Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From us...

To you!

My wish for you is lots of laughter...

An extra hand...

And undeniably pure love...

Hug your loved ones tight.  Cherish each moment.  We can be so arrogant in assuming tomorrow will come.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pinwheel Tutorial

Ever discover a really easy way to do something and feel like you are the last person to know?  That's where I was earlier this week.  I'm doing a shabby chic pinwheel quilt for a customer.  I was hopping around on the Internet looking for some ideas on pinwheels, sizes, etc.  I happened across a new way to cut pinwheels that was incredibly fast.

Here we go:

I needed 24 blocks that were 6 inches finished.  Basic pinwheels typically have a solid color (often white) and then a print.  I started with 48 blocks that measured 5.5 inches.

I *HIGHLY* recommend you press all of these squares with a little Best Press.  I have talked about it before here.  When you work with triangles, there is always the danger of stretching and distorting the shape.  A light starch like Best Press will help give you some protection.  Plus, the stuff smells SOOOO good.

Take two squares (one solid and one print)....

...and put them right sides together.

You will then sew around the edges using a quarter inch seam allowance.  There are two things that will make this process SO much easier.

The first thing is a quarter inch foot.  This is something that I didn't have with my last machine.  It came with my Symphony.  I adore this foot.  Mine is a generous 1/4 inch.  If I really need a precise 1/4, then I would use the 1/4 inch markings on my machine.  I am amazed at how much easier this foot makes piecing.  I flew through these squares.

The other is the pivot option on my machine.  When the pivot option is selected (the picture of the presser foot that the huge red arrow is point to), the foot comes up with the needle down, every time I stop sewing.  It is amazing how much faster you can go around a square when you don't have to stop, lift, turn, lower, go.

All I have to do is stop...


And keep going.

Once your squares all done, head to the cutting mat.

Now we have a square that has a seam sewn around all 4 sides.  

You are going to cut on the diagonal from one corner to another.

Then put the two halves back together and rotate to the other diagonal.

Cut along the second diagonal.  You will end up with 4 triangles.

Open the 4 triangles and you will see the classic, pinwheel squares.  Take these to your iron, set the seams and press the seams open.  Make sure the seam is pressed towards the darker fabric.  Otherwise, it will be seen through the white.  Please, stop and iron.  I only finger pressed these because I was tired and lazy, the night I took these pictures.  You will see the uneven edges that resulted from my laziness.  Be a good quilter and use your iron as much as your machine.

Now, rotate the squares into the pinwheel shape.  Sew the top two together.  Then sew the bottom two together.

One hint, if you want to use your quarter inch foot, start with the side that has the corners that hang over.  It will save you a lot of headache and ripped stitches from fabric getting bunched up.

Now take the two halves and sew them together.  **VERY IMPORTANT**  Make sure the center line (where the top two squares are sewn together and where the bottom two squares are sew together) matches up perfectly.  Line the halves up first, using the center line.  If your edges are a bit uneven, you can always square them up.  If the center line doesn't match up, your pinwheel will not look like a pinwheel.

That's it!  I did these in batches.  I sewed all of them together.  Then took 4 or so at a time and cut, pressed, and sew back together.  

I thought a pinwheel quilt was going to take me a long time but these flew by.  You could easily sew a smaller pinwheel quilt in a day, using this technique.  Once the quilt is finished and with the end user, I will post a picture.  I did some cute things with it and can't wait to share.  If you try this, please share some pictures with me.  I would love to see what you do with this.

Thank you to MissouriQuiltCo for posting this tutorial on YouTube.



Friday, December 2, 2011

New and Improved E-Reader Clutch

Just for the record, that is absolutely the worst title for a blog post.  I could not come up with anything creative.  2 days of thinking and stressing brought about nothing.  So, I went with straight forward.  Boring but efficient.

I recently completed an e-reader clutch on my new BabyLock Symphony.  Not only is it my first e-reader clutch on this machine but it also my first, albeit small, quilting project using my Symphony.  I love that I was able to FMQ, utility stitch and decorative stitch, all in one project.  Not only has the new machine increased the quality of my clutches but I get to add a lot of fun, unique touches to each clutch.

FMQ is wonderful on this machine.  I did it both with the foot and with just the start/stop.  My stitches are far more regular.  The machine really glides and the large extension table gives me adequate room.  As does the large throat space.

I got daring and tried a new FMQ design.  It turned out really well.  I saw the design and many others here.  It is a great site for inspiration.

I was able to bind off the pocket using a decorative stitch.  Typically, I bind the pocket, as I bind anything.  Machine straight stitch on, fold over, press and ladder stitch closed by hand.  I decided to use a decorative stitch because, well... I CAN!!!  

I don't usually put a button hole in but I can actually put one in large enough, that it worked out.  No more having to use the elastic string to keep these closed.  I also used the machine to sew the button on.  My machine can sew buttons!  And it was such a simple process.  I have used a buttonholer before and Symphony's is straight forward.  The button foot was equally simple and after a user error, I got it perfectly on the second try.

I am also able to make my own tags.  I was doing these really sad tags that were handwritten with permanent marker.  This was a first rough design.  I'd like to get some printer fabric and do a combo of printing the website and monogramming with my Symphony.  I need to get a printer first.  Then the fabric.  Then the free time to test it out.  The fancy tags will go on my list of things to do.  For now, I have something that looks at least some what professional.

This by far has been the best e-reader clutch I've made.  My FMQ has improved immensely.  I like that I can easily use and access all the added features of the Symphony.  It *really* shows on my end product.

I'm starting a pinwheel quilt tonight.  I'm salivating, I'm so excited about it.  I am using some fabrics that I've never quilted with before.  I also found a tutorial on how to quickly piece the simple pinwheels together.  I have never seen this method before.  I will share all the details, when I finish the quilt.  I am so excited about the experience.  After that, we have an upcoming short trip, which means I get to visit quilt shops and blog about them.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

♪♫ Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.... ♪♫

That's what is playing on the radio, as I type.  My house is finally decorated for the Christmas holidays.  Since my house is decorated, I decided my blog should be next.

I received a few new orders, so I am doing price sheets tonight.  I will finish up the e-reader post tomorrow night.

Here is a teaser though....


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm working on a blog post right now.  I made an e-reader cover and used a bunch of the bells and whistles on my BabyLock.

However, I'm from Texas.  It is cold.  We are wimps.

I'm sitting next to this.

It is quite lovely.

Stay warm.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

My first project 100% completed on the BabyLock!

I started with this.  The brown couch.  The back pillows sucked.  Really, there is no better word for it.  AND the dog enjoyed turning the back pillows into a dog bed.  I don't blame him, they look like a dog bed.  I had some pillows from Ikea, that were supposed to be used on our bed.  I got the idea to use them on the couch and we ended testing out the two I already had for a few days.  They worked out great, so I went out and bought more pillows.  I have enough to make 7 total but we are just trying out 5 for now.

Easiest home decor project to date.  I'm not really a home decor person.  Quilting is where my skill set lies.  I have to admit, these pillows have me looking around wondering what else I can easily change up.  I didn't use a pattern.  I just kind of guessed and went along.  The first 3 came out on the long side by about 2 inches.  I will go back and fix them eventually.  The last 2 came out perfectly.

I used an invisible zipper.  I love invisible zippers!  In my opinion, they go in easily and give such a professional finish.

I love the professional look of the fabric too.  I purchased it from Hancock Fabrics.  I was able to work in the red couch and orange walls.  We just bought this house and I don't expect to update the living room for a good year or so.  I want to redo all the bedrooms first.  These new pillows have easily bought me that time.

I did work in a khaki solid.  The flower print is smooth to the touch and the khaki has a slight burlap feel.  Both are machine washable on a cold and gently cycle.  That was super important since I have very young kids.  I was worried that the flower print would be too much.  It has the 3 B's.  Busy, bright and big.  The khaki does it job by toning down the flower print.  The flower print actually brightens up the brown couch considerably.

The BabyLock did a lot to make this project fly by.  One of the greatest features of the BabyLock, in my opinion, is that fact that I have every foot I'll ever need.  The zipper foot easily placed the invisible zippers.  The all purpose J foot made the thicker fabrics a breeze.  The needle down, auto reverse and thread snip, all came in handy.  It is amazing how much quicker things go, when you aren't searching for scissors, stopping to reverse and place ending stitches.

I have two other projects to share with you but I need them to reach their end users first.  Stay tuned!

He is just too cute to pass up.  I took this picture while taking pictures of the couch.  He is getting so big!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I have a new Baby!!

A new BabyLock Symphony that is.

I picked her up at the International Quilt Festival.  It is pretty much the only purchase I made.

I am working my way through the manual right now.  I will take an intro class after Thanksgiving.  I have 3 projects lined up to try her out.  I'm in love.  I might have hugged her.  I might do a detailed review of the machine or I may just display her wonders as I go.  FMQ is a dream now.  So many of the issues I had before have disappeared.

And she needs a name.

I want to be buried with this machine.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

International Quilt Festival - Houston

Sometimes living in Houston area isn't the greatest thing.  It's hot.  It's humid.  There is smog.  Lots and lots of people and not a single one knows how to drive.


The one thing we do get is the International Quilt Festival.  It made the 800 days of triple digit heat that we had this summer, well worth it.

This pictures is taken from the 2nd floor and covers from the center to the right.  To the right of this section is the exhibits.  To the left of this center is the same number of booths.  Honestly, this show is crazy.  There is nothing that can't be found here.  You can catch a few more pictures on my Facebook page.

I ended up sick the day of the show and only stayed a few short hours.  I was able to look at some of the beautiful quilts that were on display.  Did a little shopping.  And, after 6 long years with my base line mechanical beast, I purchased a new computerized machine.  Expect another post about that, once the machine arrives.

Next year I hope to be well, to have a hotel room and take two days at the show.  And a class or two.

If you're a quilter, consider this Mecca.  You need to take a trip at least once in your life time.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Texas Fires...

Please take a moment and send your good thoughts and prayers to our state.  The fires are spreading far, wide and fast, as you can see here.

We need rain here so badly.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Still unpacking...

Here I sit, unable to quilt.  Frustration abounds, so do blog postings.

Most Internet savvy quilters know about Leah over at The Free Motion Quilting Project.  She is who you turn to, when you need inspiration for a FMQ design.  What some aren't aware of is the beautiful art quilts that Leah creates and their source of inspiration.  I am constantly in awe of her stunning creations.  Leah's willingness to share herself is truly a gift to me.  Visit the link below, it is a wonderful inspiration.

The Free Motion Quilting Project

My sewing room is arranged but all my stuff is still in boxes.  We are having a problem locating the parts to my cutting table.  We will get there, eventually...

Create something for me, please.  I need to live vicariously through someone.  I'm threatening to knit.  I need some dish clothes.  My knitting is scary but it's a risk I'm willing to take.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

***blows dust away****



Long time no see!

I took the summer off to unexpectedly buy our first home.  It was a crazy experience.  Stressful experience.  But hey, what doesn't kill you, only makes you more grey stronger.  We made it out the other side just fine and slowly settling into our new home.

The upside is that I have my own space.  Before I was just utilizing a formal dining area, that was part of the living room.  We had a good 15 feet of baby gate, separating the two rooms.  Now I have 4 walls!  F.O.U.R. people.  Four whole walls.  And doors.  And windows.  I have a standard sized window and another large window.  I have lots natural light, people.  I am so excited.

The downside is that I'm still unpacking the house.  Our DD started kindergarten about 5 days after we moved in.  Between school for DD, school for DH, school for DS, various move in projects and me doing most of the unpacking alone, my sewing room must come last.  So, I won't be participating in quite a few shows that I had been invited to.  I do have lots of ideas in mind.  I'm hoping to be ready for the Christmas season.  It's just going to take some time.

I can't wait to back into the swing of things.  I miss my machine and fabrics and rulers and rotary blade....

See you soon!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Now I'm under construction...

My husband had an amazing stretch of 3 days off.  Something he hasn't had in weeks.  Instead of letting him rest, we are reorganizing my sewing area.  I need some shelves built, some things hung, and an eventual peg board added.  All of these will allow for me to work more efficiently, be able to fold and store all of my fabric.  (Here is my fabric folding tutorial.)  I actually have only stopped for a minute because Rick had to head out to get a part for his drill, so I'm doing some other chores.

I am working on lots of quilts.  Well I was until this morning, when we gutted out my area.  I will have pictures soon.  Once I find the camera....

Yeah, that's what it has been like around here lately.  :)


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Galleries added and updates!

The galleries aren't finished but they are there!  Up above you should see three tabs: Clutches, Blankets and Home Decor.  Clicking one of those, will lead you to a page of pictures.  You can see an up close view by clicking on the individual photo.  I'm excited that visitors to the blog don't have to leave the site to find pictures of my creations.  I will still list what I can on Facebook, when Facebook actually allows me to upload photos.

I'm currently working on my 4th of July, Americana, Texas, patriotic pride items.  I have an American Flag in Motion wall hanging on the design table.  After that will be a Lone Star table runner.

Mark your calendars!  The next Lone Star 1st Saturday in Montgomery will be June 4th.  And we will be in the shade for the next few months!  A lot of great vendors were there last time and the show is continually growing.  Make plans to stop by and see us.

I still have a quilt shop to review and a binding tutorial to put up.  I will try to pull myself away from my machine and get those done.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Going back under construction....

I am going to be adding a quilt gallery directly to the blog.  That way, people can see what I've made without having to go through Facebook. 

So, things may appear wonky, there may be broken links, etc, for a day or two.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

All Around the Block in Giddings, Tx

Google maps is as much a joy in my life as a source of frustration. When we decided to drive through Giddings, I grabbed my iPhone and started searching for shops in town. I found two in Giddings and, according to Google maps, one was very much along our route. Just off the main road.

As we followed the path bestowed upon us by the great Google, we though it had once again led us astray. We were headed down a residential street and we knew how it always turned out, when Google leads us down a residential street. A few years ago, Google took us to a TCBY, squarely in the middle of a subdivision. I had never been more disappointed in my life and briefly considered knocking on the door, to see if maybe it was a TCBY in disguise.

We thought we were amidst another TCBY incident. I happen to notice at the end of the street, that quite a few cars were parked. Enough cars to make me think that there might be a business at the end. And sure enough, there was a quilt shop. 

All Around the Block (AAB) is the epitome of big things in small packages. I admitted to the owner and I will admit here, that my husband and I both were a bit disappointed by what appeared to be the size of the shop. It looked tiny. We were on a schedule and wanted to hit a shop in Brenham before they closed. Wishing we would have gone to the other shop in Giddings, I realized that I just didn't have time to go back. So, I sent my husband and kids to a nearby gas station. I knew they would take longer getting gas than I would browsing this shop.

Boy was I wrong!

When you walk through the front door of AAB, you are mesmerized by the sheer number of bolts in the front room.

One of the owners (a mom and daughter team) will encourage you to keep going back.

Then you head to the left...

Then down the hallway...

The back corner, behind the pattern sets, is the clearance section!!!
Then you realize you have entered what might be the clown car of quilt shops.  :)  I literally called my husband and told him he had to come into the store, after getting gas.  That he would not believe his eyes. 

AAB has the fabric you need.  I can almost guarantee it.  And if it isn't the exact one you need, they will have something similar.  They will also have at least 10 fabrics that you didn't realize you need but will end up buying.  The largest collection of batiks that I have ever seen.  Loads of panels.  Despite the large number of bolts (I arrived on stocking day), the store is well organized.  Sports with sports.  Solids with solids.  Texas themed.  Flowers.  Baby/nursery.  And on and on...

They had an abundant selection of fat quarters.  A great variety of Best Press scents and sizes.  Patterns.  And a variety of notions, some hard to find ones.  The owners are two of the sweetest people you will ever meet.  Despite their location (and let's face it, once you find this place, you will never forget it), I was really impressed with the amount of traffic that was coming in and out.  There was quite the steady flow.

My single and only regret with this shop is that I only had about 30 minutes to shop.  I probably got through maybe a 1/4 of the stock.  There were corners that I never got close too, beyond walking past.  I am definitely scheduling another trip out to AAB. 

AAB is located about 2 blocks off of Main Street at  979 North Leon Street in Giddings.  You can take US Hwy 290 from the east/west or US Route 77 from the north/south.  The shop is located in a residential area.  It is there, at the corner on the end.  Just keep going.  You will be SO glad that you did.

A few notes:
  • AAB did not in anyway ask me or compensate me for this blog post. These are purely my thoughts and feelings, free from coercion.
  • This is store 4 of 5.  Look for the last store next week.
  • I just finished a purple version of The Giving Tree quilt that is gorgeous.  It is shipping out to the new owner today!
  • My next tutorial will be on continuous bias binding.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today was going to be blogging day...

And quilting day.

And relaxing day.

And enjoying myself day.

Instead, it turned into resetting the router for 3 hours day.  We lost power earlier in the week and it blew the settings on our wireless router.  Luckily, it didn't blow the entire router.  After resetting, fighting, resetting again, adding in 9 million different MAC addresses, I'm back online and out of time.  I have quilts to finish, dinner to make, and kids to bathe.

I'll try again tomorrow.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Simple Sewing Solutions in Lockhart, TX

I have to give full disclosure before telling you about this quilt shop.  Maybe it is because of the excellent BBQ in town.  Maybe because it is the unbelievable prices.  Maybe it is the quaintness of the town.  But Simple Sewing Solutions (SSS) is my absolutely favorite quilt shop.  In.The.World. 

I was fortunate enough to accidentally find SSS in August 2010, while vacationing with my husband in nearby Austin.  We stopped in town to visit Kreuz, home of phenomenal BBQ.  I was in love the moment I set foot in SSS.  When we planned this year's trip to Fredericksburg, it was required that we stop in Lockhart again.
SSS isn't the biggest shop I've ever be too.  And it doesn't have a massive stock of fabrics.  What it does have is the RIGHT fabrics.  There isn't any filler or fluff here.  Every time I visit,  I easily walk away with two quilts worth of fabric.  Everything I need.  I typically find I have to visit at least 3 different shops to complete a quilt.  SSS has such the perfect collection, that I can get everything I need there.

And the prices!  Oh the prices...  There is such a great mix of fabric prices.  And don't worry that lower prices means lower quality of fabric.  There is no skimping on brand names at SSS.  I have gotten Moda, Marcus Fabrics, Free Spirit and so many more.  What I think I love most about the fabric selection is that it isn't one line heavy.  I have walked into so many shops that appear to be receiving versus hand picking fabrics.  I get the sense that SSS hand picks every fabric.  It is that individual attention, that makes this store so unique.

The individual attention doesn't stop with just the fabric.  Look at this register counter:

If I remember correctly, the counter is an original part of the shop.  The owner added parts from her century old home.  I have mentioned before my love of repurposed items.  If I could have loaded this into my minivan, I would have!  Much of the store's architecture is original. The ceiling pipes and tiles. The huge window displays. The sidewalk out front still has horse tie up rings!

The walls of SSS are filled with quilts.  Some finish, some blocks.  All beautiful and inspirational.

Beyond fabrics, SSS has a full wall of notions, ribbons, buttons.  Plentiful stash of fat quarters.  Books, classes and an incredibly knowledgeable staff can help you with any project.  And there is always good conversation.  Always.

Learn more about Simple Sewing Solutions on their Facebook page.

Simple Sewing Solutions is located in the heart of historic downtown Lockhart, less than a hour south of Austin.  Their address is 111 West San Antonio Street.  From the north or south you can take US Hwy 183 into Lockhart.  From the west you can head into town via State Hwy 142.

Lockhart side note:

I'm not one to get involved in conflicts but Lockhart has been the heart of a BBQ war for many years now.  An episode of Food Wars is the only reason we decided to venture down there, back in August 2010.  More information on the episode can be seen here.  We stopped by Kreuz on that fate filled day back in August and our lives have been forever changed.  :)  Smitty's might be good and maybe even better.  We can't bring ourselves to try anything else.  For us, Kreuz is the Alpha and Omega of BBQ.  Don't take my word for it.  Stop by and have your life changed too!

A few notes:
  • SSS did not in anyway ask me or compensate me for this blog post. These are purely my thoughts and feelings, free from coercion.
  • The Farmer's Market in Montgomery was incredible yesterday.  It was a pleasure to get the chance to be a vendor.
  • I have a few things that sold and never made it to my Etsy shop.  Make sure you are checking out my Facebook page.  (There is a link on the right side of the page)  I always put pictures up there of things I've made.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Hug a Mother today.  Even if she isn't your own!

Today is a great day to celebrate your own mother, whoever that may be.  As we all know, mothers can take many forms.  Sometimes it is someone who adopted us.  Sometimes it is someone who gave birth to us.  Sometimes it is a grandmother, aunt, or sister.  In other cases, a mother may be a woman who is absolutely no family relation to you.  The most important thing today is to find that woman who has helped you, nurtured you, loved you and provided you with all the support, that only a mother can provide and tell her you appreciate her for everything she has done.

Today, I also celebrate my children.  As their mother, I have been fortunate enough to learn lessons, that only they could have taught me.

My daughter's perseverance and knowledge that she really can do anything that she wants.  

My son's laid back approach to life and endless giggles.  (This picture doesn't really show that, I just really adore this picture and have been wanting to use it.)

I could never be the mother that I am, without having the children that I do.  I am eternally grateful for that.

(And my husband is pretty darn awesome too!)


Friday, May 6, 2011

Montgomery Farmer's Market

Tomorrow, I will be at the Montgomery Farmer's Market. Come out and see me.

Pick up some locally grown produce. Check out booths filled with handmade goods from a variety of artists. Sit back and enjoy live music and good food!

This picture is property of HMBA.  You can find additional pictures of Montgomery, TX by following this link.

Montgomery is such an enchanting town.  The rustic downtown is filled with a variety of stores and eateries.  If you are looking for antiques, this is the place to be in Montgomery county. 

There is so much history and beauty to consume in this town.  A little known fact: Montgomery is the birth place of the Texas state flag. 

It is the perfect place to spend your Saturday.

Lone Star First Saturday and Farmer's Market is located in historic downtown Montgomery. At the intersection of FM 149 and College Street.

Visit the Lone Star First Saturday and Farmer's Market website for more information.

You can also visit the HMBA website for more information about the town of Montgomery.

I can't wait to see you there!