Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pressed Flowers

One of my favorite quilt bee challenges, ever! My Stitch Tease Bee mate, Agniezska, asked for pressed flower blocks, complete with tape and the names of the flowers on it. 
For the first block, I actually picked 4 different flowers from my garden, pressed them and then decided which one would be the easiest to make as a quilt block. I pressed a carnation, a Chilean evening primrose, nasturtium and a bearded Iris. It reminded me of my teenage years when I pressed random flowers and kept them in a scrapbook.

Here is the first block. I used the raw edge appliqué technique and then embellished the flower with some extra thread work.

For the second block I resorted to Pinterest and found several different ideas but decided to try to recreate this gorgeous page of pressed flowers on musical themed paper.

Using the above photo as "inspiration", I cut various flowers from several different fabrics and then placed them on the sheet music fabric. I added some random leaves and cut gingham print fabric to look like wash tape. This time I used invisible thread to top stitch the flowers to the fabric and finished it with a free motion written label. I'm not sure they look like wild flowers but that's what I called them.

I heard from Agniezska that she received the blocks, today. All the way from California to Poland!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Big Reveal

Last year I was a member of a fabulous bee called Bew Sewcial. This bee is an improv bee and the challenge was limited to using only solid fabrics! The bee took me way out of my comfort zone. I learned so much and if anything it taught me to take more chances. Although I opted out of the bee for 2016, I am so glad I was able to meet so many of the members this last February at QuiltCon and I am also thankful that I gained so much knowledge from all of them. I have grown tremendously in confidence and skill through my year learning, virtually, from these lovely and talented women.

When it was my month to be queen in the bee I asked the group to make curved shapes in their blocks. For color inspiration I used this photo and asked that there be a tiny bit of black in each block. 

Each member of this bee is so very talented and as the blocks started arriving in the mail I became more and more excited and confident in my choice of  colors and curves inspired blocks. My husband and I would pick our favorite blocks as they arrived but in the end if I had to pick a favorite I would not be able to. Each block is unique to the maker and all very special to me. 

Once I had the blocks arranged and sewn together, I decided to treat each block as a mini quilt. This allowed me to quilt each block differently, trying new shapes and motifs. I am starting to feel more confident with my free motion quilting. It's true, the more you do the easier it gets. I need to improve on my starts and stops. I hate burying threads, so consequently I will never enter a juried quilt show. I am fine with my lazy attitude to free motion quilting. I make quilts to be used and I think back stitching makes the quilting less likely to come out through years of use.




Because the quilt has so much going on with all the colors, shapes and varied quilting I decided it needed a faced binding. I made the binding using the same fabric as the backing.

I am very pleased with the way this quilt turned out and I am so grateful to the women of Bee Sewcial for allowing me to be a part of this bee. 
Our youngest son has already put dibs on this quilt. I thought is looked very "1960's" with all the bright colors and fun shapes. He has a mid-century modern house, so it might be a match made in heaven.
Bee Sewcial

Why have I never taken a quilt to be photographed with this background on our Main Street in town? I wanted to photograph it by some modern buildings, but that is why this post is so long overdue...I never found the right building.

Quilt stats:

Finished size: 54"x72"
Fabric: variety of solids
Thread: quilted with Connecting Threads 40 wt. in Cream
Collaboration: blocks were made by the amazing women of BeeSewcial
Quilted by: myself, free motion on my Bernina 820
Batting: Warm and White
Backing: Art Gallery Pure Elements Raspberry Rose
Binding: faced, using this tutorial. Fabric same as the backing. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A May Scraptastic Tuesday

I started a new and fun project this year. For each month I have to make my bee blocks for my friends I've decided to make them a pot holder, as a little extra gift. These are all made out of scraps and each one has been different so far this year. Each one has been a last minute inspiration but I recently discovered a friend on Instagram who makes the cutest little sewing illustrations. I've used some of her drawings as inspiration, bought a few of her 99 cent patterns and I've come up with a few of my own. It's been really fun. I am also heavily influenced by the lovely sewing illustrations of Katsa Wikman. 
I make sure to use two layers of InsulBright and I also use a layer of batting so that these pot holders are usable and heatproof. The last thing I want is for someone to get burned while using a gift I've made them.
These are just too fun not to make one everyday. 

I'm linking up with Nicky and Leanne of Scraptastic Tuesday. 
What's your favorite way to use up scrap? 

Scraptastic Tuesday

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Stitch Supply Retreat

Several months ago I had the distinct privilege to be invited to attend the Stitch Supply Retreat in Altoona, Wisconsin. I met Ann Sandler at Sew South a few years ago when she had just started her online fabric business. In the few short years since the first Sew South retreat Ann has turned her online business into a brick and mortar fabric store and a beautiful retreat center. This retreat took place April 13-17, just a few weeks ago.

The retreat was by invitation and it was made up of almost all of our Stash Sew-ciety bee members and several of Ann's personal friends. There were 16 of us and we all had the very best time together. 
I tried to organize a bag swap but Jennifer and I were the only ones to participate. I ended up with a beautiful, large quilt as you go tote made of some of Jennifer's treasured fabrics. I made her a Gatherer's Cross Body Bag.
Ann's fabric store is beautifully bright and she has a wide selection of all the latest modern fabrics, patterns and books. She also carries yarn and several notions. It's a one stop shop for sure and if you are ever near Altoona, WI, be sure to stop by.
The kitchen is so cozy and comes complete with everything you can possible need to prep, cook and eat food. The wall of coffee mugs and the mixing bowl lights that Ann had specially made are just beautifiul.
The retreat house is attached to the fabric store, which is dangerous to the wallet, so say the least. It sleeps 16, in four elegant dormitory style bedrooms . Each room has a theme. I was in the Alison Glass room. We had our own cubby for our clothes and personal items, and an en suite bathroom.
There is a sitting room for knitting and when you need a break from the crowd. Even the mudroom was perfectly thought put with it's own entrance leading to the retreat center.
We are convinced that Ann did not leave anything out.Every detail was so carefully thought out. I'm wondering if she would consider franchising this plan, because it is perfection. Mr.Romance and I are thinking this would be a great retirement project for us...the Stitch Supply Company west coast division!

We all fell in love with the coverlets that Ann had on our beds, so as soon as I got home I ordered one for my guest room.

There were so many beautiful quilts being created by everyone. One of Ann's friends is a very talented painter. She was working on a painting of her 4 year old daughter. There were people knitting, someone was learning to make a quilt. There was so much talent and everyone was willing to share their knowledge. It really was a magical weekend.
I took my Curves not Curves quilt so I could get a photo with the bee gals who helped make it. There were 8 of the 10 in attendance. Not able to attend were Dana and Amy, and they were really missed. 

I cut out this entire quilt at home and arranged it and got it all sewn on the first full day at retreat.

I also took my Fancy Forest kit. I was able to get all the fabric cut and then pieced the first firefly. Man, these things take forever. So many sub-cuts. But, I think once complete, this will be a well loved quilt. 

I wanted to make one of each animal at the retreat but ended up making three foxes, one firefly, a bunny and an owl. I made the hedgehog since arriving home.

Ann has an electric  Go cutter, so several of us took advantage of it's availability and cut a flowering snowball quilt. I bought most of the Tiger Lily line by Heather Ross in Ann's shop and then filled it in with a few other coordinating prints. I started a few blocks at the retreat and then finished it this week at a home sew day with friends. More details when I get ready to quilt it.
I also used the Go cutter to cut the scraps from the snowball quilt into mini clam shells and also 2-1/2" squares for some future projects. There was not much waste by cutting these shapes for future projects.

There is so much more I can say about this retreat. The food was catered and every single meal was delicious. The one night we went out to dinner we enjoyed some local favorites including Poutine and cheese curds, delicious burgers, fried pickles, local beer and cheeses. We kept a never ending supply of drinks and snacks and not one person made a fool of themselves. That alone was worth going to this retreat. It's nice to be with people who don't use their time away from home to get drunk and make fools of themselves.
All in all, this was a great group, a fantastically productive and fun weekend. I huge thank you to Ann for being the most gracious hostess.  Did I mention that she arranged for a massage therapist to come on Friday and Saturday. Boy, did I need that massage after sewing for what seemed like 30 hours with nearly a break. I can hardly wait for next year.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gatherer's Crossbody Bag Number Three

This is the third Gatherer's Crossbody bag I have made using Noodlehead's free pattern
This one is made for my swap gift for the Stash Sewciety Retreat I am attending this week.
I used the new Art Gallery Fabric Denims to make the outside of the bag.

Gatherer's Crossbody Bag

The lining is a print from Karen Lewis' Blueberry Park collection in one of my favorite colors. 
I also made a little card and cash zip pouch, with an outside vinyl pocket, for a driver's license.

Gatherer's Crossbody Bag

We are having a blind swap, and out of the 16 ladies attending, I don't think many are participating. I hope the person who gets this bag will like it as much as I do. I like smaller bags and this one is the perfect size for me.

Gatherer's Crossbody Bag

Gatherer's Crossbody Bag

I made a few changes to the pattern:
  • I quilted the back of the bag and the contrasting flap.
  • I added an inserted zipper pocket to the back of the bag.
  • Instead of tying the strap to the loops, I attached it with rivets. I like that look a lot.