Enchanted Giveaway

JS Enchanted bundles2Guess what?! Time for a chance to win some free fabric! Free Spirit has provided two fat quarter bundles of Jane Sassaman’s Enchanted for our sweepstakes/giveaway. (Thank you, Free Spirit!) Each bundle has one fat quarter from every print in the collection. Perfect for making some small projects like zipper pouches or pot holders, even pillow covers. Or you could even start a quilt.JS Enchanted bundles I’m still planning little projects of my own for Enchanted. You’ll see more of those over the next few months. But for now….let’s do a giveaway! Here are the details:

  1. Leave a comment on this post before the deadline to enter. Tell me your favorite Jane Sassaman print–from this collection or any other.
  2. One comment per reader. Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  3. You have until 12:00 midnight Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, July 4, 2015 to enter.
  4. International entrants are welcome.
  5. Winners will be selected by Random Number Generator no later than July 7, 2015.
  6. Winners will be notified by email and will have 7 days to respond. If winners do 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 about your favorites.

Stepping Away

Bee in PurslaneLast post, I talked about getting sidetracked with color and Kaffe and new ideas. Now, it’s time to step back from the computer and the sewing machine. Time to take a break–a real one. It will probably be hard to completely forget about next month’s deadlines and projects, the things that need doing in order to catch up completely. Somehow, I’ll manage.

It’s important to turn off the gadgets, to leave the house and to spend time with friends and family. It’s good to keep perspective. Summer is the right time to do it, I think. So, to tide you over until next week, I’m going to share other prints from Jane‘s Enchanted collection.Enchanted prints2A particular favorite of mine is the print on the left, Damask. It’s made for fussy cutting. For Market, I made my Elizabeth tote (free pattern at MakeItCoats) in the green/black colorway.JS Enchanted toteIt’s a big enough bag to give the design all the room it needs to show off. Fussy cutting is more than precision cuts. It’s also about careful selection of the design element. Besides centering the print on the bag, I paid attention to the top of the bag where the handles attach. The deep “V” of the yoke highlights this area further, providing an opportunity to achieve dramatic effect without doing any hard work.

We often focus on small pieces for fussy cutting. But there’s no need to stop there! Large prints can be fussy cut in all their glory. Just choose an appropriately sized project for the scale of the print. Easy peasy!

I’ll be back in a week with a giveaway. Yes, you read that right. A giveaway. A very generous one too, I might add. So get your creative gears turning. I’ll see you soon!

Getting Sidetracked

Kaffe fansSometimes, the best way to restore creative order (a word I use very, very loosely by the way) is to get off the beaten path and wander for a bit. I’ve spent a lot of time lately generating ideas and submitting them. I love the idea generating part. And the fabric selection part. It’s the putting it into a digital sketch that isn’t quite as fun. Of course, let’s not think about what might happen in a few months if I have to actually make all the ideas and write the patterns. But I’ll worry about that later.Kaffe fans2For now, I need to get back to some “just for me” sewing. After those little Dresden plates in the mini (see the previous post), I started working on some larger ones. Initially, I was only going to make a couple half plates to show you a possible application. But then….I started cutting into my Kaffe stash and things got out of hand.Kaffe fans assembledNow that I have this gorgeous stack of color, I’m reconsidering my initial plan for them. That’s the thing about getting sidetracked. You wander off the beaten path and find a multitude of possibilities. It takes flexibility and a willingness to abandon previously laid plans, but the end results usually exceed your expectations. As for this little detour project, I have high hopes.

Make Believe Mini

make believe mini fabricsIn the last post I mentioned Dresden plates against the Trellis print in Jane‘s new collection, Enchanted. The combination just seems perfect to me. I realize it’s not always easy to follow along with my imagination’s machinations. The old adage of writers seems to be in order: ” Show. Don’t tell.”

I pulled together the fabrics shown above and created this little mini quilt. It hangs in my sewing area–a colorful reminder of things I wholeheartedly espouse. make believe miniWhether you choose to read it as “Make. Believe” or “make believe.”, both are imperatives I consider important. Making is a huge part of my daily existence. Without belief in the value of it, and of my own contribution, I wouldn’t get very far. If I were to give you advice on how to proceed with your own creative life, I would give you these two words.

On the other hand, practicing an attitude of childhood’s make believe is a key to keeping yourself open to possibilities. Telling stories with color and texture incorporates make believe into quilting and crafting. For some of us, this internal storytelling can be quite whimsical. (See my friend Rachaeldaisy for delightful examples of how she keeps her imagination going strong in the midst of quilting.) Obviously, from Jane’s inspiration statement about this collection (quoted in the last post), you can see that her imagination is fully engaged on a storytelling level. I always find it interesting to hear the stories behind the work. Big or small, they’re always food for thought.mb mini close stitchingThis mini quilt measures 12 1/2″ x 9″. The fans are 30 degree triangles cut from 4″ strips. I appliqued them by hand and then fused the white half circles on top before adding stitching. For the text, I printed the words on a June Tailor Colorfast sheet and cut them out with pinking shears.mb mini close (1024x855)Over the last five to seven days, I have lost many hours online catching up on the Hugo awards debacle and related issues. (Very late to the party, I know.) I won’t bore you with my opinions, nor will I risk bringing that insanity onto the blog by linking to anything. I will say that after all of that reading and fuming, I am so very grateful to belong to an online community that is, for the most part, very well behaved. It’s easy to forget how much bile and vitriol is out there. Thank you for your part in our community! And thank goodness for little projects that restore our equilibrium!

One Fabric Nation – Jane’s Enchanted Collection

This month Free Spirit is rolling out One Fabric Nation. Here’s their blurb about the program: “FreeSpirit has partnered with five of the best bloggers to bring you One Fabric Nation. This new blogging network is designed to provide their amazing insight and inspired projects from our newest collections!” As one of those five bloggers, I am eagerly looking forward to sharing my thoughts, ideas and inspirations. JS Enchanted quiltBasically, I’m going to be doing what I usually do but more of it. (Just to get the disclosure stuff out of the way…I received yardage from Free Spirit to play with but am free to say what I like.) I have two collections at this time. The first is Jane Sassaman’s Enchanted. The second is Amy Butler’s Brightheart. Yes, I am one very lucky girl and I know it! As the weeks go by, there will be opportunities to share some of that luck with a few readers. Hint, hint.JS EnchantedLet’s start with a little introduction of the collection. It’s called Enchanted and this is Jane’s inspiration statement about it:

“’Enchanted!’ is Jane Sassaman’s latest fabric collection for FreeSpirit. It evokes the atmosphere of a classic European folk tale. This is a world where Little Red Riding Hood would feel right at home. Here we have a gathering of romantic motifs and colors that create a sense of well-worn comfort blended with a hint of mystery and magic. Hansel and Gretel might have tip-toed through this field of flowers. The Cameo pattern could have lined the walls of a bewitched cottage in the woods. Lastly, the zesty oversized geometric designs contribute to its fanciful fairy tale flavor.”

There is a lot to love here, even if you are not a hard core Sassaman fan like myself. And in this first post, I’d like to talk about the three prints I think are the most versatile, the ones anyone and everyone can use. First up, these Viennese checks.JS VienneseTalk about a print that will do hard work! The checks are 3″ x 1″. Cutting them on the “line”, you would get a dramatic 2 1/2″ finished border of rectangles. Or use it for sashing with scrappy block designs. I’m partial to the black and white for pure contrast drama.JS checksAnother hard working print is Trellis. The size of the white squares is 1/2″, as are the colored trellis lines. I should point it, it’s no trick of the light or problem with the photo. The green and the blue are different from the green and the blue of the Viennese Checks. As usual with Jane’s collections, you get options–not matchy-matchy bits. Again, I love that black and white! I can envision a fabulous, bold Dresden plate applique on these.JS plaidThe third is Perpetual Plaid. I love the blue one. For the Market samples, I made a tote with the coordinating tonal print. I really see a lot of potential in lifestyle projects and home decor with this print. Everything from tablecloths to circle skirts.Squared Up Tote (800x764)There isn’t a pattern for this tote yet. But you can find the free quilt pattern on the Make It Coats site (the one I sewed for Market and which is featured in the first photo).

You can expect more completed projects along with some digital ideas and a giveaway in the weeks and months to come. The fabric is shipping next month so you’ll be able to get your order in for your own Enchanted sewing time very soon!

If you have questions–about the fabric or what to do with it, about how I choose prints & projects–just leave a comment. Or if you prefer, send me an email from the contact page. I’m always happy to help!

All Points Patchwork Blog Tour

It’s time to talk EPP again! This time, however, I’m going to tell you about an EPP resource. You see, Diane has a new book out. Isn’t it pretty?! It’s also full of information–just as you’d expect from Diane.All Points coverLike every other participant in the blog tour, I jumped at the chance to help promote her book, All Points Patchwork. If you have any itch to start EPP, even if you’re just thinking about whether or not you have the time/patience/wherewithal, this is the book you want along side you when you start out. Diane covers everything from tools to techniques. She has included a chapter on building patterns as well as chapters covering the various EPP shapes. Pretty much everything you need to know to set out on the highly addictive path of EPP.All Point Patchwork buttonThis week, the blog hop is all about fussy cut hexie shapes. Regular readers of the blog know all about my penchant for fussy cutting, as well for EPP. I can’t seem to get enough of either. However for this challenge, I’ve kept it small and relatively simple. A mini quilt seemed like just the thing.TP EPP miniI found a few fat quarters of Tula Pink’s Fox Field sitting on a shelf and set to work. I used both types of fussy cutting for this project. The first, and easiest, are the three animals. I tend to think of this type of fussy cutting as isolation or “I Spy” cutting. You’re simply framing a design element within the shape. Not hyper fussy, just careful cutting. It is a tiny bit fussy, in that I used mirror images of the foxes, but that’s not really hyper fussy.

The second type of cutting is the hyper fussy part. This is the type of precision cutting that yields tremendous results. It’s well worth the effort. When I select a specific design element for this type of fussy cutting, I’m looking at several things.TP EPP mini closeup foxI want it to be scaled for the size of the shape I’m working with. (These are 1″ hexies.) A larger size accommodates a larger motif but will make small ones look lost. You will not achieve an exciting kaleidoscopic look with too much undefined “stuff” floating around in the space. So I look for more than one point of connection. In this case, the curved leaves are creating a nice floral design around that center bunny. At the same time, higher up the side, the buds are meeting in a burst of color.

Making it work means carefully cutting your pieces to be exactly the same, or very nearly. You can fudge a little as you fold the edges, but not more than a thread or two before things start getting wonky. I cut the first piece and then use it as a template, matching it exactly to the next repeat and carefully cutting around the edges with a small rotary cutter. (I’m too lazy to cut plastic templates and mark them. And since I can get away it, I do. But if you’re having problems, take the time to make a template, etc. You have to do what works or you’re going to get frustrated.)

EPP TP examples1There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing fussy cutting in action. While the examples above use hexies, I thought it would be fun to show the same fabric using other shapes.EPP TP examples2Aren’t you just itching to start cutting and stitching? I know I am. And I have a large AMH EPP quilt to hand quilt yet.

Check out the other cute projects from the other participants. And be sure to stay tuned to Diane’s blog for ongoing hops for this book.

Fitting It All In

50-Garter-Stitch-GiftsIt’s June! Less than six months until Christmas. Yikes! The only way to stick to a commitment of giving handmade is to start early and keep things easy. And that’s where this book comes in handy. Sixth & Spring generously sent me a review copy of 50 Garter Stitch Gifts To Knit. I don’t often accept offers like this. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do it right.pillow pageI said “yes” to this one because of the “quick & easy” part. I can make use of that. In fact, I managed to make a project from the book in between all the busyness! I chose the striped pillow and whipped up a 14″ version in deep Full O’ Sheep yarn. It just needs the companion chevron pillow for a complete pair.easy knit pillowWith 50 different garter stitch projects, you’re bound to find something for more than one person on your list. You may even want to make yourself something. Personally, I have my eye on the Wavy Drop Stitch Scarf.wavyDropStitchScarfSo if you’re trying to stay ahead of the game this year, consider making it easier on yourself and keep things simple.

Now Where Was I?

white geraniumAfter a long holiday weekend and a string of gray, cloudy days, I’m finding it hard to get back into the groove.  I’ve been methodically ticking things of my To Do list. There’s just not much spark at the moment. I need some sunshine. The weathermen predict a sunny Friday which is a good thing. Not just because I need it for motivation but because I have a lot of photos I need to shoot of various projects for upcoming stuff. I’m crossing my fingers.

I did spend extra time reading over the weekend. Neal Stephenson has a new book out called Seveneves. Apparently, it’s 880 pages long. I bought the Kindle version which doesn’t really lend itself to page counting. All I know, is that those 880 pages went by fairly quickly.  There are some interesting questions amid all the suspended disbelief necessary. But I really felt it should have been longer. Too many ideas weren’t fully explored.

Another book I read last week was Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. Many people haven’t liked the literary device she employed, but I found it interesting without distracting from the larger story. I would have been willing to read several more “lives” before the end.

I’m still reading through an actual physical book, The Siege by Arturo Perez-Reverte. You have to focus and pay attention with him, so that one slips to the bottom of the “stack” often. Maybe in the next week or two, I’ll be disciplined enough to finish. Then, it will be time to find more reading material.

What books are on your summer/winter reading list?

Caravelle Arcade Tea Mats

Jennifer Paganelli’s new line Caravelle Arcade is in shops and Sis Boom fans are buying it up. Not surprising, as this collections has some strong hints of her Girlfriends collection (long since out of print) which goes for crazy prices on eBay, etc. Jennifer is known for flowers and frills and loads of colorful delight and Caravelle Arcade has it all. It’s perfect for girly get-togethers of all kinds–everything from bridal or baby showers to brunch to simple tea time. And who wouldn’t want a quilted something special for those occasions?P1070406A tea mat is just the thing. Whether you want one for yourself or a friend or two, these little mats are super quick and easy. I used the blues for mine, naturally. A pop of fuchsia for the monograms adds the perfect dramatic effect. Very Sis Boom. I put together a single page pdf for you with yardage and instructions (makes 4 tea mats, each measuring 9″ x 12″). You can click here to get started.Sis Boom tea timeThey’re just big enough for a cup of tea and a small plate of goodies. In this case, I picked some mandarin oranges from our tree at the back door to go with the biscotti. Simple but delicious. A bit like these little mats.tea time w SBCare to join me for tea?

A Winner & A Sneak Peek

may 15 winnerRandom Number Generator has chosen a winner. Congratulations to Jessica P. who said, “I have a monster of a king size quilt that I really want to get quilted before the summer is over.” Jessica, check your Inbox for my email.

Everyone seems to have a list of some sort going for the summer. Even though, for some, it isn’t going to be all fun and games. I do love the way quilters and crafters keep their creative To Do lists full. So much optimism! succulentAs for me, I am bound and determined to baste that AMH EPP quilt and start hand quilting. I also have some fun stuff coming up next month for Free Spirit and there will be more chances for you to win some fabric. There is also a little stack of voile to sew up for summer wardrobe additions. Plenty to do.Sis Boom sneak peekFor now, I need to put together a little vignette for these darlings bits. After I grab some fun photos, I’ll be ready to post the project, complete with instructions for making your own. Just a little something colorful for you to look forward to–maybe even an easy project for you to add to your To Do list.