Sunday, May 22, 2016

Leisurely Stitching

I have found that it is a bit hard for me to relax and not be in a hurry, but I am becoming addicted to my slow stitching projects!  I really anticipate that down time to work on them, and am worried that I am going through them too fast.  My husband enjoys me spending time with him and not being on the laptop, so it really is a nice part of my day to sit and stitch.  I actually finished last weeks project and it came out so cute!

I used my Quilted Journal Cover Pattern to  turn it into a beautiful  journal that I will use to write down my positive and encouraging thoughts in!

I had fun choosing some pretty and feminine fabrics for this project.

I even used some of the lovely rose fabric I've been saving since I bought  it last summer for the inside flaps.  Am I the only one that hates to use the fabrics I love the most?  I always feel bad about using them up!

I've been working on finishing up a cross stitch pattern this week.  I've made a lot of progress and should be able to finish that up this week.

I've done all the outlining and just have to finish the quilting lines, cat's whiskers and detailing on the fan.

I was a little distressed to realize that the outline around the whole picture was supposed to be the dark pink in the top corner of the quilt.  But I decided that it's my project and if I like the dark gray outlining, then I don't have to feel like I need to change it to match the pattern!

After this one, there is one more in the series.  I don't think I will start it right away, I have more embroidery that I want to do first.  It's funny what captures my interest, never was into embroidery that much before, but that cute little stitchery on the journal cover got me hooked!

I'm linking up on Kathy's Blog for Slow Sunday Stitching, am having a great time checking out everyone's projects!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Fruitful Week

It's been a pretty quiet week this week, which set me up to make a lot of progress on varying projects.  I finished up the "Make Time to Breathe" embroidery piece and started working on finishing up my cross stitch cat project -

I don't know how long this has been waiting to be finished, but I know it's been several years.  I was about halfway done working on back-stitching the basket when I put it away last, so I picked up there again.  So much back-stitching to do!
I've made a lot of progress on this piece so far, but still have more to do.  I've been thinking about what to work on when I finish with this.  I have several pillowcases that need to have the embroidery done/finished on, so I might do those.

I got this little quilt pieced and quilted -
I was short about 6 inches of having enough of that viney looking fabric for the back, so I pieced in a strip of jungle animals.  I was very pleased to have done this entirely from stash!

I decided to quilt this with orange thread, and it looks perfect.  Another quilt added to the inventory in my Etsy shop - I have a goal to go through my bin of 5 inch squares and put together a couple of these a month.  That drawer is stuffed to the brim and needs to be reduced!

I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday... two more cavities taken care of.  I have three more fillings scheduled for next month, then it will be time to get those wisdom teeth extracted.  Needless to say, I am not looking forward to that, but it's time to get it done.  I spent the rest of the afternoon working on some ideas for future Island Batik projects,  I got one block sewn, then realized that I reversed a couple fabrics.  I haven't decided if I actually like the accident better than the original yet!  I might have to make a few more blocks before I decide for sure!

Wednesday was my normal half day at the quilt shop, then I spent the afternoon cleaning out my sewing room closet.  I got tired of everything falling down whenever I tried to find something in it.  I was looking for a backing for a top I wanted to quilt.  Here is what it looks like after, it's pretty cluttered, but at least it's not falling down on me!

  The pile on the far left was the biggest problem - it is flannel scraps that I have been saving from the annual Christmas PJ project.  I have been thinking it would be fun to make scrappy quilts from them. I even went as far as cutting a bunch of squares of flannel and batting some time back, but never really got to work on them.  This week I decided to challenge myself to sew an x through 10 sets of flannel and batting every day.  So today, I have 30 squares done.  Hopefully by next week the pile of blocks will be taller and the pile of fabric will be shorter!

Thursday I spent working on a journal cover - I'll show you that project tomorrow.  Then I went through some of the fabric that was given to me last month - it was all washed, but not pressed.  I pulled out some pieces and spent some quality time pressing and folding while I thought about what I could make with them.  I also started cleaning off my cutting table - it sure gets cluttered after a few projects.  I'm at least attempting to clear off my surfaces once a week if not after every project.

Speaking of cleaning, I recently purchased a new vacuum - which was very overdue!  It sure has been interesting seeing how much dirt it pulls up out of my carpets - yuck!  I completely filled up the canister with dirt in just my bedroom.  I also got inspired to go through my closet and get rid of a trash bag full of things from my closet.  I feel so happy to have more breathing room in there, too.  Must be spring - I feel like cleaning out the cobwebs and clearing out some space everywhere.

Yesterday I had a call about a bride needing some emergency alterations, so spent the afternoon and this morning taking care of that.  I was glad I had the time to do that, it is always lovely to send a bride out the door excited about her dress looking just the way she wants.  This was a mermaid style with a long train that needed a bustle.  It came out pretty, and I foolishly forgot to get a photo so you'll just have to take my word for that one.

Then this afternoon I added one border to a quilt top, and prepared the backing for another quilt.  I'm thinking about my goals for this coming week - I have a couple of quilts I want to get quilted, and just a couple customer projects to finish up, so need to see what else needs my attention before the end of the month.  I finally feel like I am making some progress on creating some space in my sewing room and time to actually enjoy my sewing instead of feeling like a hamster on a wheel.  I'm looking forward to lots more creative projects over the next couple of months!  I know there will be some Island Batik quilts, and more mini quilts (don't forget my giveaway of a Miniature Quilts Magazine!) plus some soft and pretty floral projects.

Hope spring has all of you feeling productive and happy as well!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Finally Finished! Tidepools in Island Batik

Hurrah for a finish!  I've had this basted for several months and ready to quilt, but no inspiration for the actual quilting design.  I didn't really want to do an allover design on it, but had no clue how I did want to quilt it.  When I got that box of quilting goodies from my mom, it included a package of stencils and the the block stencil was perfect.  I thought it would be a great challenge to try quilting this by machine and I was right!

The first challenge was marking it!  White was too light in the background.  Blue didn't show in the medium blues.  Finally I ended up with a pink chalk pencil.  I was glad there were only 5 blocks in this quilt to do because it was a bit tedious to mark each block.  Then the process of quilting was a bit tricky as well.  I kept losing the flow of how to move from one loop to the next in the center.  I also struggled with some breaking thread and skipped stitches when moving from 11:00 to 12:00 in a circle.  I'm pretty sure part of the issue is that my blocks are on point.  It really seems like I struggle whenever I do a quilt that is on point, particularly if it is a batik.  I'll have to research this more.

When I finished the blocks, I looked on Pinterest for some ideas for the flying geese sashing.  I found an idea I liked and went to work on those.   I used curved outlining on the triangles and a herringbone loop on the geese and squares.

Next were the sashing squares.  Well, I attempted to use a curved ruler with mixed results.  Some times I got nice arcs, but most had a wobble or two.
They aren't perfect, but I think I'll just accept this quilt as it is with it's imperfections.  The next decision was what to do with the large setting triangles.  Hmmm.  I remembered seeing a wavy crosshatch on a quilt and thought I would give that a try!  Loved how that came out, other than all the stops and starts to deal with.
At this point I was ready to be done, but still had to deal with two borders.  The inner one was easy, I just did a large spiral all the way around.  For the outer border I thought about trying to trace the sunflower design in the fabric, but decided to do overlapped circles in the end.  I managed to run out of medium blue thread about 3/4 of the way around the quilt.  So the last part got quilted in a slightly lighter shade.  You can hardly tell, and I'll just say it adds to the charm!  At least it is finally finished - making it a good week of quilting.  This quilt measures 59 x 59.  It is made with Island batik fabrics on the top and a pretty cotton on the back that looks like water.  It is quilted with a combination of Aurifil threads in 40 and 50 weights.  The batting is Warm and Natural.  I think it will make a lovely lap quilt for someone!

Available in my Etsy Shop.

This and the rest of my lap and bed quilts will be 25% off to celebrate my baby girl's college graduation for the next month.  No coupon code needed, sale items will be clearly marked!

I've linked up on Connie's blog here for Linky Party Tuesday!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Playful Paper Piecing with Island Batik

May's Challenge for the Island Batik Ambassadors was Playful Paper Piecing.  We had lots of options here - you could use foundation paper piecing or English Paper Piecing.  I chose to do a foundation paper piecing project, though I might throw out something using the other technique at the end of the month just for fun.  I chose to do a miniature, because for me making a small quilt is always a fun way to play!

I found some Miniature Quilts Magazines on the giveaway table at quilt guild this month and snapped them up with the intention of finding a project in one of them and giving my readers a chance to win the magazine.  After looking through them, I decided on a quick and fun little project using two foundation pieced sail boats.
All the fabrics I've chosen for this project are from the Sea Shore collection from Island Batik which are available now!  I hated to cut into my yardage of these, but for just a miniature you don't have to use too much, and I have plenty left over for more projects.  I love this collection, so many beautiful colors from pastel to dark and some lovely brights as well!

I meant to take more in progress photos, but these blocks are so quick to make that I had them both finished before I knew it!

I love the way the dark fabric looks like a wave under my boat!  And the shading of the color on the boat perfect!  I didn't plan that at all, it just happened, but you can see how your fabric can add so much interest to a simple block!  Next I made two pinwheel blocks to go with the sailboats, then I had to choose a sashing fabric.
I love the netting look of this one, but it I thought it was too light.
 This is a fun print, but too crazy for this calm little quilt.
This is the one I thought was just right - nice and dark to make the blocks pop with a subtle print (another colorway of that netting!).

After I added the sashing, I went through the same process to choose my border fabric and the binding.  I could have gone several ways, but these fabrics won out to finish my little sailboat quilt:

Quilting this was just too quick and easy.  a little outlining using stitch in the ditch and a swirl around the border, easy-peasy and fun as can be!  The binding was sewn on and before I knew it, this little quilt was complete!
It measures in at 14 inches square, and I used Warm and Natural Batting, a variety of Aurifil threads (for both the piecing and the quilting) and a random fat quarter from my stash for the backing.  And of course those beautiful Island Batik fabrics for the front!

Such a fun little quilt!  I think it's a lot prettier than the one in the magazine!

 I love the sunny yellow print in the pinwheel.

It's not much bigger than the magazine is!  You can see there are some lovely projects in this edition.  Wouldn't the tie quilt be fun for Father's Day?  I love the basket quilt as well.
 Since I have another copy of this magazine, I want to share this one with one of you!
If you've never made a miniature, this is a great way to start.  Or just drool over the the beautiful pictures!  I'll be giving this away at the end of the month, so go ahead and share with your friends!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure you check out the other Ambassador blogs to see what kind of playful projects they are making this month!

I hope you get lots of ideas on how you can have fun and PLAY with some paper piecing!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Taking it Slow

I have been making an effort to make some changes, I really desire to have less stress and more joy in my every day life.  One of the things I am attempting to do is spend a little less time on the computer and more time doing things I enjoy like reading and working on hand sewing projects.  As much as I love machine sewing, there is just something pleasant and quieting about stitching by hand.

I spent the first part of the year working on hand-quilting a quilt, but since we came back from vacation I haven't decided on another project.  I've been thinking about doing some embroidery and have been collecting a variety of patterns, but after a month of trying to decide I finally committed to this pattern:

This is Block 3 of the Gentle Domesticity Block of the Month series by Jenny of Elefantz Designs.  It really called to me because it will remind me to take time to breath.  I plan on making the finished piece into a journal cover.  I wasn't sure about my choices for the fusible applique part of the piece, but then I thought about my shoebox full of tiny prints for making miniatures with and found the perfect fabrics!  I just love the green with the birds.  I have a ton of embroidery thread from my cross stitch projects and also some Aurifil 12 weight thread and Aurifloss embroidery floss as well so I think I am set for materials.

I did have to hunt up a proper needle - a cross stitch needle is too dull!  I found one good one, so will have to put that on my supply list for my next trip to the store.

I started off with the blanket stitching since I felt pretty confident in that.  I used the 12 weight Aurifil (from the finishing set I won last summer)  I think it worked wonderfully for this!

I made a start on back-stitching the bird and the bows for the curtains.  I think I'll have to wear my glasses because the stitches are super tiny!  I pulled some pink and blue floss to add more color.  I'm enjoying this immensely, so I don't think it will take me long to finish it.  I've got my eye on another project to work on next, but I might try to finish the back-stitching on my Cat project that's been waiting for a while first!

I'm joining in on the Slow Sunday Stitching link-up on Kathy's Quilts to encourage me to keep working on these projects - it's fun to see the projects everyone is working on and I feel like it will keep me accountable to work on mine as well!

Slow Sunday Stitching

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Creating a Block from a Drawing in EQ7 - Celebrating 25 years of EQ!

We are continuing along with the year long celebration of EQ's 25th birthday!  I use EQ on a regular basis when designing and love sharing about it - it's a fabulous tool and I learn more about it every time I do something new.  They have a really great website -, that has so many resources for learning about this great program.  If you ever wonder how to do something, you can usually find the answer there!  Plus they have fabric downloads, project downloads and you can add your own projects to the gallery as well.  You can learn a ton by doing their weekly lessons.  If you don't have EQ yet, check out their contest page to find out how you can win a copy.

This month I worked with my local American Heritage Girl troop to create a block for the 50th anniversary of the group so the girls can get a special badge.  In March I went to one of their meetings and worked with the girls to design the block. After we decided to create an applique block I had the girls make drawings of what they thought would be a good block to represent our area. One of the girls came up with a great design and we decided to use that for the quilt block. So my challenge in using EQ7 this month was to create a block from the drawing.  Since I needed the block to be larger than the drawing, I thought it would be easier to trace it, then I could just print up the templates for the size of block that was needed, and have the girls help with cutting out the appliques and fusing them to the background.

Importing the image for drawing was pretty easy - I did have to scan it twice, because the first time my scanner saved it as a pdf file.  That won't work, you need to save it as a jpeg - and make sure you know where you save it to so you can find it!  After you import your image you can drag it to fit the area you want to work in.  I accidentally made my drawing fit an inch below the top of my block - but that just leaves more sky at the top for this version.

 I started off by making my trees.  That was an easy shape to draw with straight lines.  By using the clone button on the top toolbar I was able to make all 7 trees quickly, then just use the pick tool to click and drag them into position:
Then click the button to hide image to see what the block looks like so far.  We've got a nice little forest going!

I made the water section by using the bezier curve tool to create the arcs for the waves and the line tool to complete the patch with sides and the bottom line.  Then I made a cool discovery when I went to make the boat!  When I clicked on the ellipse tab I noticed a set of red icons on the top toolbar and when I realized what they were for I was super excited!
Do you see the middle one, that looks like a pie?  That will allow you to make a circle that has part of it that is cut out!  By setting the bottom number to 180 I was able to make the perfect shape for the bottom of the boat by just clicking and dragging the shape.  Pretty awesome!  I highly recommend paying attention to the different buttons that appear when you work with different drawing tools.  I've made some fun discoveries by just playing around with these different settings.

If you are working with a number of pieces, you will want to make sure that they are layered correctly.  You can do this by clicking Hide/Show AutoFill at the top.  My boat needs to go under the water strip, so I can use the pick tool to select it, then send it to the back.  

Here is what the block looked like after I had it all drawn and colored:

And this is what our finished block looked like:

The girls had a really good time working on this!  I hope that they will want to do more quilting with me in the future.  Several of them went home with some of my scraps - I can't wait to see what they do with them.

Make sure you stop by and see what the rest of the bloggers are up to this month with EQ7 as we celebrate their 25th year!  

Darlene of QuiltShopGal

Carol of Fun Threads Designs

Mary of Quiltin’ Grandma’s Designs

Carole of From My Carolina Home

Marian of Seams to be Sew

Tina of Quilting Affection

Monday, May 02, 2016

May Flowers and Baskets

I had the fun of finding these pretty flowers on my porch when I went out the door yesterday!
I was interested to find out that not everyone is acquainted with the tradition of leaving May Baskets on the first of May.  In elementary school I remember making little paper baskets to fill with flowers and leave on the doorknob of the neighbors.  One of my sweet friends still does it and it is such a thoughtful gesture!  There were a few chocolates tucked in as well, such a nice treat for me.

I had a good sewing day yesterday.  I spent the afternoon making the Coral Queen of the Sea dolly and accessories:

So cute!  I am also working on a toddler quilt and tote bag to go with this.

Here are the pictures of that Lady Godiva Apron I made on Saturday:
 Note the hidden pockets!  I love pockets - I have got to have a place for my cell phone, random notes on paper and a pen.
I like that this apron has good coverage as well.  I like an apron that does a good job of protecting my clothes, because isn't that the point of wearing it?  Not how nicely this one coordinates with my workout outfit...I did that on purpose :)

I also spent a little time today working on my Quilts for Sale page - I added some individual listings and a live link to my Pattern shop on Etsy.  I still need to work on my Amazon Handmade shop.  It seems like all of this online marketing and merchandising takes more time away from what I actually want to do, which is sew and design.  It doesn't help that I'm not very disciplined and find myself spending time on facebook or pinterest.  So much inspiration out there.  Not to mention funny cat videos!

Wendy Sheppard posted a wrap-up from the Creative New Quilts and Projects blog hop that I participated in earlier this year.  My project is at the end as it was the last one in the book.  It's fun to see all our projects in one post - it really shows the versatility of the projects in the book!

Time to get get my steps in for the day...then some house cleaning and sewing are on my list.  I am loving the wonderful weather we are having the past few days, I'll probably sneak in a little gardening as well!  My strawberries are going crazy and the weeks are trying to take over my herb garden.  Hope your day is filled with sunshine of some sort, outdoors, or quilty!