program to further work on white balance and color.  From what I can tell, it looks like it is called a neutral color picker on most of the free programs I use (picasa and picmonkey.)  Let us know in the comments if you know where to find it using other photo editing programs.

I'll post the link up on my blog November 10th and I'll leave it open for about 10 days.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Find out more information about the Quilt Photography Workshop and the past challenges by clicking here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Which do you choose first - fabric or design/pattern?  For me, the two are usually intertwined but recently I've been making some quilts specifically for birch fabrics so the fabric collection is decided first.

When working with a fabric collection, I usually let the fabrics dictate the design but for this quilt, made with Elk Grove, I decided to try to make it work with an idea I've been wanting to try.  I had sketched a color block/novelty print combo quilt a few months ago and while this quilt is very different from that original drawing in both the placement and number of prints, it definitely has the same overall look I was imagining. 

I quilted it with wavy organic lines running the length of the quilt.  I have actually become much more used to FMQ this year so going back to straight line quilting - especially on a quilt this size - was actually a bit challenging.

But the big news is that this quilt and a couple of others that I made (this and this) are actually at Quilt Market right now in the birch fabrics booth.  This is really exciting for me as I never imagined that I would ever have anything on display there!  

I'm not really sure what category to put this in for the festival so I am going to choose quilt photography.  I just took these photos in my backyard where I take most of my quilt photos but since I have committed this year to improving my photography skills through the Quilt Photography Workshop that I am hosting on my blog, I thought that would be the most appropriate category for me.

Linking to the Blogger's Quilt Festival.