Decision Making

My order of Sew Sassy thread (by Superior Threads) arrived this week. Of the amber, green and black in my order, I decided on the amber for my AMH EPP project. It will set off the rich colors of Anna Maria’s prints perfectly.sew sassy goldThis is 12 wt. thread which requires a larger needle and tension adjustments. I haven’t started in on that yet but perhaps on the weekend. spoonflower stuffAnother decision I made lately…order the color and swatch guides from Spoonflower. I have been entertaining some ideas involving Spoonflower for a ridiculously long time. However, I never got around to the follow-through on those ideas. Step One in that long list of follow-through is having the guides in hand so the lengthy decision making process can truly begin. Who knows how long it will take to get to Step Two, but at least I have one less reason to procrastinate.hong kong orchid (628x800)But by far, the hardest decision I’ve been making lately is this–choosing to be still. It’s a hard one. I’m driven by many things, not the least of which is the never-ending stacks of fabric I want to make into projects before I lose my “free time” and Market sample sewing gets started in earnest. purslane bloomHowever, I know from experience I should take time out voluntarily. Time just to marvel at Nature’s beauty. Time to soak up inspiration. Time to be silent and receptive. If I refuse, I’m likely to find myself sidelined by illness or a migraine or something equally unpleasant. My body knows better than my mind on this point. yellow nasturiumSo I made the decision to go easy on myself this week. Stinka makes sure I take at least one of my cups of coffee outside where we can sit in the sunshine. We listen to the birds–mockingbirds, phoebes, robins, sparrows, crows, hawks. We watch the butterflies flit through the yard. We notice all the blooms and blossoms in their striking colors. It’s a gift–this experience of Nature in my own backyard. I’d be a fool not to take the time to enjoy it to the fullest.

Meanwhile…

How about a post to catch up on things? Sit back and let me show you what I’ve been up to lately. Where to begin….well, let’s start with a text from my younger brother. He sent me a photo of an apron I made for my niece and sister-in-law several years ago. The text said “My shop apron”. Clearly, time to jump into action and make him something appropriate. Shop ApronI hopped online and found some Parson Gray home dec weight fabric on sale at Quilt Home. He loves orange so the choice was easy–two different prints for one reversible shop apron. I even added a masculine touch for the neck straps. He’s a very satisfied sibling.shop apron neckI also made the last block for the Color Therapy quilt. This month the colors are Oriental Blue and Citrine–confident and bold. I settled on two prints from past collections of Amy Butler’s. I’m a sucker for dots and could not resist adding them to this last block.ColorTherapy12It goes well with all the others too, don’t you agree? Now I just need to set aside time for choosing and adding sashing.color therapy blocks 1-12But the thing I’ve been spending most of my time on is the AMH EPP project. Look!!! No more papers!AMH EPP flimsyYesterday, I finished removing the last of the papers and stitched it to a border. I haven’t decided on the treatment for the EPP edge where it meets the border. At the moment, I’m torn between adding a hand embroidery embellishment or using a decorative stitch on the machine with some of Jane’s new 12 wt. thread for Superior Threads. I have time to decide as I only ordered the thread and the backing fabric yesterday.AMH EPP flimsy up closeSeeing it without all the papers, following the unevenness of the gravel, is amazing. I can’t quite believe I’ve gotten this far. Soon, I’ll be stealing time to baste and quilt it. (Because, of course, it’s almost time to start on sample sewing for Spring Market.)

And that’s about it for the goings on around here lately. Yesterday’s mail brought me a copy of Neil Gaiman’s short story collection, Trigger Warning. I’m looking forward to a little sewing break and some great reading.

Winners!

TW-winnersThank you all for entering. And a huge welcome to the new subscribers! I’m so happy to have you here.

Over the weekend I managed to get all the straight edges on the AMH EPP project. Look for photos of that later in the week, along with photos of my other WIP’s and finished projects from the last week or so.

Thanks again for all your comments. Have a great day!

Lulu Roses — Free Patterns & A Giveaway

Valentine’s Day is almost here. And no designer says “Valentine’s” better than Tanya Whelan. I designed a simple table mat (or wall hanging, if you prefer) for Free Spirit using Tanya’s Lulu Roses.Sweethearted Table Mat2 (800x660)Four easy applique blocks, some simple fussy cut sashing and there you have it! I even put together a bonus project to go with it. The Hanging Hearts use the leftover fabric from this table mat, along with additional yardage for the bow (which you could omit and use ribbon instead).Lulu hanging heartsYou can find the free patterns here and here on the Make It Coats website. And you can win some free fabric here on the blog by commenting on this post!

Free Spirit has generously provided Lulu Roses yardage for a sweepstakes (aka giveaway). I will be choosing three winners by Random Number Generator. Here’s what each winner will receive:P1060798That stack has eight half yard pieces plus one quarter yard piece of the blue with red dots! That’s a total of 4 1/4 yards to each winner. Definitely enough for a quilt top._DSC1737So….here’s the deal:

  1. Leave a comment on this post before the deadline to enter. I’d love to hear about your current project, but it’s not a requirement. Any comment will do as an entry.
  2. One comment per reader. Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  3. You have until 12:00 midnight Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, February 15, 2015 to enter.
  4. International entrants are welcome.
  5. Winners will be selected by Random Number Generator.
  6. Winners will be notified by email and will have until February 22, 2015 to respond. If a winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected by Random Number Generator and notified by email.

Good luck! I may not have time to reply to each and every one of you who comments. So, to everyone who enters, “Thank you!” I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Winners have been chosen and notified.

Friday Feline

Happy Friday!Stinka supervisingDid you have a productive week? I managed to get a lot done this week, despite having a certain black cat’s help. See those hanging hearts in the background? That’s Tanya Whelan’s Lulu Roses I used for  Valentine projects for Free Spirit. Stinka decided I needed help staging the photo. She wasn’t too keen about being asked to move. (I hope to have a link for you soon with the pattern for both the hearts and a table mat.)white geraniumWith the help of my feline assistant, a box of samples were sewn up. Lovely Kaffe prints and some fun novelty prints filled the cutting table. And, surprise, surprise…the last row of the AMH EPP was sewn. Now I can play with filling in the edges. Fun stuff!AB Violette stripsAfter a productive week, I’m looking forward to some relaxation (which just might include this group of Amy’s Violette fabrics) this weekend. I hope you are too.

Have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend!

Starting Your Own AMH EPP

Since it will be months before I am able to put finishing touches on my AMH EPP project and write the pattern, I’m going to give you the information you need to get your own version started. Obviously, you need the usual tools: scissors, needle, thread, EPP papers and fabric. I purchased the papers for my project from Paper Pieces. For starters, you need 1 1/2″ hexagons, 1 1/2″ jewels and 1 1/2″ 6 point diamonds._DSC1799

The main unit of the design is the kaleidoscopic flower. It is made up of one hexagon, six jewels for the first round and twelve jewels for the second round. This is where the fussy cutting shines. You may want to purchase the clear acrylic template for the jewel pieces to aid your fussy cutting. Choose one with a seam allowance you’re most comfortable with.

To be honest, I cut the first piece by laying an EPP paper piece over the area I want and eyeballing a seam allowance of approximately 3/8″ to 1/2″. The extra wiggle room in the seam allowance allows for any fudging I may need to do as I piece. I find it helpful when I need to adjust a match at the seam. After I cut the first piece, I lay it right side up over the same design element and using a small rotary cutter, carefully cut out the next piece. (I know, I know. Don’t tell the quilt police! You’re not supposed to do it this way.) This works best for me. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working out for you, try it. If you’re satisfied with your current process, by all means, stick to it.

While we’re talking about my rebellious ways, we may as well talk about the other rules I’m breaking. When I stitch pieces together, I abut the edges and stitch through. I pick up about 2 or 3 threads on each side. You will be able to feel a tiny ridge when all is said and done. However, I have no problem living with that when it means no stitches are showing. Here’s what it looks like in action:EPP according to MP

You’ll see that I can’t seem to stop myself from stitching more than is really necessary. I don’t know why I do that, but for some reason, that’s how goes when I’m in the groove. Again, don’t mess with what works for you. This works for me even if it takes more stitches to get there.

Because this method doesn’t reveal your stitches, matching thread is not critical. When sewing two pieces that are not identical prints, choose a thread that blends, more or less, with both. I always have white, off white and gray on hand, supplementing with more specific colors as needed.

Now, for the best part…choosing fabrics! This can also be the tricky part because of all the fussy cutting. All you need to remember are a few guidelines.

  • Symmetrical designs will produce a truly kaleidoscopic result
  • Asymmetrical designs will look best if there is obvious movement in the design
  • One print may yield several options–don’t overlook the less obvious
  • Pay attention to scale–the motif you choose needs to fit well with the EPP size

The sampler below shows just how versatile fussy cutting can be. Notice the stripes in the first and second star flower units. You get a very different effect in the second one because the jewel pieces have the points in and the stripes form a “V”.

star flower samplerLook at the first jewel round in the right hand star flower in the top row. It came from this print. In the star flower directly underneath, the outer jewel round uses the same print in a different colorway, but isolating a different portion. Same thing in the left hand flower of the center row and the last two flowers in the bottom row. I used this print in three colorways (one from the original Garden party collection) but isolated the design elements differently.

Of course, there’s more to choosing fabrics than just fussy cutting potential. Color is a huge factor too. I use an informal rule when I’m doing work like this. Mix up the colors! You’ll be tempted to put blues with blues or blues with greens. It may look wonderful but it will detract from the overall scrappy look. So unless you’re going to make a quilt that is all blues and greens, mix them up with golds and garnets, purples and oranges, pinks and browns. Everything will pop when you do._DSC1785

We also need to talk about the stars. They’re made up of six 60 degree diamonds. I made a decision not to be fussy with them and in fact, to make them out of two prints. When mixed with the solitary diamonds that fill in around the units, it gives the appearance of scattered scraps in the background. It also keeps your eye from going round and round all those kaleidoscopic flowers.

You don’t need to do this. You may prefer to choose one fabric for all of the diamond pieces (both stars and solitary). This will result in a uniform back drop for your kaleidoscopic flowers. You could use a solid, a blender, dots or other non-competing print. It’s entirely up to you.AMH EPP

I put together a pdf for you–print or save it to your device and refer to it as needed. Click here for the file. It has the total number of paper pieces needed for the whole units used in the main field along with some of the tips I shared above. If you were here with me in person, the conversation would probably have been even more lengthy. If you find that you still have questions as you begin, send me an email. I’m happy to answer questions and help you get unstuck. This is the kind of project you will see as a labor of love and I want you to get the most out of it as you possibly can.

Happy sewing!!!

Technological Monkey Wrenches

Do you ever have days where you are reminded about all the ways our technologically enhanced lives can go wrong? And by “reminded” I mean “hit over the head with a 2 x 4″. There’s a lot I love about technology. A lot. Things like connectedness and readily available information, digital cameras and blogging to name a few. iceplant pinkBut when something goes wrong, it usually goes wrong in a catastrophic way. I know hard drives are not meant to last forever. I just keep expecting them to last longer than they do. Fortunately, this time, I had everything backed up. But there have been many hours lost this week to setting up the new desktop. And tweaking Windows 8.1.1. (Can I just say how much I despise Windows 8? It is not an operating system for old school users. It doesn’t think you need to know about your Program Files. In fact, it acts like you’re a five year old playing with your mother’s tablet. Seriously, Microsoft!)

But enough ranting. I’m mostly back to normal on the computer front. The only thing that has saved me is my AMH EPP. Without it, my sanity would be in question right now. Here’s how it looks with four rows sewn together (crunchy, wrinkled paper and all).AMH EPP 1 thru 4Some of you have been asking about a pattern for this. I absolutely plan to write a pattern when I’m finished. It might be a couple months or so before that happens–a terribly long time to wait if you’re in love with this look like I am. So…I will put together a “Getting Started” post for you.

Look for it over the weekend. I’ll include ideas for fabric selections, fussy cutting and the basic information for the components. I’ll also try to remember to include a photo of how I sew my pieces together. I don’t like stitches to show if I can help it. My trick is not to sew them the “correct” way. I do it my way and I like the clean look.Stinka and AMH EPP

If there are any other design tips and hints you would like me to include, just tell me in a comment. I’ll try to incorporate it into the post.

And now, if those pesky monkeys will just stop throwing wrenches…

Color & Texture

Color and texture are everywhere. We’re surrounded by them constantly so it is no surprise we become immune to their beauty. Taking time to closely observe a favorite place or setting can remind you of all the potential inspiration at your disposal.aloe candelabra closeupThe candelabra aloes are blooming at the Zoo. These are a favorite of mine–full of gray green, orange, red and yellow. And of course, spiky texture.aloe leavesWhile my eye is always drawn to the huge of variety of plants at the Zoo, yesterday I focused on the animals. Naturally, there is a lot of brown on display. As you know, brown isn’t my favorite color. However, paying attention to the many different forms of brown was a worthwhile endeavor.guanacoThe guanaco is tinged with a pale tan but it’s the velvety fur on his head that draws my eye. elephantThe elephants seems drab and dull until you notice the russet tone of their sparse hair. As for texture, their hides are a study in themselves.kudu femaleA watchful kudu shows off those deep brown doe eyes and shiny nose to full advantage. And those lashes!hummingbird aloeStill, all that brown beauty doesn’t hold my attention the way a tiny hummingbird can. His iridescent feathers are so small. Every millimeter packed with color.

Even if an abundance of Nature is not at your disposal, you can observe the way light changes the grays of buildings and roadways, or the various patterns of rust and flaking paint. Beauty is all around us. We just have to take the time to notice.

Color Therapy Block #11 And A Bit More

The Color Therapy Block of the Month is almost over. This month Block 11 has the spotlight. The colors for the month are True Red and Chocolate. Red, naturally, is for strength and love. Chocolate grounds and inspires. (Doesn’t it though?)ColorTherapyBlock11I selected Joel Dewbery’s True Color print for the brown. It’s more milk chocolate than dark chocolate. So I picked Tula’s Moonshine print for the red. It brings in a deeper tone and makes the combination work.

Over the past weekend, I managed to spend some time on the AMH EPP project. The first two rows are nearly done being sewn together.R1 and 2 AMH EPPIt’s becoming unwieldy–a sure sign I’m making progress. But it has to be set aside for a bit, as Free Spirit sent me some of Tanya Whelan’s Lulu to play with for Valentine’s. There will even be enough leftover for a February giveaway!

Friday Feline

It’s Friday! Time for a friendly feline post. Stinka's nap timeStinka has been hanging out here a lot lately. I work on my handwork and she snuggles up in one of her spots. Stinka sunworshipperBut she isn’t the only neighbor cat to pay us frequents visits. Pete has been making regular stops morning and evening to check on the gophers (who are causing all kinds of trouble now the ground is soft).Pete on gopher dutyThe weekend promises to be sunny and mild–just perfect for cats. And for me. I’m looking forward to finishing the last of the rows for the AMH EPP project. Maybe I’ll even get to start the final assembly.

Have a happy Friday and a great weekend! See you back here next week with shots of the AMH EPP progress.