Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Resolutions & Giveaway

Two winners chosen at 4 pm New Year's Day. I notified Patty and Kathryn. The contest is over.

It's coming! It's coming! 2013 is coming SOON! Are you ready? Do you have any New Year's resolutions? And how did you do last year? Can I share with you what my resolution (yes, only one, let's be realistic here) was for 2012? I resolved to always listen to the voices in my head. Wait! Don't leave! I'm not crazy.

We all recognize those little, tiny, insistent "voices" that seem to compel us to take a different path, to make a different choice. And most are based on good information. I paid more attention to my hunches in 2012 and I was very thankful I did. Don't speak that sharp word. Stop speeding. Only eat one cookie (and not 5). Be kind to the person you don't like.

Happy New Year blocks from my Quilter's Block a Day Calendar
And what about quilters' resolutions? What are yours for 2013? At the bottom of this post I'll ask you to share your own quilter's resolution (and any others you have: lose weight, go back to school, save more money, etc) and I'll have a giveaway (actually 2!). But, I was reminded of a challenge I made to myself regarding making a block a day for an entire year! Yes, can you believe it?

Here is the first paragraph as it was published in Quilt Magazine in 2003. The story is actually true!

"I heard of a professional quilter who challenged herself to stitch a quilt block a day FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. It seemed an impossibility for anyone other than a woman stranded on a desert island with her sewing machine, fabric and thread. It certainly couldn’t apply to me - a busy wife and mother, living in a very large metropolitan city with an outside job to help put two daughters through college. Where did this lady find not only the time to sew a quilt block each of the 365 days in a year, but where did she get the mental persistence to make one on her busiest days, her down days, her days when she traveled? I never got a chance to ask her. No need to wait for New Year’s Day (though I did) to begin. I just set out to do it! Here is how..."

For the full story and tips on how to keep it all together with a monthly theme, click on the article here:  Block a Day Challenge

I am going to post these blocks throughout January, February and March so you can see how I did. The set is over 10 years old - yikes! 90 blocks!

Now, for the giveaway for the New Year. I have a partial jelly roll from Blank Quilting - 13 strips 2-1/2" x wof. They are from their Fabrications Brights Collection and are so fun to use with a black or white background.
Half jelly roll (13 strips) = 7/8 yard
13 strips in bright, playful colors and patterns
And the second giveaway? A sample collection from Red Rooster Fabrics a few years ago. These 6 fabrics are approximately 10" x 24" for a total of one yard of fabric. They were crying on my shelf wanting a new home since I never bothered to use them.

Earthy sunflower collection of 6 fabrics by Red Rooster
What do you have to do to win? Tell me your Quilter's New Year's Resolution. Or any other resolution for 2013.  I will use the Random Number Generator to select my winner.

Please be a follower. I don't want you to miss all my future posts about my own Block a Day challenge. I will be sharing over 90 blocks!

Remember, in order to win, I must have your email. And the contest deadline is New Year's Eve at midnight.

I read every one of your comments, though with a heavy volume when there's a giveaway (wonder why that is?), I can't always reply. But I do value what you say and I bet I'm going to really enjoy all the plans and resolutions you share with me! Thanks so much for visiting.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Red & Green Antique Quilts

This is my favorite Christmas quilt, though it was originally made without Christmas in mind. It is based on two antique blocks: Oak Leaf (the one with the four large green leaves in diagonal position) and Rose Wreath (the four stylized applique flowers). I made this quilt at least 15 years ago and planned on hand applique. I threw the first block into the trash can and then pulled out the fusible web, my sewing machine and made the whole quilt by machine and was very happy doing it. I even machine quilted it.

This quilt appeared in the Winter 1997 issue of Quilt Magazine.

The blocks are 14" and the quilt is 51" x 51"

Red and green quilts are historic and traditional and there have been years that this quilt hangs in my home when it's not Christmas. This year she graces my kitchen and I enjoy it all day long!

Single block Rose Wreath quilt
Here is another favorite, though this one has gone to another home to live in. My editor, Jean Ann Wright, gave me an antique, orphan block she had and told me to do something with it. The block itself was 35" square! I added the same triple sash and 9 Patch cornerstone treatment you see in the Oak Leaf and Rose Wreath quilt. The block was over 100 years old. Again, the red and green historically was not restricted to Christmas. And I never hesitate to have my red and green quilts out in months other than December.

Reproduction Antique Baskets Quilt
This quilt has been hangining in my living room since May 2010. I made it in 2005 based on an antique quilt I saw in one of our magazines. The blocks are 9" and the quilt is about 36" x 36". It is one of the 13 patterns that will be in my 2014 wall calendar of quilts. This is actually the second quilt I made of this pattern. The first one was made for Windham Fabrics.

Garden Walk Quilt for Windham Fabrics
I do not own this quilt and no one ever could figure out who ended up with it! What a shame, but I am hopeful she lives in a happy and appreciative home.

I hope you enjoyed my little red and green corner. Merry Christmas to you and I'm wishing you safe travels, happy family time and if you can squeeze some quilting in, I'm hoping that makes you happy, too!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quilter's Blog Hop Party & Giveaway

Two of my favorite holiday quilts - quick, easy and DONE!
The contest is over and I have notified the winner, Carol M. Thanks to all who participated!

I've been busy decorating my home with all my Christmas quilts. A neighbor came over last week and said, "Gee. You keep a lot of quilts!" Sure. Why not? It's just that I have them everywhere.

The holidays are filled with parties. What about parties for quilters?

Party time at the Quilting Gallery. They are celebrating their 5th birthday with links to 150 quilting blogs with giveaways at every one!
The Quilting Gallery's 5th Birthday Celebration

What is that? Here, let them say it in their own words:

Meet thousands of quilters from around the world in the quilting bloggers directory, then browse the quilt shop locator for quilting retailers and professionals. Find connections in our world-wide directory of quilt guilds and search for the latest in quilting books, patterns and notions in the quilter's market.

Visit hundreds of quilt sites with ALL offering giveaways!

And, yes, that means that I am also offering a giveaway. I'm part of the blog hop and it's my way to celebrate, too! I am offering one of my calendars to one lucky winner.

USA or Canadian winners will get a copy of my 2013 quilting calendar
Hundres of blocks and dozens of quilts
If my winner is international, then a copy of my OTHER block a day calendar CD will be sent (it has to do with the heavy weight of the first calendar). This has 366 blocks in 2 sizes each, 12 quilts and another 12 quilts online with tips and sewing hints. An awesome product - you can even SEE ALL THE BLOCKS HERE on my web site. A lot of inspiration and eye candy!

What do you have to do? Just leave me a comment letting me know your own (or your child's) favorite story book. You don't have to be a follower, but I certainly won't stop you if you sign up. This way you won't miss my future posts and more GIVEAWAYS!

The contest closes at midnight December 15th (EST in the USA). Then Mr. Random Number Generator will select one lucky winner and I will notify him/her.

Now, go visit all of the fabulous other quilt blogs from around the world at The Quilting Gallery. Make sure you pace yourself! So as not to overwhelm those at the beginning of the alphabet on the Gallery page, start hopping on those blogs that begin with the first letter of your own name (ie, I would start with the "Ds".

Hanukkah - Festival of Lights

My Hanukkah quilt, made years ago and gifted to a Jewish friend

Today is December 9th, Hanukkah or Chanukah (it's been spelled differently). It is the Festival of Lights. It's more than just a magical lamp that had enough oil to burn for 8 days during an uprising in ancient Israel. Jewish people were overcoming their oppressors and there is more to the story. I am a Christian and not Jewish, but this story is very powerful about a strong willed people wanting their freedom to worship as they wished. I celebrate this strong will and believe all people should be free to worship as they wish - or if they don't wish! We in America respect this and I say to my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Quick Holiday Gift Tag Ideas

Easy and quick gift cards
These were made several years ago and appeared in one of the magazines I worked for. I used holiday panel fabrics, fussy cut motifs, and fused them onto card stock. Some are single pieces of paper with a hole punch for stringing ribbon through. Others I folded like a card so I could write more inside. You can even see the little card on the top left where I used my faithful Bernina 1230's alphabet to write "Merry Merry" around the sides and top. And Santa's head? It's the center of a mini log cabin block that I layered with batting and backing and quick stitched for some extra color.

Look through your stash to find those little holiday prints (or any prints, for that matter) that you can cut out and fuse to card stock (I used a fusible web; glue will work also).

You can use this idea for any time of the year for any occasion. I just happened to have a whole set of these for a class I taught a few years ago. Enjoy the inspiration!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Socky the Monkey - and a Giveaway

This contest is over (ended midnight Friday December 7)
My trusty Random Number Generator selected my winner. Alas, one of the numbers was for someone who was a "no-reply" commenter, so I had to go to the next number. I'm waiting for Cecilia to reply so I can get her mailing info.

Windham Wednesdays and a new collection that is fabulous. The Socky Collection by Whistler Studios is the sock puppet who entertains us all with his smile and his antics. As it says on the Windham web site (and I didn't know this!):

The Socky Collection by Whistler Studios for Windham Fabrics
Sock Monkeys have been around since the late 1800's.  During the Depression, Sock Monkeys were at the height of their popularity.  In 1920, a Sock Monkey was constructed out of a pair of Rockford Red Heel Socks and sent to the company, Nelson Knitting Mills.  The company thought it was a genius idea and Nelson started including Sock Monkey instructions with every pair of Rockford Red Heel Socks they sold.  Socky by Whistler Studios is a lighthearted collection that pays tribute to that original sock monkey design.

I created 3 blocks using my new, favorite (and quick) Twisted Hexagon block. I am addicted to this block, but I can't decide which one of these is my favorite. That's why I need your help. I plan on making a quilt using this block pattern and putting them into a giant hexagon circle (remember how I did that in the summer with the Owl fabric?). My friend Jeannine wants to help me make this quilt (as in: she sews, I write the pattern) and when it's done,  it will be available for you.

Socky Block #1 (with a buddy). Note the appliqued cut-out

Socky Block #2 (with 2 buddies), using a different fabric center

Socky Block #2 without buddies. Don't you just love that banana fabric?
 The banana fabrics are just yummy!

Socky Block #3. I captured just one of the blue shirted monkeys for the center.
What is the giveaway? A fat-quarter bundle of these Socky fabrics (and more companion pieces once I get my supply from Windham to make this quilt).

What do you have to do to win? Just leave me your opinion about which is your favorite block: Number One, Two or Three. I will use the Random Number Generator to select my winner.

Remember, in order to win, I must have your email. And the contest deadline is Friday, December 7th at midnight.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm a Little Teapot, Short and Stout - and a Giveaway

Teapots Collection by Blank Quilting
The contest is over and my Random Number Generator selected #7 and #22 to win my two prizes. I have contacted these ladies. Remember, I have Giveaways often and if you are a follower, you will know about them right away!
I received a small amount of a new collection of fabrics from Blank Quilting. These feature teapots from the personal collection of Diana Mancini, the Marketing Director for Blank. They are so beautiful and it's so much fun to see them in fabric. I took pictures of the companion fabrics yesterday and I wanted to get YOUR opinion of what sorts of things I should sew with them (yes, I can get more fabric!)

I want to appeal to the younger crowd, those who are new to sewing, don't have a lot of time to create things for their homes. I am thinking tea cozy (yawn?), table runner (what do you think?), kitchey things.
What do these fabrics say to you? I have companion blenders from Blank that will pick up any of the colors in the teapots, so suggest away!

Visit Blank on their Facebook page to see other new collections. Patterns. Pretties.  Fabric!
I love to see all the new things and the endless possibilities, don't you?

Here is a free pattern with a previous teapot print called Tea for Two.
Tea for Two, free pattern in two colorways
My giveaways (that means TWO winners):
Latest issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine
1. A copy of the new issue of the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks (just came on the newsstands).

2. A bundle of 6 fat quarters of these fabrics (after I get my main supply)

I must have your email for your chance to win. Leave a comment telling me your ideas about what to sew. It would be great if you were a follower (by "following" or email), but that's not necessary. Take a visit to Blank's Facebook page and like them (again, not a requirement, just go visit!)

The deadline is midnight Wednesday, December 5th.

In the meantime, here is a redraft of a Teapot from  the Kansas City Star newspaper, 1935. It's appliqué and would be delightful in any type of fabrics, vintage or modern. We still drink tea, mind you!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Santa Claus is Coming . . .

Last day of November. Don't even want to think about Christmas! (And yes, I have some Hanukkah quilts; they're coming!)

I do have a lot of quilts that I can share in the next few weeks and maybe even a few patterns. The first one I thought of is my paper pieced sampler. In looking through my computer files I see that this was published in 2003, so probably made a year before. It also appeared in my 2007 Block a Day Calendar.

Winter's Favorite Things, appeared in Quilt Magazine 2003
I'm going to dig around to see what I can find. If you still have the 2007 calendar, this appears in December (natch!).
Winter's Favorite Things from the 2007 Block a Day Calendar
These sorts of projects appear in my 2013 Block a Day calendar.
2013 Block a Day Calendar (hundreds of blocks, about 70 quilt projects)
 You can still order the 2013 Block a Day calendar.

I have so many quilts to share. I'm going to find a pdf of one of those foundation patterns and add it here in the next few days. I'm curious: which one of those patterns above would you like to see (if you had to pick one)? I may end up providing all the patterns, but I am curious as to which one grabs your interest!

1. Earmuffs
2. Ice Skate
3. Penguin
4. Fireplace
5. Pine tree
6. Cardinal

If you care to comment, please do! More quilts are coming!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Joys of Hex - Little Bugs

My Random Number Generator selected Alberta P. as the winner of my Spiderweb Ruler and set of 2 patterns (from Wednesday's post). Thanks to all 59 of those who commented and gave me their opinions of how to set those 16 Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks. I am close to putting them together, and it won't even be like the two options presented. I've been sleuthing!

Sometimes it's just fun to play with novelty prints. This new collection, Bugalicious by Blank Quilting was perfect for my current theme: The Joys of Hex/Turning 60.
One buggy hexagon and four spotted triangles
These were cut with a 60 degree ruler (not to be confused with a Kaleidoscope or Tri-Recs tool)
15 blocks stacked in rows of 5; dotted vertical sashing. Fun!
I combined all 3 of the colorways (green, yellow and blue). These butterflies, ladybugs and caterpillars will put a smile on any child, young or old.

These blocks were cut using my 60 degree Spiderweb ruler.

So, tell me about the hexagons. Any 60 degree ruler will do. Cut a strip the size of the finished height of your hexagon PLUS 1/2" (for seams). Fold in half along length (now the strip is 1/2 the cut size). Align the horizontal line on the ruler (along the fabric fold) that corresponds to the finished height PLUS 1/4". Cut along both sides. Open up and you will have the perfect hexagon (see the first picture above). Afraid to cut your fabric? Test drive this on any computer or construction paper.

And what does the quilt top look like?
Mitered borders (I was short of enough fabric of either print)
Yes, I'm on a roll with my love of hexagons. The Joys of Hex! Stay tuned because the more I sew, the more I discover. I have some more blocks to share later this week.

Friday, November 23, 2012

More Joys of Hex - Twisted Hexagons

You've probably noticed that many of my most recent posts are about hexagons and the 60 degree angle. It's my "Turning 60" series, subtitled "The Joys of Hex." This is Friday and I like to post about Benartex fabrics on Fridays. A new collection that I had no idea what to do with finally spoke loud enough to me to let me know what it wanted! This is the Feathers and Fancy Collection that is full of peacocks and beautiful, sophisticated curvy patterns. I discovered a block someone has called the Twisted Hexagon and I used my own half-hexagon template to cut out the patches.

First the block:
Twisted Hexagon block using Feathers & Fancy by Benartex
I discovered that the center hexagon shape can be fussy cut to include the entire peacock! How cool is that? The center hexagon is twice the finished height of the half-hexagon (of course!)

Full hexagon, fussy cut center using a freezer paper template cut from the half-hex tool
Cutting the half-hexagon patches with my acrylic template
The half hexagon patches are cut from a 3" x wof strip. Each strip yields 8 patches. Each block requires 3 orange and 3 green patches, plus the fussy-cut center.

Here is the alternate color placement. Notice that the green and orange patches are in a different order?
Twisted Hexagon Block 2, different color placement
Now, I only had enough of the orange to make 6 blocks. The fabulous gray leaf fabric is the perfect, modern color for the block backgrounds. I used my 60 degree Spiderweb ruler to cut the setting triangles. Both of these tools work so perfectly together. ANY 60 degree ruler can do both of these cuts. I just happened to realize that what I created for two different classes actually can be combined like this. Now I'm on a roll!!!

Here are 4 blocks sewn together (actually 6, but I only photographed 4). Still contemplating the borders.
4 of the 6 Twisted Hexagon blocks. Borders? Hmmm.
Notice how I had to arrange the placement of the two half-hexagon colors.

The 6 blocks will make a good sized table runner or wall banner. Since I only received 1/2 yard cuts of the collection, it limited what I could make (but I did receive all 3 of the colorways).

Yes, this will be an ADD ON to my Batik Braids (Half-Hexagon Braid) quilt pattern. Same template, very, very different block. You can even cut the center full hexagon using the half-hex template. More on that next week. I am playing with TWO (yes, TWO) more fabric combinations for this block. I think I'm addicted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Grandmother's Flower Garden & Giveaway

It's Wednesday and I made more of those New Colonies blocks. Remember the collection from last week?
New Colonies Collection by Windham Fabrics
And remember the block I showed sewn all by machine?

Well, how did I cut those hexagons using my Spiderweb/60 degree ruler? This is part of a future pattern series, so I won't be spelling everything out. Just showing the basics.

Fold strip in half along length. Align any 60 degree ruler along horizontal line that corresponds with cut strip minus 1/4". Cut along both sides of the ruler. (BTW, my name is on that ruler for when I teach this class and there are 20 rulers that all look alike!)

Well, how many did I make? (You can see my process in last week's post: New Colonies.)

16 Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks - all by machine!
Now, here is where I need your help. I can't decide how to arrange them. I will be stitching them to a white on white background fabric. I have pinned them up on my design wall in two arrangements. The lighting in my studio is not good for photography, so ignore that part. Just let me know which arrangement you think is more pleasant to you. If you want to say why, that's even better!

Assembly #1 - Like scattered flowers

Assembly #2 - Typical GFG arrangement
What's the giveaway and how do you qualify?

1. I am giving away my Spiderweb ruler (as shown above) which comes with patterns for two spiderweb quilts. It is a multi-use ruler that will cut units up to 6-1/2" (for blocks up to 12" finished). (I sell it for $13.)
2. Just leave a comment telling me what YOU think. Just your opinion. Even if I don't choose your arrangement later when I sew these together, I just want to hear from you (I need help!)
3. If you are a no-reply blogger, I have absolutely NO WAY to contact you and you forfeit your chance to win a prize. If you're fine with that, I still would like to have your comments!

Contest ends Friday, November 23 at midnight (EST in the USA).

Here are the pictures of the patterns included:

Spiderweb pattern #1 that comes with the ruler
Spiderweb pattern #2 using 2-1/2" strips (perfect for those Jelly Rolls)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vroom! Vroom! The Wheels on the Bus . . .

City Traffic Quilt by Pam Rocco, as seen in the latest issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine
It is very rare that I would make someone else's pattern. I don't get paid to make anything other than my own patterns. So, you know I was quite taken by Pam's quilt. The fun part is that the blocks are a combination improvisation and paper piecing. And it's a FREE PATTERN at the QNM web site. I asked permission from both QNM and Pam to share this and the blocks I am making for my oldest, favorite grandson (his little brother was born October 30, so he's my favorite youngest grandson.)

City Traffic Quilt is a free download at the QNM site and is very easy to follow and is several pages of color. I am making my blocks with a white background and got the cool idea to put people and critters in the windows. And my oldest daughter Audrey suggested I print pics of family members and put them in the windows! How cool is that?

Here are the blocks I have so far.
Smart Car (my grandson's parents actually own an orange smart car)

Big Orange Truck

Green Sedan (notice that tail pipe!)
Blue truck

The Big Yellow Bus with school kids having a wild party inside!
 These are fun. I am making several more once I get the special treated fabric to print pictures. I will share my progress. But if you think these are as cute as I think they are, go visit the QNM site and get a copy of your own City Traffic by Pam Rocco. Thank you, Pam and QNM. These are awesome!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Windham Wednesdays - New Colonies

I must confess: I am not a big fan of the muddy colors of reproduction fabrics. But when I saw this new collection from Windham Fabrics, New Colonies, I was immediately taken by them. Why? Who asks "why" when you have new fabric? You pull out your rotary cutter and start playing.

New Colonies fabrics by Windham. A bundle of 1/6 yards (12" x 22")

Aren't they beautiful?!!
 I am in my current streak "Turning 60" and my favorite shape, the HEXAGON, was beckoning. I had a set of 3" English Paper Piecing papers from years ago and started cutting out rectangles. Oh, you don't cut rectangles when you EPP? It sure is easier than skimpy hexagons and a lot quicker to cut.

Block #1 (fits on a 12-1/2" square). Notice the messy folds.
You don't think I'm going to leave the backs of the hexagons looking like this, do you? It is faster to whip stitch around the corners (but not through the papers). Then I forgot about the hand stitching all together. I used my iron to press the folds, took out the cardstock paper and then (you won't believe this, but I am telling the truth): I butted the ends up together and used a teeny, tiny zigzag stitch with invisible poly thread in top, white in bobbin, and stitched the 6 hexagons together. Click the pic and see it up close!

Block #1 front. You can't see the top stitches in real life, either!
Now I was on a roll. But, then I thought I should at least cut out the hexagons. I did and then sewed the 6 outer hexagons into a ring (just like I did in my September post "Owls Are the Bomb."

Now, where do you think I'm going with my hexagons made with New Colonies? Here are a few other modified/simplified EPP blocks:

Compare Block #2 and its back below with Block #1

Sewed hexagons in a circle with 1/4" seams; used freezer paper to fold outside edges under

Block #3
 My plan is to sew these into long vertical rows with Windham's white on white fabric as the background. Then I will have 42" high rows of four blocks. Then I will sew strips of blocks together. And you can bet I will be using my favorite invisible poly thread (YLI). No hand work for me. My hands hurt!

Turning 60 really isn't all that painful. All you need is some beautiful fabric to take your mind off the wrinkles. At least you can keep the wrinkles out of your blocks!